How to Etch Glass with a Sandblaster

What You'll Need
Glass to etch
White contact paper
Utility knife
Razor blade
Design or stencil
Small squeegee
Spray adhesive
Glass cleaner
Lint-free paper towel
Blasting box
Protective mask

There are many ways in which you can etch glass. The most widely used is an etching cream that uses acid to etch glass. Another way to etch glass is to blast it with sand. Sandblasting to etch glass is not seen much as a home hobby due to its cost, as well as the mess it can create. The article that follows will provide you with information on how to etch glass with a sandblaster.

Step 1 - Fresh Surface

When you want to etch glass it is very important the glass is very clean. If there is moisture on the surface the etching process will be ineffective. If there is oil or any other type of substance on the surface of the glass the contact paper or the design itself will not properly adhere. Spray the glass down with the glass cleaner and allow it to rest for several minutes. When the time is up you can wipe it off with the lint-free paper towel.

Step 2 - The Contact Paper

The contact paper protects the glass that is not being etched and is used as the final design. Peel away the backing of the contact paper and place it onto the glass. Carefully let it drop. Use the squeegee press down on the contact paper so it adheres to the glass. Add a second layer of contact paper repeating the squeegee flattening technique.

Step 3 - The Design

To etch glass you need a design. This can be a picture that you printed from the computer in grayscale, something you drew on paper (or directly onto the contact paper) or a purchased stencil. If you are using a stencil or a design then spray a light layer of the adhesive on the back of it. Place the design on top of the contact paper and use the squeegee to push it down and even it out. Cut out the piece of the design that you want to be etched into the glass. Use the razor to pick up the cut areas of the design and to peel off the contact paper. Use the squeegee to press down on the edges to seal it. If you sandblast with unpressed edges the glass can frost.

Step 4 - Sandblasting

The sandblaster uses compressed air to propel sand or some other fine substance toward the glass. It pelts the glass repeatedly at a high speed, removing and texturizing the exposed glass. Set up your blasting box and place your object inside it with the design facing toward you. Follow the instructions with the sandblaster in order to properly use it.

Step 5 - Finishing

Remove the etched glass, rinse with water and wipe down. Use the utility knife to pull up the edges of the contact paper and then peel it off. Wash with soap and water, then dry.