Sand Blasting Small Parts
by Jim Oslislo
Sometimes the physical size of a part makes handling during bead or sand blasting difficult or impossible. The clumsiness of the thick rubber gloves necessary for protection during sand blasting makes it hard to grip small parts and the likelihood of incomplete blasting or losing a part is high.
Whether you have an industrial hopper-type sandblaster or a Harbor Freight handheld blaster gun, the following method may be helpful. My simple solution is to enclose the parts in a container and direct the sandblasting stream through a hole in the end.
The nice thing about this method is many shops may already have a container similar to the one I used. In my case, I had on-hand a two part plastic shipping container/protector in which large end mills and toolholders are sometimes shipped.
This container is a long box made up of two similar sleeves having one open end. One sleeve is slightly smaller than the other so they slide together with a tight fit. The container I have is 2″ square with a length ranging from 5″ to 8″, depending on how much the sleeves are pushed together.
In the end of one sleeve I drilled a 9/16″ hole, into which the sandblaster nozzle is jammed. In the bottom of the other sleeve I drilled a dozen 1/4″ holes for the sandblaster pressure to exit. Obviously, the dozen holes must be smaller than the parts to be blasted.
The procedure is to insert the pieces to be blasted inside one of the halves of the container, press the sleeves together, connect the gun, and blast away. Surprisingly, the sandblasting pressure did not force the two halves of the container apart, although it may be wise to verify this is the case with a dry run before actually inserting the parts. Leave the parts in the sandblasting stream for as long as it takes. In my case the parts were pieces from a broken cast iron casting and cleaned up very quickly.