Painting tubing/pipe is a real pain. Getting all the angles painted during a given coat without "running" it is almost impossible. Whatever project said tubing/pipes are getting installed on would almost certainly impede a complete coverage. Therefore the process is very time consuming and wasteful due to overspray. Especially if you have multiples of the same length to get through.
Ever wanted to paint a bunch of tubes or pipes the same color at the same time without having cardboard stuck to one side? I did. Ever feel like you could save time and paint by discovering a new idea that would make this process completely easier? I did. Now you can! Lets get started.
Step 1: Grab Materials and Make Measurements
For my application, I needed to paint a bunch of 1/2" tubing with female JIC fittings on the ends. These tubes are really light in weight but I would imagine this idea could be scaled to fit the need though.
In this example, I'm using materials known to every maker. Your simple "nails and 2X4". Both of which are reused. The 2X4's are scraps from another project, and so are the nails. The nails are ones that got botched during the assembly process and I sat down by an anvil and straightened them out. Why you ask? To which I reply "Why not?" Although its probably best you just grab some fresh nails.
I figured the best way to paint these cylindrical objects, was to suspend them as close as possible to each other with a way to rotate them slightly. The close proximity would reduce overspray which would reduce the amount of paint used, and the ability to rotate them would allow even coverage.
The 1/2" tubes had fittings that measured 7/8" so I made my spacing at 1". If you look closely at the block, I marked each line for how many tubes I had (8), and then squared it across the 2X4 for reference. Sorry the pencil is hard to see.
Step 2: Optional: Drill Pilot Holes
I chose to drill some pilot holes because I was using used/straightened nails and the 2X4's in question were abnormally hard in density. If you choose to do this I recommend using a slightly smaller bit than the nail.
Step 3: Drive Some Nails
Grab your hammer and drive some nails in on the marks you made or in the pilot holes. I just made them as close as possible to centered in the edge of the 2X4. As for the depth of the nails, honestly, I just guessed. Seemed appropriate. I'm by no means, a carpenter.
While you're at it, repeat everything up to this point so you have two 2X4's, with a bunch of carefully spaced nails sticking out of them.
Step 4: Optional: Add Some Masking Tape
If you're worried about the nails scarring the inside of your work piece, wrap the head of the nail with a bit of masking tape. I'm working with hydraulic tubing so I just didn't want to take any chances.
Step 5: Sawhorses
Grab your trusty, overworked sawhorses. There are a lot of things that could work for this step. One would just need a way to attach the pieces just made so that they are semi-solid and at the same level.
I figured my sawhorses would do the job just fine. Originally I was going to clamp these in place because of the temporary nature, but I got tired of looking for my bigger C clamps, then remembered they were used on a welding project in a different place and so I just screwed them to the sawhorses. Use your best judgement. I like things solid when I'm working on them.
Step 6: Place and Prepare
Wipe your tubing down with a preferred surface cleaner, as you would any painted surface to remove all grease and oils. I like to wear disposable nitrile gloves throughout the whole painting process to protect my hands and prevent finger prints/oils.
Place all the tubes in place over the nails and make sure you can spin them freely. If not, the nails are easily bent to provide a bit of clearance needed. Make sure the sawhorses, and fixtures are close enough together so that there is no chance of the tubing falling out on one side during the rotation process. In my case, I had to make sure all of the fittings were extended as far outward as they would go, so that they would protect the sealing surface.
Step 7: Primer
I worked from the ends into the center. The cool thing is you can spin the tubes carefully and apply light coats. Just be patient and you'll get them all coated evenly. At the very last you can get underneath, and on top, from each side to get the spot where you were rotating the tubes without touching it.
One thing I tried is to keep the overspray hitting the tubing at all times. Play with the angle of spray pattern and you can make more use of your paint spraying all of the tubes at once instead of one-at-a-time type of thing. I found that a flatter angle worked best for me.
Step 8: Final Coat
Repeat painting process with your final coat and let dry.
This process worked really well for me and I know I will use it many times in the future. In fact, I'm rather bitter I haven't made this until this point in my life. I've searched around a bit and haven't found anything similar, so I decided to post it.
Technically, I would call this a painting fixture, but I think it also qualifies as a painting tool. It certainly made my job much easier and because so, I've decided to enter it into the tools contest. If you think it would help you out, go ahead and give it a vote!