Can You Sandblast Wood? — Furniture, Cabinets, & Decks

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Have you been elbow-greased using sandpaper to strip paint and oil residues on wood surfaces? Manually sanding is indeed labor intensive, but it’s imperative to clean wood and refresh the surfaces of furniture, cabinets, decks, and more. 

Have you ever wondered if you can sandblast wood instead? If the thought has crossed your mind, allow me to walk you through the ins and outs of sandblasting and whether or not it’s a technique that is best for wood.

What Do You Mean by Sandblasting?

Sandblasting is a technique and effective method that anyone can use to clean and renovate any surface. But to do this, you have to be equipped with proper skills and knowledge using a sandblaster machine.

For beginners, low pressure should be applied on the sandblaster using soft abrasive blasting media. Also, a steady hand is a crucial requirement before performing it.

sand blaster

Surprisingly, wood sandblasting is a popular method to restore the natural beauty of your furniture, decks, and cabinets, but it offers more than that. Let me share the comprehensive details of sandblasting!

Should You Sandblast Paint From Wood?

Indeed, removing paint is time-consuming if you are going to do it the hard way. Stripping off the color is necessary to restore the natural look of your furniture, decks, and cabinet. So there’s no way to skip this part. 

Fortunately, you can sandblast paint from the wood and achieve a smooth finish quickly. Scraping the paint will take less than an hour or 30 minutes. But there’s a catch – after sandblasting, you still have to sand the surface though.

Should You Sandblast Wood Rather Than Sanding?

Now, the question comes if you should sandblast wood or just use manually sand it. Depending on what finish you want, you certainly have to sandblast for a quick result. 

There are different sandblast media that you can use for the particular finish you are aiming for.

soda blasting dresser

Sandblasting offers a grainy finish, so sanding can be optional on this one if you just want to stain it. Otherwise, you have to sand it if you are going to paint the wooden surface. 

Benefits of Wood Sandblasting

Why even consider sandblasting? Well, many of us in the woodworking community turn to sandblasting for its speed. While it yields a finish akin to traditional sanding, sandblasting adds an edge by giving your wood project enhanced resistance against wear and the elements.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the advantages of sandblasting wood.

Removes Paint or Any Surface Covers

First, you can effortlessly remove paint residue on wooden floors, decks and benches, wooden upholstery and furniture, and from the parquet. 

soda blasting furniture makeover

You can achieve a perfectly elegant and shiny wooden surface if you know the basic steps of sandblasting wood. Later in this guide, I’ll share the steps of sandblasting. 

Adds Texture to the Wood Surface

Next, you can add texture to the surface, which is important before painting it. Sandblasting can add style to the surface, particularly on newly painted wood. 

Using a sandblaster is also a great alternative method to enhance the glossy appearance of your paint.

Restores Antique Furniture

Your antique wooden furniture can also benefit from sandblasting for restoration purposes. This is a good tool to use if you are an antique enthusiast making a fortune from old wood furniture.

vintage dresser

I suggest you lower the pressure on your sandblaster compressor. Then hold steady the machine while abrasive blasting the antique. If you do not want to ruin the aesthetic, let experts or specialists do it.

Rustic Look

Lastly, you can create a rustic look to your wooden surface with this tool. This is a peculiar benefit from sandblasting because, traditionally, this method can only make your wood look new. 

Ideally, a rustic look can be achieved using sandblasting soda media on furniture painted with chalk paint. However, make sure that before sandblasting, you have already decided what media and finish you want to achieve.

Types of Sandblasting Media

You can use walnut shells or either of the following types of sandblasting soft media. It depends on the air pressure or pound per square inch (PSI) of your sandblasters and the finish you want:

Silica Sand (Silicon Dioxide)

The silica sand particles for sandblasting contain silicon dioxide, an original composition for abrasive blasting. 

Silica Sand

Whilst it is effectively sand to remove paint and oil residues, it is no longer considered safe due to respiratory risks, according to studies.

Sand abrasive particles of silica are tiny sharp edges that penetrate it to cut and remove most of the wood impurities. 

Soda

Instead, I highly recommend soda abrasive materials as a non-destructive cleaning method that poses minimal risk to the wood’s integrity.

This medium is similar to the components of baking soda or bicarbonate of soda. The hardness of soda abrasive is 2.5 and comes in an angular shape.

Steel Grit

For speedy removal of paint and cleaning of the surface, you need to use steel grit. Although it is softer than Aluminum Oxide Grit, steel grit has a remarkably high hardness of 40-65 which makes it reliable in surface preparations. 

setting up sandblaster

Also, this abrasive media is angular in shape.

Bristle Blasting

Bristle blasting is a different approach to using blasting media than those I have mentioned. Among the sandblasting media, this medium is used just by attaching to the rotating nozzle. This will get rid of any wood impurities once you fired out the sandblaster.

Glass Bead

The last sandblast medium is crushed glass beads which is effective for making smooth and brighter surfaces. 

It is the most common blasting media used to restore automotive, fabricate stainless steel, polish, and metal deburring. Its hardness is 6-6, and it comes in round abrasive material [1].

Sandblasting Wood: Tools & Steps

sandblaster

To sandblast wood decks, furniture, and cabinets, here are the basic steps and the required tools:

Step #1: Prepare Your Workspace and the Wood

The first thing you have to do in sandblasting is to prepare your workspace and the wood. Make sure that your workspace is spacious and a well-ventilated garage and that the wood has been cleaned up. Also, make sure to remove hinges and any hardware on your piece or furniture.

A clean wooden surface can make your sandblaster easily penetrate the wood underneath. You can use a thick drop cloth to eliminate the accumulated dirt on the wooden surface. Never wet sandblasting for your safety. 

Step #2: Put on Protective Equipment

Cnce your workspace and the wood are ready, put on your protective gear as your proper safety precautions. Make sure your eyes and nose are covered so you can avoid the tiny particles from the wood for safe sandblasting.

Step #3: Choose Your Sandblasting Media

Next, choose which sandblast media you are going to use. You can choose from walnut shells, soda, or from what we have listed, sandblasted media. 

adding abrasives to sandblaster

Then, fill the pressure tank of the sandblaster. Afterward, install a ceramic nozzle on the gun to start the trial of your sandblast media.

Step #4: Testing First

After that, test your sandblast media on scrap wood to help you adjust the pressure, chose the right nozzle size, and change the media if necessary. By taking this precautionary step, you not only save time but also reduce the risk of causing harm to your prized furniture pieces.

Step #5: Set the Right Pressure

Depending on the finish you want to achieve, you need to adjust the PSI of your sandblaster. You can tell if the pressure is correct by looking at blown-out chunks or wood particles. 

If you can see no defects on your desired wood finish, then the pressure is just right. 

Step #6: Begin Sandblasting

Finally, begin to sandblast wood by holding the gun approximately 8 inches from the surface. Start moving it back and forth, and you can overlap the surface with a maximum of 3/4  inch. 

sandblasting a vintage dresser

Overlapping more than the recommended distance can change the color of the wooden surface. Keep in mind that you have to be consistent in opening the wood pores evenly for your finishing product. So, always double-check to ensure there’s no lingering paint residue on the surface.

Once you are finished and satisfied with the sandblasting results, you can continue to the next phase of your woodworking project.

Restoration by Sandblasting

Looking closely at furniture restoration using sandblasting can be your best option. Restoration, particularly antique furniture, old decks, and wood cabinets, need careful and detailed woodworking.

Wooden Furniture

So how would you restore furniture with a weathered appearance using sandblasting? You have to use soda blasting to remove the paint on the surface.  

old furniture

Using baking soda or soda-blasting wood gives your furniture a natural driftwood appearance. 

Cabinets

For sandblasting cabinets, choose the less abrasive sandblasting media. Depending on the finish, sandblasting cabinets should be gentle and slow. 

At this point, manual sanding is needed to completely restore the natural beauty of the cabinets inside and out.

Cleaning Deck

How about cleaning decks? Outdoor surfaces like decks need a proper cleaning process and finishing to prolong it. Sandblasting your deck needs to be done carefully and slowly, as too much sandblasting can wreck your deck.

sandblasting Redwood deck

Sandblasted Wood Signs

A more exciting and creative wood project that involves sandblasting is to make the hardwood grain visible. Use a more abrasive sandblast media just hard enough to curve the softer part of the lumber. 

Continue until you can see the hard grain but ensure it remains intact on the surface. It should not penetrate the wood. Once you’ve achieved this, you can then use tools like a pencil blaster or an airbrush to further highlight the wood’s natural patterns.

Sandblast wood signs cannot be done with just a single trial. So, expect a bit of trial and error, especially on scrap pieces, before perfecting the technique.

Should You Rent or Buy Sandblaster

Getting your sandblaster means that you are after an entire house improvement. So it’s needless to say that you should rent instead of buying one. 

adding silica sand to sandblaster

You can also rent sandblasting equipment in selected home improvement stores. Alternatively, some hardware shops also offer leasing options.

Sandblasting refers to working effectively with a blasting gun, media, bucket, and air compressor. Regardless of the size of your woodworking project, the sandblasting process can bring efficiency and precision to the table.

FAQ

Do I need to sand after sandblasting my wood?

Depending on the finish you want to achieve, sanding is optional. If you’re going to paint your wood, you should manually sand the surface. Otherwise, let the buttery texture of the wooden surface be if you want a unique appearance. 

What’s the recommended sandblasting method for wooden surfaces?

I highly recommend the soda blasting method for wood. As I mentioned, soda is safe to use since the components are the same as what you can find in baking soda or bicarbonate of soda. Also, it offers a non-destructive cleaning agent for the sandblasting process.

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Conclusion

As I discussed, you can sandblast wood as long as you follow the right techniques. 

You can start sandblasting cabinets, decks, or any old furniture by buying or renting a sandblaster. While the process might seem straightforward, it’s crucial to follow the wood sandblasting techniques I’ve discussed to ensure the best results.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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