A Tale of Two Airbrushes

I come from a background in woodworking and one home improvement field or another.  I was a carpenter/re-modeler, now I’m a locksmith.  Both require tools.  Art is no different.  It requires tools.  Instead of a table saw we have foam cutters.  Exacto knives over skil saws and airbrushes over paint sprayers.  The airbrush is an amazing tool and if you can get good at it, can give you amazing results.  Not everyone cares to produce an award winning model with their airbrush though.  Everyone has different needs.  If you’re in the market for one what should you get?  That’s what we’ll cover here.

There’s endless debate about how to choose a first airbrush.  A lot people will group them into two groups: beginner and advanced.  I’ve never bought any tool based on that methodology.  To me there are tools that meet my needs and tools that don’t.  Learning curve be damned, I want to buy it once and be done.  When I was doing finish carpentry I needed a miter saw.  Something that could cut accurately and smooth.  The store brand wasn’t even an option I considered even though it was $300 less.  It didn’t cut straight so no go, especially for trim.  Nobody considered that a “beginner” saw.  It was just crap, and if it didn’t matter that it cut crooked, then that’s what a guy bought.  The quality of the saw didn’t matter.  My view on brushes are largely the same.  You can buy a nice one and learn to use it correctly or buy crap and learn to use it correctly.

My first was a Badger Sotar 20/20.  It was an open box deal on Amazon for $80.  Sold.  It does an amazing job for what I need it to do.  It was not a “beginner” brush.  It was irritating to use, the parts were small.  Microscopic it seemed, and sometimes still does.  The tip clogged, the needle bent, the paint dried in all the wrong places, the parts fell and bounced away never to be seen again.  None of which was the tool’s fault.  I simply had to learn how to use it and get to know the tool.  If I had bought the Harbor Freight version first, nothing would have changed.  That’s a lie.  One thing would have changed.  I’d have wasted my money because I needed a brush that could do detail work and that isn’t HF.  The other side of that coin is the Harder & Steenbeck Infinity.  I really want one but the benefit for me didn’t justify the cost.  I had the same thought with woodworking.  I really wanted a Festool Kapex.  It’s an amazing tool but I didn’t really need it for what I was doing.

So here’s a long story short:  If you get a complex tool, expect to spend time getting to know it.  You won’t be sorry you did.  Spend the time spraying the same dot a million times on a piece of graph paper.  Experiment with thinning mediums.  Make mistakes and get better.  There is no beginner brush.  There’s only the brush you know that meets your needs.

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