HobbyZone AB01 Airbrush Station Review
|Date of Review||April 2016||Manufacturer||HobbyZone|
|Subject||AB01 Airbrush Station||Part Number||AB01|
|Pros||Precision cut wood, portable||Cons||See text|
HobbyZone just released their latest workbench helper, this is the Airbrush Station. Note that they made the distinction of 'airbrush station' and not 'paint booth'. This system is designed for modelers who don't have room for a paint booth and want a portable solution. The image above has a 1/48 P-47D Thunderbolt on the turntable to give an idea of size. Before we discuss the pros and cons of this approach, let's look at the station and put one together.
Like the other wooden kits in the HobbyZone catalog, this station is machined (not laser cut) with great precision and dry-fitting the base gives you an idea of parts orientation and fit. One difference with this kit versus the modules is that many of the smaller pieces like the sides of the base and drawer are machined out of a sheet of MDF (particle board) and while most of the parts are completely cleaned away from the sheet, thin tabs like sprue trees keep the small parts connected to the sheet for protection during shipping. Like a part on a sprue tree, you simple cut the part off the tree and carefully clean any remaining stubs from the part.
As with the previous builds, I used Gorilla non-foaming Wood Glue to assemble the base and drawer. The drawer comes with two dividers but I elected to use only one. Note that the top of the base unit has slots around three sides, a hole in the center, and small holes in the upper left and right corners. The slots are for the removable shield, the center hole is for the turntable, and the small holes are where you can set parts mounted on wire or thin rods.
The turntable has the white laminate surface on top and a second disk that is smaller in diameter is glued to the bottom. A pin is provided to mount the turntable to the base.
The three-piece shield is designed to be removable if you wish or you can glue it in place. The shield has a two-piece airbrush holder that you can mount to the left or right side of the station and even inside or outside. The shield is laminate white on one side and bare pressed board on the other. The shield goes together as shown and drops into the slots on the station's base.
The airbrush station kit goes together quickly and with no problems. The drawer in the base can be used to store airbrush cleaning supplies, wire-mounted clips for holding parts, etc. It can provide you with a convenient way to airbrush a model in a confined space.
Now let's look at some of the obvious issues with using this airbrush station:
- There is no built-in ventilation
This isn't a spray booth, so enamels and lacquers are not recommended indoors. If you spray acrylics in heavy coats (not recommended) then even acrylics aren't going to be welcome indoors. For acrylic users that follow the manufacturers' (Vallejo, AK Interactive, Mig) recommendations, there is a reason why those 17ml paint bottles last a long time and why this station will work just fine. If you want to spray enamels or lacquers, this station is easily carried outdoors and the shield provides protection for your spraying from any breezes/crosswinds.
- The first color you used out of your airbrush would become the color of the exposed wood
Absolutely true. Worse yet, if you tried to clean up your station with water, alcohol, Windex, or whatever, the moisture would eventually cause the MDF and pressed board surfaces to swell (damage). The white laminate will clean-up with no problems. Here's where a simple solution will work. I used a clear coat designed for wood (Minwax or acrylic equivalent) and treated the exposed wood surfaces.
With the clear coats applied according to the instructions, I can now clean this station with Windex, water, or whatever.
What this airbrush station does for me is solves a problem I've had for several years. My spray booth is the downdraft type so the model will rest on the upper filter element and repositioning the model requires care. As you can see below, the turntable makes the job of rotating the model much easier. I had tried a repurposed 'Lazy Susan' for rotating the model in the past but the filter elements do not provide a stable base. This base unit with turntable solves that problem, and when I don't need it, the whole unit can be set aside until needed again.
If you do spray with lacquers or enamels and don't want to damage the base, you can cover the turntable with a plastic wrap like Saran Wrap and cover the base separately. Spraying with or without the shield really depends on what conditions you need to work with in your modeling environment.
My thanks to HobbyZone.biz for this review sample.