Sandblasting Glass

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Introduction: Sandblasting Glass

Sandblasting glass is fun and easy! It's a great way to repurpose old bottles to use around the house.

Materials needed:

- Clean and dry glass bottles, vases, or drinking glasses

- Masking tape (a variety of widths)

- Exacto knife

- Cutting board

- Straight edge

- Sandblaster

- Your design!

Step 1: Setting Up Your Design

1) Sketch or print out your design to use as a visual template. This helps when you're masking tape onto the bottle. You can also create the design as you go. Both methods are great as there are no wrong answers when it comes to design!

2) The straight-edge comes in handy when you're looking to place an leveled line across the bottle. Use the exacto knife to precisely cut tape lengths to meet your design's needs.

Step 2: Locked and Loaded

3) Ensure that the tape is securely adhered to the bottle by pressing down own it.

*Please note: the taped areas will NOT be sandblasted and will have the transparent look of the original bottle when you're done. It's important to think about this as you're laying down the foundation of your design. All the exposed glass will be frosted by the sand.

Step 3: Blast Off!

4) When it comes to sandblasting, there's a speed/feed finesse. The machine pictured above is controlled by a foot pedal. Similar to a gas pedal, the harder you push, the faster the sand is propelled out of the sand gun inside the machine.

Tightly gripping your object in one hand, activate the gun by pressing your foot down on the foot pedal. Before pointing it at your object, try to stabilize it so there's a steady stream of sand coming out.

Point the gun at your object, and evenly stroke it-- being mindful that the beads of sand are stripping away layers of glass.

I personally like to slowly take off the layers, as it's possible to take off too much too fast. Take breaks to rest your arm and don't forget to take your object out periodically to visually check on your process/assess what you'd like to do next.

Step 4: Peel, Wash and Use!

5) Peel off the tape, wash the bottle, and you're ready to use!

These bottles make great personalized gifts. I've made water decanters, water bottles, olive oil bottles, accessory containers, beer carboys, and bottles for home brewers-- the possibilities are truly endless!

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35 Discussions

I've been a professional sandblaster for nearly 30 years - your designs are great, and this is about as nice as Instructable as you can get in such limited detail - there is soooo much more to sandblasting, but really, until someone decides to try it they'll never know. You're obviously having fun and have a good eye.

My only criticism... where's your respirator? Even an enclosed cabinet leaks dust, especially when opening and closing, and between the aluminum oxide grit and the silica from the glass that dust is TOXIC. ALWAYS where a proper respirator (not one of those dinky paper things), and hopefully the room is fully ventilated too! *end "yes,Dad" rant*

Hellbender Glasswerks - Tribal Dancer Trio.jpgSalmon Plate (portfolio).jpg
3 replies

I am sandblasting some patterns on glass, can anyone suggest what I can add to make these patterns look sharp and white. I intend to laminate after.

Thanks

I may steal your idea with the road map, because I think a laser cutter could make it into a very simple process, and be very nice looking. Thank you.

10 replies

Hey @jkimball-- 3M makes sticky backed vinyl that comes in large rolls. I've used this before and it works brilliantly! If you're laser cutting, make sure you use an adhesive that sticks really well in order to prevent unwanted peel off as you sandblast! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!!!

I'm planning to laser directly onto the glass, and save a step. I should be able to take an appropriately formatted map image and go straight from there without creating a mask.

I think the time spent lasing will be made up for by the time spent not masking...

Lasers don't etch glass well -- glass is transparent after all. Plus, the great thing about Armour etch and sandblasting is that it leaves a pattern (in Armour etch, it's because of the paste). If you try etching with pure HF acid, you end up with a glass bottle that looks like it was formed from an old church window (grooved/melted/misshapen, but not frosted).

That being said, if you have a rotary attachment, I'd recommend applying the masking to the glass, then cutting it. That way you don't have to worry about bits falling off during application.

I've only done it a few times, but the laser seemed to work well enough on glass tumblers and a glass tile. It would be slow if you wanted to etch an area, but a vector engraving would be fast enough.

Can you tell me more about the "pure HF" (hydrofluoric acid?) How would you use that, and where do you get it? Can you write something up on that? It sounds very neat.

I think we got it from Lowe's near the pool/outside stuff... but I was 12 at the time, so... I just remember getting mad that it didn't work for making the pretty design I wanted and getting bummed at having to spend $30 for a small bottle at the craft store in the mall...

Bummed because the $30/bottle stuff was amour-etch.

I think my dad had the HF acid on hand for some kind of masonry work...

Sounds like you have used the Armour etch before. I really wanted to do this but had problems getting the armour etch paste to work. I left it on the glass the correct amount of time, but it didn't do anything. Have any tips on this?

Doesn't the roundness of the bottle pose some issues while etching a bigger design on a laser? And if so, what area would you consider the laser is able to etch on a bottle without any repositioning?

The DC Techshop, which I am a member of, has a rotary attachment that will allow it to laser engrave round objects by rotating them under the laser.

If you have access to a decent air compressor capable of 100psi, it's possible to make a small sandblasting unit for almost no cost. I made one when I was in high school; basically just a funnel-shaped hopper made from aluminum flashing with an air nozzle at the bottom (apex) end and a cover plate with a hole in the center at the open end. It needs to be well sealed around the edges, and a bit of foam tape around the top hole keeps the grit from leaking out while the workpiece is pressed against it. I got a small bucket of carbide grit from a local auto body shop, free for the asking. It was slow to etch compared to a commercial sandblasting cabinet, but worked well otherwise.