Re: What's a good finish for my first spray project?
Personally, I suggest that people use lacquer to start learning. The reason is that it dries FAST. If you get a run or sag, it can be sanded out in about an hour. Dry time between successful coats is usually around 10 to 15 minutes in a warm shop.
On the "floating panels", i'd recommend shooting a 1/2" pin top and bottom center on the back side of the panel where it fits into the styles. I angle them on the edge of the style so they don't show much at all. That will keep it in place and still let it expand crossgrain if need be.
With most of the oil based poly's, the drying time is much longer and a small sag will end up running all the way to the floor before it firms up any.
As far as the Harbor Freight sprayer, give it a go!!! I know guys that spray CARS with the HF spray guns!
Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!