Air cap cleaning
How do you clean the small air holes next to the nozzle of a spray gun? I am not talking about the larger horn air holes.
I use a torch tip cleaner. I have several since I find them useful for all kinds of things in the shop.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
I use a tooth pic, the kind the dentist gives you that has a rubber tip on it.
A wooden one works too.
Also, a ultrasonic cleaner works real good.
I soak the aircap in lacquer thinner and then use a toothbrush to push out any residual residue.   That seems to work on WB finishes as well as the shellac I use.  

I'm pretty new to spraying and have mostly used shellac and WB poly so far. I have a LVLP gun that has some very small orifices. When I'm finished spraying, I first spray about 1/2 cup of solvent for the finish I was using through the gun (for WB, I add some soap). Then take it apart and soak everything in the same solvent and run a pipe cleaner through the larger holes. Then blow it all out with compressed air.
Soak it in lacquer thinner and blow it out. I also bought the cheap acid brushes from Harbor Freight an cut the bristles down to about 1/4 inch. They're really good for cleaning off loose finish without scratching up the parts. I tried not to use anything metal, especially on aluminum parts but sometimes it couldn't be avoided. Scratches will effect airflow. After scratching up a few air caps with welding torch cleaning tools, I switched to using carburetor cleaning tools. They're cheap and safer on the guns. The key is to take off the cap and tip as soon as you quit spraying and get them in the LT to soak. That way, everything just blows out with compressed air. As a professional, I had to constantly watch over my shoulder and be 'compliant" because of EPA regulations so I couldn't spray any cleaning solvent through the gun... like the good old days. It's a good idea to pull out the needle too and clean it up. More than just the tip gets buildup on it. So does the shaft. When it starts building up on the shaft, it causes other problems and builds up inside the gun at the needle seal. If you don't keep that area clean, it will start binding and your trigger won't release so it will keep spraying even when you don't want it to. It will also destroy that seal if not kept clean. I keep a plastic qt bottle with a spout on it full of LT. When finished spraying, I pushed a good amount of LT through the gun. Did this over a plastic trash can.

Carb cleaning tools, they're cheap... buy 2

Make sure your bottles are HDPE plastic so the LT doesn't eat them.

16oz HDPE bottles with pour spouts.

I like the brown/amber qt HDPE Barrier bottles like what you'd see in a lab but they can be hard to find. They hold up a lot better.

A poor man's alternative are the empty Ketchup and Mustard bottles at WalMart but make sure they have the plastic cap with the red removable pop-off cap. The twist caps don't work well, they restrict flow. You'll probably need to cut the tip down a little to get more flow through it to really be able to push enough LT through it to wash out your gun. Just make sure they are HDPE.
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The amount of finish that builds up on my gun's needle and air cap is strongly influenced by what finish I'm spraying, or brand.  I almost always have buildup when spraying GF's products.  On the other hand, I can spray TC's products all day long w/o having to clean the needle or air cap.  I usually use GF's products, however, for other reasons, so I'm stuck with cleaning more often.  


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