The 6 Best Sandblasters
6. XtremepowerUS 20
- four-piece nozzle set
- 60-125 psi working pressure range
- included clamps are weak
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
5. Unitec 007
- adjustable material flow valve
- visible sand supply
- not a very durable option
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
4. Neiko 30042 Spot Shot
- tough metal trigger
- ideal for smaller jobs
- requires a lot of air power
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
3. Black Bull SFSB90
- sturdy 10-inch rubber wheels
- all-steel construction
- four ceramic nozzles
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
2. Campbell Hausfeld AT122601AV
- etch glass and age wood
- steel pickup tube
- comes with an allen wrench
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
1. Lematec Portable Speed Gun
- accepts many materials
- tank is vented for safety
- 1-year warranty
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
Compression And Abrasion At Its Finest
A sandblaster is a compressed air tool designed to propel pressurized silica sand, or some other type of granulated abrasive, toward the surface of various objects. This is done at a high velocity in order to grind surfaces down to a smooth finish or to clear away debris, rust, and other contaminants that have formed on the surfaces over time. Depending on its design and operation, the sandblaster consists of an air-powered pressure gun connected to a hose and air compressor, as well as some type of hopper or container from which the gun draws its abrasive. The gun's barrel is usually made out of ceramic with an internal coating to prevent the abrasive from eroding it through extended use.
Three main types of sandblasters include: gravity-fed, siphon, and pressure models. A gravity-fed sandblaster consists of a handheld pressure gun connected to an air compressor (or pressurized air tank) by means of a hose. It is usually equipped with an abrasive hopper mounted directly above its gun. When the gun's trigger is depressed and held down continuously, compressed air rapidly flows through and out of the gun's nozzle. At the same time, a slot at the top of the gun, into which the hopper is inserted, opens to allow both the high velocity of air and gravity to pull the sand from the hopper down into the gun and out of the gun's barrel.
By contrast, the siphon sandblaster is equipped with two separately-dedicated hoses, one connected to the bottom of the gun's handle and the other attached directly to the underside of the gun barrel. When the trigger is pulled, compressed air creates suction, drawing the abrasive media up to the gun barrel where it is fired. Unlike the gravity-fed model, the siphon blaster's reservoir is located below its gun nozzle, hence the use of suction to draw up the abrasive.
Less common for domestic applications, and operating in a similar manner to that of an aerosol can, the pressure sandblaster includes a large and enclosed canister of silica sand under high pressure. Its gun connects to a port at the top of the canister by means of a specialized hose. When the trigger is pulled, both pressurized air and sand are forced through the hose and out of the gun. Although this minimizes cleanup time for a professional crew, the sand cannot be collected and reused. Additionally, the pressure blaster's canister must be replaced when empty, making it a less cost-effective solution for the DIY consumer.
Maintaining Control, Convenience, and Versatility
The type of sandblaster one chooses to invest in depends on the location and requirements of the job, so it's important to choose wisely. For example, if you anticipate sandblasting surfaces in tight corners and hard-to-reach places around your home, then a siphon sandblaster is a good solution. There won't be a bulky container above the gun to get in your way while you work. Also, consider the hose length of the blaster to ensure you have enough room to keep the container up to 10 or more feet away from your workspace when you happen to be sandblasting those same corners and tight spots.
Consider the type of air compressor you choose to use in conjunction with the device. While there is no need to invest in an industrial-grade unit with a large abrasive tank for projects in a small home, awareness of the blaster's air power is important to ensure you get enough force and pressure to maximize results quickly, while minimizing the need for unnecessary cleanup time. An ideal pressure range for a handheld gravity-fed unit is between 90 and 120 pounds per square inch.
If you're working in a variety of locations with different materials, then a sandblaster with an integrated media control valve comes in handy, as you'll be able to adjust the flow of your blast media depending on the situation. It's also important to be aware of the tool's versatility for accepting a variety of abrasives, regardless of the model type. Many sandblasters are capable of accepting silicon carbide, glass, and crushed nutshells among other media.
Safety is a major consideration when working around potentially harmful airborne contaminants, as well. If constant use of a sandblaster is part of your trade, then minimize the risk of unhealthy exposure to your blast media by outfitting yourself with protective clothing and other equipment, such as a respirator.
A Brief History Of Sandblasters
Having seen the effects of wind-blown sand and corrosion on both windows and rocks while serving in the army, soldier and inventor Benjamin Chew Tilghman used this knowledge as his inspiration for inventing and patenting the first sandblasting machine in 1870. Tilghman used quartz within sand as his corrosive element of choice for the machine along with a jet of steam, air, and water. This represented the earliest testing phase of the new technology.
In 1904, Thomas Pangborn took Tilghman’s invention even further by incorporating compressed air with blast media for the purpose of cleaning metal. This helped to form the foundation for the Pangborn Corporation, which still manufactures and supplies sandblasting machines internationally to this day.
New types of blast media were identified by the late 1930s as a response to a growing concern over high-risk exposure to silica dust and potentially fatal silicosis. Since that time, sandblaster versatility, safety, and durability have been refined to accommodate a variety of job types for both domestic and professional use.