How to use walnut shells to blast media aluminum wheels

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How to use walnut shells to blast media aluminum wheels
Blast aluminium wheels with crushed walnut sheels to remove paint or dirt.. (wheel image by sasha from

Media blasting is a highly effective method of cleaning solid indoor and outdoor surfaces. The process involves the use of compressed air to forcibly project granules at a target to remove dirt, residue and paint almost instantaneously. A media blaster is capable of restoring an aluminium wheel to its original, bare condition using minimal effort. Walnut shells are an excellent alternative to sand, the most commonly used media for blasting; walnut shells are just as abrasive but do not present health risks like sand.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Protective eye wear
  • Hooded painter's suit
  • Respirator
  • Media blaster
  • Crushed or ground walnut shells
  • Plastic sheeting

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  1. 1

    Put on protective eye wear and a hooded painter's suit. Wear a respirator to avoid inhaling dust and paint particles.

  2. 2

    Shut off the air valves on the media blaster, and fill the tank with ground or crushed walnut shells, available at local hardware stores or home improvement centres. Start the compressor, and leave it to pressurise between 40 and 100 PSI (pounds per square inch).

  3. 3

    Remove each of the wheels if they are attached to a vehicle, and place them in a workspace away from anything that could be hit by stray shells. Cover all exposed surfaces surrounding the target with plastic sheeting or tarp if you want to keep them clean; otherwise, an outdoor setting is ideal.

  4. 4

    Set the media blaster to a low pressure setting, and stand 8 to 16 inches from the targeted wheel. Point the nozzle at the aluminium surface, and squeeze the trigger to dispense the walnut granules, blasting the wheel top to bottom for even coverage.

  5. 5

    Gradually increase the pressure setting if necessary until the paint, finish or residue has been cleanly removed. Use sweeping motions for the majority of the wheel and short bursts of media for trouble areas and smaller details.

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