How to Build a Powder Coating Oven

how to build a powder coating oven diy
Powder coating requires either an oven or infrared heating in order to cure the powder.   A household oven or even a toaster oven are great for smaller parts, but you will always be limited by the oven size.  If you are interested in a smaller oven, check out the original oven article: Powder Coating Ovens. If you want to start powder coating large parts, you will either need to spend a lot of money or make your own.  In this article, I will be focusing on how to build your own powder coating oven. It may seem intimidating if you have never attempted this kind of project, but with the information available on the internet, you can easily tackle this job, save money and end up with a large powder coating oven.  No welding is required to build the powder coating oven featured in this article.  This is part one of a two-part powder coating oven build.  See How to Build a Powder Coating Oven Part II for the remaining steps.

How to Build a Powder Coating Oven Part II

how to build a powder coating oven diy


     Welcome to "How to Build a Powder Coating Oven - Part II."  See How to Build a Powder Coating Oven Part 1.  In part 1, we build the oven frame, we started skinning it in sheet metal, we added lights and the convection blower, and also insulation and heating elements.  I am going to pick up right were we left off.  This powder coating oven build was done by KNJ Custom Coating and I want to thank them for contributing all of the information and pictures.

How to Avoid Easily Chipped Powder Coat

Powder coating is usually an easy-going process that produces a brilliant and durable finish.  However, occasionally; or if you're new, it may be a lot more frequent, you'll pull a part out of the oven and see that it is full of defects.  The following articles will help you identify those defects and learn what you need to do to avoid seeing them again.  This is the beginning of a series of articles that will help you solve issues with powder coating defects. This article will discuss one of the more serious powder coating defects: powder coat that is easily chipped.

Powder Coating Guns



If you are completely new to Powder Coating, I recommend that you start off by getting a beginner powder coating gun.  These are priced at less than $200. After you have that, you can try it out and see if it's something you want to pursue. This post will talk about some good powder coating guns you can start out with, but first take a look at some of the other equipment and supplies you will need:





Clicking the links will take you to the appropriate article on this site
Powder coating gun - Read about them below in this post.
  1. Oven
  2. Powder
  3. Something to powder coat
  4. Air Compressor (Unless you use the Craftsman powder coating gun)
  5. Non-contact Infrared Thermometer
  6. Grounding Rod
  7. Media Blaster 
  8. Powder Coat Stripper - for WHEN you mess up.
  9. Degreaser & Soap
  10. Masking supplies: plugs, high-temp tape, blue painters tape, etc.
  11. Denatured Alcohol
  12. Disposable Gloves
  13. Respirator

Spraying Multiple Coats

powder coaitng two tone wheels rimsThere are several instances when powder coating where multiple coats will be involved.  Often times, it is a clear coat for added protection and appearance. Sometimes it is required, chrome powders need a clear to protect them from oxidizing.  Candy colors need a chrome base to achieve the candy look.  Also, multiple colors can be applied onto one part to achieve a two-tone look.  This article will help you apply multiple coats of powder the correct way.

Plumbing Your Air Compressor

Plumbing serves a couple of purposes when it comes to your air compressor. Not only does it allow the air to get from point A to point B in your shop or garage, but it can also help to cool the air which assists in reducing moisture. This is very important for powder coating and sandblasting, as well as any other pneumatic tool you may use including HVLP paint guns and standard air tools. The material you choose for your air lines and the way it is laid out can have a drastic effect on the amount of moisture coming out at the end of your air hose as well as the CFM provided. This article will help you decide how to set up the air lines in your shop or garage. 

routing plumbing for air compressor



How to Spray Powder Coat

Spraying powder coat is a fairly simple point-and-shoot job once you get the hang of it.  After you have done all of the necessary cleaning, blasting, and masking; shooting the powder is the next step.  This article will help you achieve the correct coating thickness and avoid orange peel and other defects.
Powder Coating Cloud




How to Prep for Powder Coating


Powder coating requires some very specific prep work if you want your finished product to be free of flaws and last a long time. The preparation steps below will eliminate 99% of any issues you may be having in your powder coating work. If you plan to start powder coating in the future, this step-by-step will give you an idea of what kind of prep work is required for successful coating. 

Powder Coat Masking




How to Dry Compressed Air

best air compressor filter powder coatingYou have your air compressor and powder coating gun and you are ready to start powder coating? Not so fast, make sure you read this article first. When powder coating or sandblasting, you need clean, dry air. More than just compressed air comes out of the outlet of your air compressor. Water, dirt, and oil will also be included in this compressed air. It is very important that you treat your compressed air and remove these contaminants when using your air compressor for powder coating. The same information I am about to provide also applies to auto painting, compressed air machinery, or even just using common air tools. Any tool that connects to your air compressor will appreciate a clean air supply.   Read this article: How to Choose an Air Compressor if you haven't purchased an air compressor yet. 

Choosing an Air Compressor

An air compressor is an essential component in nearly all powder coating applications. It provides the air necessary for media blasting, blowing off parts, and of course, a powder coating gun. 
https://www.amazon.com/Compressor-80-Gallon-EMAX-Industrial-ES05V080I1/dp/B012RJZY3O/ref=as_li_ss_tl?&linkCode=ll1&tag=powcoathecomg-20&linkId=0621e45b1cd18ab3d0c7905f1164eed6&language=en_US

To those that are on the fence about whether they decide to get into powder coating, an air compressor may seem like an expensive item that takes up too much space. Don’t let that prohibit you though. Air compressors come in all shapes, sizes, and prices; and there is one available for every level of powder coater, from a complete beginner, to a large established shop. 

An air compressor is also incredibly useful to have available to you, even when you’re not powder coating. A large world of pneumatic tools becomes available to you, with the right air compressor. 


This article will cover the basic parts of an air compressor and the terminology used to describe its performance. I am hoping that this information will help you to choose the right air compressor that will assist your powder coating experience.

Where to Buy Powder




powder coating powder There are several companies that manufacture powder coating powders. Dupont, PPG, NIC, Tiger Drylac, Sherwin Williams, & 3M are some popular manufactures.  However, large companies like these prefer to sell large quantities of powder.  It is not practical for them to mess around with selling 1lb here and 1lb there. Some of their "sample sizes" are 50lb boxes.  As a small, custom powder coater, you will probably not want 50lbs of any one color so ordering directly from these companies isn't practical.  Luckily there are companies out there that buy these powders in the large quantities and re-sell them in much smaller quantities.  This allows you to buy powders in 1lb quantities, and in some cases, even 1/2lb quantities.  The average price for a pound of powder is about $12 and 1 pound can go a long way. 

Masking Part II: Perfect Masking Lines

Learn how to get perfect masking lines. Also several different masking materials explained.


      In the last masking article, I covered the very basic masking supplies needed for powder coating and also the reasons you would need to mask. In this article, I will show you some not so common ways to mask off parts when powder coating and also show you how to get nice, clean looking masking lines.
powder coat masking

Why Masking is Necessary For Powder Coating and Which Masking Supplies To Use

Masking is a tedious but required part of powder coating.  Masking powder coat is done for either appearance or for function and both of these topics will be explained more in-depth in this article. I will also discuss some of the more basic, but important, powder coating masking materials and supplies.

Related articles: Masking Part II and Wall-Mounted High Temp Tape Dispenser.

When powder coating, it is important to mask off certain areas of certain things.  Powder coating is a thicker coating than most paints and if you don't mask certain areas, things might not go back together when you're done.  You can also use masking techniques to make designs, logos, and words on the things you are powder coating for a different look.  Masking techniques and supplies are not all standardized, sometimes you have to get creative to mask off certain items.  Again, this will be one of several articles on masking, so I will cover the basics of masking here.

powder coat tape masking
This alternator case is masked with Polyester Powder Coating Tape.  This tape can withstand 400 degrees without degrading.

Cleaning and Degreasing before Powder Coating

Lets talk about the first step of the powder coating process: thoroughly cleaning and degreasing. Even if the piece is brand new, it should be cleaned. Powder coat adheres best to clean bare metal. Dirt, oils, and other contaminants left on a powder coated part can cause adhesion issues including complete delamination of the coating, and visual issues such as specks, bumps, of fish eyes visible in the coating.
Following the steps in this article will ensure that your parts are thoroughly cleaned and ready for the next step in the powder coating process.


Alternatives to Sand Blasting

removing rust before powder coatingWhen powder coating, media blasting (sand blasting) is one of the best preparation methods possible. It cleans, de-rusts, and it leaves behind a texture that makes powder coating stick like nothing else. Read this Media Blasting article to realize the full benefits. But for the stubborn people out there (I was one of them) who don't own a big air compressor or sandblaster and don't want to invest in them, I will go over some alternatives to sandblasting. Note: The alternatives are slower and do not achieve the same durability in the powder coating finish as media blasting.

Powdercoatguide.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


There are some parts that I will still use this method on. Valve covers and oil pans with internal baffles like to trap blast media. Unless you remove the baffles to thoroughly clean out all of the media afterwards, media will get trapped in the part. Later when these parts are installed in the engine, the media can get washed out by the oil and circulated around the engine. Blast media will quickly score bearings and journals inside the engine which can result in an engine rebuild. Not worth the risk to me to media blast these types of parts.




First, let me say that when I started powder coating, I had no air compressor and no sandblaster. I bought the Craftsman Powder Coating Gun that did not require an air compressor. I was scared of the cost of a large air compressor and it required an electrical outlet that I was unfamiliar with. I used the methods that I am about to describe below and in the end, I bought everything I would need to sandblast. I eventually did buy an air compressor and learned a lot about them. If you would like to understand more about air compressors and what type you will need to sandblast, head over to "How to Choose an Air Compressor".

Assuming the part you are planning to powder coat is not brand new, it probably has old paint, rust, or corrosion on it. To prepare a part for powder coating without a sandblaster, the following are different methods that I used.


Wire Wheel 

The first step I used was a bench grinder with a wire wheel

Note: if your part is stainless steel, only use stainless steel wire wheels.

This is a Dewalt 8 inch bench grinder: (It also also works great for polishing aluminum)

removing rust before powder coating

This is a wire wheel:

wire wheel rust removal
  Wire wheels are great for removing paint and rust. They get old dirty metal down to clean bare metal. They take much longer than a sandblaster, and I was okay with that at first but it becomes tedious. Also the 8" wire wheel will not reach into the crevices of your part.


 
After finishing all the larger open areas with the bench grinder, I then switched to smaller wire wheels mounted in a drill. They work great at getting into almost all of the small crevices.
wire wheel rust removal
This is around the time when I setup my make-shift peg board to keep myself organized. Now that I use a sandblast cabinet, the board has been decommissioned.



cheap garage organization


After I got into all of the areas I possibly could with the various sized wire wheels, I used a Dremel with a flex shaft and a very tiny wire wheel . The small wire wheels wear down very fast so I learned to stop buying the Dremel name brand ones that were $6.00 each and found this assorted pack which comes with every size you need to get to any crevice and they are much cheaper. Just keep in mind that they fling sharp bristles as you work. Protect your eyes and skin.

rust removal dremel wire wheel kit



Another simple way to keep organized was this make-shift Dremel attachment holder. I hated the Dremel case so I just drilled 1/8 inch holes into a block of wood, and now my Dremel attachments are always handy. The container is held onto the wood with double sided tape. Little things like this keep me sane in the garage.

dremel bit organization


So now that you have spent a couple hours wire wheeling your way to clean bare metal, you should have a part that went from this:

powder coating parts before cleaning

To this:

powder coating parts wire wheeling rust




Looks good, but do not stop there. Wire-wheels and wire brushes leave very smooth polished scratches in metal. This results in a shiny appearance and a shine is the result of a smooth surface. This leaves little for the powder coating to grab onto and the results are coatings that chip off very easily.

The next step is bound to be your favorite: Sanding.

While sanding, your aim is to remove the shine. I always used two consecutive steps, first 3M 220 Grit and then finish it off with 3M 400 Grit sandpaper. Remember, the goal is to add texture, not to remove a bunch of metal and change the dimensions of the part.

After sanding, you can then re-clean your part and go on to powder coat it. However, keep in mind that when you rinse any cleaner off of the bare metal part, the part will want to rust very quickly. It is best to do the final rinse in cold water and dry it as fast and as thoroughly as possible. I recommend wearing disposable gloves while drying and handling the part after it is clean. Touching the part can cause little rusty fingerprints to show up due to the salts on your skin. After the part is dried, do a quick bake in the oven to remove any remaining moisture.

I still found the powder coating was less durable than desired so I broke down and bought a sandblasting cabinet and an air compressor. Not only is it way faster, the powder coat was much more chip resistant. I still wanted to cover these methods for those that are not ready to invest in blasting equipment yet. If you are planning on powder coating parts for paying customers, absolutely do not use this method, sandblasting is the only way to go, read this Media Blasting article to realize the full benefits.

Stripping Powder Coat



stripping removing powder coatLets talk about how to remove powder coat. Why would you want to strip powder coat from a part? As you start powder coating, you are going to make some errors. It doesn't always come out like you expected. If that happens, it is nice to be able to remove the powder coating so you can try again. There are several ways to remove powder coat. You can remove powder coating with a chemical stripper, media blasting, or a burn-off oven.


Powder Coating: Perfect for Car Restorations

I am going to take a break on explaining the types of tools needed for powder coating and discuss powder coating from a car restoration standpoint.  I am in the middle of a car restoration myself. My car is a Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. I learned to powder coat for this car and powder coating will play a major role in making this car look new and keep it that way for many years.  Because powder coating comes in so many colors, shades and textures, it can match basically any finish possible.  Even if you have a 60's era muscle car and would like a completely concourse restoration, powder coating can be used to match those original finishes.

powder coated alternator power steering pump and starter motor




Black Mitubishi 3000GT VR-4

Media Blasting Part II - Setting up a Sandblast Cabinet

This article will talk about setting up a media blasting cabinet to be as efficient as possible so that you can easily prepare your parts for powder coating. I explained the different types of media blasting methods such as pressure pot, siphon blasting, sandblasting cabinets, blasting outdoors, and dedicated media blasting rooms in the previous article: Media Blasting.

For most powder coaters, a media blasting cabinet will be the most ideal way to prepare your parts for powder coating.  They are available in a range of sizes that will suit small DIY projects up to very large projects.  Media blasting cabinets keep all of your blasting media contained in a sealed environment and which allows you to get the most use out of your media and also keep your area clean. Here is an example of a cheap media blasting cabinet for a small DIY powder coating setup:

powder coating in garage

Why Sandblasting is the Best Method to Prepare for Powder Coating

sandblasted alternator coverMedia blasting also known as sandblasting is a great preparation method for powder coating.


When powder coating, it is very important that the item you are coating is completely clean of oils, dirt, paint, rust, corrosion, and damaged plating (zinc, nickel, chrome, etc). All of these things can interfere with the powder coating process causing imperfections in the finish or causing it to fail completely. After cleaning your item of all oils and dirt, a media blaster does the job of removing rust and corrosion very easily and thoroughly when compared to other methods.

How to Properly Ground Powder Coated Parts with a Dedicated Ground Rod

Improve the attraction of powder to your parts while powder coating.

If you are powder coating a metal part, it must be grounded. The ground is what attracts the powder to the part. The better the ground, the more efficient your powder coating gun can work, especially when spraying multiple coats or intricate parts. Often a powder coating gun or the guns control box will come with a small 18-gauge ground wire and a mini alligator clip that you can connect to your part to ground it. I will call this the "stock" ground. The stock ground continues through the control box, through the small gauge wire to plug into a wall outlet, and then finally reaches ground after it travels through your buildings electrical. This is not a sufficient ground for proper powder coating. No matter how good of gun you have, you need to install a DEDICATED GROUNDING ROD.
Powder Coat grounding rod

Properly Curing Powder Coat with an Infrared Thermometer

To achieve a high quality and durable powder coated finish, knowing the surface temperature of parts while they are curing in the oven is essential. To fully realize all of the benefits of powder coating, the powder must be cured at the specified temperature for the specified amount of time. The most universal method of checking the part surface temperature while it is in the oven is with a non-contact infrared thermometer, AKA an IR thermometer or IR temp gun. This article will explain why you need to measure part temperatures, how to use an infrared thermometer correctly in your powder coating process, and the best IR thermometers for the job.

powder coating part metal temp ir thermometer

An infrared thermometer can measure the temperature of an objects surface without actually making any contact with it. Very affordable models exist for hobbyist powder coaters and their are more feature-rich options for professionals. They are equipped with a laser pointer to help you aim at the intended area, and they are able to display the temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. These tools make it very easy to quickly check the temperature of powder coated parts while they are curing in the oven. 

Materials you can Powder Coat



Powder coating can be used to coat many types of materials. The most common material is metal, but you can also powder coat wood, plastic, composites, glass, and MDF. The first consideration for coating objects besides metal, is can it withstand the temperature. Most plastics will melt when subjected to 400 degree heat for any length of time so it is important to research exactly what your object is made of before you try to powder coat it.

powder coating glass
This glass vase was powder coated red for Valentines Day.

Powders



Powder is one of the most difficult parts of the whole process, choosing one that is. There are literally thousands of different kinds of powders in different colors, textures, and gloss levels. Then add in the fact that you can mix powders(Beginners, don't do this yet!) and do multiple coatings to achieve even more looks. It is baffling, I spend a huge amount of time selecting colors.  If you would like to know some reputable websites to purchase powder from, check out my recommendations.

Powder Coating Ovens

building powder coating oven
In order to powder coat, you will need some type of oven in order to cure the powder coating.   You will need an oven that is capable of sustaining 450 degrees and it will have to be large enough to fit your powder coated objects inside of.  There are several different options available to a beginning powder coater and they will be discussed in this post. 

The cheapest powder coating ovens that you can use to start with if you don't want to spend too much money are: a toaster oven, a household oven, or a propane grill. You can also get lucky and find a cheap commercial oven.  If you have a larger budget, you can build or buy a large dedicated powder coating oven.  Powders coating ovens are one of those things where the price goes up gradually with the size until you pass household oven and then the price jumps into the thousands of dollars range. An oven you could fit 4 wheels or a bike frame would cost you $2000 or more. If you want to an oven that will fit a car, you're looking at $10,000 to $20,000.  




What is Powder Coating?

Powder coating is the process of applying a paint in the form of powder. Regular liquid type paints are pigments and binders suspended in solvents. Powder coating is solvent free so you are just using the dry pigments and binders. Once the powder is sprayed on your work piece, it must be baked from 350 to 400 degrees F for 10-20 minutes.  Each powder has its own specific curing schedule and you should always that schedule when dealing with that particular powder. When the powder is heated, it melts into a liquid, connects together, cures, and once cooled, is dried to a hard, beautiful finish.



You can powder coat almost any object that can withstand the cure temperature of the powder. It is the most common to powder coat metal, however, you can also powder coat composites, MDF, glass, and other items that will not be damaged when subjected to powder coating temperatures. 

Generally, when powder coating metal, the powder is given a positive charge when it leaves the gun and it is attracted to a grounded workpiece. Once the piece is fully and evenly coated, you carefully transfer it to an oven that can heat the powder to the specified temperature. The powder will melt, flow out, and then cure during this process. The usual specification for the piece is anywhere from 350 degrees F for 20 minutes to 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Powder Coating metal serves a couple of purposes.  The functional purpose is that it provides a barrier between the metal and the oxygen around it protecting it from corrosion.  When it comes to iron or steel, this is very important to prevent rust. . However, if the powder coating is scratched, or chipped down to the bare metal underneath, rust can start in this spot.  Media blasting a part before powder coating will provide a profile for the powder to adhere tightly to the part, this helps reduce the spread of rust underneath the powder coating after it is scratched and keeps it centralized to just the scratched area.  You can read more on creating a profile here.

The aesthetic purpose of powder coat is that you can choose from an almost unlimited amount of colors, textures, gloss-levels, ect. Powder coat colors can be applied in multiple coats to achieve even more unique finishes. 

To learn the very basic steps of the powder coating process, check out my Step-by-Step Tutorial.

Powder Coating: Simple Step-by-Step



Here is a powder coating infographic that covers the very basic steps of powder coating. This is the most basic of the basics, but it serves to show you what order the steps should go in. Go to this article to see a much more thorough explanation of the preparation steps: How to Prep for Powder Coating.  Below the infographic, you will find links that expand each step of the process.

Welcome to Powder Coating: The Complete Guide



Welcome to
Powder Coating: The Complete Guide.  

My name is Sean and here I will discuss in detail how to powder coat. If you have no idea what powder coating is, I first suggest reading "What is Powder Coating".  The main focus of this guide is DIY powder coating but there will be plenty of information here for anyone that powder coats.

Being able to powder coat means being able to apply beautiful durable finishes using relatively low cost equipment, and the basics can be learned quickly. The best part about powder coating is that you don't need a large elaborate collection of equipment to do it yourself. The equipment definitely helps and improves the time spent and the final product, but how involved and how much money you want to spend on equipment is up to you.  Powder coating is a great hobby and if you are willing to put in the time to learn it properly and invest in the right equipment, it can be a great career as well.



powder coated shifter assembly
Only a few weeks after I received my first powder coating gun and no prior experience, I took this shifter assembly from this condition..
powder coated shifter assembly
to this condition.  This guide will teach you how to achieve the same results.