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We keep a small-box media blast unit in the shop to clean up small parts and such, and we’ve found it extremely useful — so useful, in fact, that we’ve considered picking up a larger open-air unit to use outside.  It’s a pretty big investment, though, and the large ones take quite a bit of time to set up (and clean up).

Something like this might be a good interim fix: It’s a small hand-held unit that gravity feeds from a top reservoir and plugs right into your standard air compressor line.

It’s not going to help you tackle truly large projects, but it would help you blast small areas of a piece that’s otherwise too large to fit into a smaller box-type unit.  We find ourselves in that kind of situation pretty regularly, so we’re thinking about trying it out.

The top-mounted hopper holds 9 oz of abrasive, and it comes with a single round nozzle.  Astro Pneumatic, it’s maker, recommends a 90 psi working pressure.  Though they don’t mention airflow, you’ve gotta figure it’s going to require a good bit.  I wouldn’t bet on using this with a little pancake compressor, but if you’ve got a 5 gallon or better you should be OK for use in short spurts.

You can find this unit all over the web for $20 or so.

Handheld Composite Air Sandblaster [Astro Pneumatic]
Street Pricing [Froogle]

 

9 Responses to Finds: Handheld Composite Air Sandblaster

  1. Rick says:

    That’s pretty cheap.. I was actually considering getting a small blast cabinet so I could start playing with powder coating, etc. Although it might work to get this to do smaller parts without the cabinet, just to see if the powdercoating is going to be something that’s for me. Otherwise the costs to get into it are minimal. Probably the single biggest cost would be the dedicated electric oven, and possible electrical installation costs in your garage/shop if you needed 220v service for the stove. But if you’re thrifty you can probably pick one up for free off the street, or at a moving sale, etc.

    Nevertheless, let us know how this works for you. I’d be curious to see how effective it is, and how much of a pain in the arse it is to clean up after. I would imagine the latter would be the single biggest obstacle to my using this with any degree of regularity.

  2. Rob says:

    I am also interested in how this performs. I have been wanting to sandblast (mediablast?) small aluminum parts and for the amount I would be using it, this would be perfect to try out until I needed something larger.

  3. Eli says:

    I bet you can powdercoat smaller items in a toaster oven, and all you have to do is convince better half you need a new one. Honestly, who wants a full size secondhand oven around? Eastman’s hotcoat gun is only 100 bucks, but I’d rather have a shop do it. All the stuff we get done at work goes all at once. You can get as much stuff done at once as they can fit in the oven, which is a lot. With the huge upsurge in DIY mechanix, there’s a ton of shops around, but that’s in LA. Prices are competitive.
    As to the blasting, same sort of thing. I tried a smaller one that a friend had, and was pretty disappointed. Not this model, for sure, but same idea. Very little poop for a lot of work. And I had to vacuum up a buttload of sand when I was done. Check the local high school shop, if they haven’t made it into a computer lab.

  4. Rick says:

    Yeah, the Eastman stuff was what I was looking at. Around here in NY, there aren’t that many shops that do this sort of thing. Maybe if I went into NYC, etc. The other side of the coin though, is getting a chance to DIY.. that’s part of the fun. :-D

  5. rotinom says:

    Good ol’ harbor freight has additional small media blasters like this. As for bigger ones, Northern Tool has a ton of bigger ones. I just picked up one for cleaning up a dinette set, and some tips:

    1.) Buy real sandblasting media. Don’t use anything you’d get from a home improvement store, such as play sand, construction sand, etc. Check Northern Tool or similar stores.

    2.) Use in a well ventilated space

    3.) Use a dust mask

    4.) “splurge” for a sandblasting hood, & wear long sleeves, etc..

    5.) Expect to get filthy.

    6.) On the unit I got, you can change the air jet size. Not sure what it does to the final product (it seemed to work the same), but I found that if I put in my medium jet, my 13-gal 5.5CFM@90psi CH compressor could better keep up with it.

    7.) For a bigger unit, stay AWAY from the craftsman one. It’s a siphon feed from the SIDE. You have to shake the container to feed it once it’s about 1/2 full. (I’d return it if I could).

    8.) After some post research, I would get a pressurized pot style one as well, similar to: http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_583_583
    but these come at a cost of more money, and typically a much higher CFM needed.

    9.) Finally, you need a LOT of air (CFM & PSI) from your compressor. Mine was running non-stop while I was blasting.

  6. [...] Finds: Handheld Composite Air Sandblaster We keep a small media blast box in the shop to clean up small parts, but sometimes you just can’t remove them from the vehicle (or other large item they’re attached to) in order to fit them in the little box.  We’ve thought about buying a larger unit, but really it’s not the increased flow we need as much as the portability.  This unit looks like just the thing, though you might want to check out the post’s comments for some interesting opposing viewpoints. [...]

  7. Dave says:

    Harbor Freight has this exact same product solt under the Central Pnuematic name. I bought one for $15 on sale. I didn’t expect much. It broke after about one minute of use. Abrasive got into the trigger and jammed it on. I called Harbor Freight and they told me I could return it. I am going to have to spring for something better. I don’t recommend buying this.

  8. shawn says:

    I bought one just like this, but it didn’t work that great. It made a big mess, & got jammed a lot, plus it doesn’t hold much abrasive. I had to refill it about 30 times, to sandblast the rust on the bottom of my car. I tried 2 different sandblasting media. First I used chrushed walnut shells, but the paricles were too big, & jammed the unit. I switched to a black abrasive, that was smaller, but it made a bigger mess. The second abrasive didn’t jam the unit as much, but it still didn’t work as well as I hoped. I was sweeping up the abrasive material for a week. I recommend skipping this unit & buying or building a abrasive cabinet. It will be cleaner, & should work better. The biggest thing to remmember is you need a lot of CFM to make a sandblaster work. My 26gallon Air compressor couldn’t keep up with this little thing. You need a lot of air to make it work properly.

  9. Ares Vista says:

    We have used this blaster before because we needed something fast and cheap. Not a very good buy. It lasted all of 2 hours, and we bought two more just to finish the job. Invest in something a little better. Good luck!

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