Build a Sandblasting Rig for $6

Let’s get something out of the way: yes, this assumes you already own or have access to a compressor. So if you do, and know what you’re getting into, why not build a cheap sandblasting rig? That’s what [adamf135] did after seeing someone do it on YouTube. He seriously doubted it would work, but the results are pretty impressive.

This one doesn’t require much more than an empty 20oz bottle, a cheap air gun/nozzle, and an adapter. The hardest part of this hack seems to be cutting a groove in the nozzle for the blasting material without severing it completely. [Adam] cut a 1/2″ section out of his, but that large of an opening really uses up the blasting material. He recommends going smaller. After snipping off the sealing ring, he runs the nozzle through a 3/16″ hole drilled through the strongest part of the bottle and seals it off with hot glue. Watch it power through rust and paint with crushed glass after the break.

If you do any open sandblasting like this, be sure to at least wear a mask. If you don’t want to spray fine particles all over the shop, you could build a wet media blasting cabinet instead, or go even lower-tech and build a drill-powered parts tumbler.

40 thoughts on “Build a Sandblasting Rig for $6

      1. That doesn’t really matter in the long run. Inorganic (or a constant supply of organic) particulates lodged in your lungs is a great way to get cancer or other crippling respiratory diseases.

        1. Walnut shell is very good for general ‘muck’ removal without damaging the surface, but doesn’t do so well with heavy corrosion or thick layers of paint.

          One area where it used to see widespread use was cleaning airport runway lights.

    1. Is sandblasting actually faster than just plain sanding when you take into account the setup/cleanup? It seems like a lot of hassle if you aren’t mass producing.

      And out in the open that dust is going to be everywhere in that shop.

      1. Well normally it’s done inside a booth with a pair of thick rubber gloves turned inside out. I forget what those are called. That works pretty dang well, actually. And my friend has a doohicky that cleans spark plugs. You just jam the business end into this little rubber seal and it circulates the sand internally, no mess.

        Of course, when you’re doing something really big… well.. Doing that manually sucks even more. And it always rounds off corners and details. Sandblasting is pretty egalitarian about wearing surfaces down.

    2. It’s for real after like fifteen years of exposure. You’d have to have a job doing this on the regular for such a thing to be of real concern, and by then I sure hope you have safety equipment.

  1. A mask isn’t enough. The worst particles from blasting with sand are smaller than a regular particulate mask can filter. Everything I’ve read says you should use a supplied air system (air pumped into the mask from a clean area).

    That being said, this applies to avoiding silicosis from actual sand. Glass grit, as was used in the video, is apparently fine for use with a mask and filter. There are also things like CO2 and soda blasting, which are completely safe on their own (though whatever’s being blasted off probably isn’t, so wear a mask, anyway).

    1. Yep. This is a good pic illustrating what helps against silica particles http://www.nj.gov/health/workplacehealthandsafety/documents/silicosis/respirators.pdf
      Though not everyone can use the recommended approach in this pdf)
      On a more realistic note, apparently respirators come in classes from FFP1 to FFP3, and you only are starting to protect yourself against sand a bit since FFP2, but it’s much better to use FFP3 (full-face masks or half-masks with good filters that explicitly state this class).
      We’ll be buying better respirators now, didn’t know about silicosis – and it’s a pity we did a lot of plaster grinding with lots of dust using basic FFP1 respirators only.

  2. I’m sure that works, but another thing that works is the sandblaster they sell at Harbor Freight for $20.

    If I did all that just to save $14, I would have to turn myself in to the state labor board for violating the minimum wage law.

    1. Why so negative? There are many people that don’t have access to Harbor Freight or stores like it. Others might not have the $16. People that read HAD might prefer to build it themselves instead of buying it.

        1. Yeah, but the tens/hundreds of people who might replicate this project might not have access to Harbor Freight or its 20 USD sand blaster. Perhaps he documented for those people. Who knows.

      1. Carl S does have a good point though. One thing about sand blasting, soda blasting, glass bead blasting, etc., is that it uses a large volume of air. It uses much more volume than it takes to run most air tools. Therefore, you need a compressor that can deliver a large volume. Anybody who can’t afford a cheap sandblaster, isn’t going to have a capable compressor.

          1. Which will run for a couple of minutes at most, with the pressure continually decreasing as you use it. Not practical. I HAVE seen airbrushes operated this way, but their air volume requirements are far lower.

      2. Well, the ceramic nozzle that the sandblaster should have would last a lot better than the (modified) metal nozzle being used here. I don’t know how much better, so that might not be an issue, but it is worth considering.

      1. Indeed.

        One cabinet I saw had a sort of ‘upturned cooker hood’ style arrangement with a turntable in the middle. Used media simply slide down the sloping sides of the ‘base’ into a container underneath.

        1. You get more on a windy day in Arizona (or arid areas in general). One has to judge risk/reward and real world total exposure. You can take every precaution, hide inside, and filter everything. When you die at 100 from urinary tract septic shock from pulling out your catheter too many times, you will have the lungs of a 90 year old.

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