Sandblasting Wood: The Definitive Guide [2021]

Sandblasting Wood Beginners Guide

Traditionally sandblasting has been used to remove rust, dirt or strip paint from metal surfaces. And there’s always been a question –

Can I sandblast wood? 

Yes, you can sandblast wood just like you do for metals. Sandblasting can be used to remove old paint from wood, finishing wood surfaces, and imprinting signs on wood using various templates. 

By the time you are done reading this definitive guide, you will know how to sandblast wood, its advantages, and its importance. 

Let’s get started

Advantages of Sandblasting Wood

Sandblasting wood comes with several benefits apart from removing old paint from varnish surfaces and smoothing the surface of the wood.  Listed below are some of the advantages of sandblasting wood –

  • Sandblasting levels up and smoothens the little cracks on the surface of the wood, which in turn helps to improve the quality of rough wood surfaces.
  • You get a glaze-like appearance when you sandblast a wooden material such as upholstery.
  • Most times, woods go through some chemical treatment, sandblasting wood helps to remove the traces of wood chemicals inherent in wooden parts.
  • You can choose any suitable wetting pressure.
  • The wood pores are closed when the fibers are pushed back into the wood by sandblasting.

Sandblasting Uses On Wood

1. Sandblast wood to remove paint: 

Removing paint from wood can be a difficult task, but with the use of a sandblaster, you will be able to do the job in a relatively short time without stress. 

It works on the principle of making use of an air compressor to shoot sand at a high speed towards the wood.  

I discovered that removing paint from wood using sandblasting can cause pitting and scarring. 

However, it can be used as a type of artistic finish on the wood. How easy you can remove paint from wood depends on the type. 

You need to either hold the nozzle closer or farther and adjust the pressure lower or higher to discover how to remove the paint without causing damage to the wood. 

The abrasive media will hit the surface of the wood at high velocity to remove the old paint. 

2. Sandblast to finish wood: 

Sandblasting can be used to finish wooden pieces like doors, tables, and windows. With the use of sandblasting equipment, you can finish wood. 

To finish wood, it’s important to strip off paint and stain, then reapplying a new finish to transform your wooden item. 

3. Make patterns on wood: 

Patterns made on wooden items are always attractive. With the use of sandblasting equipment, you can make patterns and signs on wood. 

However, you need to be skillful enough to do this. The steps listed below will guide you; 

  1. Select a type of wood for your pattern
  2. Print the pattern you desire the wooden material
  3. Use a knife or a pair of scissors to trace and carefully cut out the template made on the wooden material
  4. Affix the stencil on the wood after peeling off the tape, then make use of an adhesive bond to affix the material to the board. 
  5. Now, you can sandblast the wood. Keep sandblasting until a depth of 1/4″-1/2″ is etched around the material stencil.
  6. Use a chisel or knife to remove the resist material from the surface of the board. 
  7. Stain the pattern by applying a few coats of varnish.
  8. Ensure you paint the pattern for a more attractive effect. 

4. Sandblast furniture for unique look: 

One of the benefits of sandblasting wood is that it can be used to finish furniture in the house such as chairs, tables, cabinets, etc. 

To sandblast furniture, you need a sandblaster, ceramic nozzle, air compressor, abrasive media, and safety gears. 

Your furniture will have a unique and attractive look after removing old and unwanted particles by sandblasting. After sandblasting furniture, you get a smooth and beautiful result. 

Here are some of the reasons why you need to sandblast furniture; 

Giving it an old, rustic, or weathered look. To create a piece of furniture that looks like it was a product of driftwood. 

To remove a thick or old coat of paint.

Using soda as the abrasive media is the best way to sandblast your furniture.

Read More On Sandblasting:

Recommended Sandblasting cabinets

Equipment needed to Sandblast Wood

Generally, for an effective sandblasting process, you can’t do without the following equipment;

After getting your equipment ready, you are set to begin your sandblasting process. If you want to sandblast for a longer time before stopping, I’ll advise that you go for a bigger compressor of 7 to 10 hp. Keep in mind that you need to make use of a bigger air tank of about 10 gallons when using a bigger compressor.

Best sandblaster for wood

In choosing the best sandblaster for wood, you need to consider the blasting media. I’ll recommend walnut shells or corn cobs for softer wood to prevent etching. 

For effective sandblasting of wood, one should be aware of the types of sandblasters available in the market, because results depend on what type of sandblaster is used. 

Features of Best Sandblasters for Wood

  • It should have a large fuel tank
  • Tires must be sturdy for easy movement of the machine around the work area
  • Large hopper for holding a large amount of abrasive media
  • Adjustable pressure control
  • Able to use multiple abrasive materials

Wood sandblasters come in three types, namely; Gravity-Fed, Pressure, and Siphon sandblasters. 

For the DIY enthusiast, I’ll advise that you go for a Siphon sandblaster.

Best blasting media for wood

Media TypeUses
Corn cobBest used on softwood to prevent etching and stripping
Walnut ShellBest used for mildly aggressive stripping with zero damage
Plastic abrasiveUsed for coating and painting on wood
Dry iceFor removing dirt or grease from wood
Aluminum oxide, silica, or ground glassBest used for distressing and texturing
ZirconiaFor blast-shaping
SodaTo sandblast furniture

The Process of Sandblasting Wood

The process of sandblasting wood is quite simple if you follow the instructions. Let us look into the process…

Prepare the wood for sandblasting

Ensure you set the sandblasting machine according to the manufacturers’ instructions, fill the pressure tank with your chosen sandblasting media, such as walnut shells, soda, corn cob, or silica sand. 

Make sure the pressure is not too high to prevent the wood from warping. Test your sandblaster on a piece of scrap wood. 

Step by step: How to sandblast on wood?

Firstly, you need to fill the sandblasting pressure pot or tank with sandblasting media, such as walnut shells, soda, corn cob, or silica sand. 

After filling the pressure pot with media, you need to install a suitable ceramic nozzle on the gun or wand. For operators starting with walnut shells, it is recommended to use a 1/8″ nozzle on the gun, and 3/32″ for soft media. 

Put on your protective gear like protective gloves, goggles, blast hood, etc, to prevent damage to the skin.

Switch on your compressor and set the pressure at 35 pounds per square inch. Ensure the gun is tested on a piece of scrap wood. 

Most times, the result of the test may reveal some effect, in this case, fill the tank with more sandblasting media and start the test again. If it doesn’t work, you might need to increase the output pressure to 10-psi and test again. 

Increase the pressure gradually until it gives you your desired result. Now you can start your project. 

FAQ

Can you use a soda blaster on wood? 

Yes, you can use a soda blaster on wood. Soda blasting is eco-friendly and effective in cleaning wood. Soda blasting on wood is widely used. It is simply a sandblasting process where the baking powder is used as the blasting media.

Can you Sandblast Timber? 

Yes, you can sandblast timber when you follow the instructions of sandblasting. Sandblasting timber is considered to be an effective and efficient process of finishing timber.

Does dustless blasting work on wood?

Dustless service can work on wood when it is used for restoring wood surfaces to their former beauty. Dustless blasting is a non-destructive method and it combines water with an abrasive. 
Dustless blasting will not damage your wood as it will preserve the structural integrity and strength of the wood. 

Conclusion

I’m sure you would love to start your test projects, don’t feel discouraged when your test result isn’t good. Sandblasting wood requires skills and patience. 

You need to keep practicing until you become a skilled operator. Take your time to read through this guide, practice, and enjoy your blasting!


Frank Burtoni

Co-founder, BlastingBro

Dad of a princess. Spent half of a decade with rust and bad paint jobs. Rest of the time travelling around the world. Passionate about writing.