If you’ve got a hankering to create a really spectacular powder-coated finish for your next metalworking project, you don’t have to turn to the experts. In fact, doing it yourself is as easy as operating a can of aerosol spray paint. All you need are the right tools and some powder.
An inexpensive way to get into power coating is with the Craftsman Powder Coat System (photo 1). It’s a self-contained gun that provides its own air power via a built-in turbine. Simply load the powder cup with the color of your choice (also available from Craftsman or from The Eastwood Company) and you’re good to go (photo 2).
In addition to the gun and powder, you’ll need an oven in which to bake the parts once they’ve been sprayed with powder. If the parts are small, you can use a simple toaster oven, but if you plan on coating larger items, you’ll need a full-sized oven. Under no circumstances should you use your primary kitchen oven! Always use a dedicated oven that will never be used for food preparation.
How to do it
Because powder coating requires electricity to charge the powder particles, you’ll attach a grounding lead to the metal rack upon which the part you intend to coat rests. Clean the part thoroughly with acetone, then place it on the metal rack. Plug in the gun and gently pull the trigger. Work back and forth, thoroughly coating the part with the powder (photo 3). And don’t worry about the overspray – you’ll sweep up any excess powder once you’re finished.
When the part is sufficiently covered with powder, place it in the pre-heated oven. Most powders require a temperature of about 400 degrees to flow and cure, but read the directions that came with your powder to verify baking times and temperatures. Once the part has baked for the specified time, simply turn off the oven and allow the part to cool before installing or working with it (photo 4).
Photos by Mike Berger and Phil Leisenheimer
Photo 1 (Powdercoat 1): The Craftsman Powder Coat System uses a turbine-driven gun to spray electrically-charged powder onto a metal surface.
Photo 2 (Powdercoat 2): A detachable plastic cup holds the powder. Either purchase multiple cups for all the colors you intend to use, or thoroughly clean the cup between uses to remove any leftover powder.
Photo 3 (Powdercoat 3): Attach the grounding wire to the metal rack, place the parts to be coated on top of the rack and begin spraying. Gently sweep from side to side as you would with an aerosol paint can.
Photo 4 (Powdercoat 4): Here’s the powder-coated part — in this case, a motorcycle handlebar clamp — installed and ready for use.