Eco-Friendly Furniture Refinishing!

soda blasted church pews 2

Hi Everybody! Welcome to my blog about soda blasting, the environmentally friendly cleaning method that uses a form of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in place of other non-environmentally friendly, and health hazardous blasting medias like sand.

In my earlier postings, I explained what soda blasting is, what makes soda blasting such a unique cleaning process, some basic information on air compressors, on soda blasting equipment, and on a few popular applications. Once you understand how soda blasting works, it is much easier to appreciate why it is such an effective, safe, and eco-friendly cleaning method for many different types of jobs.

As I mentioned before, soda blasting has become a worldwide phenomenon! As I think back over the last several years, I am amazed at all of the different types of projects that I’ve been involved with, from helping do-it-yourself home owners, to assisting all kinds of businesses, large and small. I enjoy hearing from people, who have used soda blasting on their projects based on my recommendations. It is very satisfying to know that I’ve helped someone achieve completion of an important job.

As many of you know, one of the nastiest jobs around is using a toxic chemical stripper to remove the finish off of wooden furniture and architectural items such as doors and windows. Not only is it messy, but it can be bad for you and bad for the environment. Not something that I would want to use or be around.

So what alternative do you have? Well, it just so happens that soda blasting is a safe, effective, and eco-friendly way to strip all kinds of paint, varnish, and other common coatings used on wood! That’s right, soda blasting. In one of my earlier blogs, entitled “Soda Blasting and Paint Stripping”, I gave a brief overview on some of the types of jobs that you can do with soda blasting. Today, I want to tell you about a specific job that I had the pleasure of being involved with. And what a job it was!

Last summer, I received a phone call from Flink’s Painting in Kaysville, Utah. Ed told me that he had a job, which involved stripping the finish off of wooden church pews. We talked for a while as I answered his questions about soda blasting and how it works. As the discussion proceeded, I asked him how many of the pews needed stripping. “Over 200 of them” he replied. “That’s a pretty big job”, I said and we both laughed. “It sure is!” he said.

The church consisted of a main level and an upper balcony with additional seating for the congregation. Ed wanted to remove the pews from the lower level, and move them to a large warehouse area to soda blast them offsite. However, due to logistical reasons, he would soda blast the balcony pews in place at the church.

I recommended that he use the ACE Model 2-PS Heavy Duty Portable Soda Blaster for the job. In addition to the round nozzles, I also recommended that he try a fan tip blast nozzle, since he had a sufficient amount of cfm available from his air compressor. He told me that his work crews would be working long hours on a daily basis for a number of weeks to complete the work on time. “I’m going to run the heck out of this machine. Is that soda blaster you recommend up to the task?” he asked. “Absolutely” I told him.

Ed said that it was acceptable if he experienced some raising of the wood grain, as he intended to finish sand all of the pews anyway. He was primarily interested in speed and wanted no part of chemical strippers. With that in mind, I recommended Armex Flow XL soda blast media designed for paint and coatings removal. He could also blast at a slightly higher blasting pressure, since speed was his main concern.

Several weeks passed, and one day I received a call from Ed with some questions about the soda blast media. I asked him how the job was going. He told me that he was just about done, and that the ACE Model 2-PS soda blaster had worked great, just like I knew it would. He was pleased and so was I.

The photo at the top of this blog posting shows the balcony pews. The pews nearest the camera have already been soda blasted. If you look towards the upper middle of the picture, you can see the work crew and the ACE Model 2-PS, stripping one of the final rows of pews.

This was a very large scale project. Soda blasting can just as easily be used by a homeowner or do-it-yourself hobbyist for many different kinds of applications.

I’ll write about some of the other interesting projects that I’ve been involved with, using soda blasting, in future postings. Soda blasting really is one of the most exciting, environmentally friendly cleaning processes available today. We are all put here on this planet for a short time, so let’s make the best of it and help preserve it for future generations.

Thanks for reading my blog! – The Soda Blasting Guy

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9 thoughts on “Eco-Friendly Furniture Refinishing!

  1. Hi,

    I’ve been studying soda blasting for few days now, but have no experience of my own. I’m looking to use soda blasting as a tool to effectively strip paint from metal and/or plastic very small Games Worshop miniatures.
    The most of the miniatures are on a 25mm base, to give you some scale of them.

    I’ve seen videos where some people are cleaning car plugs with it, but while the size compares, specially plastic, miniatures can be fragile. Will the pressure break them?
    In that line of thought, I’ve started to think of using an airbrush as the soda blaster. Before I invest in it (and possibly break it by not knowing what I’m doing?), I’d like to be somewhat certain that the plan is feasible.

    I know most people are interested in large scale paint stripping, and in a way I’m aiming to that also in quantity of the miniatures. If this works, I’d save a ton of time And have an enviroment friendly way to do it.

    What’s your opinion? Can it be done?

    • Hi Jori,
      I am not familiar with these miniatures. In general, soda blasting is the most gentle blasting media for most types of materials. Soda blasting also does not build up heat, due to the softness of the soda blast media. Soda blasting uses compressed air, so a lot would depend on how much blast pressure would be necessary to remove the paint. You mention that the miniatures can be fragile. I’m not 100% sure of what kind of outcome you would have. I think that there is a chance that it would do what you want, but I have never personally soda blasted these kinds of miniatures. If you do decide to try soda blasting them, be sure to start out with a very low blasting pressure and slowly increase the pressure until you get the desired results. I also would recommend experimenting with a scrap or low value piece, in case you do damage it. Sorry I couldn’t give you a better answer. Thanks for reading my blog- The Soda Blasting Guy

      • Thanks for a really quick answer! 🙂

        Is there some minimum velocity soda blasting needs for it to work? What I mean is there some way to count the nostril size with the pressure amount the compressor needs to put out for the soda blasting effect to happen?

        It’s really hard to put out what I mean, with a field that is unknown to me and with a foreign language. So I apologise for my writing.

        For me, the smaller the gun is the better, as the target is usually quite small. Plastic model airplane would be big size, although very comparable otherwise with the plastic versions of the miniatures.

      • Hi Jori,
        You’re welcome! The size of the nozzle is dependent on the cfm (cubic feet per minute) rating of your air compressor. CFM is the volume of air. PSI is the air pressure. Based on everything you had told me, I would recommend that you try the ACE Performance Plus Portable Soda Blaster, which requires 6 to 7 cfm to operate. That would allow you to use a 3/32″ ID (Internal Diameter) blast nozzle. That is the smallest size soda blast nozzle that I am familiar with. Hope this helps you. Thanks for reading my blog- The Soda Blasting Guy

  2. Hi
    Thanks for all the great information about Soda Blasting! I am located in Australia and am looking at striping paint of old French doors (soft wood). From reading your information I think I would need to use a fan tip nozzle (compressor is 16.5 CFM with a free air delivery of 305L per minute) what sort of ID do you think the nozzle would need to be, to be soft enough not to damage the soft wood but efficient enough to work? Would I be best to use a fine grade soda as well? I have read some people advise to use water combined with the media to reduce the pressure further on wood, would you suggest this?
    Thanks again for all the great information.
    Katrina

    • Hi Katrina,
      Thank you for reading my blog, and thank you for the kind words. First of all, I would NOT advise you to use any type of wet blasting method on any type of wood. In my opinion that is asking for trouble and does not make sense to me. Use a dry soda blaster with an adjustable pressure regulator and start at a very low blasting pressure, working the pressure up until you find the lowest pressure that gives you acceptable results. Take a look at the posting about furniture refinishing and you can see the type of results that you can expect by dry soda blasting. Here’s the link: https://sodablastingguy.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/eco-friendly-furniture-refinishing-part-2/ I would use a finer grade soda blast media, as you mentioned. I don’t know if there are fan tip nozzles available for use with the cfm output of you compressor. For example, the fan tip nozzle for the ACE Model 2-PS requires a minimum of 25-30 cfm for use on wood. There should be CFM specifications available for any fan tip nozzle that you may look at. If you already have a soda blaster, ask the manufacturer if there is a fan tip available, and what the CFM requirements are. Also, remember that you can join 2 compressors together and that their CFM output is then additive. Thanks again for reading and I hope this helps you out. -The Soda Blasting Guy

  3. hi, we are planning to soda blast an old hand hued log cabin before staining and chinking. can you share tips on preparing the logs properly so soda residue doesn’t interfere with proper stain adhesion and longevity? also, is full head gear needed, or are safety glasses/goggles and face masks enough? thank you so much. amy

    • Hi Amy, thanks for reading my blog. Some folks I know have blown away any residual dust from the cabin with a leaf blower and then washed the logs with a pressure washer, for example. Safety glasses with side shields or full googles work fine for a lot of people. You have to protect your eyes from blow back of debris. You also must wear some sort of respirator. This is essential. Full head gear, such as a blasting hood, works great, but not everybody feels comfortable wearing one. Thanks again. – The Soda Blasting Guy

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