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    Abrasive Blasting

    Rusty metal, peeling paint, and corrosion don't stand a chance against abrasive blasting when it's done with skill. Compressed air—often under as much as 100 pounds of pressure—allows an abrasive to scour a surface to remove what you don't want, or to clean and polish a surface.

     

    The term "sandblasting" may be commonly used, but the more accurate word is "abrasive blasting." Although sand may have been used 20 years ago, safer blasting agents-commonly garnet, glass beads, aluminum oxide-largely have replaced silica sand because the dust in silica-based abrasives can cause serious lung damage and other health problems.

     

    Abrasive blasting is good for both small jobs, such as cleaning up weathered patio furniture, and large projects, such as restoring vehicles.

     

    Properly used on steel or cast metals, abrasive blasting will leave a surface free of impurities and ready to paint.

     

    If abrasive blasting is new to you, use this guide to answer some questions and help choose the right blaster for you.

    Before Blasting

    Safety First

     

    The materials removed by abrasive blasting are often very hazardous. No matter what abrasive blasting material you choose, use safety measures to contain, ventilate, and filter the dust caused by blasting to keep from harming you and others.

     

    For your personal safety, use protective equipment such as a respirator, an abrasive blasting hood that covers the head and shoulders and allows sight through a clear shield, leather gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and shoes to protect your skin from abrasives ricocheting off metal.

     

    Remember, it's not recommended to use silica sand in your blasting rig. OSHA has warned against the dangers of using silica-based abrasives for years. When silica-based abrasives are blasted against a work surface, they shatter and result in airborne dust particles. If you inhale these dust particles, they can lodge themselves in lung tissue, and the body has no way to remove them, which can result in the lung disease silicosis.

     

    Garnet and glass beads are safe to use because they are not silica-based. They have a much longer life span than silica-based sand abrasives because they are recyclable.

    After Blasting

    Selecting A Blasting Rig

     

    To determine which blasting rig is best for you, consider the size of the projects you'll be doing and the length of time it takes to do them.

     

    Abrasive blast cabinets are suitable for professional and workshop use. A blasting cabinet is used for smaller objects, such as transmission casings, exhaust manifolds, and wheel rims. The cabinet is made of steel with a Plexiglas viewing lid. A low-voltage light improves visibility during operation.

     

    Both table-top and stand-style abrasive blasting cabinets are available. The larger cabinets offer a larger work area—up to 8 cubic feet.

     

    Pressure pot abrasive blaster are on wheels for portability and can be used on larger projects, such as removing paint and rust from tractors, body panels on cars, fencing, and metal outbuildings. They come in three tank sizes: 5, 10, and 20 gallons.

     

    Larger tanks allow for longer cleaning time before stopping to build pressure.

    Choosing Abrasive Media

    In selecting abrasive blasting media—remember, the silica sand of days gone by is no longer used—it's important to consider the job at hand. Tractor Supply offers two kinds of abrasive media:

    • Garnet: — this cleans metals, brick, and concrete, and is very economical.
    • Glass Beads: — this is best suited for cleaning and polishing.

    Use the table below as a quick reference for which medium works best for a particular job.

     

     
    ABRASIVE MEDIUM APPLICATION ADVANTAGES

    Garnet

    Remove paint, rust, scale and corrosion from metal, brick, concrete and other masonry

    • Low nozzle pressure
    • Low dust levels
    • Fast cleaning
    • Recycles 6-7 times
    • Economical

    Glass Beads

    • Clean and polish glass, granite and metal
    • De-bur metal
    • Etch glass
    • Recyclable
    • Provides high-luster, polished surface
    • Economical
     
     

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

    Why should I wear safety and protective gear when abrasive blasting?

    When silica-based abrasives, such as sand, are blasted against a work surface, they shatter and result in airborne dust particles. If you inhale these dust particles, they can lodge themselves in lung tissue, and the body has no way to remove them, which can result in the lung disease silicosis. Garnet and glass beads are safe to use because they are not silica-based.

    Can a blasting rig be too powerful for a particular job?

    No. The air pressure and abrasive medium determine the power of the blasting. It is important to regulate the air pressure fed to the blasting unit to control the power of the blasting.

    How long should I blast my work surface?

    Depends on the abrasive blasting medium you use and how much paint or rust needs removing. Every project is different.

    How often do other accessories such as film and hose need to be replaced?

    Generally, these items should be replaced after about 4-6 hours of continuous use. Hoses should be inspected before each use for signs of bulging or soft spots, which indicate that the hose is excessively worn on the inside and needs to be replaced. The film should be replaced whenever it becomes too difficult to see through it into the cabinet.

    How do I know which size nozzle is the best for my application?

    That's where a bit of experimentation comes in. In general, though, the 3.0 mm nozzle is best for the pressure pot-style blasters, while the 5.0 mm nozzle is best for the cabinet-style blaster.

     

    TOOLS CHECKLIST

    Equipment

    • Blasting rig
    • Air compressor
    • Abrasive media appropriate for the job (garnet or glass beads)
    • Duct tape
    • Replacement nozzles for abrasive blaster
    • Replacement film for blasting cabinet
    • Abrasive hose

    Safety Equipment

    • Abrasive blasting hood with clear shield
    • Respirator
    • Leather gloves
    • Protective clothing