If you are looking for the best paint mixers or shakers for your miniatures, you’ve come to the right place. This article was actually inspired by my review of The Army Painter Warpaints Range. These paints need shaking like nothing else to get a decent balance of pigment to medium. After a very short amount of time, my arms started to ache and I started looking into tools to do this job for me? Below I have a list of the best mixers and shakers to make this job much easier, restore your old dried up paints and ensure you get a perfect pigment to medium mix every time you open a bottle.
First world problems or what? Let’s be fair, of all the weekend activities people have, miniature painting is one of those requiring the least physical effort. There are complaints about having to shake bottles. But if you are painting frequently, this is an issue. For me, this last couple of weeks shaking up The Army Painter paints has ached so much I haven’t been able to paint a straight line due to subsequent muscle tremors.
Best Paint Mixers / Shakers for Miniatures and Wargames Models
Below we will take a look at the best tools for mixing your paint. Some of these tools can and should be used in conjunction with each other
10. Elbow Grease
Ok, I’ll be honest. This entry is a bit made-up, When I created this series of “Best Miniature Tools” I intended to provide top 10 lists. I really struggled in this category. So number 10 is Strong arms!
Shaking paints can get tiring but the most convenient way of shaking them is obviously just with your hands, longer, more rapid and vigorous motion you can give. so use this as an excuse to train our arms for the added health benefits too. Onanism alone is no adequate training so why not grab a set of compact quick adjustable dumbbells.
9. Mixing Stick
Mixing sticks can be quite underrated. If you are mixing colours in volume, you can’t go far wrong with some disposable mixing sticks, or even reusable plastic ones. Using your brushes could damage bristles and don’t forget bristles are made to hold paint. Paint Stirrers, however, allow you to wipe most of the paint off. With paint pots, you can use these also to dig out the deeply settled pigment in the bottoms of bottles.
8. Mixing Balls
We first mentioned the benefit of Agitators in our Guide to transferring your paints to dropper bottles. Several types of agitators have been suggested, such as Glass Beads. But my go-to has always been Stainless Steel ball bearings. Before rushing out to get the cheapest ball bearings you can find. note that low-grade stainless steel can rust. This will ruin your paints if it happens.
Thankfully some of our favourite hobby brands have released ball bearings specifically for this job. Stick with Ammo by Mig, AK Interactive or The Army Painter and you’ll get agitators that have a decent weight and won’t ruin your paint.
Even if you go with any of the other options on this list. I’d highly recommend you pick up some of these as well. They really help shift that paint inside the bottles. Use two balls per bottle for the best results.
This is a really simple set-up but it’s not worth splashing out for significantly. If you have or can pick up an old Jig Saw. Attach a small adjustable clamp and you can hold a paint bottle. Then just allow the motion of the Jig Saw to shake the paint for you.
Another DIY option I’ve seen is attaching your paint to a drill and spinning the pot. just some advice here; that’s not a mixer its a DIY centrifuge. It will separate your pant.
A Dremel is overkill for shaking paints, but a miracle device for recovering dried out paints. I managed to use mine to recover a whole set of the old Citadel Bolter Shell pots. Just add some paint medium, a brush end on your Dremel and spin away.
Just be careful, Rotary tools are powerful, so make sure to go steady and start on the lowest speed settings. You want to be mixing your paint. not wearing it.
If you don’t have a rotary tool, you’ve always wanted an excuse to get one right?
This is the bottom end of “do it for you” shakers. A friend of mine has one of these so I followed suit and bought one too. They can be powered by a battery which does not shake the paint all that well. If you use the plugs available in the US or Europe, you will be fine as this comes with a plug for those regions. However, for people in the UK, you will need to source your own power supply or stick with battery use only.
When mains powered these are rather vigorous and will do the job for you. It does warn you however that these should only be used in short bursts so you don’t burn out the motor. I’d recommend 30-second intervals with the same time to cool down, just to be safe.
They are cheap, they aren’t pretty. but they do the shaking for you.
This is essentially a coffee frother with Badger’s name on the side and a modified end. (don’t get a coffee frother, you want to stir your paint, not whip it and thicken it.).
This is a great device for those thicker paints or where the pigment has settled in the bottom in the bottom of the pots/bottles. It’s not super fast like a Dremel and the end is designed to chop up thick pigment deposits and can be wiped clean. Think of it as a paint blender.
This will do things that the shakers won’t do so well. Thick pigment deposits will float just around, even with some of the best shakers. Only something like this will chop them down to get your paint buttery smooth again.
This is a slightly more robust version of the above Nail Polish Shaker. They come in two types. Battery or mains powered, with the latter offering a much more vigorous shake.
This is the tool you’ll see most miniature hobbyists use for this task. Some have even advised they use the Robart Paint Shaker on a regular basis just to run paints through it and keep them mixed before they start to dry in the bottles.
The Robart Paint Shaker is a great device and should last you a bit longer than the nail polish version which is about half the price of this.
Note: There are no Mains Powered versions available in the UK unfortunately (officially anyway, but you can import one and buy an adaptor). Even the battery version only appears in stock on some websites rarely.
This operates entirely different from any other product above. They are made for Chemicals Labs to mix the contents of test tubes. Simply push a bottle into the top recess and the mechanism rotates at 3000 rpm. This creates a vortex of the fluid inside your bottle or pot of paint.
For a demonstration, please see my video below (forgive the quality, it’s my first ever YouTube video)
It’s branded differently around the Globe. Mine branded Four E’s but it also goes by Lab Genius among others. If it looks like the one pictured above, you got the right thing.
I have used this vortex mixer to stir and recover paints I have not used in a long time. Citadel Paints which have not been used in a few years and even Tamiya metallics which have not been opened in over a decade. For regularly used paints, just touch them to this and they will be stirred in a few seconds it’s rather quiet and the rubber feet prevent any force transferring to your work desk. knocking over tools, mini’s or Agrax Earthshade.
The Vortex Mixer will stir all types of dropper bottles, Tamiya Paints, Citadel Pots. Evny Cotde D’arms and P3 Pots. The only things I cant stir well with it are the 200ml and larger bottles of airbrush primer. It works, just not as well as the smaller bottles.
This is a luxury item for sure, but if you have a lot of paint or paints with really thick medium or heavy pigment. This thing will answer your prayers.
If the Mini Vortex Mixer is a luxury then it’s mum & dad shown here are mostly overkill. They aren’t without their benefit. the larger motor creates a bigger and stronger vortex. And as vortex shakers trump anything else, the more powerful ones are quite simply the best paint shakers you can buy.
You probably only want to jump to one of these if you are someone who has large quantities of different paints. or someone who uses paints in bottles which are 200ml or greater, such as primers or larger bottles airbrush paint. The flat plate on the top is much better for these too.
There was once a time when you could buy a device called a Typhoon paint mixer. (made specifically for hobbyists) this looked to be a rebadged version of the Vortex Genie 2 shown above. Just without the variable speed or power switch. You just pushed the plate down and it stirred the paint. Alas, this device is nowhere to be found anymore. But you are better off paying for the original brand version and getting the variable speed option.
That is of course if you are stretching to one of these. there’s no particular best model. They are all above and beyond what you need for paints.
Best Paint Mixers / Shakers for Miniatures and Wargames Models – Final Thoughts
Most items on this list are a bit of an extension of what is necessary, but I see the “What is the best way to mix paints” question bandied about often enough to inspire this article. So to sum up.
No matter what you use or how often you paint, agitators / mixing balls are invaluable. just make sure you buy high quality or stick with a known hobby brand.
But if you want to really show off (check the video, these things are amazing) grab yourself a vortex mixer and never worry about inconsistent paint, ever again.
What did you think of this article? please let me know in the comments. Would you like me to do some more top 10’s? If so, what?
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