Sandblasting for the studio artist

March 24, 2021 4 Comments

Sandblasting for the studio artist

 A good sandblasting system is a big expense but will last a long time. The different parts of the system should all match each other as far as the size of compressor and the blasting gun. You can use many mediums depending on the desired finish you want. I use my unit every week and it has been reliable. I always use a good  p 100 face respirator when using the blast cabinet or when adding or removing blasting medium.

Sandblasting is all about the matching three things: One, the  volume of air you can make ( ie your compressor) Two,  the sandblasting gun you are using, and Three, the medium you choose to get your desired finish. For jewelry work you do not need a large sandblaster. When you choose a  media, think about how long you want it to last and what surface texture you want on your work.

Be careful  with Silicon carbide media. It will leave small cracks in glass.

Glass bead  media works well to remove rust on steel.

Shell media works to give a nice finish on many surfaces. The reference below is excellent.

I never blast with the same media on different materials without cleaning the cabinet out. (ie wood, steel, glass). I clean out the cabinet and change the  media. It's a big job to vacuum the cabinet out and change out the media. But, having steel bits in your glass is troublesome. 

This is the media I use with glass and enamel. It is 180 grit aluminum oxide. 

It very fine. Always wear a p100 respirator when working with it.



​I use a sandblasting company in Houston called ​Clemtex and they are great..You may call them and see what they recommend as far as a compressor.  The people at HIS glass are also great for help.


Be sure the unit you get has a dust collector. The small table units are dust machines and dangerous to your lungs without dust collection.

A good gun will last a long time. Guns from Harbor freight and Northern tool tend to break with much use. Again match the nozzle tips with your compressor size and the gun you have.  It takes a lot of air to run a sandblasting gun.  Size your compressor and blasting gun  appropriately to avoid trouble.


This is the gun I use currently. I went through several Northern tool and Harbour freight models before switching. 

You need to match the gun nozzle to your compressor.

We had a small box sandblaster  unit without a vacuum at the Glassell school of art where I trained. It was breaking all the time , and it spewed dust

Here's a better option.

This is a link to the dust vacuum I have. It is 100 cfm and works with my cabinet very well. Clemtex ships and has great prices. This one was about 350 dollars.

There are lots of parts to a sandblasting cabinet that may wear out. Having a local supplier is helpful. You will need to change the gloves as they wear and the item labeled #3 below. It is a replaceable plastic covering over the Window. It is easy to do and helps with visualization. Having good lighting is a must. Having the lights and vacuum turn on at the same time is a good safety feature. Check the seals around the doors regularly. If leaking, replace. 


You will need an inline filter to clean the wet air  supplied from your compressor. I have a couple of options here as you can get a separate air filter or an air filter/ regulator if your compressor does not have a regulator built in. You will need to drain the water out of the bottom of the air filter. Compressed air is hot and has water vapor in it. The air filter removes the water so your medium does not clump up.

The regulator allows you to set the pressure you work with in the sandblaster. I normally use 60 pounds of pressure with my glass and enamels. The higher the pressure the faster the medium cuts.  The medium will wear out after several uses. throw out the old and put a new medium in.

I use this 3m green resit for protecting areas I don't want sandblasted.

I hope this blog helps you with choosing and using a sandblaster. 

This is a video on youtube I  made about sandblasting.


4 Responses

Liz Martinez
Liz Martinez

September 05, 2023

Thank you Al for this valuable information, much appreciated!!

Lisa Schnellinger
Lisa Schnellinger

June 06, 2023

Hi Al! You say at the beginning that you use your sandblasted for wood and metal too. Other glass artists have told me never to sandblast anything but glass in my blaster. What’s your thoughts about this?

Pam Bennett
Pam Bennett

May 13, 2023

A very useful video containing lots of helpful information. Many thanks Al

Jan Harrell
Jan Harrell

January 18, 2022

had to look up the medium—the one at school is in need of new

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.