SODA BLASTING EQUIPMENT
The following information appeared in the Woodworker's Journal, February 2005, as part of the article entitled "Chemical-free Stripping" by Michael Dresdner
The most unusual method of abrading off finish is an odd contraption called a soda blaster. It’s a variation of a sand blaster that uses safe, edible baking soda instead of sand.
Soda blasting was developed during the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, whose delicate copper skin would have been harmed by regular sandblasting. Unlike sand, which must be swept up, and whose dust is dangerous, baking soda is harmless – except to paint.
Though most soda blasters are large industrial units, one company, ACE (888-772-3263; www.ace-sandblasting.com) sells a portable rig that will work with most any compressor big enough to feed an HVLP spray gun. For $250, it comes ready to use. The baking soda comes in 50-lb. bags from Armex, a division of Arm and Hammer, (800-332-5424; www.armex.com).
Out on my driveway, I donned goggles and a dust mask and put the rig through its paces. I learned to control the flow by reducing the pressure, backing off, and aiming at an oblique angle, much like using a pressure washer. My first attempt cut through lacquer and made a depression in the mahogany below, but I soon had enough control to peel just one coat of paint from a chair painted with several layers.
The ultimate test was to partially strip to a sharp, masked line, something impossible with other stripping methods. After a little experimentation, I got a crisp line simply be masking the area I wanted untouched. Conversely, by cranking up the pressure, I was able to strip the toughest powder coating, and quickly add “washboard" erosion to a piece of Douglas fir.
I didn’t bother sweeping up. The next day it rained. The baking soda simply disappeared, and with it, an oil spot left by my daughters car.
Volume 29 Number 1