A bent airbrush needle is a quite frequent problem in airbrushing. Luckily, you don’t necessarily need to buy a new one straight away.
An airbrush is a great tool for miniature painting, but it is not always sunshine and rainbows. One of the most common issue that artists encounter is a bent airbrush needle.
A bent needle will drastically affect the spray pattern and overall performance of your airbrush.
In this article, we’ll explore cost-effective solutions to fix a bent airbrush needle, providing you with alternatives to buying a new one.
Identify the Extent of the Bend
Before attempting any repairs, it’s crucial to assess the severity of the bend.
If your needle is bent at at steep angle, or the bend is close to the nozzle, it’s important you don’t attempt to remove the needle from the airbrush. Doing so would not work, and possibly break your nozzle at the same time.
If the bend is rather small and towards the tip, you can try to remove it. Do so very slowly and stop what you’re doing if you encounter any resistance.
Remove the Needle
To work on the bent needle, our goal is to first remove it from the airbrush, then fix the bend properly. This is because we need to apply some force on the needle, and we don’t want to damage other parts of the airbrush, namely the fragile and usually more expensive nozzle, while doing so.
If it’s not possible to pull it out with the bend, we’ll need address that first. Using a pair of pliers, press on the needle as close to the bend as possible, while holding the airbrush firmly in your other hand.
The goal here is not to get our needle perfectly straight, it’s to get it straight enough to pass through the nozzle.
If it does not come out after this, tough luck. You’re at a point of no return, and you should cut the needle at the bend to remove it. Give it a warrior’s burial and move on.
Gentle Straightening Technique
For mild bends, you can attempt a gentle straightening technique.
Lay the needle on a flat and sturdy surface, such as your desk or cutting mat. Using pliers, slowly apply gentle pressure in the opposite direction of the bend. Be patient and avoid applying excessive force, as this can cause further damage.
A lot of resources on the subject recommend doing this with your finger, but I’ve never had any success doing so.
This method is trickier to get right, but is the only way I’ve found to unbend your needle that’s wiggly – meaning the bend is more like a bump on the needle.
Essentially, put the tip of your needle between two coins, and pull your needle and slowly twist it as you press down on the coins.
Moderation is key here, if you apply to much pressure on the coins it will snap your needle. I’m ‘lucky’ in that I had a lot of random old needles to try this technique on and break, so you don’t have to.
Sadly when it comes to needle and nozzle, contacting the makers is little use.
Even brands with a solid warranty and customer service often can only point you at replacement parts. At that point it’s probably better time-wise and financially to buy a new one.
Unbent is not New
A bent airbrush needle will never be like new. Event with these techniques, the best you can aim for is ‘working’.
In my commission painting days, this often meant I could use my airbrush while waiting on a replacement brand new needle to come in.
Not having your entire operation come to a grinding halt is the true victory here.