Faster Method for Spraying Doors

Finishers discuss how a small shop can speed up its door-spraying operation. June 10, 2006

I am looking for a faster method to spray cabinets doors, without having to use the flat line finish system. We lay doors flat on carts, water dye, sealer, and topcoat. We do hundreds of doors.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
Get a lazy susan type spray stand. The sprayer stands in one spot and two helpers (runners) put doors on and take doors off one at a time to put in the drying racks. Two sanders do the sealer sanding. It seems you will need at least three guns.

From contributor R:
Paasche makes a turntable that rotates via an air motor and a footswitch. 2 turntables, side by side, and 2 helpers. The finisher steps between the 2 turntables as the helpers load and unload the tables. The finisher has almost no down time. Can spray over 100 doors/hour.

From contributor C:
100 doors an hour? Is that both sides? Seal coat? Topcoat? I'm a one man shop, and easily shoot 100 pieces in about 40 minutes. No way would I want to have two helpers setting up for me so I could shoot nonstop. Shoulder and wrist would be written off to workers comp for repetitive motion injuries. If an owner wants more production than that, let them buy an automated system. This profession isn't worth crippling oneself for.

From contributor C:
You need to evaluate your own shop layout and procedures, find wasted steps and eliminate them. My own setup consists of 3 stands that can pivot so I can shoot edges on wider doors that I can't just shoot around. Set up 3 doors, blow off with air gun hanging centrally, spray gun rests on a hook just below that so as I let go of airgun, I'm picking up the spray gun. Shoot all 3 doors, take wet door to rack, located next to spray gun hook, take unsprayed door off rack and put on stand, get next one. I cycle through a 50 rack Hafele cart and then clean my spray gun and have a swallow or two of coffee before rotating to the next rack of doors.

This system works for me, and every step I take moves, cleans or coats a piece. Spray gun idle time is the killer. If you have a wider booth, you might be able to get in more than three doors and further reduce gun idle time. Stretch out your muscles every 15 to 20 minutes. Don't try to shoot 100 doors or more straight through or you'll be suffering for it. I've been nailed in last minute rushes and did the nonstop shooting only to have to go home and wear a heating pad and chew Tylenol all weekend. It's not fun. In this way, I can easily seal, sand and topcoat 250 doors a week while doing all the other cabinet parts as well for 8 kitchens. And that's without crippling myself.

From contributor R:
If you break down the process of spraying a door, you will find that more actual work is performed in the act of picking up and moving the door than waving a spray gun over it. In production environments, tow and hang lines have been operating in the wood and metal industry for decades. The equivalent of 100 doors an hour is done all day, every day.

The 3 man team I described stains, finishes and scuffs the parts, so it's not like they do the same repetitive motions all day. I know of several shops that use spray teams and they put out an enormous amount of product in a day. Without question, there comes a point where a machine is faster, healthier and more economical to use. I would never argue that point, but you have to start somewhere.

From contributor A:
I would have to agree that the lazy susan works the best. If you had two of these, there's no reason why you can't double coat 100+ doors and drawer fronts in a day. You'll need a helper to sand between coats but still, you don't need a conveyor belt or multiple people unless you want to do 200+ doors a day.

If you are looking for 200+ doors in a day double coated, then you should get a dryer. There are small table sized dryers available that have a conveyor belt much like an oven. Put the door down on the belt and in 2 minutes it comes out ready to sand.

For me the problem is sanding faster, not spraying faster. I can spray a 2' X 4' panel or door in less than a minute. If I fill the pot right up I can spray for 2 hours non-stop and do some 200 doors one coat by myself. Get yourself more drying racks, enough for 400+ doors. Spray like a madman and have a helper move stuff you need moved.

From contributor B:
At end of sanding process, screw two small (1/2") hooks into top of doors. This takes about 1 min/door. Doors are hung on wires, and sprayed. They can be left there to dry, or lifted by hooks and hung on similar wire clotheslines in drying area. Size of hole from hooks is small enough to fill with crayon. The hooks make it easy to move wet doors and eliminate the fat thumb marks.

From contributor J:
We hang our doors by one hole in the corner that is covered by the bumper pad. They move on a conveyer chain. That moves along at 7 ft. per minute. They pass one spray person for the back side, then a second to do the fronts. The conveyer completes a cycle every 30 minutes. 80 doors are finished both sides every 2 1/2 hours. If you use conversion varnish and run it through a heater, you could hang them in 30 minutes.