Sharpen Air is a tool designed specifically to deal with damaged airbrush needles regardless of whether that damage is due to bending or chipping damage to the needle. There are three tool designs in the Sharpen Air family covering the original pink offering which is a limited edition of the Sharpen Air and is the same product as the original black offering, the final member of the family at this time is produced to specifically deal with needles for the Paasche family of air brushes.
The tool body is made of a high density plastic which should easily cope with handling and storage. Impact with a hard surface such as dropping onto a tiled floor may provide enough force to damage the casing, so look after it. The casing has two halves that are held closed with three Phillips headed bolts. Inside of the casing there are six grinding stones set at specific angles when correctly placed inside the tool body and this enables the tool to correctly angle the needle tips that have been damaged.
Should you mange to damage the grinding stones of the tool or wear a groove into them through long use replacement stones are available. The stones come in two grades of 600 and 1200 grit and are listed as a diamond grit stones. The stones are also able to be used on both sides, so if you wear down one side just flip it over and continue use. A full set of stones in the UK cost £24 from Airbrushes.com who was the provider of this review sample.
Also included with the tool is a polishing pad which is a 3000 grit finish and can be used to remove all but the very finessed scratch left on the needle tip after being corrected in the Sharpen Air tool. The polishing pad appears to be made of a high density foam with the grit finish on both faces. The polishing pad is also available separately in twin packs for £7.60 in the UK, again from Airbrushes.com.
The tool itself is not provided with any instructions, perhaps they knew this tool would be used mostly by men and we do not have a great record when it comes to reading instructions. What has been provided is a link to a video on you tube showing how to use the product and what you can expect from it and accomplish with it.
I decided to polish the needle of my Badger Renegade Krome airbrush, the needle was not damaged in anyway, but over the years I have been using the airbrush the tip is no longer in as good a condition as once it was. I ran the tip through the two coarse stones to begin with as an in case measure, my eyeball said it was fine, but a microscope would likely say otherwise. I rotated the needle by hand about 20 times in each of course stone holes without any obvious change to the needle tip as I had expected. Next I rotated the needle a further 20 times in each of the finest stone holes and when removed the needle has a much more polished look to the first quarter of an inch or so. The result is that I look forward to finding out if I get to do more spraying before needing to clean the needle tip while in use.
When I first received this product from the Airbrushes.com I was thinking this seems rather expensive for what it is; the cost from Airbrushes.com is £49.00. Looking the product over I was still questioning if it represented value for money. But once I used the tool I stopped questioning its value to the modeller with an airbrush, or for that matter anyone with an airbrush. The cost is roughly the same as a standard quality model and so not overtly excessive in the grand scheme of things.
The cost of a new needle is in the £10 and up bracket and that is assuming you do not try to push on to get a job finished and damage other elements of the airbrush. So as soon as you have rescued five needles you have in effect paid for the tool and that makes it sound better to me. The other plus point is that when you have this tool a bent or damaged needle tip is not going to bring you to a halt halfway through a paint job, or for that matter prevent you from starting a job for two weeks while you wait for replacement air brush parts to arrive.
My final conclusion is that the SharpenAir does what it promises not once but time and again and so the result is replicated continually, the tool has a full back up of spare parts with the exception of the body and it is easy to use even by a ham fisted individual like me with hands like shovels. All of this means to me that the price is not an issue any longer.
Highs: Easily replicated results when in use that are easily achieved.Lows: I was concerned about cost until I used it.Verdict: A useful tool to have around the house, especially so if you have older air brushes that are hard to get spares for.