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Sandblasting gives bright-as-new look

There are many uses for this versatile sandblasting unit—from cleaning corroded metal to etching glass
Scarred and rust-caked ladle, nippers and hammer were transformed by a sand shower and light emery cloth rub. Projects shown at top of page were made by using the sand-blaster pictured. Turn page for plans

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YOU'VE PROBABLY come up against a dozen jobs when you wished you had access to a sandblaster—to clean rust and paint off steel, put a matte finish on metals, etch frosted designs on glass and metal, clean sparkplugs—or even to texture wood for picture frames, lamp bases and whatnots. If you've been stumped by such jobs in the past, then wish no more. With the plans presented on these pages, you can build your own sandblaster gun—plus a reach-in cabinet for handling all but the biggest items. And once you've caught up on your backlog of sandblasting jobs, you'll think of many more—such as producing novel effects in jewelry-making, ceramics, or copper, brass and aluminum crafting.


Cut openings with a saber saw (above), gripping coupled tubs between your knees. Stand unit upright to cut holes in top The easiest way to lay out cutting lines for viewing windows and armholes is to cut paper to dimensions, tape cutouts in place and trace around edges, as shown at left

If you already own an air compressor for paint spraying, your outlay for materials shouldn't strain the shop budget. You use stock 3/8-in. pipe fittings to build the nozzle unit around a levertype blowgun that you can buy new for less than $5. For delicate work, it operates on 15 lbs. of air, or less; but for rugged duty, such as blasting steel, you up the pressure to 100 lbs. or more. The higher the pressure, the faster the cut. You can use any sand that will pass through the siphon tube—including river sand. However, if there's an industrial supply house near, you can get much better results with the professional sands available. Those intended for nonrecovery

are very cheap; extremely hard grits such as garnet, emery and carborundum are higher in initial cost, but can be used over and over almost indefinitely. For general use on a recovery basis, No. 60 garnet is a good choice. A hundredweight costs $5 or so and should last years with intermittent use. For special jobs, you may want to switch to other grits. A textured effect on fir plywood is best achieved when No. 36-mesh garnet grit is used to erode the fibers between the hard annual rings. For such work, you need an air pressure of over 80 pounds per sq. in. Ideally, your compressor should supply at least 5 or 6 cu. ft. of air per minute at a constant pressure

Solder the window frame outside and in after seating it in hole and bending the straight tabs against inside of tub. Then stick weatherstrip around window



SUIT AIR PRESSURE TO JOB Pounds-per-square-inch settings for No. 60grit garnet GLASS Etching with stencil: small areas (such as cutout letters), 30 p.s.i.; larger areas, 40 p.s.i. Though glass can be etched at pressures as low as 15 p.s.i. the higher the pressure, the faster the cut. Paper stencil will wear away before glass etches at pressures over 30 p.s.i. Inside view shows the gun ready for action, laid on the screen table that's soldered at top rim of the cone. Note 1/4-in. i.d. hose that connects the gun to the siphon tube

ALUMINUM Etching surface, 40 to 50 p.s.i. COPPER Etching surface, 50 to 75 p.s.i. BRASS Etching or cleaning, 60 to 80 p.s.i. STEEL Cleaning rust or paint, 90 to 100 p.s.i. Etching surface, same (or higher with more powerful compressor) Steel can also be worked, more slowly, at pressures under 90 lbs.


Sandblast gun consists of long-nozzle blow gun and standard pipe fittings. Only machining required is for added sand nozzle made of drill rod. Centerbore from both ends, machine to fit nipple, then heat .nozzle cherry red and quench in water. Tap-and-die tool for threading sand-hose connection costs about $2—plumbers use it to install copper overflow pipe in toilets. To substitute reservoir, unscrew connector from tapped plug

Clam-shell construction makes it easy to insert work pieces that are too big to pass through armhole. It also hastens cleaning of cabinet when you change grits. With trunk latches clamped, the unit is ready for blast-off (right). Air hose is connected to gun inside; exhaust hose carries off the dust


sandblaster, continued of 100 lbs. or more. With smaller-capacity compressors, you'd probably be able to do only about 5 sec. of blasting out of 25—the bulk of your time being spent pumping the pressure back toward 100 p.s.i. Sandblasting is often used on driftwood lamp bases. Real cutting is done with No. 36-grit at top pressure. Then, at pressures under 100 p.s.i., the gun is backed 1 ft. away from the surface to smooth and semipolish the wood, using one of the finer grits, such as No. 60. The hardening treatment for the nozzle, described, leaves the drill rod so brittle it could shatter if you dropped it. So some of the temper should be drawn by placing the nozzle in a 300deg. kitchen oven for a half hour and quenching again. If you don't have access to a metal-turning lathe to do the simple machining called for, a commercial machine shop can do it for you in a few minutes. Even with tempering, the nozzle will wear out. When the opening wears nearly through, make a new nozzle. And when the blowgun nozzle wears out, replace it with one of hardened steel— or buy a new blow gun; they're cheap enough. metal cabinet There's a double reason for using a cabinet with the gun wherever possible. Not only does it provide for recirculation of the sand; it keeps the air clear and protects the operator from flying grit. The sand issues from the nozzle with considerable force and in doing its work generates a lot of dust, which must be drawn off by means of a shop vacuum or similar suction device. Because of the wearing effect of the sandblast,. the cabinet must be metal. Two No. 2 (15-gallon) washtubs simplify construction, but are less expensive than an equivalent amount of sheet metal of suitable gauge. To avoid the sheet-metal construction shown in the hinging detail you could substitute a gatesize strap hinge. The sloping hopper is provided in the bottom tub so the sand can slide down and replace that drawn up from the center by the siphon tube. A pipe-reducer drain is soldered in the bottom hole to facilitate emptying the hopper when you want to change to another grit size. When formed into a cone, the hopper should fit snugly enough so that it must be driven down with light mallet blows. But don't put it in place until you make the cutouts for the armholes and 2256 air line, as shown. Bend a ring of heavy wire, try it for size inside the tub, then cut the ends square and braze them together. Solder a square of hardware cloth to the ring and trim away the excess with diagonal wire clippers. Now you're ready to tackle the top tub. The light sockets are the two-piece type that unscrew, leaving a shoulder and throat of porcelain. The metal of the cabinet must not come in contact with the metal screw of the socket. Wire the sockets with No. 18 light cord and install a line switch in the cord. Make a sheet-metal cover as detailed and solder it over the exposed connections. Your soldering is done when you've added the sheet-metal tube (to fit the hose of your shop vacuum) and the frame for holding the 6 x 12-in. double-strength glass of the viewing window. When soldering this frame into the cabinet, be sure to seal all the gaps to prevent sand leaks. use a plastic screen If you plan to use any coarse grits, such as No. 36, it's a good idea to stretch a piece of plastic window screen across the frame, about % in. inside the window. Without this screen to keep rebounding grit from reaching the glass, you'll have an etched window in short order. The screen (which must be plastic, since a metal mesh would quickly wear out) cuts down on visibility —but far less than a frosted window would. You can either set the cabinet on top your workbench or build a special stand, as detailed, bronze-brazing the sections of conduit with an air-acetylene torch. The stand's platform has a center hole for easy drainage of the hopper. When work is too large to fit inside the cabinet, you need a separate sand reservoir, as shown in the photo and sketch. If a very large supply of sand is needed, a tubful can be set by the work with the gun connected to the rubber feed tube, as in cabinet use. Don't try outside-the-cabinet blasting indoors unless you have a special room with a vacuum exhaust system. Whether inside or out of the cabinet, hands should be protected with heavy industrial-type rubber gloves. Outside the cabinet you'll also need goggles or—better still—a face shield. The air line should be equipped with both a regulator and a filter—the latter to trap moisture which could clog the flow of sand if it gets into the gun. This is especially likely in a cold room, or outdoors.