Blast-Away Sandblasting Cabinet
The Blast-Away Sandblasting cabinet is also labeled as the Blast-A-Way Sandblasting cabinet. For the purposes of this review it will be labeled as the “Blast-Away” cabinet. That is the manner in which it is identified on the instruction booklet that accompanies the product.
The Blast-Away cabinet is made from corrugated plastic and arrives in a box roughly 40x 24x3. Within the review sample was the cabinet itself, the clear “window” items which will be attached to the cabinet, and the 10 page instruction booklet. Additional parts can be purchased – those being additional clear plastic lenses, a replacement liner, and an exhaust manifold.
Setup is an easy process; it is recommended that you skim the instruction booklet to get an overview of that process, but use the video on the Blast-Away website to watch the inventor set up the booth in about 90 seconds. That video is on the “demos” page and the link is https://www.blastawaycabinets.com/demos/.
The cabinet is designed to function as a sandblasting booth. In order to achieve this function safely, the booth must be operated once it is sealed up using the Velcro fasteners that are attached to the wings and door. This also explains why the booth has those rather unique openings in the front through which the operator’s hands and forearms enter the booth. Before using the booth for its intended purpose, you are strongly advised to read the safety notices not only in the instruction booklet but also on the exhaust manifold (of that part being something to be discussed later in the review).
Being a plastic modeler and having no experience or knowledge about sandblasting, my primary interest was in using the booth as a spray booth. It was necessary to attach the exhaust manifold to the booth in the manner which is illustrated in the instruction booklet. This is a very simple process. Just insert the intake tube of the manifold into the precut hole on the back of the booth and attach it using the sticky-tape patches already attached to the manifold.
There are a number of concerns that a potential buyer wants to know before laying out cash for a booth:
- Does the thing work?
- Is it large enough?
- Is it easy to use?
- Is it worth the money?
In order to work properly, a spray booth must have sufficient “pull” to exhaust the paint fumes inside the booth. I tested the Blast-Away by attaching my rather small shop-vac to the manifold, using it to provide the necessary vacuum.
The Blast-Away does not include a vacuum device or a pump. The instructions call for the operator to attach a shop-vac to the manifold, and the recommended size for the attachment point is a 2-inch hose. My shop-vac has a 1-inch hose, so it was necessary to adapt it so that the hose would fit snugly into the blower side of the manifold. I used some foam pipe insulation, slipping a collar of insulation around the end of my shop-vac hose. This rig plugged into the blower opening on the exhaust, thus providing air flow into the manifold. The next step was to see if, once the shop-vac was turned on, the rig produced sufficient vacuum to remove the paint fumes from the interior of the booth.
To see if the manifold was exhausting air properly, I did exactly what the instruction booklet says to avoid doing – I used an open flame to generate smoke. Actually, I lit a piece of a part sprue so that I could see the “ashes” rising and circulating inside the booth. This initial test failed to show that there was sufficient “draw.” The ash and smoke were not exiting the booth through the manifold. This failure was not a surprise. I had noticed that the liner blocked off the hole into which the exhaust manifold was inserted. (This is important when using the booth as a sandblaster but a hindrance when airbrushing inside the booth) I decided to perform a little surgery on the liner by cutting an opening into it which lined up exactly with the existing hole in the back wall of the spray booth. It is that hole into which the manifold inlet is placed. I attached a piece of 2-inch dryer ducting to the manifold intake end, feeding that short length of ducting through the newly cut hole in the liner and into the booth interior. When I lit the sprue again, and when the shop-vac was turned on, I noticed that the ash and smoke were now being pulled into the manifold and, thusly, exiting the manifold in the designed manner. I snuffed out the burning sprue and, within about 30 seconds, the ash and floating debris inside the booth had been cleared. The booth and manifold, with the slight modifications made, works. The manifold and shop-vac draw the air out of the booth in the intended fashion. In fact, if one were to use a bigger shop-vac with a 2-inch hose, that “draw” would be a little more powerful and the system would work at a higher level of proficiency.
This booth is rather large. With the liner installed, the working area inside the booth is about 20x24x34 inches. 1/72nd scale fighter models and most 1/72nd four-engine aircraft will be swallowed up inside. The 350th scale HMS Hood is 4 inches shorter than the booth’s usable length of 34 inches. While there are models that will not fit inside the booth, most models will easily fit. Additional space can be obtained by pulling out the liner, but doing so will require that one find a way to help the booth retain its shape. In the case of a spray booth, size does matter and the Blast-Away is large.
The booth is easy to assemble and the manifold is easy to rig and attach. I used the Blast-Away resting on a coffee table in my driveway and, during the daylight hours, I found that there was plenty of natural illumination leaking through the window and through the corrugated plastic of the booth itself. It is easy to rig a small light that shines through the upper window on the booth, and it is easy to simply put a battery powered desk-lamp inside the booth for use in a darker environment, but it is not advisable to use an electric light placed inside the booth, or to allow any warm/hot lighting source to contact the plastic walls. An issue that the operator will have to come to grips with is using the airbrush and other equipment by inserting them through the hand-holes in the front of the booth, followed by one’s hands. The first time I inserted my hands and arms into the booth I found it to be a little uncomfortable. It also seems to limit my freedom of movement when I rotated the model inside or attempted to manipulate the airbrush. (By the way, the airbrush must be inserted into the spray booth either through the hand holes or through the small hole in the bottom of the booth.) After some additional practice and experience, perhaps a total of 30 or 40 minutes of time, I found that my level of comfort increased to a point at which I no longer experienced any significant difficulty using the booth and the hand holes. I had thought about opening the front of the booth and disposing of the hand holes all together but I was concerned that doing so would impact the airflow through the exhaust in a negative way. Beside that fact, my level of comfort using the hand holes overcame the need for greater accessibility.
Spray booths can be very, very expensive. The Blast-Away is $129.00 and the manifold is $39.00, and at a total of about $170 the Blast-Away is competitive with other spray booths.
This product is recommended, and that recommendation is based on:
- The fact that the cabinet is lightweight and that it folds up for convenient storage and transporting.
- It’s large and can handle big models and projects.
- It’s very competitive in price to other spray booths.
- It’s easily repaired as wear and tear require replacement of the lining or end flaps.
- The white plastic liner ensures a well-lit blasting/painting area.
Thanks to Dark Industries/Blast-Away for the review sample and IPMS/USA for the review space!