Some Thoughts Airbrushes and Why I use Badger 155 Anthems When I Spray My Toys

Two of my Badger 155 Airbrushes
Two of my Badger 155 Airbrushes

Click on the photo to see some examples of my toys.

I am not an expert on airbrushes or how to use them. I paint toys with them, and that is it. This post is just a jumble of some things I learned about airbrushes the hard way.

I use airbrushes and spray acrylic paints, and shellac.

Acrylics are no big deal for cleaning up. I use generic window cleaner to clean my equipment. It cost about $1 for half a gallon the last time I bought some.

Shellac is more expensive to use, but the cleanup is simple, and if you don't get it all out, a bit of denatured alcohol will loosen it up. Shellac is very forgiving. Just don't spray it when the humidity is high. The alcohol will pull water out of the air.

It would be best if you strained your paint and shellac. I use the Harbor Freight paint filters and those disposable droppers to strain the paint. If you don't strain the paint, you will get clogs. Depending on the paint you use, you may need some additives to slow down the drying time.

 You can spray shellac right out of the can. But you do need to strain it.

I own three Badger 155 Anthem Airbrushes and highly recommend them. Badger airbrushes will spray anything. Badger makes their airbrushes in the USA, and not only can you get parts for them, but Badger will rebuild them for shipping and the cost of the parts. My first airbrush was a Badger I had picked up at a yard sale for next to nothing. It sat on a shelf in my garage until I started messing with painted toys. I didn't know what I had, so I emailed Badger a photo, and they got right back to me with the model number and the parts I needed to buy and offered to do it for me. That's hard to beat support. The airbrush was more than 30 years old.

But what about those $9 Chinesium airbrushes?

I consider my Chinese airbrushes disposable. I use them when they will work for something I need and throw them away when they break.

I have several of these, and none have tip sizes big enough to spray acrylics other than the expensive made-for-airbrush brands. I can spray acrylic house paint through my Badge Anthem and use Behr Oops paint from Home Depot that costs me fifty cents for a sample can or $3-4 if I have it custom mixed. I also spray craft paint that I buy at WalMart. The Chinesium airbrushes will not spray acrylic house paint and do a poor job with the craft paint.

Sooner or later, you are going to need parts. You will break or bend the needle for sure, and a nozzle likely. At best, these parts are not readily available for the Chinese airbrushes. The first time I needed a nozzle and some needles for one of mine. It took weeks to find them and get them shipped here from Singapore. I did find a US seller that had a complete kit of all the parts, but it cost more than I paid for the airbrush. I can buy Badger parts on Amazon, Badger, or from many other sources.

You can spray lacquer through a Badger airbrush. It's a crapshoot to do lacquer thinner through one of the Chinese airbrushes. The solvent will dissolve the seals in some of them. I have cleaned out one of my Badger airbrushes with acetone without harming them.

I went through a lot of pain to figure all of this out. I have a drawer full of airbrushes. There is a lot of info out there, but 99% of it is for artists. I had to fit this all together with bits and pieces I gleaned here and there. The turning point came when someone gave me a Badger 155 Anthem. The first time I used it, I knew this was what I had been looking for all along.

 I use my shop air compressor with a filter and regulator just for the airbrush. I also have a cheap Harbor Freight compressor for airbrushes. It works just as well, but it runs all the time.


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