Tips on Portable Sandblastingby Steve Wager
Portable sandblasting is one of the most fun and rewarding professional-grade tasks you can do at home. Whether you are restoring an old army jeep or refinishing a glider for your front porch, portable sandblasting will make fast work of stripping old paint and can even help prep your surfaces for the paint finish. With safe practices and proper selection of blast media, you will soon be getting results just like a pro.
Sandblasting really is fun, especially if you have ever labored over removing old paint with sandpaper or harsh chemicals. Two crucial elements to consider before you begin is to be sure you have dry air and a dry blast media (the abrasive); moisture in either will result in clogging and poor performance. For dry air, you may need to add a dryer to your air compressor, and for your media, you will need both dry storage and low humidity on blast day.
Few things are able to make as huge a mess as sandblasting. If you have the space, you might be able to set up well away from anything that shouldn't get coated in sand. If not, you'll need to prepare your area by removing any valuables and covering everything else in plastic sheets or tarps. A large tarp on the ground will help collect any reusable blast media. While you're at it, you will need to carefully mask off all areas on your project that you do not want to be exposed to high-pressure sand.
That same force that can strip ancient paint can cause injury to the operator and anyone standing nearby. Particulates in the air can be hazardous to your health. Protect yourself head to toe with heavy clothes and gloves, a protective hood and a NIOSH-approved respirator. Silicosis is a risk when sandblasting, so work in a well-ventilated area and do not expose others to the dust without proper protection. Consult with a professional before you do any sandblasting work.
Ask a Pro
The real trick in sandblasting is to use the right media for you job. Blasting media ranges from corn cob to steel shot and each are suited to different tasks and will have vastly different effects on your base material. Several media types may work well for your application, and the professionals who supply sandblasting media will be able to help you make a selection based on your various needs. Be sure to review you safety equipment and procedures with your supplier at the same time.