Choosing A Glass Blaster for Your Sandcarving System

With over 35 years in the glass business, Ruth Dobbins offers experience in fused and cast glass, as well as in glass-etching techniques. Ruth holds a Master's Degree in Printmaking and Art History and has been a partner in a stained and fused glass wholesale supply company in Europe, which also placed great emphasis on a training program. For the past 20 years, she collaborated with her husband Norm Dobbins in commission work, writing books and creating videotapes on how-to techniques for glass etching. Ruth taught these techniques for 30 years in the U.S. and other countries. Ruth continues these venues by offering a complete training program at Aliento School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and by teaching at various trade shows, including The Awards & Engraving Show. One-on-one training and consulting services are also offered. You can reach Ruth by email at ruth@etchmaster.com, by phone at 505-473-9203 and by fax at 505-473-9218. Check out the website at http://www.etchmaster.com

By far the best choice for a glass blaster is a pressure pot system. This type of blaster has a steel-welded container, usually round, that holds the abrasive. This container can be free-standing or mounted underneath the blasting cabinet. In general terms, it has an opening on the top for filling abrasive into the container, as well as a stopper with a seal, which assures the containment of the abrasive once set under pressure. 

It also has an opening at the bottom of the container with an attached valve that allows the air and abrasive mixtures to be introduced into a hose that goes into your cabinet. With this valve, you can regulate how much abrasive gets into the airstream, which is important in executing various techniques of blasting.

Since the abrasive is set under pressure in the pot, much less air is required to operate the pressure system than the siphon system. As a result, you can get away with a slightly less powerful compressor (even though I don’t recommend that), but more importantly, you can use a much smaller nozzle on your blaster. You also do not need to hold a heavy hand piece, but rather blast with a smaller, flexible hose inside your cabinet that only wields a hose barb, a nozzle cap, and the nozzle, making blasting a lot easier on your hands.

To top the ease of operation off, the pressure system nowadays is operated by an attached foot pedal, which makes the on/off function of the whole system a breeze. 

—Ruth Dobbins, Professional Glass Consultants