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The sand blaster (AKA media blaster or abrasive blast cabinet) works by shooting a high pressure stream of abrasive material at your work piece to wear away surface material. You might use it to strip off paint in preparation for powder coating, or to etch glass. This Instrucatable will guide you through how to setup, use, and cleanup after using the sand blaster at the TechShop San Francisco location. The part that I'll be demonstrating with is a bicycle fork that was painted red that I want to paint a different color.

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I wrote this Instructable from TechShop San Francisco where they have an excellent class on sandblasting and powder coating. Become a member and win a free class for every Instructable you write when you include "I made it at TechShop".

Step 1: Don't Forget Basic Safety

The sand blaster is in the back left corner of TechShop SF near the rollup door. This is in a part of the building that requires goggles and closed toed shoes to be worn at all times. You may or may not want to wear hearing protection since the sand blaster isn't very loud but there could be other noisy things happening around you.

Step 2: Set Up the Sand Blaster for Use

The sand blaster needs to be connected to compressed air to work. At the time of writing this Instructable, there was a red hose labeled "USE WITH SANDBLAST" that I used. You will need to connect the red hose to the blue hose sticking out of the sandblaster under its door. Hold both hoses firmly when you're connecting them so that the compressed air doesn't whip one out of your hands.

Connecting the air hose is arguably the most difficult and dangerous part of setting up the sand blaster. Here are the remaining setup steps:

  • Pace your work piece inside the sand blast cabinet and make sure there aren't any other pieces in there that shouldn't be
  • Close the cabinet door (secure the two latches)
  • Flip on the sand blaster power switch which is on the top right

Step 3: Sandblast Your Piece

Now, you can put your hands inside the long gloves attached to the sand blaster so that you can manipulate your work piece and the sand blast gun that directs the stream of abrasive materials. If the window into the cabinet is too hard to see through, it may be necessary for someone at the front desk to clean it or replace it for you.

To start the sandblasting, step on the foot pedal under the machine and point the sand blast gun at your work piece. I held the gun about 2 to 4 inches away from the bicycle fork and slowly moved back and forth over a small area until the paint came away. It was fairly effortless and the whole piece took about 10 minutes. Depending on what you are sandblasting, it could take a lot longer.

Step 4: Clean Up After Yourself

When you're done, there are only a few steps to put everything back in order for the next person

  • Remove your piece from the cabinet
  • Flip off the power switch
  • Disconnect the air hose and put it away neatly
  • Turn the gloves inside out so that they have a chance to air out

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