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This section is under development. Also see:

Cyclone E100
S.E. Thile PipesFH64, First blast with the new rig
S.E. Thile PipesFreehand Poker, Boxwood cap, FH65

Blasting on a Budget

The Cyclone E100

After working on this for a while I have my own blasting rig. The main hurdle was wiring for 220V. I finally managed that and found my old air compressor still worked well once I'd converted it back to 220V. It's only a 2 HP 30 gallon unit, but it's much beefier than the typical new units of that size. Still, I was highly suspect of it keeping up. In my research I found that if the compressor is not keeping up with your blasting your likely using too large a nozzle and was figuring I may be looking at a little more time. I bought a smaller cabinet that requires 5CFM @ 100PSI. I figured this set up might seem pretty wimpy compared to the larger rig I've been using at school (14.5 CFM). Much to my surprise, this little rig works great! It's a Cyclone model E-100.

My compressor keeps right up with it. The full size Cyclone unit at school must be too much for the compressor there, or maybe they have way to large a nozzle on it--mine way out performs it. Instead of more time, it took less! At right is my first victim (not a Rad Davis blast, but better than average for me), and then a later effort. I have some smaller nozzles on order so I can explore working the grain a little more. I also need to experiment with different media. This was #12 glass bead, and I have some #10 glass bead to try.

I'm loving this set up, and I really thought it would be substandard.

The light

Just a regular bulb works in these things. I can't remember exactly the wattage of mine, but I think it's around 75W. I use ones called Daylight, that have a more natural spectrum. That helps some seeing color more accurately, but at the blasting stage of the process I don't think it matters much. Just stick anything in there... One tip, I taped a piece of cardboard to act as a light shield on the top just above the light bulb. I found the direct glare off the bulb made it really difficult to see the work inside. The shield really helps!

Dust Collection

Dust collection is a major problem. A shop vac will work, but consider upgrading it with a better filter, like the Cleanstrem. The filter that comes with most shop vacs is inadequate for the fine dust pipe making generates (sanding or sandblasting), and it was impossible to clean. You can knock the the dust out of the Cleanstream easier, and rinse it out. It still loads up pretty quickly, but not near as badly as the stock filter would. In terms of connecting the shop vac to the cabinet, you may find have a nozzle that works or one can be made using reducers.

Ideally, if you can manage it, the Cyclone DC1500 will work much better than a shop vac. MyToolStore has it for under $200. I've used this unit with a larger Cyclone cabinet and it works fantastic!


Media that is continually being taken out of circulation only to fill the hollow feet, which also makes it more difficult to switch media having to remove it all from the feet. Sealing those feet off will solve this issue. CKR from the Pipe Makers forum solved the issue this way: