Although a mini sandblaster built at home will wear out more quickly than a professional sand blaster, building one costs a small fraction of what it takes to buy one. Building your own is a great option if you find that you need the device only for a few minor projects and really don't want to make a long-term investment.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Valve stem from a bicycle inner tube
- Oral syringe
- Ink pen that screws apart
- Needle or small nail
- Two carbide drill bits (one 6mm and the other the diameter of the oral syringe tip)
- Cyanoacrylate glue
- Rubber bands
Take a valve stem off of a bicycle inner tube, cutting around the base to leave a nice layer of rubber around where the stem enters the tire. Later you will trim the rubber down to 3mm, so make sure it is longer than that.
Obtain an oral syringe from a pharmacy (often free). Pull the plunger out of the case of the oral syringe and keep the case (save the plunger for other projects). Hold a needle in the tip of the case and use a lighter to carefully melt the plastic around the needle. Make sure that the plastic does not drip on you or catch fire, or that the heat does not travel to you on the tools you are working with (including the needle and the lighter).
Check your pen to be sure that there are no other holes in it other than the one at the tip, which should be very small. Take the insides of the pen out, then screw the pen back together. Cut a small hole just a little smaller than the external diameter of the tip of the oral syringe 1/2-inch behind the hole in the tip of the pen.
Drill a hole at the same point on the radius just in front of where the pen screws together and drill the hole out the other side. Then widen it with a drill bit that is the same diameter as the bicycle tire valve (6mm). Apply cyanoacrylate glue to the part of the pen that screws together.
Trim the rubber at the base of the bicycle tire-valve so that it is 3mm in all directions. Apply cyanoacrylate glue to this 3-mm flap and place this over the 6-mm hole. Hold the flap flush against the pen tube with rubber bands to allow the glue to cure. Don't get glue on the rubber bands. When the glue is dry, remove the rubber bands.
At the hole on the opposite side that is nearer to the hole in the tip, insert the case of the oral syringe. If the syringe does not fit, sand off some of the plastic, a little at a time, until it can be twisted into the hole. Use a coating of cyanoacrylate to seal the syringe in place.
Attach the compressor at the valve stem as it would be for inflating a tire. Let the air escape out the hole just above valve stem on the other side of the pen tube. Slowly (still wearing your goggles) add a small amount of abrasive sand to the case of the oral syringe and let gravity feed it when the air moves past it. If you are not careful, the sand will come out of the hole in the back, so keep the tip of the pen pointing down at an angle. Do not spill the sand you just loaded into the oral syringe "hopper."
Operate the sand blaster by touching the hole at the top of the pen (opposite the tire valve) with your (gloved) fingertip once the hopper is full of abrasive/sand. The air will be diverted to the front and will spray out the nozzle along with the sand.
Tips and warnings
- You may alter the tip later to suit your needs by inserting a needle or small nail and hammering around the tip to change the shape, but do not do it on this first attempt. If the sand is coming out too fast or slow, narrow or widen the tip of the oral syringe hopper to suit your needs.
- Wear goggles, gloves and a respirator during the construction and use of this tool. Never use your bare hands to operate this tool.
- Always point the device forward (away from people/animals/valued objects) and at a downward angle (but be careful not to spill the abrasive).
- Sand can potentially spray out of any opening or potential opening according to pressure, tilt of the device and many other factors. Use this tool only in a sand blasting box or outdoors away from people/animals/valued objects.
- Have the device inspected by a machinist prior to use.
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