Paint sprayer recommendations please

Hey all. Long time lurker, semi-regular participant… (see Crafty Cretin thread)

Looking to get into taking my finished pieces a bit further with color, even though all wood or acrylic pieces have been a hit so far. I’d like to work with more than rattle cans. Colors are limited somewhat limited, and expensive if you’re doing one offs, or just a few small items that you need a specific color for.

Been looking at airbrushes and larger paint sprayers. Sooo much info swirling in my brain and on my screen regarding both.

My specs: I have a small 2 gal air compressor, as well as a much bigger one in the garage. I plan to build a ‘fold away’ paint/finishing booth in the garage with ventilation and such. Should work well with spraypaint(canned) colors. I have acrylic (hobby) paints that allow for much bigger variety in colors. 80%-90% of things won’t be any bigger than the standard 12x20. (Any larger pieces would likely be rattlecanned/brushed/rollered…) Looking for that right sized spray gun/airbrush to add various colors, fairly easy to swap out colors/clean (multiple containers?), and that isn’t an $800 unit. $100 max budget. (Yea yea, you get what you pay for, I get it.)

I’m not naive, I don’t suspect this will save me any TIME at all. By the time I load up paint choices, hit the garage, set up the booth, and paint system, a rattle can will likely have been MUCH faster. But I want better control and more colors without destroying any of the small profit margin, I’m already only paying myself about $5-$10 an hour, if that for my time on things.

Just figured I’d ask the makers here for experience, particularly any with GF specific projects. Whatcha got? Thank you!

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Have you considered the Critter? Just search critter spray gun. I don’t have one, but always planned on buying one at some point. From what I’ve read it takes some getting used to, but works fine once you’ve worked out your process. I’ve seen people post here that their Harbor Freight air brush setups are fine for what they are.

@smcgathyfay and @jbv could undoubtedly provide actual expert advice.

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Critter is one on my consideration (and AMZ) list. It seems easy to switch out containers.

And mason jars come with the same size lid (well, there is also a wide mouth) so you can use smaller ones and not just the 16oz ones. I figure all you have to do is have a set of tubes and cut to length.

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I suspect I’ll EVENTUALLY end up with both, a sprayer AND an airbrush, but I’m not at the point where I need ‘micro level’ of control… yet. But I can see it coming.

Some of the harbor freight guns are crap after the first couple uses but the 2 piece automotive set is really a fine gun, and for $50 you cant beat it. it is all metal to metal seals so nothing really to wear out.

This is my HVLP basics video and I am using the about HF gun. Its a bit dry but informative


Never heard or used a critter…I use an iwata eclipse bcs and Omni 3000 airbrushes. Those are right around the $100 -$125 range. Those will give you about a 3in spray range. If you want I wider range I know some of the sprayers at Harbor Freight work just fine with the thinner mediums. If you’re using acrylics make sure they’re thinned down enough to spray. Or get some createx which is pre-mixed for airbrush.


Great info Tom! Looks like that has a great bit of control. (I like the tiny spray to wide fan.) Thanks!


Minican assortments! I just picked up this set of water-based MTN colors, haven’t had a chance to play with them yet, but they are supposed to be super low oder.


Those look fun!