How to Mask Off an Area for Aggressive Sandblasting

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Intro: How to Mask Off an Area for Aggressive Sandblasting

In this Instructable, I will show you how to mask off a particular area prior to sandblasting to protect it, in this case I will be masking off the emblem on a bike frame.  This type of masking is ideal for aggressive sandblasting at a close range for long periods of time. 

Step 1: Cover Area With Vinyl

Cover the area you would like to protect from sandblasting with vinyl (with adhesive on one side).  Use enough vinyl that it covers more than the area you wish to mask.  

Step 2: Shape Mask

Using a sharp blade, cut away the excess vinyl around the shape you are masking off.

Step 3: Cover Area With Electrical Tape

Mask the area again over the vinyl with electrical tape.  Electrical tape will absorb a lot of energy which will prevent the tape itself from being sandblasted away.  Without the vinyl underlayer, the adhesive on the electrical tape will embed itself into your metal which can be removed by hand sanding.  I use the vinyl underneath because the adhesive on the vinyl does not get embedded as easily.  

Step 4: Shape Mask Again

Cut away the excess electrical tape like you did with the vinyl previously.

Step 5: Sandblast Area

With these two layers of masking material, your project is ready to be sandblasted.  Remove both layers after you are finished completely with your sandblasting.

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    27 Discussions

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    cloverdale87.

    2 years ago

    Hi everyone

    The best way is just buy Plasti-dip and a small pint brush. 4 coats and it peels off like a sunburned skin.

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    hohum

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you to all, for all of your input, tips, suggestions, I sincerely appreciate your helpful comments.

    Jack G

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    Quasinodoze

    5 years ago on Introduction

    When retexturing areas of injection mold after repairs, welding etc. I have used hotmelt glue with great success,good to cover edges of detail that must remain crisp and heavy enough to deflect aggressive grits and wears well, but above caveats about gun position apply and are critical to success. Build it up layer by layer as heavy as you need close to edges , then trim as needed to sharpen edges. just another way when other methodsnot as available or feasible.

    1 reply
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    RedBinaryQuasinodoze

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    It's a small internet! I work in blow molding. However, we just use duct tape to mask the molds and use a razor blade to trim to the pinch offs.

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    blanchae

    5 years ago on Step 5

    I've thought of using the same masking material that they use when they sandblast gravestones for "etching" in the names.

    3 replies
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    rbafcjblanchae

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    blanchae
    What masking material would that be? and were can I find it? Please.

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    shakeval

    5 years ago on Step 5

    where is the result, we'd all like to see it......you know, proof it worked and such

    6 replies
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    M40shakeval

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 5

    The final picture shows the result... a well blasted surface and the masking material is still intact. Whether he shows the project itself painted/finished is a moot point as this is not about painting, bicycles, etc

    The Instructable is indeed helpful to those of us who sandblast. I didn't know that vinyl/electrical tape was capable of absorbing/deflecting the blast media. I'll definitely be using that combo in the future.

    Question: Would a couple layers of electrical tape work (without the vinyl layer)? Likewise, would a few layers of vinyl work?

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    zfoustM40

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 5

    I sandblast a lot for the natural gas industry and we use some pretty serious coal slag abrasive. When it comes to having to mask off fine threads, there's nothing better than electrical tape. The abrasive WILL push the glue into crevices and crannies, but this is easily removed with some solvent (brake cleaner works for EVERYTHING).

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    I.P.FreelyM40

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I think I will try liquid electrical tape. Might work, might not.

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    Won't work, that stuff has ZERO durability for any purpose but wiring insulation, and that's only because nothing is really exerting force on it.

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    violet.sunM40

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I first tried several layers of vinyl but the edges peeled up and I also blasted through all the layers. Next I tried several layers of electrical tape which held up great but the adhesive embedded itself into the metal which was difficult to remove. The combo of vinyl under electrical tape has worked the best for me so far.

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    SlickSqueegieM40

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The final pic does not show that it worked properly... we cannot see that the edges of the emblem were UN-touched... That is a lot of pressure blowing on those surfaces... I can see the edges peeling very easily while sandblasting... Just drill the rivets and pop the emblem off!

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    systemBuilder

    5 years ago on Step 5

    I restore old Raleigh ten-speed Bicycles and have done 3x so far.

    You can tap out the head badge rivet and buy new hollow pop rivets (3/32" stainless) at a few places on the internet.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120986658043

    This Raleigh Sports has a 1977 or later head badge (as evidenced by the solid rivet, and I don't know a source for these), the 1976 and earler bikes had hollow rivets (like 3/32 above) that allow you to see into the head tube of the bike.

    This badge has already lost all its paint. A good friend of mine who restores Cinellis recommends that you cut down a fine paint brush until there are just a few hairs available, and then repaint the badge under a microscope to get it looking like new again.

    Good luck !!

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    CorruptedData

    5 years ago on Step 5

    Painstaking work, to be sure. But why not just drill out the head badge and reattach when you're done? Better yet, get a new (vintage) one off eBay? http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=raleigh+head+badge&_sacat=0&_from=R40

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    CorruptedData

    5 years ago on Step 3

    Off topic, but it looks like this frame may have sustained a front impact at some point. Maybe it's the perspective of the photo, but that downtube looks bent. But hell, these old Raleighs are bombproof. She'll hold together:)

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    WPee

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Sign Shops can order a thin rubber mask with an adhesive and a peal away backing that they can CUT the mask for you.

    NOTE: It is used for precision masks in stainglass, & glue chip, & gold leaf, glass works...etc.

    I did a quick digital snap shot and emailed it to the sign shop and they sent back a very good rubber mask. (we both fugged the images a bit to MAKE-IT-FIT.)
    The imaged mask was to be wrapped around a tube much like this bike example.

    Saved a lot of screwing around looking for the sandblast mat materials.

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    Jburchim

    5 years ago on Step 5

    For those interested in using resist for sandblasting, it is possible to use contact shelf liner for gravity feed blasting, there are also different media for blasting, ranging from walnut shells, corn cob media, to Silica Carbide. Walnut shells are an interesting biodegradable option as a blast media, that is not overly aggresive.
    Your instructable was well done and informative.