Sand Blasting Cabinet

Ever since I built my air compressor I wanted a sand blasting cabinet. I could have bought one, but where's the fun in that? My first thought was to use one of those plastic storage containers. Looked around for one for a few years but I couldn't seem to find on that looked big enough to be useful. I did actually eventually find one that looked big enough but then I had to think about things like securing the gloves to it etc. Having other things on my mind for the last few years the cabinet got dropped down the priority list. This year as I get ready to start work on restoring our jeep Tonka the blasting cabinet started inching it's way back up the list but I still hadn't worked out those pesky details.

Then, I had A Better Idea (TM)

The inspiration came from about three different sources, all coming together at the right time. First off, I spotted some life raft shells at the local war surplus joint. I had actually been thinking for a while about using some of these as flower boxes. Since her accident Rachel has a hard time bending over :(, so when these ones showed up I bought a half dozen or so and, mounting them on some patio stones & blocks, we got flower boxes up at a height she can work at comfortably. A few days before we got them finished I was next door talking to a neighbour. He had noticed the shells & was curious about what I was up to with them. About the same time I noticed he had the same sand blaster I have. We got to talking about my wish to build a blasting cabinet and he mentioned he once had one built out of an 45 gal. drum That night one of the regular contributors to The Early CJ5/Dauntless V6 Web Site posted a pic of a blasting cabinet he was building using a 45 gal. drum. As soon as I saw that the little 3 watt light bulb went on. I got another shell from the war surplus joint & the rest is history-

Here's the Tickie, a Gen-U-Ine certified government surplus life raft shell. These things are humungus, I could stuff one of aforementioned drums in there with room to spare.

I did a few "Off the Elbow" measurements & figured I needed the glove holes centered 44" off the ground. I won't go into how I calculated how high to make the frame , I'll only say I'm getting too old to do this stuff in my head anymore :(. When all was said, done & built I was only off by an inch or so- The frame is built of 1" angle, that being the cheapest stuff I could get.

The idea was to mount the shell so the split is at 45 degrees from horizontal, thereby making it easier to get things in & out. This meant I could mount the flat middle part of the lower shell to the front horizontal brace by welding in the pieces shown @ 45 degrees & using self tapping screws to secure the shell to them.

On the rear the verticals were sized to to put the horizontal brace a little above the shell's center line. I welded on the short pieces of angle so I could use more self tapping screws to secure the back of shell to the brace.

Before mounting the lower shell half I used the grinder to notch the shell's ribs so they would slide over the rear horizontal, allowing the shell to but against the mounts without a gap.

Here we are, finally. As the 1" angle ain't all that steady I threw in some particle board I had kicking around spare to provide a little wobble removal. As a bonus it makes a dandy storage shelf.

Heres' the upper shell mounted. Actually, some of the more observant of you may have noticed that the upper shell is actually the lower shell, & vicey versey. Due to the way the lips are made on these things I figured this way would work better at keeping the sand inside :). Anyhow, I used three 3" door hinges on the back seam. In retrospect the shells are sturdy enough I could have used just two.

Hole-lee (Explative of Choice)! I burned out five jig saw blades cutting those glove holes! Who wudda thought it??? Oddly e'nuff, I used a hole saw to do the window hole corners with no problems at all. I used the grinder with a cutting disk to finish the window cuts, went through like a hot knife through melted butter. Notice how the shell is conveniently sized to fit Rachel inside, I'm thinking of going into the "Dermal Abrasion" business, even though she doesn't seem thrilled by the idea :).

I had a heck of a time figuring how to secure the gloves to shell. Many home-built cabinets on the web use 4" PVC pipe fittings. I can't get my arms thru one of those & God knows I ain't that muss-cue-lar so I don't know how those other guys can get away with it. Besides which, the gloves I bought have a 7 1/2" diameter at the open end, trying to secure them to something smaller would be hard & waste arm maneuvering room. I could have made some rings up out of sheet metal to the right size but getting them cut with the right curve to fit the shell & securing them with a sand proof seal would have required a lot of screwing around & more of that mental thinking stuff :(. Of course, I could have bought a kit with the rings, but where would the fun in that be? Then one night as I was falling asleep- BINGO! It hit me that the headlight rings I kept from the lately departed Maggie were about the right size to work. There was still the problem with the seal but looking around the garage, seeking inspiration, I actually got it for a change:). I spotted a 1/4" foam pad I had leftover from building a creeper & the rest is history-

All the hole filled. The rings are secured with three small bolts each, when tightened down the foam rubber makes a nice tight seal to the shell. The window is 1/8 plastic, I've got protective film stuck to the inside to keep it from scratching.

And the gloves are installed :).

It's a little dark in there so a light is added. Makes a world of difference.

On the first trial there was a lot of dusty air shooting out the seams, plus the abrasive was a pain to scoop up & get back into the blaster's tank, so the next step is a recycling system. The plenum is made of 20 gu. sheet metal & bolted it to the cabinet bottom. Some (150+ :( ) holes drilled in the bottom allow the abrasive to be sucked down into the green can. I think I might have over done it on the holes a bit- The canister is connected to the shop vac that provides the suck. In order to keep the abrasives in the can & out of the vac a filter is installed on the "out" port..

The seams are fairly air tight so it's not easy for air to get into the cabinet. This causes problems getting enough air flow through the collector to suck the abrasive into the holes so two vents were added on the ends. I used the cheapest automotive air filters I could find to keep the abrasive inside where it belongs.

Nothing really caused by the cabinet itself but after a few uses I ran into some problems with the blaster plugging up. After soliciting some advice I installed an air dryer & started filtering the media with a piece of door screen between uses. I've had very few problems since. Currently I'm getting about 4-5 cycles out of the media before the dust content builds up so much it has to be replaced. If I can figure some way to clear the dust out of it I'll probably do a lot better than that-

After a few months the "hold the lid open with a stick" bit was getting annoying, especially when I would accidently knock it out & the lid would come down on my neck :(. So obviously the next step is a latching lid prop-

I've been getting quite a bit of use out of the blaster & cabinet & I'm very impressed with how well they're working :). With the 20lb. pressure blaster my 10.5 CFM compressor will drop to 80 psi & run there all day, or at least it would if I didn't have to reload the blaster every 10-15 minutes. As mentioned it took me a long time to come up with an idea for the cabinet but I couldn't have made a better choice-

Try doing this with with one of those commercial cabinets-

Here's some more examples of work-

So that's it- Hey! I actually finished something for a change!

Comments? Questions? Spieling Erorrs?

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