Introduction: Make Your Own Sandblaster and How to Use It

Picture of Make Your Own Sandblaster and How to Use It

Need to make your blue jeans more stylish? Want a gorgeous frosty finish on metals or glass? Want to paint to stick to something? Mr. Sandblaster is your answer! Make one today - it's really easy! Here's how:

The sandblaster in action, frosting a test-strip of copper for one of Tetranitrate's secret projects.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Sand gets everywhere, unless you do this all inside an enclosed box.

Sand got in my nose, between my teeth, ears, and despite the goggles, my eyes. When this was done, I looked sparkly from all the garnet sand dust on my face. Consider wearing a bandanna, especially if you have any respiratory issues. Actually, you really want to wear a respirator, to avoid silicosis. Use goggles if you have them. Swimming goggles (that seal over your eyes) or a snorkel might work best.

To construct the sandblaster, attach the hose to the air gun, and drop the other end into a bucket of garnet sand or other abrasive. Any even-sized abrasive should work - we grabbed this out of a pile of abrasive meant for the water jet.

Once everything is assembled, proceed to sandblast!

My jeans are indeed whiter.

Step 2: Making the Sandblaster

Picture of Making the Sandblaster

The setup is a normal air gun, with a hose at a second attachment. This sucks in sand at a constant rate, via Bernoulli's Principle, like an aspiration setup in a chemistry class.

Find a bucket of sand for the hose to rest in. Find some good method to keep the hose submerged in sand, like duct-taping the hose to the side of the bucket so that it's always pointed downwards.

We just tipped the bucket so the sand was in a huge pile on one side, and stuck the hose into that. Even so, every now and then the hose stops sucking sand, which sucks.

Hook the gun up to any compressor hose.

Step 3: Sandblasting

Picture of Sandblasting

See what materials work!

Tetranitrate draws a smiley face (and subsequently, a frowny face) on his pants:

I sandblasted my jeans because I am struck by what a ripoff it is to pay $60 for sandblasted jeans.

The tshirt I sandblasted didn't change colors, but it felt thinner in that patch.

Later I sandblasted "DIY" onto the back of my left pant-leg. The intersection at the forks of the "Y" actually burnt/blasted through, giving it that rough, well-worn look. Want ripped jeans? Just sandblast them a little more.

Otherwise, metals are great, so is glass (especially glass - you can mask and sandblast wine glasses, or just give a frosty finish to anything you're working on.)

Industrially, sandblasting is used to evenly rough a surface before it is painted.

Also, don't do what I did! Take off your jeans if you want to sandblast them - my leg felt burnt for a few hours after blasting them.

(all the same, it was a blast - I didn't take them off because this was impromptu and I couldn't, y'know, take them off there in public and all..)


janisalnis (author)2017-11-15

Please describe what part You added to the pistol.

MCRUELMASTER (author)2017-09-25

Did u use a regular compressor? Or an electric tire compressor? Gr8 job, just wondering if I could use a small electric compressor.

lars.nijenhuis.3 (author)2015-04-19

where do you buy pistol

msw100 (author)2012-09-22

I wonder how many people have just dumped the hose in a bucket of sand as in the image and wonder why it isn't working

flamesami (author)2010-02-28

I have a pressure washer with a soaper attachment, could I feasibly put garnet sand in the attachment and use it for sandblasting? or would it just f**k up the washer?

seanminator (author)flamesami2012-08-24

That would definitely work. I have one of these at home and it works great. I sand blast on Saturday and wash the car on Sunday.

woomyse (author)2008-08-12

I would like to say "Good 'structable' : but... There and mentions of safety and goggles, respirators etc. But stop being foolish; you really need to know that sand blasting is bad for your health. If you use silica, silicosissilicosis and fibrosisfibrosis are possible results. Even cleaning yourself off or others withcompressor air compressor air is NEVER a good idea. Oil lubricated compressors have the added hazard of oil mist. A full set of rules can be found in the link. Then you must also consider the material being removed b the blasting.

The title is a bit misleading; it says "Make your own sand blaster, And how to use it" Clearly you did not make your sandblaster, it looks like it came from Harbour Freight. You used it, but not safely, and could possibly mislead others. Thanks to ironsmiter for the tip on baking soda, and ditto wasp's sentiments.

disturbedreaper (author)woomyse2008-11-04

chill its not like any one would use this every day the exposure wouldent be enough every one would just use it for one quik project and yes it is hiughly recomended to wear a reperator at the least a dust mask and googles are near manditory cuz if one high speed peice of sand hits you eye it could scratch your cornea and blur ur sight for quite a while

You can get enough silica in one exposure to cause lung scaring five years later. There is no cure for silicosis. Do Not Use SAND. There are other abrasives out there. Period.

Derin (author)disturbedreaper2009-01-25
Chill,its not like anyone would use this every day,the exposure wouldn't be enough.Everyone would just use it for one quick project,and yes,it is highly recommended to wear a respirator,or at the least, a dust mask.Goggles are near mandatory because if one high speed piece of sand hits your eye,it could scratch your cornea and blur your sight for quite a while.
disturbedreaper (author)Derin2009-01-28

? did you just add punctation to my writing ive never seen it that way?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

It's supposed to be written like that, with punctuation.

In Bob I Trust (author)2010-04-19

 I remember you from your run in with the Massachusetts State Police at Logan Airport. You're lucky to be alive!
 Please be aware that sand used to blast a hard object will release fine dust that will damage your lungs unless you wear breathing protection.

roecale (author)In Bob I Trust2010-06-18

be aware that no filter type respiratory protection is rated for glass dust. glass cuts right through the filters, leaving the user vulnerable to silicosis. to blast glass, you need a cabinet with negative air pressure exausting far, far away. pipe this toxic exhaust through a large "dust bong" for water filtration.

Madgophers (author)roecale2011-08-21


Eric Sandman (author)2010-07-13

Cool instruct-able! I work with sandblasting all the time but have never tried it on jeans. That's a decent little siphon sandblaster you got there.

I have made my own for a pressure pot blaster so I have variable trigger flow which is hard to do. I use it to etch glass.

You can see a picture of it at

Let me know if anyone wants the plans by leaving me a comment at my blog if your interested.

I'd like to set myself up to sanblast glass. I'm looking for a pressure blaster but am not sure what size I need, no what size compressor to buy. Any advise?

jimmy dean (author)2010-12-28

Do you think this could work as an airbrush if you dropped the hose in a bucket of paint?

Devrimm (author)2010-05-08

   It is a good instructable. With this, you can work on window. You can draw very good pictures with the sand and air. You have to use plastic tape for save some parts of the window. Also you can workon the back side of a window to make some flowers on. Thank you.

hbCyber (author)2008-04-26

Since the gun must be plugged to an air compressor... what kind of air compressor do you need? How powerful?? Cause you're not saving money if you need one of those huge air compressors...

Technophile (author)hbCyber2010-02-19

Look at the sandblaster instructions for what CFM and PSI it needs, then take a guess at what percentage of the time you'll actually be sandblasting.  Maybe 50%?

Compressors have three main numbers:
* Maximum PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) air pressure
* CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute), how much air it will deliver at a given PSI (pressure).  Often there will be a couple of CFM numbers; the higher the PSI, the lower the CFM because it takes longer to pump up a higher pressure.
* Tank volume
And then there's the quality and lifetime of the compressor.

If you're doing a few pairs of jeans, a small, cheap compressor is fine. 

For larger jobs and sandblasters, you'll want more CFM (requires a bigger motor).  If the compressor is too small (not enough CFM), you can still use it.  You'll be able to blast for a while until the pressure drops, then have to stop and wait while the compressor chugs away building the pressure back up.  Tank volume will be important here.  Also look at air-hose sizing; too small of a hose will drop too much pressure.

If you're doing a lot of work, you'll want higher CFM and a compressor that will last. 

Also you can balance the cost of a better sandblaster (may be more efficient) against compressor size.  E.g. for air tools, the Harbor Freight tools are cheap, but waste a lot of the air.  OK for a few small jobs, but if you're doing a serious amount of work go for a better brand.

Keep the compressor (and other machinery) away from the sandblasting area -- 'breathing' the abrasive dust will kill it!  AND you.  Your lungs won't work very well if they're full of fine sand!  Wear goggles, gloves, long sleeves, spend $30-$40 on a respirator mask with P100 filters (stops 100% of particulates).  A hood is nice to keep the sand out of your hair.  Keep an eye on where the dust is going, too.  Don't let your buddies stand around and breathe the dust!

jaysbob (author)hbCyber2008-04-26

I wouldn't buy a compressor just for this either, but then, this isn't the only thing one can do with a compressor. nail guns, airbrushing, broom, almost as useful as duct tape. and your still really saving money, as you wouldn't have to buy a blaster AND a compressor. Also you can find hobby sized compressors (powerful enough to power a nail gun) for around $80-$100 at your local hardware mega-store.

hbCyber (author)jaysbob2008-04-26

Interesting... however, I used to shop around to see if I could buy some sandblasting equipment to customize some of my jeans like that... when I went around in hardware shops and ask for a compressor for sandblasting, they told me which bare basic compressor I needed as an absolute minimum... and the thing was about as big as a red space rocket, and cost around 1200$; the person told me how many PSIs were needed and all... and only such huge compressors had the good pressure. So now I'm confused as to how this sand is supposed to be shoot with enough force without a beast compressor!

jaysbob (author)hbCyber2008-04-29

you have to keep in mind the guy was trying to sell you something. I personally haven't done any sandblasting so I can't speak for the PSI required (although more PSI is going to equate to a more powerful jet and therefore more blasting power) but a $1200 shop-size tank compressor is most likely overkill for sandblasting a couple of pairs of jeans. on average a 1/2-1hp compressor should give you around 120psi at the max, which is more than enough for almost all applications. And that for the most part is determined by the tank, not the compressor. I think that guy was either yanking your chain and trying to pawn off the behemoth he's had in his shop for ages, or figuring you were wanting to sandblast something larger and more stubborn than a pair of levis. Another alternative to buying a compressor are compressed gas bottles filled with either nitrogen(ideal), CO2, or air. These look like big welding or scuba tanks (although you can generally get them in much smaller sizes) and can be found for rental or sale at almost all welding supply shops or places that sell and service soda fountains. They have their applications but they can be a pain in that their heavy and if for some reason the valve at the top gets knocked off you have what amounts to a torpedo, and you have to schlep them back and forth from the supplier to get them filled on a semi-regular basis. But they are capable of supplying very pressures of very clean dry air. Their also whisper quiet(something that can definitely NOT be said about your average compressor). sorry for the length, kind of got off on a tangent there.

pcbeachrat (author)jaysbob2009-10-31

Jaysbob to straightenup what JEQUIPMENT  is trying to tell you about the suggestion on equipment. A 1/2 to 1 horsepower motor is going to do about 4 pairs of jeans then it will fry. I previously posted about the Harbor freight set up I bought for 29.00 that stated it only needed a 1 horsepower compressor..and that is thier statement. I bought that unit and used it for 4 little items on my NEW 2.5 horsepower 15 gallon compressor and it literally fried it after only a few uses. harbor freight lies is no 1/2 hp to 1 hp copmpressor going to work for sandblasting, I don't care what the manufacturer claims. As mentioned my 2.5 hp totally fried and would not build no air at all after a few uses on the small Harbor freight unit.. I ended up getting a 80 gallon tank job with a 6.5 hp motor for only 200.00 used, and then built my own pot blaster to do the things I needed..ANY OILESS compressor is going to wear itself out on any methods of sandblasting within a few uses.. I have just learned this by frying a brand new MUCH LARGER  compressor than what you are recomending..and it was rated for 5.1 is what it actually took to take care of just small cabinet sandblasting..the small compressor you are suggesting will not do atall...Here is my photo album of what I now have ..You must have a decent size compresser that you put oil in, with a seperate motor and compressor, belt driven to do even small sandblasting..Even with this unit rated at 13 cfm has to catch up some as you use it, and this is using only 1/8 inch sized nozzles...JEQUIPMENT hit the nail right on the head..Heres what it takes

JEQUIPMENT (author)jaysbob2009-01-03


b-train (author)JEQUIPMENT2009-01-12

Lower case is cruise control for cool. Tone down the shouting please, you have some great info there but its so hard to read.

jaysbob (author)JEQUIPMENT2009-01-12

well in return I'll give you a little help in finding your caps-lock key. on most keyboards its that little guy right above your left shift key, if you find yourself looking at tab you've gone too far. don't panic, just turn around and start back at shift you should get there eventually. thanks for the info though, makes sense that it would be CFM. but generally speaking the more HP a compressor has the larger the motors going to be, hence increasing the size of the overall unit.

For air brushing I use small cans (170g - 400g) of Testors ozone. I usually buy them at Wal-Mart for around 5 bucks. I'm not sure if you could easily get an adaptor so that it works with other air compressor applications but it works great for hobby airbrushing.

I used to use those actually. I know for a fact there are adapters for those cans as I have one myself... somewhere. I haven't used it in ages but they do exist.

pcbeachrat (author)hbCyber2009-09-25

You can purchase a complete spot blaster kit for 22.95 from model number 37025-ovga This unit only requires a 1 horsepower compressor that is capable of giving out 3.5 cfm at 50 psi..heres the link to the actual item .I personally have one.

jteam (author)2009-07-28

WARNING! Always use a quality respirator. Inhaling the sand particles can kill you! Look it up. It's called silicosis I think. Be careful!

Technophile (author)jteam2010-02-19

I strongly agree!  If you breathe fine sand into your lungs, your body has no way to clear it out of there.  Read an article about a guy who swept up his sandblasting shop without a respirator then went on an airline trip; literally turned blue and needed oxygen.

Much cheaper to buy a $30-$40 respirator than be hospitalized.  Keeps the grit out of your teeth too.

halamka (author)2009-04-07

I tried making a sand blaster but it did not work . I have one sandblaster called "speedblaster" it is weak and the trigger has to be pulled every time on and off to allow the sand to fall (sorry no sketch the computers become too popular) . The sears sandblaster I have works fairly well . The parts are stuck and I can't see how it works. No sketches, the computer makers would never get out of the factories. No graphics keys or 3.5 inch discs. I think the sand intake is toward the front . So how does the pressure go below atmospheric ? I tried a 3 piece assembly with 1/4 inch threads and 1/8-27 pipe threads. I made a piece with this has to be changed-- So the exit piece should be straight . The sand inlet should be near the straight piece. I will try for a few days. Sure Bernouli , but where Bernouli . I will post later-----

pcbeachrat (author)halamka2009-10-31

Halamka I made my own pressure assist blaster that is no clog and feeds the grit/sand at only 2 matter how wet the grit gets it will still flow with this setup..You cannot set the pressure over 15 psi on this rig for it will blow your neighbors away...I made mine out of An old burned out compressor tank..this set up you can actually pour a gallon of water in the tank with the grit..and put it on 4 psi and it will still blow the grit..your nozzle will not stop up or clog..check out my photos here of my homemade blaster, and homemade blasting cabinet..feel free to e mail me at if you need help ..

mrclean5262 (author)2008-08-12

Will this way of sand blasting strip off paint from my bicycle and take the layer of rust off?

pcbeachrat (author)mrclean52622009-09-25

If you simply want to take the rust off and leave the paint use a walnut shell media(grit) or plastic grit..If you want to take paint off to, then use a garnit or steel grit..however it may pit the metal..Glass bead would be the best for taking off the rust as well aas the paint..and use this sandblaster..22.95 with gun ,nozzle and all..

halamka (author)2009-04-10

The simpler 1 piece sandblaster works. It sucks up sand. I made the hole .073 #49 drill. The 1 hp 2 cylinder compressor runs at 80 psi. The output hole is 5/16. I will make a wood box to pick up the sand.

halamka (author)2009-04-08

No sketches or graphics keys on computer. It would make the computer way too popular. No one would ever leave the factory . I modified the sandblaster I made and it seems to work. I changed the outlet nozzle from <==> to <=== and it sucks up sand . Do you like the stingy graphic keys? The flow through the hose is probably at sonic velocity then through the diverging nozzle becomes supersonic. I will probably make another one but simpler next time. I used 3 steel rounds on a lathe. I turned down 1 piece to about 3/32 with a hole. The tube fits into another hole about 1/4 inch diameter , with a small hole venting to the atmospere before the end of the tube. The 3rd section has the sand hose and exit pipe. I think that maybe a diagonal piece of wood in a bucket of sand may work to feed the sand into the hose . NASA has " boundary flow" with articles about supersonic nozzle flow.

Sandisk1duo (author)2009-02-04

hey can you add a tag to your instructable? add "sand blaster" it's a little bit hard to find....

PKTraceur (author)2009-01-10

Where is the instructable? Just, you know, a not so important question...

ledzep567 (author)2008-01-12

would this remove some serious rust from a set of leg-hold traps??

whiteoakart (author)ledzep5672008-08-21

I would take it off your leg first. Then get a tetanus shot. Next time be more careful walking through the woods, Ledzep. ;)

dombeef (author)whiteoakart2008-11-17


mikemmcmeans (author)2008-11-04

where's the "how to" part this is just a few video of you and your friends screwing around

SlimDan22 (author)2008-07-17

Where did you get an air gun with a inlet line or is there some kind of pluming or air adapter you put between the nossle and the gun?

Rishnai (author)2008-05-27

Baking soda is also good... soda blasting. I know it works to get paint off, but I don't know about sandblasting jeans. I do know it doesn't get everywhere and chafe like sand does, though.

Ferrite (author)2007-08-17

Nice! Would it work if you put water in the bucket so it would be a powerful water jet?

jasonmrye (author)Ferrite2008-04-25

I have used this same method to clean the crud off the machines at work. A bucket of soapy water in place of the sand will cut through some deep grime, but it's no waterjet. More like a super-charged Windex bottle.

stasterisk (author)Ferrite2007-08-17

I hadn't thought of building a waterjet. Considering that a waterjet operates at 40,000 PSI, and has a nozzle .015" wide, I think a sandblaster will be underpowered and too broad. So, you'd get mostly wet clothes. It's an intriguing idea. I wonder how cheaply one could create a waterjet - does anyone have an old plotter laying around?

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