Sand blaster??
I want to do some sand blasting on glass- either etch the front, or remove the silver from a mirror. I have a smallish air compressor, not a tiny pancake, but not a big beast. I realize it will be slow, but I think it will do the job
My question is- do I want a tank type blaster or a hand held little guy? Educate me please

almost any type tank stile blaster will require a lot of air volume think screw type compressor  or large two stage
the little hand held ones also use a lot of air  if you blast steady
 but just doing small projects they will probably work ok I have a 5 h/p 80 gallon tank compressor and a hand held blaster works fairly well for small blasting jobs
sand blasting is almost like running a open air blow gun /requires a lot of air if your compressor works fairly well being used as a air blow gun then I believe you will be fine with a hand held sand blaster
Thanks. Given the low cost, I think it is a good option to try

I have a largish portable compressor.  2 hp, 20 gal tank.  I have some restoration jobs that I thought a sandblaster cabinet would be the right tool for, so I built one a couple of years ago.  I used a cheap siphon sandblaster gun for the cabinet and even with the small compressor (for sandblasting purposes) I find it works well, overall.  Its not the fastest way to remove paint or rust (instead of removing paint from scratch, I now use a chemical stripper to get as much off as possible, and for rust I use either a wire wheel or, preferably, one of those scotch brite equivalent to a wire wheel in an angle grinder and then use the SB to get into areas I can't get with the wire wheel and any left over paint the stripper leaves, and it makes quick work of abrading the surface to prep metal for priming and painting), and to help with matters, I do use the most aggressive media I can get locally (HF's aluminum oxide).  My compressor cannot keep up when I am continuously blasting, but when I rest (depending on what I am blasting, I may have to shift the piece to blast areas I can't get to when its in the position I had been blasting it in, because I made the funnel a bit too shallow, I also have to stop and re-position the pickup tube into an area with more media, or just sometimes I need to rest and let the compressor catch up some), my compressor does not take long to build pressure back up and shutdown.  I am still learning about the nuances of the siphon blaster and figuring out modifications I am going to have to make to my cabinet at some point (i.e. so that I don't have to keep re-positioning the pickup tube), but overall, I am happy with how it works. 

Also, you will want a filter between the compressor and the sandblaster.  I mounted one on the side of the cabinet I built, even with that, I still get some drops of water through when I am blasting for a long time.

They were right, I SHOULDN'T have tried it at home!
I bought an inexpensive syphon feed sand blaster to remove rust from some tools I was rehabbing. My 3hp portable compressor couldn't keep up with the air demand. Even so, it worked O.K. with short blasts between compressor cycles. I think it would work fine for smallish glass etching projects.


The first time I used the blaster, I wore a pair of "direct vented" goggles like these:

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I spent a painful night and the next day in my eye doctor's office while he carefully removed several hundred tiny glass beads from my eyes. The blasting medium flies in every imaginable direction and easily came in through the vent holes in the side of my goggles. After my eyes recovered, I bought a pair of goggles that sealed completely all the way around my eyes and they did the trick.

Good luck!
If you're doing the SB'ing out in the open, then HF sells an inexpensive hood for the job.  And don't forget a good respirator (P100).

They were right, I SHOULDN'T have tried it at home!
Depending the size of the project it may be easier to chemically etch rather than physically etch the glass. Sodium hydroxide will etch glass (red devil drain opener). Solutions of hydrofluric acid will also work but that stuff is EXTREMELY dangerous. 

You can also just buy frosted glass unless you are trying to make a pattern.
Just use a small handheld blaster from anyone or like mentioned chemical etching. No need for a big compressor for small projects. A pancake will supply enough for those short blasts.

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