By Butch Bridges
Updated September 30, 2015
PO Box 11
Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
On a regular basis I have someone ask or email me how I sandblast the pavers I been making since 2012. I've even had some think I did the lettering freehand. I wish I was that talented of an artist, but unfortunately, I can't even draw a straight line.
To start with, I have a computer program that designs the lettering/wording for me. I have all kinds of fonts and styles to choose from, really too many, so I pretty much stay with a few basic fonts.
I draw the words up in the computer program as they will appear on a stencil that I make with a plotter type printer. Instead of paper feeding up through it, I feed a rubber stencil into the "printer".
After I cut the stencil I trim it up to fit whatever I'm going to sandblast, say a standard engravers brick, 8" x 4" or other stone material. Then I peel off the paper backing from the adhesive backed stencil and stick it to the material I'm going to sandblast, in the example below a flagstone from eastern Oklahoma. Using my pocket knife I remove the letters from the stencil.
At this point I place the material into my sandblast cabinet and do my magic. By the way, it takes a large air compressor to do the job. I use a 60 gallon compressor to keep my air volume up there (cubic feet/minute). A small "pancake" air compressor (even with 125 PSI) will not do the job, well, it might but it would take days to sandblast just a small brick.
Below is a 2006 photo I took when my compressor was new. Looks a little worn now, but works fine. Plus I've since added a water trap near the gauge to keep moisture from reaching my nozzle. And I use the more expensive aluminum oxide as my sandblast material instead of play sand. The aluminum oxide lasts MUCH longer than ordinary sand.
When I'm through with the sandblasting I remove the material from the sandblast cabinet and spray paint the letters. Not just any spray paint, I use Lithichrome Paint like is used on the granite gravestones at a cemetery.
After the paint has dried I peel away the stencil and masking tape and what you see is the finished product.
This webpage created 12/14/14