Yes, we’ve all been there. Bent needle is the most common problem for all airbrush artists.
Usually the nozzle cap should protect the needle and the nozzle tip but most of us love to work without the cap as it allows us to do better fine art.
If you search on Internet for “How to fix bent needle” you will find a lot of material about that because this is very popular topic in lines of airbrush artist, especially on the tight budget.
Even YouTube alone has lots of videos with instructions what to do to fix the needle. But I bet there are many people who don’t know there’s such solution and instead of trying to fix it they just buy a new one. Well this is solution too and probably the best one but you have to pay for not only the new needle but for nozzle tip too. If you decide to buy new needle I highly recommend you buy a nozzle tip as well because when you bend the needle you can destroy the nozzle, especially when you drop the airbrush or if you pull out the bent needle. Nozzle tip is very small and delicate part of airbrush.
On the other side, if everyone will follow this tutorial then the whole business around replacement airbrush needles will go down. I’m not saying let’s forget about them, but still first try to fix it and then as a last resort, if you can’t fix it, buy it.
Why have I even started writing this article if there are so many articles on Internet and in magazines about this topic? Well, I’ve never tried this myself and I’ve had few bent needles at home that were just lying in the box and I didn’t do anything about them. But unfortunately I bumped into one video about fixing the needle and was surprised as it was a bit different from the method I saw before, so I decided to dig down through the world of Internet and find the best method.
Before you do anything with the airbrush needle you should remove it from the airbrush.
First, before you pull the needle out try to straighten the needle tip as much as possible without doing any damage to nozzle. As I said before, the nozzle tip is very delicate. Take off the nozzle cap so you can see the needle. To straighten bent needle tip you can use some small pliers, but most common tool to be used would be tweezers. Loosen the rear needle nut afterwards and pull the needle out very carefully.
This process is practically identical for any airbrush and any of the method described below. Needle has to be held at the same angle (good end around 5mm from the table) for the whole process. Only then you’ll get the best result. Don’t forget to do everything on hard surface.
Methods to Fix Bent Airbrush Needle
How to Fix Bent Needle? Method #1
Mostly the airbrush or exacto-knife has a rounded metal handle. You can use it here. I used a pencil. Hold the needle at the angle I told you before. Start above the pointed needle end, swipe the handle or pencil (with slight pressure) down, at the same time rotating the needle.
You can also use tools like pliers tapping them on the damaged area. Most important here is to rotate the needle the whole time.
After close examination (you can even use a magnifying glass) the needle has to be polished to get rid of any scratches made during process of straightening. Here I recommend using sandpaper with grit above 1000. First do it the dry way. By slightly pressing on the center of the needle and with the proper angle rotate the needle and at the same time drag it on the paper against its rotation.
It is very important to rotate the needle the whole time; otherwise you will over-sand one side.
Afterwards proceed with wet sanding. It’s the same process as the one described above with use of a bit of lubricant (frying oil is good enough). Do this step properly checking on the result all the time.
Only after you are sure you’ve done a good job you should do a fine polish of the needle. Here you have to use a drill with polishing bit and some compound. Jeweler’s rouge is a very good and fine abrasive compound. Usually called “the green“, Chromium Oxide is the most used abrasive compound. I recommend checking out company Dremel for any polishing tools. Polish the needle starting from the center and moving to the tip. Again, don’t forget to rotate your needle the whole time holding it at the very same angle as before.
Perform the operation at lower rpm (1000) then change the speed to higher rpm and repeat until you get a high polished needle.
How to Fix Bent Needle? Method #2: Using the Glass
You can see that the process is not that difficult and with right tools and some skills you can achieve good results. But there are even simpler methods.
This step is recommended only for slightly bent needle without any scratches. If you’re skilled enough and manage not to use pliers or tweezers to straighten the needle and remove it from airbrush then all you need is a piece of slick hard surface (for example a window glass). Press the needle tip to the glass and slowly rotating carefully tap with a pencil on the bent tip until the needle is straight.
I know someone who does it all the time with his Iwata and he is happy with his result even if it’s not possible to get the needle into great shape this way.
How to Fix Bent Needle? Method #3: Glass and Polishing
Same as previous but after the needle is straightened use sandpaper 1500 grit on glass hard surface and sand it as in first method. Do the polishing too with the compound to get high polish effect.
How to Fix Bent Needle? Method #4: Two Pieces of Glass
Get two small and same size pieces of a window glass. Then all you have to do is to insert your needle between these pieces of glass and rotate the needle. To get less friction give it a few drops of frying oil (look around in the kitchen).
How to Fix Bent Needle? Method #5: Pencil Only
Here you use only a pencil and here is the link to video. I think it in this case it’s better to watch then read.
One nice addition I ran into during my “search for the perfect method” is an old hard drive used for polishing :).
This is it. I didn’t try all of these tricks as I didn’t have that much damaged needles. I’ve done the first one myself and it worked. If you have a bent needle at home with no use I don’t think you lose anything at all if you try any of these methods to fix it. All I can say these are all professional advices from experienced airbrush users. The result will depend on the tools and your skill. And yes, I admit that sometimes the only solution is to replace the needle.
If you like this article then share it but if you don’t agree to some of this methods leave a comment below.