Sandblasting 101

Published Jan 04, 2016 | By Zach | Refinishing Golf Clubs
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Refinishing Golf Clubs Course

Refinishing golf clubs (mostly putters) is a fun hobby anyone can do at home. If you like to tinker, this is the series for you!

Although sandblasting can't improve your golf game in any way, it can spice up your bag and impress your weekend foursome.  When I first learned about sandblasting, I got the impression that it was a process used for large metal parts to remove areas of rust, paint, and corrosion.

Of course these are all valid uses of sandblasting, but through my experimentation with golf clubs, I realized that I could use this technique to give a professional look to used golf clubs.  Although it is an investment to set up, sandblasting is a quick, efficient way to turn an old club into a new one.  In this post, I will take you through all the things that you need to purchase, the proper technique, and other considerations when sandblasting golf clubs.

Before we Start- Lets Distinguish Between Glass Beads and Aluminum Oxide

Before getting into various details about this technique, I wanted to clarify that "Sandblasting" and "Beadblasting" are the same thing, just using different blasting media. On this page, you will learn more about this, but it is extremely important that you use the correct blasting media!

Below are pictures of each so that you can see the difference:

Aluminum Oxide blasting

Glass Bead blasting

My Definition of Sandblasting

Essentially, sandblasting is a technique where you utilize air pressure to propel fine, abrasive media at a surface to achieve a uniform, professional-looking finish.

Materials Needed

  • Abrasive Sandblaster Cabinet- I know that some of you won't want to spend the money on a pre-made sandblasting cabinet, but I highly recommend it, or at least building your own.  If you choose to skip the cabinet altogether, be sure to blast in an open area, and don't expect to recover your blasting media.  In my opinion, blasting without a cabinet is a bigger waste of money over the long run.  Please note that this cabinet is meant to be paired with the air compressor specs below.
  • Air Compressor- Purchasing the right air compressor for the job can be a daunting task.  When considering which one to buy, there are a few specs to keep in mind.  You certainly do not need to meet all of the specs listed below to get the job done, but meeting these specs will make the job a lot quicker and less frustrating.  The compressor that I have linked to is what I consider a "budget" option that will get the job done for golf clubs, but may not be what you are looking for if you want to do bigger sandblasting jobs around the house.  Again, there is no perfect choice here.  Just try and get close to the specs below:
    • My recommendations (read below to see why)
    • CFM (cubic feet per minute) - The CFM of the compressor describes how much air a compressor can produce at a given pressure level.  You may also see SCFM, which stands for "standard" cubic feet per minute and describes how much air a compressor can produce given an input air temperature of 68 fahrenheit, 36% relative humidity, and 14.7psia (absolute pressure).  I wouldn't worry about converting CFM to SCFM and vice-versa unless you plan on doing sandblasting in an abnormal environment and are looking to be precise.  Please note that when you are looking at CFM numbers, they are relative to a certain pressure.  You will often see things stated like "10 CFM @ 90psi".
      • Recommended spec: 10+ CFM @ 90psi
      • Can get away with... 5-10 CFM @ 80psi
      • What happens if I don't meet the minimum? - Since CFM determines how much air can be produced at a given pressure, getting too low of a CFM will require you to wait long periods of time for the compressor to "reload".  For some of us, this is an okay tradeoff, but if you can afford it, try to meet the recommended spec.  The sandblasting cabinet linked above recommends 10 CFM @ 80psi as a minimum, but I have used less with decent results.  Luckily, we are blasting a small piece of metal, which allows us to get a little cheap with this.
    • PSI (pounds per square inch) - The PSI of the compressor is more straightforward and describes how much pressure your compressor can produce.
      • Recommended spec: 100+ psi
      • Can get away with... 80 psi
      • What happens if I don't meet the minimum? - If you go much lower than 80 psi, you will simply not get a visible result with sandblasting.  Beadblasting requires less PSI, so you would still be fine there, but if you want to do a polymer finish, you'll need to meet this minimum.  Unlike CFM, there is not a lot of wiggle room on this spec and you will be wasting your money buying anything less than 80psi.
  • Blasting Media- there are various "medias" or abrasives that can be used.  Here are the two that I use:
  • Compressor Attachments- There are just a few small parts that you need to connect the air compressor to your cabinet.  Some compressors (if purchased new) come with all the necessary parts.  If you are purchasing a used compressor, I recommend purchasing a kit.  Although you will receive a few parts that you don't need, I think purchasing a kit like this beats trying to purchase individual parts.

If you are bold enough to purchase the required materials, here is a quick video that will help you set up your cabinet with your compressor and sandblast:

I hope this post helps!  Just a few things to remember when sandblasting (different than beadblasting):

  1. Blast at about 90-100 psi
  2. Use the correct media (glass beads vs. aluminum oxide)
  3. Blast AFTER you have removed all the nicks and dings!
  4. Always have the hose submerged in the blasting media

For bead blasting, use less PSI (somewhere in the 40-70 range).

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