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Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Quest For Sandblasting Equipment

I had been looking at sandblast cabinets and compressors online for months but when I would call businesses to ask questions before ordering, they all tried to sell me $2000-4000 setups. I only needed an entry level unit to clean off the plaster and slightly etch the recycled glass castings. No matter how much hand and machine sanding I did, it was proving too time consuming to dig out the tiny embedded plaster bits and properly polish the edges of the castings. Also, since the castings are curved on all the outer edges, I could not use my wet belt sander with more than moderate efficiency. Thus, my quest to find sandblasting equipment in the DC area began.

While researching online again, I stumbled across a chain of stores called the Tractor Supply Company and one was located in Leesburg, Virginia. I called and a friendly store clerk said they had the table top blast cabinets, a variety of compressors and the blast media. So, early last Saturday morning, I was on my 64 mile round trip quest. Traffic was light and when I got about 4 to 5 miles from the store, I saw this huge black bird (a vulture?) with white tipped wings spiraling downward to land on the highway. As I realized it was aiming to land on the side of the highway, I quickly slowed down. The prehistoric looking black bird flew over the front of my car hood, missing it by inches. The wingspan of the bird was wider than my car and I regretted not having my camera or thinking to use my cell phone video.

A few minutes later, I arrived at this busy store that had everything from farm equipment to other interesting materials I could see inspiring future art projects. The store clerk was outstanding and answered all my many questions. I purchased a red Blackbull table top blasting cabinet, a 20 gallon Campbell Hausfeld compressor and affordable black blasting media. The blasting cabinet was at least $40 cheaper than identical ones online (and not even counting shipping). Everything at this store seemed to be very affordably priced. My purchases were loaded into my car and I left.

The other day, my neighbor and his wife assisted me in setting up the compressor and cabinet and it all worked amazingly well. I was worried about the air compressor being loud, but it was not and it did not run continuously as I thought it would. The blast gun quickly took off the plaster bits and lightly etched the glass. I do need to get a small shop vac to plug into the cabinet to help keep the dust down while blasting.

In the next post, I will show photos of a casting with before and after sandblasting effects.


  1. Are these pictures the models that you bought at Tractor Supply? Did they have silica carbide as the blasting material, too? I've been looking for an affordable sandblasting cabinet for awhile. Would you be able to carve into the glass as well with this unit? (Sorry for all the questions!) Are you happy with the way it's performing, still?
    Thanks for any advice you can offer:)

  2. It is the model I bought. It works great! You need a larger compressor for carving...60 gallon. I responded with more detail in an email. Hope you got it.