Wood is a strong, durable, and amazing material. However, it requires rather high processing and maintenance costs compared, for example, with plastic.
Sandblasting wood is a modern and relatively inexpensive way to clean any surface, give things (house facades, patios, furniture) an attractive look, and even add a stylish design.
This method allows you to thoroughly process even difficult and hard-to-reach places, in contrast to using a grinder or sandpaper. Read below to know the essence of this method, which media you should use, and which steps should be taken.
How to Sandblast Wood?
Such processing is the application of abrasive materials to a wooden surface under very high pressure. Unlike traditional sanding methods, a sandblasting machine works pointwise and leaves no visible traces of mechanical stress.
Although it is an effective and relatively easy way to clean wood, it is essential to follow safety precautions when using it. Otherwise, it can lead to health problems like hearing loss or Silicosis.
Things you need
A complete list of required items might differ depending on your specific situation. Here’s a minimal set that comes in handy anyway:
- Air dryer;
- Nozzles of various sizes;
- Tank with sand or other media;
- Long hose.
So, what is a sandblaster? By its design and working principle, this device is quite simple. There are even instructions on making a small DIY device on the Internet, but I still recommend that you rent or purchase professional equipment for large-scale work.
The tool is a container with sand (or other abrasive), which is supplied with compressed air from a compressor. Under pressure, the media is provided through a hose with a nozzle of the required diameter to the surface to be treated.
Please note that there are steel and ceramic nozzles. I recommend the latter as they are abrasion-resistant and, therefore, have a much longer lifespan.
Even if you plan to work for a short time and with a small piece of wood, be sure to use protective equipment. Abrasive particles can reach speeds of 400 MPH or more, so protect yourself with gloves, goggles, coveralls, respirators, and earmuffs.
Please note that working with a sandblaster for wood requires specific skills and special care. So I recommend that you practice a little on a small piece of wood before treating the house facade or furniture.
How to prepare the place
Sandblasting wood is accompanied by high noise pollution, significant dust emission, and leaves behind a large amount of construction waste. That is why, before you begin, you should properly prepare the work area.
The ideal option is to carry out all this outdoors, at a considerable distance from walls and fragile structures. If it is impossible, you can work in a room, garage, or workshop; just make sure there is excellent ventilation.
You can shield the area by making a booth out of plywood or hanging a tarp around the perimeter to keep dust from flying all over the place. If there are furniture and other items around that you cannot remove, cover them with a tarp as well.
As for everything else, it is better to move it to another room. For those cases where sandblasting is used on small parts and infrequently, this preparation is enough. When you’re done, you can just gently roll up the protective tarp and empty the debris into the trash can.
If you have a large-scale job ahead, I advise you to get a special construction vacuum cleaner, which will significantly speed up the cleaning process and cope with such complex waste.
What is soda blasting?
A wide variety of materials are used to treat surfaces, from steel shot and granite sand to chalk, soda, and dry ice. Some products require a more delicate approach, so it’s better to use softer abrasives.
Soda blasting wood is recognized as one of the most gentle processing methods. While the working principle remains the same, the particles clean the dirt and bounce off the surface without even causing microdamage.
This method has both a number of advantages and disadvantages. First of all, it is safer for humans and the environment than the traditional method using sand. It does not leave scratches and is suitable for working with delicate items (antique furniture, facades of historic buildings, houses after a fire, etc.).
Also, using this particular abrasive, you can achieve complete degreasing of the surface, which might be especially important in some cases. At the same time, it is a more expensive treatment (of course, it uses no baking soda), which takes a little longer and might not cope with tough stains.
Sandblasting the wood
I have introduced you to the peculiarities of such surface treatment; now, let’s go directly to the process. Various professional quality standards require several cleaning steps but follow these guidelines if you sandblast for personal use.
Step 1: Prepare the surface
Regardless of whether you are going to do sandblasting furniture or a house facade, you need to prepare the surface manually. Remove cobwebs, adhering debris, all foreign objects, take off fasteners, and so on.
Remember to protect the surrounding area from abrasive materials. Do not underestimate the power of the flow produced. It can indeed cause serious harm to your stuff.
Step 2: Get ready
This point includes thoroughly reading the manufacturer’s instructions, checking that the equipment is connected correctly, and putting on protective clothing. Make sure the media and nozzle size are suitable for your purpose and the surface to be treated.
The harder the abrasives you use, the larger the hole diameter the nozzle should have. Remember that granite sand and walnut shells can significantly change the appearance of a product. When you equip, test the sandblasting machine on a piece of wood.
Step 3: Start sandblasting
If you are satisfied with the sample cleaning result, proceed to work on the main surface. Make sure your movements are even. Do not lower the nozzle too low, but also do not raise it above 5-8 inches. The treated areas should not overlap too much.
Otherwise, the transition between them will be noticeable. Also, there should be no dark (i.e., untreated) spots. When you entirely cover one area, inspect it carefully.
Make sure there are no traces of varnish, paint, or other contaminants on the wood. If necessary, repeat the procedure until no visible stains remain.
Step 4: Use a primer
When you evenly clean all the required surfaces, be sure to cover them with a quality wood primer. After that, protective agents and varnishes may be applied to the treated areas.
You should also cover them with antiseptic substances to prevent possible mold growth. You can also paint the surface to give it a more decorative look. After sandblasting, the wood absorbs any protective liquids better.
Also read: Best Ultrasonic Cleaners Reviewed
Sandblasted Wood Finish FAQ
In this section, you will find answers to some questions about sandblasting. If something remains unclear to you after reading the article, do not hesitate to ask your questions in the comments.
Can wood be sandblasted?
Of course, yes. You can treat wood in such a way as to prepare it for painting, refurbishment, and to give it a unique texture. This method removes stubborn dirt from hard-to-reach places. Before starting work, read the basic recommendations for the selection of media for different materials.
What is the best blasting media for wood?
Natural materials, such as walnut shells, soda, crushed corn cobs, chalk, and dry ice, are often used to work with wood. Such “soft” media handle wood products more delicately and do not leave noticeable dents and scratches.
Can you sandblast wood cabinets?
Yes, of course. Sanding cabinets by hand can be very time-consuming, so you can refresh the wood using a sandblaster. The main thing is to choose the right abrasive so that it gently cleans the surface without damage. For home furnishings, I recommend soda blasting.
Does soda blasting damage wood?
If you misuse a sandblaster and don’t follow the basic recommendations, even using the softest abrasive can damage wood surfaces. However, if you carefully read all the instructions and follow the procedure correctly, baking soda will not scratch or ruin the wood but gently cleanse it of dirt and dust.
Use Sandblasting Wood for Your Benefits
I like this wood finish for its convenience, relative simplicity, and versatility. With the help of sandblasting, you can quickly restore the appearance of wood products, remove old varnish, prepare the surface for painting, get rid of mold, and artificially age the furniture.
All this significantly increases the treated items’ service life due to removing the upper layers and compaction of the material during processing.
If you have sandblasted wood, please share your experience in the comments. Which media did you use? Were you satisfied with the result?