Expensive Looking Sandblasted Glassware on the CHEAP!




Spend a bit of $$ up front (about $400, but you can go much cheaper ($160 ish) if you can borrow a vinyl cutter), make a LOT on the back (the Wife and I went to the U.K. for 3 weeks on the money I made on this PART TIME over a two year period).

I buy ALL my glassware at the Dollar Tree. You can literally get every type of glass you need. Heck, if you are a really cheap bastard, get your glassware at yard sales and Goodwill stores for even less!

In these included pictures are 3 of my most difficult patterns I have done. The were NOT my own design (thank you Google Image search!), but the laying of the pattern is time consuming.

Step 1: Material List: Must Have Item #1...air Compressor.

Harbor Freight Oil-less air compressor ($50 ish) GET THE WARRANTIES! They will die (on my 4th one in 3 years), but the warranty will replace them. 1/6th HP that gives about 58 psi.

This baby is QUIET! So quiet, I can do this in the house. It spools up the pressure needed almost immediately,

Step 2: Material List: Must Have Item #2...air Eraser.

There are a bunch of these on the market, and some are much better than others. But for convenience for me, I get this from Harbor Freight. Why? Because I get the warranty on this (IT WILL BREAK DOWN) and I can go the store and replace it for free within a year.

$40 ish

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE about this air eraser and compressor. It is not "strong", meaning it will not significantly hurt your bare hands. It will etch glass just fine, so save some money on gloves since this will not really hurt you. Besides, handling glassware with gloves on is harder than it has to be in my opinion.

Step 3: Not a Must Have, But Saves a LOT of Money on "sand" - Clear Storage Container.

You don't have to have this, but for $5, you will save and contain your expensive "sand" (Aluminum oxide).

All I did was cut a pair of armholes in the side, and used some old sweatpants legs (the kind with elastic on the ankle) and hot glue them over the holes.

You may need a small hole also on the side for the air compressor hose. Or be lazy like I did here and just run the hose through the arm hole.

I used to just sandblast out in the back yard, but then you blow all your sand away. I went through 20 lbs of sand in a year and thought that was a total waste of product. With this, I am using the same 5 lbs of sand for the last year, and pretty much for the rest of time.

This is NOT a completely sealed system. SAND WILL LEAK OUT. That stuff is very fine. But, if you want to spend the time sealing the lid with something, go right ahead.

Step 4: Back Lighting

looking at your glassware through the plastic container is hard, so put a 100w bulb behind the container so you can see your work more easily.

Again, this is cheap! A yard sale clip lamp ($2) does the job!

Step 5: Your Most Expensive Piece of Equipment: Vinyl Cutter

$200 - $500 for this. Yes, that is pricey, but for what the Silhouette Cameo can do, it is a downright STEAL!

Just watch any DIY video on vinyl cutting with this machine and you will see the value right away.

However, if you have a MakerSpace with a cutter, or a friend with one of these, then you can save a ton of money.

Step 6: The Vinyl

Again, Dollar Tree for a short roll of what I call "pattern vinyl". This is the stuff I use specifically to cut my patterns to lay on the glassware. It usually comes in ugly patterns and colors, and is called Shelf Paper or Shelf Liner. Color and patterns do not matter, since all I am concerned about is the shapes I cut out of it.

In this picture, you will see a roll on top called CLEAR TRANSPARENT. I use this as Transfer paper (lifting the pattern from the cut piece to the glass). $1.00!!!! I foolishly bought a huge roll of actual transfer material from a vinyl store for way too much when I first started.

The cool thing about the Silhouette is that I have a whole other side business just cutting cheap vinyl window stickers for my Nerd Herd friends! In the second pic, that was a wood grain pattern I used to cut the AT-AT window sticker for a friends RV.

Step 7: Final Steps: Cutting Vinyl and Blasting

The following three steps took me 10 minutes.

#1. Using your vinyl cutter, cut a pattern. (This could literally take you hours due to how fast your creative juices flow!). Time from finding pattern to cutting and weeding (removing the part I will blast), 3 minutes.

#2. Place pattern on glassware. Again, depending on complexity of pattern, it could take 1 minute to 45 (I did a sugar skull storm trooper pattern once that took that long).

#3. Sandblast the pattern into the glass. Remove vinyl and wash.

Final Final step: Sell it!

I have made thousands of dollars in a few years doing this. I sell them on FB (Marketplace or via Trade/Yard Sale groups) and Craigslist. I join craft fairs and sell at booths. I make custom mugs for Mug Clubs at my local breweries.

Now get out there and make some EA$Y MONEY!!!!



    • Barbecue Challenge

      Barbecue Challenge
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest
    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

    30 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 7

    Can you tell me the model air compressor you're using? Or what you'd suggest if we're looking for one on our own?

    2 answers

    Answer 1 year ago

    It is hard to read the model number on the picture, but it is the Harbor Freight 93657, everyday price $69.95, but regularly on sale or you can use one of their 20% or 25% off coupons. Model 60329 is pretty much identical, same price.


    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    If i understand correctly. You stick the vinyl cutout onto the pattern vinyl, then use an exacto knife to cut the pattern. Once that's done, you peel off the vinyl pattern so it can be reused. Have you tried using a paper photocopy, with the pattern you want to transfer onto the pattern vinyl. Even if I have to glue it on and use a fresh paper every time, it could allow me avoid the expense of a vinyl cutter.

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    Vinyl cutters are free if a friend has one or you have a Makerspace. You would be surprised how many people have these things. Spend the $180 and get one on Ebay. Vinyl cutting is just one a a dozen things you can do with it. Spend 1/2 that on Craigslist for a used one....8-]


    1 year ago

    Thanks for the great introduction instructable!!!

    I use the Silhouette Cameo for my projects. Great way to make duplicate masks!


    Question 1 year ago

    how do you stick your vinyl to your glass?

    4 answers

    Answer 1 year ago

    A little more details.

    Your vinyl sheet is made up of: 1. The vinyl that has a sticky back, 2. The base paper that has a pealiable surface that the vinyl sticks to.

    Once you get a cut out vinyl mask made you need to "Weed" the mask, this is removing all the cut vinyl areas that you want to sandblast through. This now will leave you your finished mask. But before you try and put it on your glass you need to transfer the vinyl from the base paper that has a pealiable surface, to transfer paper.

    "Transfer Paper"paper that is sticky on on side. You place this sticky side down on to your "Weeded" mask vinyl side. You then burnish all air bubbles trapped between the transfer paper and your mask. What this does for you is it keeps your mask from distorting and keeps any free floating pieces exactly where they should be.

    At this point I recommend that you wipe down your glass with a lint free cloth and alcohol. This will remove any oils and dirt that would interfere with the mask attaching to your glass. Let dry.

    Now you are ready to transfer your mask to the glass. Remove the vinyls base paper that has the pealiable surface. Try and not put you fingers all over the sticky side of the vinyl, it will transfer oils from your fingers and won't seal well.

    Place your mask slowly where you want it on the glass trying to get as much air out as possible. Once it is on, you will need to burnish all air bubbles trapped between the glass and your mask as you can. This allows for a good bound between your glass and your vinyl mask.

    Now you are ready to peal off your transfer paper (This is reusable). Peal it slowly and make sure the vinyl stays sticking to the glass. If for some reason it come up just press back down and burnish a little more. Then repeat the slow peal until all the transfer paper is off and your mask is on your glass.

    This may seam like a long process, but after a couple successful projects it will be second nature.


    Answer 1 year ago

    Sheet has 2 layers and the upper one is sticky (which gets the pattern cutting).just peel it off and stick it to glass.


    Answer 1 year ago

    The shelf paper is self-adhesive.


    Answer 1 year ago

    Yes to some extent, but not as good and clean as glass.

    The one thing you need to remember is the vinyl mask absorbs the shock of the blasting material, and the glass chips by the shock of the blasting material. Thus the mask will wear but not near as fast as the glass. Leaving a crisp clean design!

    Most raw woods will act like the mask material and absorbs the shock of the blasting material. Making it harder to clean out the un-masked areas before your mask starts wearing out also. You can adjust the success of this process a little by putting a harder protective coating (varnish, Polycoats, Epoxy Coatings, ...) on the wood. Once these coatings are fully cured they can provide a base that can be etched/sanded with more success by the sandblasting presented in the preceding article.

    Also remember the more pressure that you do your sandblasting with, will wear out the mask faster also. So do some trial runs on miscellaneous materials before that project you spent a lot of time on goes South on you.

    Know what to expect!


    Answer 1 year ago

    The sandblaster I use is pretty weak, but the principle is the same. You would just need one that can penetrate wood grain (and your skin too, so heavy gloves would be needed.


    Answer 1 year ago

    yes you can, just don't do it on the polished side.

    Hammerguy84 mojjaba

    Answer 1 year ago

    Yes it can! I sandblasted a mirror in Woodshop back in high school as part of a project, it turned out great!


    Question 1 year ago

    Can you reuse the vinyl cutout after you use it, or do you need to make a new one for each glass?