TECH TIP Technical Index

Donít Laugh, Cardboard Box Sandblasting Cabinet

by Bill C. -

Okay, FIRST... NO laughing! Now, the scenario here is that you have some VW parts that are badly in need of some sandblasting. You are fortunate enough to have decent air compressor and a few feet of hose. But that is about it. What to do?

You can either spend that money you are saving for a set of tires on a sandblasting cabinet and gun; or blow your blast sand all over the yard; OR go the cheap route. After all you only need this for the time being. You can open up your professional refinishing shop in the next life.

Most of the following is needed regardless of the option chosen:

  • Sand Blasting Gun & Hose w/suction pipe end. $20-$25 at Wal-Mart Automotive dept.
  • 1-bag of blast abrasive or aggregate. $8-$9 per 100 lb. bag at Dixie Rents
  • Scrap of plexiglass. Shape is not important. 6" x 6" is adequate. Bigger is better

  • Few square feet of clear plastic sheeting. Heavy, clear painting tarp will work.

  • Box large enough to fit your needs. I had an old 27" TV box, sold at U-Haul. Box construction depends on how long you need it to last. Bigger is better
  • 1-Roll of clear boxing tape
  • Box cutter


  • Ladiesí Nylon Hose
  • Small Fluorescent Light

NOTE: You can (& probably will) get creative in the next steps. These are just general construction steps.

  1. First, using the boxing tape, seal up the bottom seams of the box, inside and out. Be thorough, since this will confine the sand to the inside of the box (98% of it).

  2. Remove the top flap on the FRONT of your soon to be "cabinet." Place the removed flap in the bottom to act as a cushion, protecting the tape from the parts that will be blasted.
  3. The flaps on U-haul TV boxes are FULL (larger), which make this step easier. With the side flaps upright, fold the REAR flap inward (towards the front) at some desired angle; perhaps 45 degrees. Trim the side flaps as illustrated.
  4. Tape the rear flap to the side flap. Then seal the seams (inside & out) where the side and rear flaps meet with tape.
  5. Cut a piece of plastic sheeting, slightly larger than the opening left between the rear flap and the front of the box. Lay it on a work surface.
  6. Using the scrap of plexiglass as a pattern, trace its outline onto the center of the plastic sheeting. Now cut along the outline from the plexiglass. This will act as your viewing window.
  7. Lay the plexiglass over the hole in the sheeting and tape it into place around the perimeter of the hole, using the clear boxing tape. Set this aside.
  8. Cut 2 small "arm holes" in the front of the box.
    NOTE: When positioning and spacing these holes, try to imagine holding the part in one hand and the nozzle in the other. Probably 10-12" center to center is a ballpark figure.
    IMPORTANT: Cut the holes just large enough to get your forearms in; any bigger and sand will blow out. A few radial cuts into the circumference of a too small hole will help this.
  9. Cut 2 small holes for the hoses (air supply & sand supply), one above the other. The tighter the fit, the better.
  10. If you want a light inside the, otherwise, dark box, now is the time to install it. A small (cool) fluorescent light works well around the cardboard and plastic.
  11. Mount the plastic sheeting with viewing window. Tape it at the TOP & ONE SIDE, leaving an entry flap to get the parts in and out.
  12. Run the hoses through the holes and connect to the blasting gun.

You are almost operational!

Closing Notes:

  • Though I do not think that you will need an exhaust filter, you can fashion one from a leg of some ladiesí nylons, taped to a hole cut in the back of the box. I would only do this if you are noticing a lot of pressure build up (not likely). However, it may reduce air flow out the front, along with sand.
  • The pickup tube for the sand supply can either be "stuck" right into the open bag or you can get fancy and use a 5 gallon bucket.
  • So far, I have "bare knuckled" my sandblasting adventures. If I can ever find those heavy duty, long rubber gloves, (sold in the painting section of home improvement stores) they will be "finger savers." Ouch! Tested... it works!
  • I used mine to blast a header a pair of heat exchangers!