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Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner

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  • Member since
    September, 2018
Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner
Posted by Mike from Sac on Thursday, September 13, 2018 1:29 PM

Hi All:

I'm just getting back into model building at age 59. I haven't built many models since I stopped about age 14. I did build one about 6 years ago and bought a bit of enamel paint. I want to get an airbrush and was thinking of using enamel paint as this is what I always used as a kid (brush or spray cans).

My questions are:

1. To thin enamel paint for airbrush use, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner (I seem to read that both are used)?

2. To clean the airbrush, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner or something else?

3. Should I just move to Acrylic paint and water for clean-up to make it simpler (but I have about 40 bottles of Testors and MM enamel paint)?

 

Thanks in advance, - Mike

  • Member since
    July, 2018
  • From: Memphis, Tn
Posted by Macziggy on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 11:52 PM

Mike, 

 I like you got back into the hobby after many years away. I started with model master paints and was good with the airbrushing. Clean up was a pain, but part of it. Then I came across a color I could only get in an acrylic so I went for it. For me acrylics are the way to go. They are easy to work with. Much easier to clean up, an more forgiving if you goof. 

I have been using mission models paint with great success, and their cost is not bad either.

I am no expert, but this is what is working for me, and the wife doesn’t complain about the smell anymore more which is another big win. Hope this helps.

Navy Vet (89-13)

Navy Chief, Navy Pride!

Academy F/A-18C 

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Thursday, September 20, 2018 1:53 AM

I thin MM enamels with laquer thinner about 50/50 for airbrushing.  Also use laquer thinner for cleaning.  I have a spray booth vented outside in the garage but wife still complains ;)

 

Thanks,

John

  • Member since
    June, 2014
Posted by bluenote on Thursday, September 20, 2018 8:04 AM

Mike from Sac

Hi All:

I'm just getting back into model building at age 59. I haven't built many models since I stopped about age 14. I did build one about 6 years ago and bought a bit of enamel paint. I want to get an airbrush and was thinking of using enamel paint as this is what I always used as a kid (brush or spray cans).

My questions are:

1. To thin enamel paint for airbrush use, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner (I seem to read that both are used)?

2. To clean the airbrush, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner or something else?

3. Should I just move to Acrylic paint and water for clean-up to make it simpler (but I have about 40 bottles of Testors and MM enamel paint)?

 

Thanks in advance, - Mike

 

I use acrylic (Tamiya) for airbrushing and I think it's much better than enamel just for the simple fact that it does not smell much and it's easier to clean up.  I use Tamiya for all my airbrushing except for car bodies, which I use Scalefinishes (lacquer).

I still use enamel though for brush painting smaller parts.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, September 20, 2018 8:43 AM

Mike from Sac

Hi All:

I'm just getting back into model building at age 59. I haven't built many models since I stopped about age 14. I did build one about 6 years ago and bought a bit of enamel paint. I want to get an airbrush and was thinking of using enamel paint as this is what I always used as a kid (brush or spray cans).

My questions are:

1. To thin enamel paint for airbrush use, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner (I seem to read that both are used)?

2. To clean the airbrush, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner or something else?

3. Should I just move to Acrylic paint and water for clean-up to make it simpler (but I have about 40 bottles of Testors and MM enamel paint)?

 

Thanks in advance, - Mike

 

I ordinarily use enamel thinner for airbrushing.  I have had trouble sometimes in using lacquer to thin Testors enamels. It works most of the time, but seperates once in awhile. Since the enamel thinner always works, I have stopped using the lacquer thinner for thinning.

I ordinarily use the enamel thinner for cleaning on normal cleaning between coats and colors.  However, at the end of a project, when I strip the airbrush for a thorough cleaning, I then often use lacquer thinner.  Also, I use a suction feed airbrush, so I have to clean the jars, and lacquer thinner does a better job of this.

I have found water does an inadequate job of cleaning my airbrush after using acrylics.  I have to use lacquer thinner.  Also, I thin acrylics with a water/alcohol mixture.  Thus, I find the easier-and-cheaper reason to use acrylics doesn't seem to apply.  I only use it when the only paint I can find for a project is acrylics, and once in awhile just to keep practice with acrylics in case the rumored demise of enamels is true.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September, 2018
Posted by Mike from Sac on Thursday, September 20, 2018 9:06 AM

Thanks so much guys. While there doesn't seem to be a concensous, it has given me a lot to think about. - Mike

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:32 AM

You will get multiple ideas here but the best thing to do here is try a couple of different paints and thinners and see what works for you. I have been modeling off and on (more on that off) since the late 1960s so i have experimented with a few things that work fine for me but may not work for someone else.

I'm an enamel user and do not like acrylics  simply because I cannot get them to spray as easy and as tight as enamels like in small mottling as an example. I can thin my enamel, go down to 8-10 psi and mottle all day long with my xtra small Badger nozzle with no spitting or tip dry, put the ab down for a few minutes and continue. I can't do that with acrylics yet other modelers swear by them yet I swear at them. You just have to give it a try.

Mission Models Paints are supossed to be the very best in acrylics and have rave reviews. I picked up a couple of bottles to play with so we will see how that goes. I recently tried Vallejo Air acrylics and they did ok but required extra thinning and was a very fussy paint to get the pattern right.

As for thinning enamels, I've found the generic Home Depot/Lowes doesn't work for me cause after a few sends the paint separates unlike when using Testors in the red can that works beautifully. I get it at Hobby Lobby witha 40% discount coupon.

Tamiya acrylic paints and Mr. Color are best thinned with their own thinners for excellent performance and they spray pretty close like enamels specially when using Mr. Color Leveling Thinner.

 GIFMaker.org_jy_Ayj_O

 

 

Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Friday, September 21, 2018 12:27 PM

1. Enamel thinner. It is made for enamel paint.

2. Lacquer thinner. It is the end-all for airbrush cleaning. If all else fails, that is what you will turn to. I think there is an argument to just use it, get it clean the first time.

3. Yes, because you asked for opinions and that is mine.

Big Smile Most of all, have fun!!! Figuring this stuff out is most of the fun of getting started, or getting back in, isn't it!

-Greg

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Friday, September 21, 2018 3:05 PM

Ah thanks Greg for the lacquer thinner  description, I forgot to mention that. Yes it’s the best product for cleaning the ab and hand brushes.

It also works at thinning Tamiya paints but I rather  use the Tamiya thinner or even better, Mr Paint Leveling Thinner.

 GIFMaker.org_jy_Ayj_O

 

 

Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Friday, September 21, 2018 3:22 PM

Mike from Sac

Hi All:

I'm just getting back into model building at age 59. I haven't built many models since I stopped about age 14. I did build one about 6 years ago and bought a bit of enamel paint. I want to get an airbrush and was thinking of using enamel paint as this is what I always used as a kid (brush or spray cans).

My questions are:

1. To thin enamel paint for airbrush use, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner (I seem to read that both are used)?

2. To clean the airbrush, should I use Enamel Thinner or Lacquer Thinner or something else?

3. Should I just move to Acrylic paint and water for clean-up to make it simpler (but I have about 40 bottles of Testors and MM enamel paint)?

Thanks in advance, - Mike

Hi, Mike!  Here's my mustard, as the Germans say:

1.  I use mineral spirits to thin enamels, but also lacquer thinner sometimes.  But I do not use mineral spirits to thin lacquers.

2.  When cleaning the air brush, while I'll use mineral spirits after spraying enamels, as Don noted, lacquer thinner is the ultimate, and I use it for good, thorough cleaning.

3.  I wouldn't trash the stash of enamels just to switch over completely to acrylics, myself.

I have a paint box that contains enamels, like Testor's classic little square jars, or Model Master; Tamiya's alcohol-based enamels, which are thinned best not with water but with Tamiya's proprietary acrylic thinner (which is an alcohol, but not isopropyl); water-based acrylics, like Andrea, Vallejo, Lifecolour, and craft store brands, which I use with a wet palette; and oils, which I thin with mineral spirits.

Each type of paint has its own uses.  I build models, but I also paint figures, including toy soldiers.  So I use enamels and Tamiya acrylics mostly for airbrushing on scale models, but I also use them to paint figures, especially when I have a specific color need and I only have it as an enamel or Tamiya acrylic.

I use the water-based acrylics mostly on figures and toy soldiers, but again, if I have a color only as a water-based acrylic and need it on an airplane, I'll use the water-based acrylic.  And the craft-store acrylics are good for weathering as well as painting, because they mix well and are cheap.

And the oils I bought to paint flat figures in the traditional way, like the Germans do, but I use them now for weathering, too.

So, it'll come down to your personal preference, in the end.  There's no one right or wrong way, in this case, but whatever works best for you.

Best regards,

Brad

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v233/HansvonHammer/Humor/th_MonogramMafia.jpg?t=1296972087~original

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, September 21, 2018 3:30 PM

The only thinner I can get to work in Tamiya Acrylics is their own X-20A Acrylic Thinner. Tamiya is the only acrylic I use. Gave up on Testors acrylic and just haven't tried Vallejo (don't shop at Hobby Lobby) or Mission although those have their followers.

I mostly use Testors enamel, and Humbrol, Lifecolour or Scalecoats as well. I find that the Testors enamel thinner in the red can is as good as anything else for airbrush thinning. If you buy the bigger can it's not too expensive.

I always recommend to stay away from any of the hardware/ paint store variety paint thinners. Some are ok, some are worthless. For the market, it's really sold for brush cleanup.

Lacquer thinner is a superior cleaning agent, but handle with care. It can attack the rubber seals in an airbrush, so get rid of it all and wipe down after using it. It'll strip the paint right off of paint brush handles, and in some cases dissolve the glue that holds the bristles in the ferrule.

And don't breath the fumes.

  • Member since
    September, 2018
Posted by Mike from Sac on Friday, September 21, 2018 3:40 PM

So much good info, thanks guys! I guess, as was stated, "... it'll come down to your personal preference, in the end."

 

I'm excited to get building this weekend ...  - Mike

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Friday, September 21, 2018 5:13 PM

Mike from Sac
I'm excited to get building this weekend ... - Mike

And that's what it's all about. Stay excited. Have fun.

-Greg

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