Introduction: Sandblasting Coffee Mugs Into Chalkboards

About: Programmer, woodworker, problem solver, problem maker.

Give the promo materials of yesteryear a new reason to live.

I've seen chalkboard stickers and chalkboard paint applied to coffee mugs. But, a little light sandblasting will do the trick as well.

Benefits of Sandblasting:

  • Remove old screen-printed labels
  • Blast the whole mug (the outside), or mask it off to blast a pattern.
  • Dishwasher safe.
  • Cool colors based on the color of the glazing.
  • Sandblasting is fun.


Notes About Safety & Risk

After posting the video on YouTube, two people noted possible safety/health concerns of drinking from a sandblasted mug. I have explored each one of those concerns in depth, asked a biology community, and talked with somebody who is a chemist for a living. I have found these to be non-issues as far as the sandblasting is concerned, but feel free to do your own research to decide for yourself.

Researching was oddly difficult, because many sites that told of the "dangers of lead in coffee mugs" also happened to sell "lead-free coffee mugs."


  • The sandblasting is very light, using fine sand that is not aggressive enough to dig in and make deep pits.
  • This does not remove the glazing or expose the ceramic (unless you blast it too long as I show in the video).

If, for some reason, the manufacturer of your mug used lead in the glazing:

  • The light sandblasting does not make matters worse.
  • The lead problem is still there in the mug whether the exterior is sandblasted or not.
  • The main concern is that the coffee sitting in the mug will be collecting/extracting lead.
  • Shame on them.

If you want to be cautious,

  • Don't sandblast the inside of the coffee mug. (you shouldn't do that anyway)
  • Don't drink from real old mugs, or mugs with cracks.
  • Don't continuously lick the exterior of the coffee mug for extended periods of time.

When it came down to it, the concerns were based on presumptions that the sandblasting is removing the glazing, which, from what I can tell, is not the case.


Whew. Let's go.

Step 1: Hardware & Software

The sand blaster is cheaper than most people think!


  1. Sandblaster
  2. Air compressor w/ good air flow. **

** If you'll be doing a lot of sandblasting, get one with a bigger tank.

Safety / PPE:

Sandblasting Media - Get the fine stuff!

Your local monument (headstone) company likely sells bags of sandblasting media. They'll give you normal unless you specify fine.

Keep everything in a bucket.


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Step 2: Blast!

You probably get the idea here...hook it up and start blasting. But here are some tips:


  • Aim so that the sand ricochets off the mug away from you (and others)
  • Aim to avoid blasting inside the mug.
  • Don't stay in one spot too long - You only need to give it some light texture.


  • Keep the siphon on the top of the sand. If it stops sucking, kick the bucket.
  • Don't let the sand get wet
  • Cover the bucket to keep critters and leaves out. Those will clog the gun.


  • Shoo away bystanders
  • Wear both the mask & eyeglasses with good coverage (I'm a huge fan of Nemesis glasses)
  • Use a good respirator

Step 3: Draw!

Personally, I've had my fun by now. But it seems that friends like to write & doodle on coffee mugs.


Condition The Mug? Nope.

Chalkboard stickers and paint instruct that you condition the surface for maximum erasability. But the mugs will go through the dishwasher which will remove the conditioning. Leave it up to your friends to decide if their artistic skill requires conditioning for maximum erasability or not.


Don't stop here. Blast more stuff.

Cookie jars? Flour & sugar canisters? Old salsa jars?

Wine bottles?

Step 4: Bonus: Blast Glass

Not so much a chalkboard thing, but I like to blast glass jars to turn them into candle diffusers. See the video if you haven't yet:


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