Make Your Own Bargain Basement Hobby Paint Mixer


By Joel Hamm


            A paint shaker is one gadget every modeler needs. They can be bought at the hobby shop or mail order  for about $50.  An electric carving knife is one gadget nobody needs.  They can be bought at garage sales or Salvation Army stores for $1 to $3.  Guess what you can do with the latter – that’s right; convert it to the former with a bare minimum of tinkering.


            Like fondue pots and Salad Shooters, most electric knives find their way to the white elephant sale without the box ever being opened, let alone the contraption being used; but if the specimen under consideration  has actually seen service, the first step is a good cleaning with diluted (1:10) Chlorox to neutralize any incrustations of turkey juice or roast beef residue. . A case of salmonella, after all, can cut into your modeling time.


            Remove the blades, and with a cut-off wheel or hacksaw, remove all but 4 – 6 inches. Using a grinder or file, dull the edge until there is no danger of cuts.


            Procure a large snap-top pill vial – suitably sized to hold the largest paint jar likely to need shaking. Please don’t empty out Granpa’s heart medication. The local druggist (“chemist” in the Old World) can supply you with an empty container gratis. With duct tape or PVC electrical tape secure this to the dulled blade stub. Reinsert into the handle and the conversion is complete.


            To use – add the standard two BB’s or lead shot agitators to the paint container in question and make sure the lid is tight. Slip it into the pill vial, cushioning with a snippet of tissue or foam if desired. Snap on the lid, plug in, turn on, and a minute of shake-rattle-and-roll will result in  the most highly homogenized Humbrol, Model Master,  or Gunze-Sagoyo anywhere on the planet.


            But Wait! (as they scream on the info-mercials). We’re Not Done! Act right now and get two tools for the price of one! Retrieve the second blade, also shortened and dulled. Lay on a strip of double-sided foam mounting tape. To this affix a length of wet/dry sanding paper. Voila! -  an in-line sander to make short work of gross abrasive jobs, such as smoothing fuselage seams.


Joel Hamm