Many machine shops and industrial facilities have at least one sand blasting cabinet, a closed system used for deburring, cleaning, or smoothing machine parts. When used at the proper settings with the correct media, commercial, residential and automotive contractors can save money and time by bringing their restoration projects back in-house using their own sandblast cabinet.
As this article about restoring a 1969 Ford Bronco illustrates, having your own parts washer and sandblasting cabinet can help you preserve and restore engine parts and more easily determine whether or not you’ll need replacements. Mechanics or salvage specialists looking for a side hustle can also use this opportunity to find and restore engine parts for resale on eBay, LetGo, or personal networks to help recoup the cost of the initial equipment purchase.
Sandblasting is useful for removing both rust and paint, so if you are planning to repaint any metal surfaces, you can bring them back to their original unprimed state and start from scratch. For smaller parts and surfaces, there are definite benefits to using a blast cabinet instead of an open-air system, because particulate filtration masks can sometimes fail to create an adequate seal, allowing blast media to enter your mouth and nasal passages. Also, cabinets collect the blast media after use and keep the mess in your shop contained, while open air sandblasting carries media through the air a significant distance from where you are working.
Restoration Construction Projects
A variety of building materials and pieces can be restored and repurposed using a sandblast cabinet. Bricks, slate or stone that had been painted over can have their original surface restored, sparing you the cost of buying new materials. Remove rust and paint from cabinet hardware, light fixtures, a wide variety of handles, hinges, and even plumbing fixtures for reuse on your project, or as a first step in repainting or refinishing the hardware to new specifications.
You can also scour yard sales, antique stores, and even junkyards to find a whole host of materials that can be refinished and resold to DIY homeowners and contractors looking for old-fashioned or vintage hardware components. If you are a creative type, you can resurface other materials like wood to create a rustic-looking weathered background for a woodburning design, give glass a “beach glass” finish without milling it for hours, or even rough up various surfaces for better glue or primer adhesion.
A sandblasting cabinet can be used to etch textures and designs into glass, as well as carving lettering into stone, brick, or other hard surfaces. You can use metal template coverings to control patterns etched or carved into the surface of your choice, or you can freestyle if you have a steady hand or a simple design. Rust and paint removal are some of the most common uses for this type of equipment outside of an industrial shop, but it can also clean up messy welds on smaller metal pieces and prep them for painting.
This equipment also comes in handy at appliance and small equipment repair shops, especially when refurbishing equipment that’s dirty or well-worn. For shops involved in the restoration of smaller furniture pieces such as spindles, corbels or other millwork, with softer media such as a soda blast kit and a delicate touch, sand (soda) blasting is an effective way to get into tight corners and intricate crevices where traditional sanding equipment has a hard time reaching, and it allows you to ditch messy, smelling, time consuming paint-stripping chemicals.