Tuesday, 29 December 2020

A paint shaker



Recently I took a punt on whether a nail varnish shaker would work to shake up my model paints, which I store on their sides (short answer .... it does).


For whatever reason, some of my paints mix quite well with a simple shake and don’t even seem to separate and settle out in the first place, the pigment being quite happy to stay suspended in the acrylic medium. 


Others just separate at the slightest chance and when used, just ooze out the medium, with the pigment rich stuff staying inside the bottle. Vigorous shaking never really seems effective enough and causes a hell of a pounding on the wrist! So much so, sometimes I avoid a colour simply because its too much hassle to get it working properly.


I keep a dropper bottle with a solution of 80% water and 20% flow aid and on a regular basis, add two drops to all of my paints, which helps a bit to keep things moving, particularly with my GW paints.


Anyway, a good solution to the shaking thing seems to be the nail varnish shaker and thinking about it, it should be, as the principles of shaking a bottle of nail varnish and the paint dropper should be the same.


I am not particularly advocating this unit in the picture, it just happens to be the one I bought on behalf of someone who was looking for a Christmas gift for me.





The body is quite heavy, so it feels robust. On the top it has a cradle for the bottle to sit in and a button that activates the unit while ever it is depressed. On the rear side is a trap door that will take 4 x AA batteries (or D type as the box describes them).


However, the unit comes with a power lead and plug, which seems a better alternative to the batteries unless you need to be very mobile.





Above - a standard Vallejo dropper strapped into the cradle.


There are three soft rubber straps, one to use and two spares. These are very ‘grippy’, which I suppose they need to be if holding a glass nail varnish bottle. They stretch and have adjustment holes in them, so seem able to accommodate a variety of bottle sizes.





I am adding 1 stainless steel ball bearing (from AK) to each of my dropper pots as a permanent aid to breaking down the paint. I put a red dot on each bottle as a note that it has had one added.





I have tried to capture the vibration in this shot, rather unsuccessfully, however, I can say that this white dropper bottle had been stored on its side and all of the paint had settled along the bottom edge of the dropper.


After around 15 seconds of using the machine, the paint was properly mixed and mobile and is now a more effective ‘white’ in terms of coverage than it had been previously. So a success.


Other examples are Desert Yellow, which has persistently stayed separated for ages, with the yellow on the bottom of the bottle and a sort of more mobile greeny fluid ( the medium) in the other half. The machine had fully mixed this paint dropper in around 10 - 15 seconds. It also got my metallic ‘Oily Steel’ mobile again, although that took a bit more time.


Overall I am guessing that the paints will last longer, be better pigmented in use and my wrist (repetitive strain injury) will appreciate the machine doing all of that heavy lifting.


I suppose I better go and paint something now!


30 comments:

  1. By coincidence I also had to find a solution to settled paint. Your system looks neat. Mine replies on an improvised contraption attached to my electric saw.

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  2. Hi, I did exactly the same, inspired by the same video as you :-) however, I could not get a clamp with a stem that would fit the blade slot, so I just attacked the bottles to the blade with elastic bands and cardboard shield. It worked, but in a rather ungainly way and the elastic bands would invariably snap!

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  3. Did this purchase raise any eyebrows on the home front? Will this device serve more than one purpose. I approached this issue from a different perspective and mix paints with an equivalent of a hand blender or emulsifier.

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  4. Hi Jonathan, no, as soon as I mention wargames, eyes just glaze over and I get an ‘OK Dad’.

    I did notice that the white paint mentioned above was much thicker and had ‘body’, I will probably need to thin that to use it!

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  5. Norm this looks really cool - I want one :)

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    1. Steve, I was surprised what a simple solution it was and really bought it more on a hope than anything else.

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  6. Really interesting, some Vallejo colors need to be shaken quite a lot to get a good mix. English Uniform comes to mind. I might need one of these. I sometimes put my paints on top of the washing machine while doing the laundry.

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  7. Hi Matías, the earth colours seem to be the worst offenders. The washing machine is a great idea. I started my quest by asking in jeweller shops whether they sold those 'sonic baths' that vibrate, causing jewellery in solution to self clean, which I suppose is the same principle. It was while searching on line for one that I came across the nail varnish shaker.

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  8. Very clever Norm - some paints seem to need a LOT of shaking and this will certainly take the strain out of paint prep.

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    1. I’m surprised just what a difference it has made to the density of the paint ... also some of my colours look different now that they are mixed properly :-)

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  9. A great idea Norm and probably one of the strangest and most memorable Christmas presents you will ever receive!

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    1. Thanks Keith, my daughter, who gave me the gift (that I chose) is most bemused ....... more-so I think by the fact that it generated a blog article :-)

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  10. What a good idea Norm! Over the years I have reduced my paints (all Vallejo) to only those colours that squeeze from the bottle with a thick consistency and abandoned those that seem more prone to separating, that said I currently have around 150 bottles, with a good 100 of those being unopened 'reserves'. I could name the reds/blues/greens/whites etc etc that work for me and those that don't. That said it's a neat device Norm. I also like the suggestion of using the top of the washing machine.

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    1. Thanks Lee, there were paints there, such as Desert Yellow, which is a really useful colour for WWII, that I just didn’t go near because the effort to get them to mix was too great and the longer I left them, the more they separated.

      I am though using a ball bearing and a couple of drops of my flow improver solution, so I should also tip my hat to them.

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  11. A neat idea Norm. I've not had many problems with my paints, but as I use mainly old GW ones which I can stir by hand, it's less of an issue.

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    1. Thanks Steve, I find the GW paints a bit more consistent in how they behave, but they get a couple of drops of my flow improver after every few uses and I am convinced that this helps the paint mobility. For whatever reason, Hoeth Blue remains thick whatever I do - but it has fantastic covering power!

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  12. Smart move Norm! To me it seems to be the Vallejo paints that separate, I've never had much of a separation issue with GW or the cheaper model colours I buy,it's one of the reasons I've mostly avoided Vallejo paints,even though when they work they're great!
    Best Iain

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    1. Hi Iain, it seems to be the earthy yellowy - greeny colours that are the most susceptible to separation.

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  13. I am still endeavouring to convince my wife she needs one🙂

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    1. Hi Phil, I just know she will be really pleased if you buy her one for her birthday :-)

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  14. I recently discovered via YouTube a way to use my old jigsaw along with a cheap adjustable clamp. If not, I would likely have picked up something like yours. A lot of the dropper bottle paints get separated after awhile.

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    1. Hi Dean, I saw the video, but could never find a clamp with an arm that would fit my jigsaw.

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  15. Great idea Norm. I have ordered one to sort out some of my rather stubborn paints.

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    1. Thanks John, I have added 1 ball bearing and a drop of flow improver to each dropper bottle.I seem to recall that you favour enamels, so I imagine a small drop of spirit from a pipette would do the same.

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  16. Yeah, these shakers work great. Ebay makes them easily more affordable than hobby outlets do. You have a great blog and your hard work is appreciated. This particular post was hijacked and posted on The Miniatures Page by Tango01 without even a nod to your blog.
    http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=543540
    Many bloggers and TMP members have been requesting listing the blog by name as a courtesy. But the poster feels this is bothersome. The owner, Bill Armintrout, however feels it is easier to follow behind and clean up behind him than require it. Just a heads up, and again, Great Blog!

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  17. BP, thanks for dropping by and for the thumbs up re the blog. I visited the page and saw what you describe.

    I had no idea that some hobby outlets were selling a version of these, in some respects that just vindicates how useful the device is and hopefully it will serve me well for a long time. Cheers.

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  18. This is fab Norm! Actually I was looking around for something of the sort and your post hits the nail on the head. Many thanks!

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  19. Thanks Mike, I can’t believe that I didn’t do something like this sooner.

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  20. I never knew such a thing existed. Being a Married man, I wonder if some version of that is already in my house that I could steal and experiment with... 😀

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  21. Hi Stew, it is worth looking and if not, then buy that gift! :-)

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