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Blast Cabinet Review after 15+ Years...

Updated: Apr 5

Very few equipment purchases have been as cost-effective as my blast cabinet .

Restoration Requirement

Even the most minimal of restorations of classic cars will require removal of paint and/or rust. For large portions of a vehicle's body and frame, a portable sandblaster is still the go-to method while some will consider dipping sheet metal assemblies in a chemical bath or simply taking a grinder to the surface. Over the many years of restoring the appearance of various items both small and great, there is one stalwart of the shop that has been used repeatedly to remove corrosion and crusty paint - the blast cabinet! Many of us have probably cranked up the outdoor sandblaster to prepare a surface for paint (videos on my YouTube channel include clips of such work as well), but there is nothing quite like having a cabinet to "reclaim" the blasting media as you restore various parts.

I was introduced to the worth of a blast cabinet a little more than 30 years ago while working at Brenner's Advanced Automotive in Manassas Park, Virginia. (You can read more about this shop where I cut my teeth on automotive work at this blog post.) In addition to the three owners/mechanics at this shop, I was the only other employee. They were very gracious to me as a young man trying to learn as much as I could about automotive work. And since I shared their same affinity for classic cars, they often allowed me to bring my 55 Ford into the shop and tinker after hours whenever I needed to do so. Of course, I was also permitted to use any of the shop equipment - especially since I handled some of the work orders for customers like tire balancing, oil changes, and even engine swaps.

Brian Brenner under the hood of a random customer's Jeep Cherokee

One of my favorite pieces of equipment was the industrial blast cabinet that was kept up above the offices. The guys would let me come into the shop on the days I had off and use the blast cabinet whenever I wanted. I chuckle when I recall the times when I had the blasting gun going full bore at the same time all three of the mechanics were running air tools like cut-off wheels and the like. All of the tools would starve for air and they would yell simultaneously to me upstairs, "Hey, give the compressor time to catch up!" Brian, Kevin, and Ed really put up with a lot out of me during those days, and as I look back on the experiences I can say that I am extremely grateful for all that I learned while under their tutelage.

Skat Blast Cabinet

Late in 2006, at one of the annual swap meets at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania fairgrounds, my dad and I purchased one of the most useful tools I keep in my garage. Dad had the idea of blasting metal toys and trucks, and of course I wanted to get going on the 55 Ford with the paint and rust removal of a variety parts. Since that time, I paid my dad back for the share when he moved back to North Carolina and kept on using the cabinet for parts. I dare say that beyond my 60 gallon air compressor, there is really not another tool that I have used more for restoration work than my blast cabinet. From small hardware such as nuts and bolts to even a hood latch panel, I have blasted rust, corrosion, and paint from the surface of thousands of parts.

TP Tools always had a large tent at the Carlisle, PA swap meet.

The cabinet I have is a model that TP Tools no longer has avaiable yet is still supported by replacement parts. It measures 34x22 inches and is 16 inches tall up front and 23 inches tall in the rear. One of the best additions I made was to install an extension box. TP Tools offered this at the time as a means of fitting parts that were longer than 34 inches. The box measures 14x14x18 and expands the width of the cabinet to roughly 52 inches. I never have purchased a real dust collector or reclaimer. A large, quality shop-vac is all I have ever needed.

The gun is trigger-operated and requires roughly 10 cfm of air at 90 psi. With my 60 gallon, 5 hp, twin stage, US General air compressor I can blast all day long. It is not uncommon for me to blast parts for an hour a more at a time, placing such items as wheels, hardware, and small sheet metal parts in the cabinet.

I have replaced the gloves twice and the blasting nozzle on the gun several times. Up until 2024, I had never replaced the view glass and seal, but had obviously gone through quite a few of the "inner lens protectors" over the years. The video below includes a review of the cabinet, my personal experienced in dealing with TP Tools (no, I have not received any monetary benefit or gift from the company - just a normal DIY guy like our subscribers), and a how-to on replacing the lens.

Skat Blast Cabinet Review and View Glass Replacement

These days there are many more companies beyond the specialists at TP Tools to set you up for abrasive blasting. Harbor Freight, Princess Auto, Amazon, even Tractor Supply and many other stores have units available. If you search online or on YouTube, you can find helpful videos to give you tips on building your own or modifying existing units off the shelf to fit your needs. Even companies as well known as TP Tools are selling kits to get you started to build your own.

I would highly suggest that you research the air compressor requirements, the safety needs, and the different abrasive media available. Soda is great to clean up carburetor parts and other sensitive pieces with orifices, while glass beads will do a wonderful job on headlight bezels, steel wheels, etc to leave a paintable finish. Sand is good for intake manifolds, exhaust manifolds, and other cast iron parts. If you only want to remove paint then walnut shells may be the option for you. There really is a whole world of abrasive cabinet blasting that could serve your DIY work well.

The Hot Rod Reverend

aka Daniel Jessup


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