Critter Spray Gun Review

The first thing I noticed is that the Critter Spray Gun works very similar to my $7 air brush from HF. Same principle, anyway. The spray tip is connected to a tube that goes down into the finish. Finish is drawn up through the tube by blowing air across the tip (Venturi Principle).

Instructions are very sparse -- basically, just get a block diagram of all the parts. No real usage instructions.

The first finish I tried spraying with this guy was some interior latex. I was in the process of painting a cheap dresser, so I thought I'd give the Critter gun a whirl with it.

Normally, I would thin latex if I was going to spray it, but I wanted to see how the Critter would do with non-thinned paint. Let's just say that it doesn't do too good. Atomization isn't very good. Follow up: The second coat I sprayed with the Critter, I did thin the paint. Atomization still wasn't very good, and I ended up with an orange peel finish on flat, horizontal surfaces. The final coat of paint on the top of the dresser I ended up using a foam brush. Maybe I am too picky (my wife was happy with the orange peel surface) but the foam brush got the best results.

The second thing I noticed is that the gun tends to get a build-up on the top of the tube. You have to keep pulling this off. (I've noticed the same problem with my cheap air brush while spraying lacquer). At one point, I pulled off the build-up and a long piece came with it from inside the tube.

The spray pattern was OK. It worked fine for the drawers, but on the top there were splotches after I had gotten done where the coverage wasn't good enough.

Clean-up has got to be the strongest point the critter has. Just spray some thinner through it to get the majority of the stuff out. Then, pull the top of the tube off and run a pipe cleaner soaked with thinner through that.

This is my 5th spray gun. My 3 stage turbine (HVLP) ranks at the top. Next is my Craftsman pro gun (HVHP). Also have a conversion gun that I've never gotten to work right. I'd rank the Critter just above that. Next is my $7 air brush from HF, and last is my Wagner knock off (what was I thinking???).

So, not a bad gun for the price. I like the idea of keeping the finish sealed off, although keeping mason jars in the shop does sound like an accident waiting to happen.

6 Month Follow-up

Now that I've had time to really put this gun through its paces, I've found that I enjoy using it, and it is the gun that I reach for when I have a small project to spray.

Let me first say that I mainly use this gun only for lacquer and shellac. It does a *very* good job on both lacquer and shellac on small projects (such as scroll sawn work, small shelves, knick-knacks, etc.). For my big projects I still get out the HVLP gun, but the small projects all get the Critter.

The reason? It is so darn easy to clean, and it is easy to store my finishes! I keep a mason jar with lacquer in it, and a mason jar with shellac. I keep a third mason jar that I use for clean-up. If I want spray lacquer, it literally takes me about 2 minutes to get everything set up and ready to go. My lacquer is already poured, and I just mix it a little in the jar. Screw it on the gun, set the regulator to about 35 psi, hook it up, and start spraying.

When I'm ready for clean up, I pour a little lacquer thinner or denatured alcohol in the empty mason jar, take it outside and spray for a few seconds, and I'm done.

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