View Full Version : Opinions On Harbor Freight Powder Coat Setup

07-01-2006, 11:30 AM
Looking to buy a powder coating setup and HF has one system and oven for 399.00 Wondering if anyone knows about it. Don't want to throw good money away for something that does not work when I can buy beer that will get me buzzed you know.
Butt seriouly folks (there's that butt again!) I hope to get some informed suggestions from the masses.
Let em rip!

07-01-2006, 01:28 PM
The guys I always hear mentioned on this are Caswell Plating:


The link is to a small unit they have on sale at the moment. Another one that gets a lot of attention is Eastwood:


They've got a number of interesting products in this area.

It's worth at least comparing their offerings to see if you like them any better than what Harbor Freight offers.

The biggest issue will be the oven. People start with a toaster oven and work up. Bigger parts can use a discarded kitchen oven, full sized. For bigger than that I have seen people make ovens out of large supplies cabinets or big tool cabinets by lining them with insulation and putting a thermostatic heating element on it.



07-01-2006, 01:28 PM
I have one, it seems to work fine. I don't have the oven though- you can use a regular household oven and it works fine. Just poke around until you find one on the cheap from someone renovating or tearing down their house. Just make sure you don't use it ever to cook food- the powdercoating stuff will make it all toxicey. But the sprayer part of the whole deal seems to work pretty well. It has some problems though, IIRC the spray handle doesnt work really well so I need 2 guys- one on the air comp valve and the other spraying, but I haven't looked at the handle yet. Not a bad deal though for like 40 bucks!

07-01-2006, 01:46 PM
I don't have a powder coating set up myself (on the wish list!), but a buddy has the set up from Eastwood and he really likes it. He is using an old oven for curing, and also bought a portable IR light (I think it is IR, don't hold me to that) to cure bigger stuff. He hasn't been real happy with the portable light because of the time it takes to cure larger work, but it enables him to do the occasional 'big' item.

On a side note, I have found that when I go for a bargain, I usually end up unhappy. The old adage of 'you get what you pay for' holds true most of the time. However, there have been some things that I have made the bargain deal and wound up very pleased. All of that being said, my approach is to be selective on the items being purchased, and do some research before making a selection (this forum is a great place for that!).

Good luck!

07-01-2006, 03:42 PM
Thanks guys for the help. I have dealt with Caswell for a blackening kit. It works but seems that the black comes off in your hand. Seems that it never stops. I read their info on PC and also looked at the posts on their site and this same question was asked and seems that the HF gun got better marks then the Caswell or faired the same. Caswell gets much more $$$$ for theirs of equivalent quality (apples to apples). That is why I asked here as I wanted more input.
Eastwood has theirs too but in the posts on Caswell it was not liked very well.
Depending on what you read the main focus changes. Searched for days and read forum after forum on the subject. Some say the gun is more key others say the oven and I also read the booth is critical.
I have read where some make their booth and others say you have to buy it if you want one that is safe and works. I am confused so I seek more input.
Mention of explosion was scary as the powder seems to be highly flammable. This is where the factory made booth comes into play as I guess it has filters and explosion proof motors. Some say very important to keep an in flow of air moving.
Again I am confused. :confused:

07-01-2006, 05:46 PM
I have the cheaper Eastwood model,I use it occasionally for small parts,like on the Ugly Stick and Mantis. so far I am happy with the results.
But Read the Book first.

charlie coghill
07-01-2006, 07:15 PM
I use the Eastwood unit and it works quite well. My oven is made from an old tool box about 24" sq. and 8ft. long. The 8000 watt heating element was salvaged from a vacume sign forming machine. The element is controlled with a timer and thermostat.

Mad Scientist
07-01-2006, 11:36 PM
Got the Harbor Freight gun a couple years ago and it has worked well for me.
The biggest expense is the oven. I started out with a small electric pizza oven. But every quickly outgrew it.
I briefly consider looking for a discarded electric oven but they were still not big enough for what I wanted to do. (the grill and luggage rack on my car.) So naturally the only thing to do was build my own combination spray booth and oven.

First pic is oven. Second pic is powder coated grill plus a few other parts.

Inside of oven is 2 foot square with 6-inch insulation on all sides. It takes about 15 minutes to warm up to 400 degree with a 1800 watt heating element and no the plywood outside does not get warm. The spray booth has two florescent lamp in it, a blower to catch the overspray and I hang part to coated from shaft of gear reduction motor so I can spin it as I am spraying.



07-02-2006, 06:50 AM
Wow, you powdercoated a car?:)

Mad Scientist
07-02-2006, 09:41 AM
Well not all of it! I didn’t have the powder coating set up when I reworked the engine. ;)

George Seal
07-02-2006, 11:04 AM

BMW or Mersaidies (sp) is now powder coating their cars. Clear coat I think

07-02-2006, 11:27 AM
I suppose in a Mfg. situation it could be done.

07-02-2006, 09:20 PM
I've got one and have used it quite a bit. Got a like new used electric stove at Goodwill for $25, took out all the top burners and put a 1/2 inch bar inside to hang stuff from.

The key to powder coating is make sure what you are doing is free of ALL old paint, grease and oil.

Sandblasting makes a nice finish to powder coat over. Then wipe it down with a non-oil based solvent, acetone or other wise. This solvent is so flammable that I only keep very small amounts in the shop and I always do my wipe down outside!!

Then preheat your oven (and it helps to pre-heat your metal piece), make your work is grounded and when you shoot it with powder that you don't have any water in your air lines! I usually have an exhaust fan running when I do all this. The fumes from when the powder is baking is not good for you, make sure your oven has a vent that goes outside. BG

Looking to buy a powder coating setup and HF has one system and oven for 399.00 Wondering if anyone knows about it. Don't want to throw good money away for something that does not work when I can buy beer that will get me buzzed you know.
Butt seriouly folks (there's that butt again!) I hope to get some informed suggestions from the masses.
Let em rip!

Mad Scientist
07-02-2006, 10:49 PM
(and it helps to pre-heat your metal piece)

This is a good point!! Actually an ESSENTIAL point if you are trying to coat a cast part. No mater how clean you think you got the part when you heat it all sorts of crud will boil out and form obnoxious blisters.

So first preheat for about half hour, then powder coat. Oh and we won’t talk about how long it took me to figure that out.:rolleyes:

07-03-2006, 11:16 AM
Powder coat is nice stuff-very durable. It's great for suspension pieces and the like. If you don't want to mess with doing it yourself, there is usually someone in your area doing it for light manufacturers that won't charge too much. I had some suspension parts done one time very cheaply for a Pantera with a guy who makes gym equipment (weight machines and the like). I remember he charged me like $65 for the whole shooting match which was a lot of suspension components. They came out looking gorgeous.

I would think it would make an ideal machine tool finish as well, given the enhanced durability.



07-04-2006, 11:20 AM
I picked up a new HF gun. I got a rain check on the oven. They say it should be in about a week. The only thing I need to know is about the booth. Have read many posts that it is essential and needs to be made correctly. Need some info. Anyone that PC have any idea's for a booth for me?


07-04-2006, 02:55 PM
I've never ever used a booth and while I've only done it a few times it's never been necessary.