These are our picks for the absolute necessities for a startup coating operation. If you are just getting started with Cerakote, DuraCoat, etc., these are the tools we recommend as "Must Have's" for getting started and setting up shop.
It almost goes without saying, but the Air Compressor is the heart and soul of the coating shop. We recommend getting a big freestanding compressor from respected brands such as Ingersol Rand or Quincy. You want your compressor to be powerful enough to keep up with your blast cabinet. Prep is the key to great coatings, and abrasive blasting is a big help for great prep. With a great compressor, you can "T" the airline to also feed your spray area. (Be sure to add a regulator to dial down the psi for your spray gun. (We run ours at around 35 psi))
As stated above, great prep is the key to good coatings, and abrasive blasting can be a huge part of that. We like this blast cabinet from Grizzly. It is large enough to fit long barrels, actions, stocks, etc., and has access on both sides as well as the top. It has a built in vacuum and lighting that works very well. It is also pedal driven which keeps your hand from getting fatigued during blasting.
You can't spray Cerakote or DuraCoat with out a spray gun! We recommend keeping a Mini HVLP Sprayer as well as an Airbrush on hand, but if you can only have one, the Mini HVLP is probably the best first choice. This is because it is better suited to laying base coats and doing solid color projects. Once you are on your feet a bit, you can add an airbrush for doing camouflages or more artistic projects. We wrote a complete article on the differences between the applicators as well as our favorite ones here.
A flexible hose is a must!!! Most HVLP setups steer you down the road of using standard shop airline hose which is heavy and cumbersome when spraying. This can be fatiguing real quick. We recommend using flexible airline hose designed for airbrushes. With the adapter, this can be used with Mini HVLP sprayers as well as airbrushes.
This may be the most underrated part. The Quick disconnect installs on the bottom of your Airbrush before the hose. This can also be added to the Mini HVLP discussed above by adding it between the hose and adapter. Once added, you have the ability to quickly disconnect and reconnect the sprayer from the hose. This can be very handy for color changing and/or cleaning. One of the bigger advantages though is that it allows the sprayer to swivel on the hose. This keeps the hose from fighting against you as you move about your project. Trust us on this one, its worth it!!!
This cleaning kit is great because it comes with everything you need to get going! The soft and hard pipe cleaners work well against most coating products like Cerakote and DuraCoat in various stages of curing. The cleaning pot is a great place to point your tip when running cleaner through the brush, or to test fire prior to coating. It also offers a nice stand for setting your sprayer down which is an often overlooked necessity when setting up a spray area.
It doesn't matter which coating or paint you are using, at some point you will need to add some reducer. We like to keep one bottle at the mixing station, and another in our spray area so we can add a little on the fly if needed. These bottles are also perfect for keeping your cleaner in and can be quickly shot through your sprayer for color changes or when wrapping up your operation.
There are places you just won't want your coatings or paints to go, and the quickest, most professional way to keep them out (besides our awesome stencils!) is this high temp silicon plug kit. These silicon plugs can handle oven curing making them perfect for Cerakote and DuraCoat use. We recommend using them to plug the ends of barrels and chambers when spraying to keep the coatings out. The kit comes with many size plugs allowing you ability to plug other small holes as well whose tolerances could be affected by unwanted coating getting in. The plugs are also very durable and hold up great against blast media during prep.