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The Amazing Scroll Saw Paint Shaker

May 05, 2015

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Airfield Models ( Amazing Scroll Saw Hobby Paint Shaker

Before I go any farther into explaining how to do it, I'm going to explain some reasons why you shouldn't.  I did it anyway and I will again until something really bad happens, but if you do it and something really bad happens to you, don't say you weren't warned.

  • A scroll saw by it's nature is an out-of-balance machine.  It has a built-in counter-balance that mostly works at one particular speed.

    Changing anything in the equation such as motor RPM, arm length, arm weight, etc., will put the machine back out of balance.

  • A glass jar attached to something shaking violently can not only make a huge mess in your shop but can also make a bloody mess of anyone in the area.

Because we're people and people get their jollies doing things we know are stupid, let's get started.


Hey y'all!  Watch this!

I have hundreds of jars of model paint that I bought while I was stationed in Germany.  I left Germany years ago and have been building flying models since being back in the states.  These small jars of hobby paints have been sitting around with the pigment settling in the bottom of the jars all this time.

I pulled out a scrap of wood about 1/16" x 1/8" and stirred the paint in one of the jars and the pigment just stayed balled up on the end of the stick.  The paint hasn't gone bad but considering I'll be using several different colors in the near future, I wanted to find a better way than spending an hour stirring each jar of paint.

Robart makes a paint shaker that I've never used or even seen in action, but all accounts from those I know who own one say it's a useless machine.  I don't know that it doesn't work but it's expensive enough that I took people's word for it.  I don't know of anything else made to mix small jars of hobby paint.

I looked around my shop trying to find something that would do the job.  One thing I've done in the past is bend a wire such that it has a loop on one end and chuck the other end into my drill.  It didn't work very well and I couldn't keep paint from coming out of the jar and running down the side.  I didn't want to repeat that experiment.

I don't know what made me think of it, but when I saw my scroll saw I realized I had something that had the exact mechanical motion necessary to do the job.

Add copper BB's to your paint to help mix the pigment. A tip that was passed to me a long time ago is to add copper BB's to your paint to help mix the paint.  I usually use two or three BB's.

Be sure to use copper.  Steel BB's can corrode or rust and ruin your paint - particularly if you use water-base acrylic paints such as Tamiya brand.

It works very well for hand-shaking paint that isn't too settled but it's usefulness is limited when the paint has gotten fairly old.

It shouldn't matter which arm you use.  The lower arm is more accessible on my saw. The upper arm has a guard around it which means I'd have to do a lot of disassembly to get at it.  I could have rigged an attachment for the paint near the blade but I didn't want to throw the saw that far out of balance.  I'm trying to mix paint not ruin my saw.

In that same vein, these small bottles of plastic paints are the largest bottles I will use the scroll saw to shake.  Anything bigger than that is asking for destroyed bearings in the saw and jars of paint flying through the shop.

Note:  It's a good idea to put a heavy-duty blade in the saw.  A fine blade breaks more easily.  If you own a scroll saw and have had a blade break you know how nerve-shattering it is when that happens.  I have no idea what will happen if a blade breaks when a jar of paint is attached but I don't want to find out.  I always install a heavy-duty blade and ensure it is secured properly.

A Zip tie and a firm, "grippy" foam are used to attach the paint jar to the saw arm. You'll notice on my scroll saw there are several reliefs in the lower arm.  Those are very useful as they help secure the paint jar.

Use a type of firm foam rubber that has a good grip to it.  This is neoprene foam that comes with Hitec receivers.  Cloth material is adhered to one side of the foam.

Attach the jar of paint to the saw arm with the foam rubber contacting the jar.  Be sure the Zip tie is snug and then check that the jar of paint is very secure. Put a Zip tie around the arm in the general location where the paint jar will go.  Feed the loose end through the locking end just a couple clicks.

Slide the foam against the scroll saw arm and under the Zip tie.

Important!  The cloth side of the foam should be against the arm.  The foam side of the foam contacts the paint jar.

Tighten the zip ties down snugly.

Tug on the paint jars and ensure they are very secure.  You really don't want these coming loose!

I put the jars close to the eccentric arm from the motor so that I wouldn't throw off the saw's balance too much.

All shook up! My scroll saw is variable speed.  Low speed is extremely slow and that's the setting I put the saw before I turned it on.  I observed closely and slowly turned the saw speed up until it was about 3/4 of its highest speed.

It seemed to work like a charm, so I just let it run for about a minute.

When I shut off the saw I managed to work the paint jar out without cutting the Zip tie.  I used the same tie for a couple more jars of paint but checked that the tie was snug each time.

The method works better than anything else I've tried.  It's fast and requires way less effort than stirring tiny jars of paint with a toothpick.



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