Sand blasting furniture instead of sanding or using chemical stripers

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Forum topic by TomCharlotte posted 02-18-2011 01:46 AM 120526 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 3217 days

02-18-2011 01:46 AM

Has anyone ever used sandblasting media to remove worn finishes on a chair? I need to refinish 125 high back bar chairs for a restaurant and sanding is not feasible. I would like to know what media and equipment comes recommended. Thanks all!

15 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4689 days

#1 posted 02-18-2011 01:55 AM

Look into “soda blasting.”
It’s much less destructive then sand blasting.
I’ve been using this technique on rustic furniture, barn wood and driftwood.

-- 温故知新

View peterrum's profile


153 posts in 3241 days

#2 posted 02-18-2011 02:32 AM

I haven’t done it yet but i bought the material, crushed walnut shells. I have to wait till the weather warms up a bit to do it outside. From my research this is a good product for blasting wood. They use it on log homes. I bought mine to use on a piece of driftwood.

-- Carpe Diem

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3630 days

#3 posted 02-18-2011 03:19 AM

Tom -

Look into soda blasting. It’s supposed to be good for max removal with min damage. Sand (or walnut shells) will probably be a bit harsh for your job. If the soda doesn’t do the job, you can aways move to something more aggressive.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 4349 days

#4 posted 02-18-2011 04:19 AM

There are also varying grades of plastic media (some are quite hard just made of crushed clothing buttons, and some are graded softer) that will work better, as they are a finer grind. The big key is to regulating the air pressure, amount of blast media, and selecting the right sized orifice (tip) for the project at hand.

Set up a containment area so you can reclaim the media for reuse a few times. Wear a good dust respirator and eye protection as a minimum (as well as tyvek coveralls with all the seams taped). An air supplied hood (even the Tyvek type) will make the job much more tolerable, but make sure you have a certified breathable air source. Air from a regular air compressor will kill you: Either from carbon monoxide, or from the fine oil particles that will give you lymphatic pneumonia (oil filled lungs) that is not curable. An oil/water separator will not provide protection. It takes 3000 psi to push through the fine filters needed to remove the oil droplets.


-- Go

View GregU's profile


20 posts in 3361 days

#5 posted 02-18-2011 04:28 AM

I’ve tried that before….but never again! Did that on an antique oak secretary years ago that I was going to refinish for an aunt. The face mask was cloudy from sandblasting metal, so I really couldn’t see as well as I should have. The softer grain figure ate away badly (or maybe I should say “easily”!), and I ruined the sides before I realized it. My aunt was NOT real happy and I was very embarrassed. Soda might work, but I’d stay away from sand. Find a reputable soda blaster who has done some wood and see what their experience has been. Greg

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 4050 days

#6 posted 02-18-2011 04:37 AM

This is also a new “dry ice” blasting system they use for fire restoration and historic restoration projects I’ve seen on PBS. Its amazing what this product does. Strips paint from bricks without damaging them, takes the black off of burned wood without damaging the remaining wood.

Dryice Blasting

-- James

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4306 days

#7 posted 02-18-2011 05:33 AM

I would think-”fuzzy wood”. Walnut shells, plastic media are both used to blast steel and aluminum. Don’t know anything about the soda blasting. I think you’ll find the finishes on most old furniture is harder than the wood it’s applied to. Even the chemical strippers are hard on the wood. Don’t think I would want to try removing a finish by blasting, unless I’m going for the “weathered look”. This number of chairs would just about necessitate a dip tank with the required stripper. My $0.02.

View jmichaeldesign's profile


66 posts in 3345 days

#8 posted 02-18-2011 05:35 AM

I have a friend that used sandblasting on furniture for the texture it would give him. If you’re looking for a smooth surface however your’re just going to create extra work for yourself. The lighter areas of the wood (summer growth) are much softer than the darker area (winter growth). You end up with a texture similar to driftwood. Try a chemical stripper to get the finish off, and then sand.

View Edziu's profile


151 posts in 3613 days

#9 posted 02-18-2011 06:46 AM

I just did it this summer. We used ground/crushed corncobs for the media. It’s supposed to be softer than the wood, so it does not harm the wood. I ended up blasting at about 60-70 PSI and got a pretty good finish, there is sanding required afterwards, but it gets off anything in front of it. Work quickly and cover al ot of area, it will wear that wood away very quickly if you don’t pay attention.

View whit's profile


246 posts in 4539 days

#10 posted 02-18-2011 07:02 AM

I use glass bead in a sandblasting cabinet but I’m not looking for a smooth finish. I do it to intentionally eat away at the softer grain and it’s incredibly effective. The problem is, like Edziu indicated, it’s a very fine line between “Hey, that looks nice.” to “WHAT THE @$%??!”.


-- Even if to be nothing more than a bad example, everything serves a purpose. cippotus

View Creativeblastman's profile


7 posts in 3339 days

#11 posted 02-25-2011 12:17 AM

I since want to test the different abrasives with wood and see the results of each type. I think that walnut shells would be good. You can see some of these other types of sandblasting media.

-- -Eric from

View Kohl's profile


1 post in 1045 days

#12 posted 01-28-2017 07:40 PM

My wife roped me into trying to make her a coffee table from this oak stump she found. Someone had suggested sandblasting it and others said no. Any opinions on using a soda blaster? Hurtful? Not helpful? Thanks!

View RogR's profile


113 posts in 1427 days

#13 posted 01-29-2017 03:01 PM

Look at this is as a compromise between the comparative hardness of the blasting medium and the blasted substrate. The variables are PSI and time. If you are blasting cedar with diamonds, it is not going to take long.

I’ve had soda blasting done and on a hard substrate @ 90psi it went slowly enough to calibrate fairly easily. I’ve also seen softwoods blasted and that goes so fast, only a skilled operator can achieve a uniform surface over a large area and the end product was “rustic”.

Soda on your oak stump would likely be a good match. One advantage of soda is solubility – making it easier to remove any left-over blasting media from your project prior to finish application.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2500 posts in 4432 days

#14 posted 01-29-2017 03:22 PM

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2858 days

#15 posted 01-29-2017 04:16 PM

Define “refinish’ – do you mean strip to bare wood and start from there? I would have to think blasting wood with material soft enough to not damage it is going to be very time consuming and that you’ll still have to sand anyway. If there isn’t a ton of finish on these chairs I would use a liquid stripper after wash type product and steel wool. You’ll get down to bare wood quickly and not really need to sand anything afterwards.

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