Monday, December 27, 2010

Hot Off The Griddle....

Who whoulda thunk that all those years I spent testing different materials would ever pay off in the "real" world.

Last Friday, a friend brought over a small pressurized sand blaster he had in his barn. It will come in handy for working on the Farmall F-20 this winter. There are LOTS of hard to get at places that a brush and sandpaper just won't work. I just have to hook the thing up, and go to town with it.

Sort of.

Naturally, the first thing I needed to do was change the air fitting to one that matches my hoses - and not lose the one he had on there so I can put it back.

The next thing I needed was "blasting media" (i.e. - SAND), since the thing was empty. Me, being the cheapskate that I am - needed to figure out something that didn't take a lot of cash.

Enter those materials testing skills....

One of the first thing I ever tested was aggregate for road construction. We'd go out to the plant, swipe some material off the belt, then take it back to our lab for testing and number crunching.

The first thing we'd do is weight the sample and then pop it into an oven to dry. Once all the moisture was gone, then more weighing and more testing - and -


This was a process of "sifting" the materials through a set of different size screens so we could find out how much of each size of material was in the sample.

For my use, I didn't care how much the stuff weighed, or how much of each size we had. I just wanted to screen it so it was small enough to run through the sand blaster. I figured that "window screen" size would work the best.

So, there I was, cooking sand on the wood stove of the shop, while I was cleaning up in there. I needed to clean up anyway, so I could make some things I needed to make about 8 years ago...but THAT is another story.

Cold, Wet, Gravel

I found a couple of old bread pans, a tin bread box, and an old skillet. I had HOPED for a couple cake pans, but I couldn't sneak them out of the house....(only kidding, Dear - I didn't even THINK of it).

After heating up real good, I made sure to stir the sand several times to make sure all the moisture was gone. Then, it was time for a cool down and sifting. I didn't have time to do a LOT, but I ended up using an old kitchen sifter to screen it.

Warm, Dry, Sand

I figured out that about 1/3 of this gravel is small enough to use with this blaster. It took me about 10 minutes to sift a big coffee can full. It's not as easy as going to the store and buying some media, but it sure is cheaper! The wood stove was going anyway, and it didn't take very long to sift it down.

The plan is, to fill 2-3 five gallon buckets with the sieved sand before I start using it. It won't last FOREVER, but it will do quite a lot.

Let's see, for 3 buckets of media, I'll need 9 buckets of gravel...

I better get digging.


  1. Sand is great if your not looking to reuse it much, but it sure is dangerous because it can cause silicosis.

    I probably wouldn't use it unless I had a good air mask. Check out black beauty too- I think that stuff in fairly cheap.

  2. Actually, sand can be reused very effectively! The problem with other blast media is the cost, effectiveness, and availability. Also, not all sand contains silica. As with ANY blasting media, you need to wear proper equipment for the job - including a mask and hood.


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