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Mike

SharpenAir Airbrush Repair Tool

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SharpenAir Airbrush Repair Tool

SharpenAir.com via The Airbrush Company

 

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A lot of modellers use airbrushes to paint their models, and we all know from experience that needles are a teeny-tiny bit delicate.  Ok, they're very delicate.  Previously, if you managed to catch your needle on the corner of the spray booth, dropped it and gave it the ability to spray round corners, or just pushed it into the body a little too vigorously and missed the hole, you'll know how expensive it can get after you've spanged a few.  Previously you had the slight chance of bending a damaged needle back to straight by rolling it on the desk, or tweaking it with your tweezers, but that's seldom totally effective and usually ends up with your airbrush not spraying quite the same again until you replace the needle, which can be £20+.

 

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You can probably guess what's coming from the title, but now you can repair your needles and save that money, although you'll have to lay out a few shekels first, but if you're a bit clumsy like me, you'll soon make your money back if it works.  Does it work?  Yes.  It does.  I've just used it to repair a needle that had a proper hook in it, as you can see from the photos below.  It arrives in a snug little box that's large enough to accommodate the device and a complementary 3000 grit sanding pad.  The instructions can be found online here, which is different to what's printed on the sticker.  The device has three Phillips pan-head screws holding it together, and four tubular slots to put the needles in, but more on that later.

 

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Inside the device are four grinding stones that are both reversible and can be turned around to maximise the device's life.  They are also at varying angles depending on their purpose, and on the underside of them all is a strip of emery paper that helps to keep your efforts smooth.  The slots are paired, with the two on the right used for repairing the very tip of the pointed area that's called the cone.  The two on the left are for larger repairs that result from damage to the whole cone, and you should first straighten your needle manually as best you can by dragging it across the table or tweaking it with tweezers.  Once you're done manually fixing it, you can then decide which pair to use first.  Either way you begin with the rightmost of the pair to hone the general shape before finessing off your work with the leftmost of the pair.  You apply a little water as lubricant and twiddle the needle gently clockwise (righty-tighty) without applying forward pressure (it's not a pencil sharpener!), checking your work every 10-15 turns and ensuring it hasn't slipped under the backstop.  When you are happy that the needle is back in shape, you should polish the needle carefully with sandpaper as described in the instructions to remove any microscopic circumferential grooves that will otherwise result in excessive drying of paint on the tip.

 

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After photography, I can see a few rings around the needle that I should polish out.  I couldn't see them with the naked eye

 

I went through the process with my dinged-up needle (I hate throwing things away, which has worked in my favour this time), and now have a nice straight needle that I'm going to chuck into my Infinity next time I'm painting.  I half expected it not to work, or to be difficult to achieve satisfactory results without some skill, but I simply followed the instructions that The Airbrush Company had thoughtfully printed out for me, and which also includes some hints and tips for getting optimal results out of your new best-friend.  That needle had been languishing unloved and uncleaned in my spares box for a number of years, as you can see by the paint residue on the unsharpened part.

 

Out of the box it is configured to repair needles up to 0.35mm, but can also be used with a 0.5mm needle by using only the rightmost slot, and after the first part of the process, swapping the 600 grit stone for the neighbouring 1200 grit stone to complete the task.  0.5mm needles only have one taper, so the other slots aren't suitable for use.

 

The original version is the one we have tested, but there is also a Paasche specific version available, a pink version of the original if you like pink, and you can buy replacement stones and polishing pads to extend your device's life even further.

 

Conclusion

What an amazing little piece of equipment!  The initial outlay is about the price of 2 needles, but if you have a habit of bending them, then it's a good investment.  Even if you're not that hard on needles it's a good idea to have one, as you're bound to bend one eventually, and if you're on a bit of a budget you could always club together with your modelling buddies and get one between a few of you.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

If you're quick you might be able to pick one up with a damaged box for a reduced price!
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Review sample courtesy of

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