I’d like to talk a little today about the “tools of the trade.” These are the things I think are essential if you’re looking to start into furniture upcycling for profit.
1. Electric Sander(s) – When I started out furniture upcycling, I only had a palm sander. It did the job. I still use the palm sander quite a bit for detail sanding and for most of my distressing. I have a Craftsman Mouse and like it very much. The times that it was not doing the job for me was when I was trying to strip or sand large surfaces like table tops or dresser tops. For those purposes, it’s best to invest in either an orbital sander or a belt sander. I purchased a Ryobi Orbital Sander and it works very well for my purposes. Make sure you’re always stocked up on a course (for stripping, I usually buy 60 or 80 grit), medium (general purpose, 100 or 120 grit), and fine (for between coats, around 200 grit) sandpapers that work for your tools. I generally don’t do a lot of sanding before I paint a piece. You want to make sure you do enough sanding that you have a good, smooth surface to start painting on, but if you’re using a good primer, I don’t think it’s necessary to sand your whole piece before priming and painting.
2. Brushes – I personally don’t like roller painting, so when I’m not spraying on the paint, I use brushes. In the beginning, I bought the cheapo brushes, but once I started making a little money and heard everyone raving about Purdy brand paint brushes, I bit the bullet and bought a three pack of brushes for $20 at Home Depot. Let me tell you, these brushes REALLY do make a big difference in the quality of your end product. Do not skimp and buy cheapo brushes. Purdy brushes will last you a good, long time, if you take proper care of them and they lay down a much smoother layer of paint and greatly reduce the appearance of brush strokes.
3. HVLP Paint Sprayer/Air Compressor – Not very long into furniture upcycling, I realized that things would go SO much faster and be SO much easier and I’d end up with a MUCH better end product once I found a paint sprayer that worked for me. Honestly, it has been my best business investment to date! I did a LOT of research on different paint spraying options and here are my conclusions.
~ Airless Paint Sprayers, though an inexpensive option, did NOT work for me! I know some of my furniture refinishing friends love their airless sprayers. The Wagner Optimus Power Painter was my first sprayer purchase ($70 at Home Depot.) I tried to get it to work for me and all I could ever get was a big, spitty, painty mess. I returned the first and exchanged for another, thinking it might just have been a faulty machine, but had much the same experience with the second. So I returned it as well and got my money back. Later, I bought and tried a Ryobi sprayer from Home Depot and had a similar experience, with lots of spits and a big mess. Returned that one as well.
~Self-Contained HVLP Paint Sprayers, though highly recommended by my pro friends, we’re just too expensive for me! Some of the furniture refinishers buddies of mine whose professionalism, technique, and impeccable end products I greatly admire (namely Miss Mustard Seed and Christa from Stories of a House) highly recommended a HVLP sprayer unit. These can run anywhere from $300 to $1000. In the end, I just couldn’t bite the bullet and spend that much, so I was determined to find a less expensive, but professional quality alternative.
~The best option for my purposes is the combination of an HVLP spray gun attachment with an Air Compressor. Once I decided on this option, I started scouring Craigslist (my BFF) for a good, used Air Compressor. I found a huge, barely used Craftsman tank that was more than I would ever need for $100. I LOVE it!! I then bought a HVLP spray gun from Neiko (a 2mm nozzle) for around $50 on Amazon. I used this for some time with much success. It gave me a very nice finish and made things go along much faster than hand-painting. It was still a pretty slow gun though, so I kept my eye open for something that would be faster still. On the recommendation of Beckie at Infarrantly Creative and Gail at My Repurposed Life, I bought a very inexpensive Central Pneumatic spray gun from Harbor Freight ($14.99!!!) I was skeptical that something so low priced could do the job I expected of it, but it has turned out to be everything I was looking for!! And for such a great price, even if it doesn’t last forever, it’s cheap to replace.
Here’s a little pictorial summary of a few other miscellaneous items that I always keep on hand:
Well, I hope these posts were helpful and informative for you and took a little of the scariness out of doing this sort of thing yourself. It has brought me so much joy (and a little bit of extra spending money to boot!) I have a passion for it, and I hope that on this blog I’m able to help some people out there to JUMP IN! if it’s a passion of yours as well. 🙂
Please let me know if you have any specific questions I can answer for you. I got a few after the first of these posts and I’ll try to answer any of your questions next time. Happy upcycling!!