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Removing paint from metal can be a difficult and messy job, and sandblasting is usually the manner through which this is done. Sandblasting involves propelling fine-grain sand at a high speed at the metal, thereby chipping away at the paint. Some sandblasting tips can help save the user money, time, and frustration; one such tip involves the sand itself. Choosing the right sand is perhaps the most important step in the process, and many stores will sell sand specifically for sandblasting. Other sandblasting tips dictate using less expensive sand, but choosing the material must be done carefully.
Silica sand is a good choice because it is effective, will resist clumping, and is generally inexpensive, but silica can be hazardous to one's health. Many sandblasting tips focus on safety, and perhaps the most important safety tip of all is to wear a breathing mask and eye goggles. The process should be done in a well ventilated area, especially if silica sand is being used. Many pros will advise building or buying a blast cabinet for smaller jobs; this will contain the sand and allow the user to reuse the sand if it is collected properly and kept dry.
Compressed air is usually used to propel the sand. Sandblasting tips usually dictate that a larger compressed air tank be used, since a tank that is too small will not be able to propel the sand at a high enough speed to accomplish the blasting task. A 60-gallon (228 liter) tank is usually the minimum size required for sandblasting jobs, and at least a 7 horsepower motor will be necessary. Anything smaller than these specifications will be inadequate for the sandblasting process; attempting the job with smaller tanks and motors can ultimately lead to damage to the equipment and an inefficient sandblasting job.
Other safety sandblasting tips include taking breaks often and avoiding touching the eyes and face. Sandblasting larger pieces can be messy and the process should, at best, take place outdoors, but if it is done indoors, the sand will get all over the person doing the sandblasting. Expect to get dirty, and be careful around the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Wash carefully once the process is done to avoid sand remaining on the body. It is a good idea to wear well-fitting clothes that are okay to get dirty. When the process is complete, it is important to clean up the space thoroughly to ensure most of the sand is collected for reuse or disposal.
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