Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I went to my friend Carol's today and had to suit up...

No, it wasn't due to protection from radioactivity, or to blast Van Halen into someone's brain. It was for a different sort of blasting.

Sandblasting fairly small pieces of glass (i.e., anything smaller than a 16" x 16" pane) can be done using a sandblaster mounted inside a cabinet, in which one reaches in with the help of gloves mounted on the front of the cabinet, peers into the cabinet through a window, and commences a-blastin'. Even then, it's a must that one wear a NIOSH-approved respirator with dust-filtering cartridges while doing this in a cabinet. Why? 'Cause silicosis ain't pretty. A nifty information sheet handed to us when I was in school let us know that the effect of silicon carbide particles accelerated by a compressor on one's lungs is akin to that of thousands of tiny samurai swords cutting at one's insides. Absolute Safety Rule Number One: wear a respirator while sandblasting.

However, if there is no cabinet, one has to make do with a friend's sandblaster and use it in her side yard. Is it safer to breathe then? Short answer: hell no. Longer answer: a respirator is still needed - as well as a getup that made me sweat like nobody's business, but was necessary for me to be protected from the possibility of all the particles getting all in my clothes, my hair, and possibly still injuring me. The aluminum oxide I was using might not be as bad as the silicon carbide, but it was still being pushed out through a teeny opening from a pressurized hose and could hurt me anyhow if directed at any of my body parts. Absolute Safety Rule Number Two: don't point any air tools at oneself, and protect yourself from the stuff that is still flying around.

So I pulled on Carol's old pair of Ugg boots, the sweatpants, a jacket that zipped up all the way to my chin, my respirator, safety goggles, a plastic welders hood, and rubber gloves. Carol was my compressor monitor and my set of sharper eyes as I blasted the glass, did my best to unclog the nozzle of the blaster regularly, and went back over the parts she marked that I'd missed. All in hot, hot weather at 11 AM. Glad I only had three chunks of glass to blast. Glad the Contact paper I was using as a masking material on the glass held up. Glad, glad, glad that there are helpful friends like Carol around.

What was I sandblasting, you ask?

Well, c'mon down to the Zeitgeist center in a couple of weeks and find out!

Especially since the schedule is now up for all to see!

So please register today. Then my time in a bulky getup in August in New Orleans will not have been spent in vain.


candice said...

Cool! I'm not the only one of the crowd who knows how to sandblast! I have a little blaster that is currently at Clay's mom's house uptown for working on the truck.

You've got a similar pile of safety equipment to mine, though I would suggest a clear plastic face shield instead of the welding mask... Easier to see.

(But I've never done it with glass, always on car bodies. My dad has blasted oil rigs to repaint them.)

Leigh C. said...

It was a welding mask fitted with a clear window on it, so I could see out of it all right, but it was a bit scratched up. It helped to have Carol there looking at the glass for me and marking the spots I'd missed with a permanent marker near them. Especially since I was getting overheated in my getup!