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Sandblaster or texture brushes


#1

Hello:

I have been looking at the sandblasters that are out there and was
wondering what everyone’s thoughts were on them. I have a particular
project in mind and already have a small air compressor. My question
is this: is it worth buying a sand blaster or are the wire texture
brushes that Rio sells enough to achieve that sandblasted look? Your
input in this matter is greatly appreciated.

R/
Kennedi


#2

I use both. In my experience, the sandblaster is better at doing
precise areas, you can mask off sections with tape or whatever. The
wire wheels are excellent at doing large areas, and are much easier
and cleaner to use although harder to control with precision. They
can destroy a stone in a quarter second flat (so can a sandblaster
though). I like to use a coarser one first and then follow up with a
fine one. The two together makes for a very nice texture that is both
non-directional matte, and just slightly sparkly, like a very fine
"Lazer Luster".

In the sandblaster I use fine glass blasting beads. It makes a nice
uniform matte finish. Much more uniform than what the wire wheels do.

If you already have air, I would definitely recommend you have both
a sandblaster and wire texture wheels in your shop. They are both
very useful.

Dave


#3

If it’s just a one time project, you could try the inflatable
sandblasting booth. The link is on my blog, and I’ll post it here
too.

http://tinyurl.com/35o4qw

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#4

Sandblast, bead blast, wire texture brushes, satin finish wheels…

All produce various levels of some flavor of matte or textured
finish. All these finishes are different. On some work, they may be
almost interchangeable in terms of what works best. On other work,
they are totally different.

The wire texture wheels produce a finish that’s somewhat more akin
to what you get with a mizzy wheel or other grinding tool. Somewhat
directional, and sparkly. And importantly, they reach exposed flat or
convex surfaces, but don’t get down into detailed recesses well (same
as satin wheels on your buffing machine). A sandblaster or
beadblaster’s finish is totally non directional and uniformly matte.
It can be dull, have a low sheen, or sparkle depending on the
abrasive or glass bead used. And unlike the various wheels and
brushes, it can get down into the tinyest details and recesses, under
things, into tight corners, etc. This does have one limitation to
keep in mind though. A texture put on with a brush or a wheel, if you
change your mind, can be reached with buffs to remove it, unless it’s
too deep to buff off without damage. A sandblast, if down into
details you can’t reach, can be much more difficult should you
change your mind…

You should also know that bead blasts, and sandblasts, are not
always substitutes for prefinishing a surface. They put a good matte
or texture on whatever surface shape is there, but that doesn’t
always hide defects in that surface. Sometimes it can even make
defects look more prominant. Heavier casting porosity, file marks,
nasty solder scars, and other problems won’t go away with a
sandblast finish, they’ll just get textured.

Also be aware that sandblasts, and bead blasts do have one other
limit. Think of them as thousands of tiny hammers impacting the
surface. On thinner metal, this can stretch and deform the surface.
It’s actually possible to cause serious warping and shape change with
a sandblaster or bead blaster, especially with larger abrasive sizes
and higher air pressures. Back in grad school, I did a number of
pieces that deliberately used the bead blaster as a forming tool,
more than just a texture tool. I got shapes that would have been
quite tricky to form in other ways…

Peter Rowe


#5

Hello Kennedi,

I have a compressed air eraser which will frost metal, although
lightly - several passes are needed for good coverage. I also use
the wire texture wheel. It does a great job, but will texture your
fingers as well. If I want an obvious sand blasted look, I use the
wheel - carefully. As I see it, here are the considerations for each.

Sand blasting - Considerably more expensive than the texture wheel.
A unit takes up a fair amount of bench space. The air eraser can be
used in a modified half gallon or larger plastic juice bottle, so
little space is needed. Using a resist, you can blast very precisely.
Experiment on scrap to learn about how the appearance varies with
size of grit and multiple passes.

Texture wheel - Considerably less expensive than a blaster. It is
very important that you first experiment with the wheel on scrap. You
will find the results will vary with “pressure”, speed, and the
direction. This technique takes very little space and needs only your
flex shaft to be used. Not for use with high speed tools like a
Dremel!! The wheel will chew through a resist, so planning when to
apply the texture is an important consideration in construction.
Remember your fingers are subject to damage - use a clamp to hold the
piece. Eye protection - always important, but even more so here… in
fact I’d advise a face shield.

I’m curious to see others’ responses. Let us know what you chose.
Judy in Kansas, where the temps have flipped again! Yesterday was
sweating in the 80s, today wearing a jacket in the low 60s.


#6
Also be aware that sandblasts, and bead blasts do have one other
limit. Think of them as thousands of tiny hammers impacting the
surface. On thinner metal, this can stretch and deform the
surface. It's actually possible to cause serious warping and shape
change with a sandblaster or bead blaster, especially with larger
abrasive sizes and higher air pressures. Back in grad school, I did
a number of pieces that deliberately used the bead blaster as a
forming tool, more than just a texture tool. I got shapes that
would have been quite tricky to form in other ways... 

If I may add… Oddly, at least in my experience, the metal
deforms/stretches toward the blast, not away as with a hammer. In
other words, if you blast a thin sheet, it will cup toward the back.
It does actually make sense, since the front is being stretched and
acquiring more surface area. Still, it is a surprise when you blast
a small area and find that it now looks like a blister!

Noel


#7

Hi All;

I didn’t get in on this thread so I may be off topic, but this may
be relevant too.

Harbor Freight sells a couple versions of small, hand held, gravity
feed sand blasters. They’re cheap, around 20 bucks. Looks like a
pistol grip thing with a small canister on top you fill with sand.
Get a face sheild and a 5 gallon bucket and you’ve got a jiffy, low
cost sand blaster. Just hold the article down in the bucket, aim, and
pull the trigger. I’ve got a big old blast cabinet, takes up a lot of
space, and the nice little table-top ones are pricey.

David L. Huffman