View Full Version : Wanting to expand

Cindy Rhoades
11-17-2009, 11:55 AM
I am thinking about adding a sandcarving system to my small shop in addition to my laser. I am very intrested in your thoughts. Does any one have one and can it increase the options for my customers. What can I do with it that a laser can't do?

Gary Hair
11-17-2009, 12:37 PM
You'll get a lot of opinions as to whether sandcarving is better than lasering glass, I think there is no comparison, sandcarving is much better. Besides glass, you can sandcarve rocks, bricks, and a whole host of other items. It has added about 25% to my revenue and the bulk of it is profit. I usually sandcarve items that a customer brings in so I have no inventory or cost associated with the item itself. My per job costs are blast mask, media and paint. You have to factor in all of the other business related costs, but direct costs for the job are minimal. For example - I sandcarved a name and date in a 16" granite sphere. I used two pieces of mask that were about 3" x 12", less than $1.00 worth. Since I reclaim and reuse my media, I can't really say what the cost would be for what I used, but if I didn't reclaim and reuse it would have been a couple dollars worth, at most. I didn't paint fill this piece so no expense there. Total expenses- maybe $3.00 - I charged her $135.00 for this job so my gross profit was $132.00. All told it took me about 45 minutes for artwork, prep, blast and cleanup.

So, to answer your question - can it increase options? What can I do that a laser can't? You can image objects that you couldn't have even thought of with just a laser. And if you want to offer lasered or sandcarved glass, you have that option.

You will have to spend a bit to get started, a compressor, cabinet, media, a good nozzle, pressure pot, exhaust fan, etc. All told, you could get into it for less than $1,500 and a big chunk of that will be for the compressor.

Check out cuttingedgesandcarving.com if you want more info.


Cindy Rhoades
11-17-2009, 1:34 PM
Thank you for the info. I love my laser and what I can do with it but I want to compliment it. I have some restrictions (ie wieght, size, shape ) I know I can speed up a lot of thngs I do with the laser and there are still things I would keep exclusively on the laser. On your pricing for sandcarving is there a specific formula you use?

Mike Null
11-17-2009, 1:51 PM
I agree with Gary's comments and will add that you can do some metal items that you can't do with the laser.

It's messy but it will broaden your offerings. It is relatively low cost as well.

Cindy Rhoades
11-17-2009, 3:52 PM
I have been doing some checking on different systems because I am sold. I am leaning towards Rayzyst. Do you have any suggestions. As for metal I have been marking metal with Thermark and am very happy with the results even though it is a bit time consuming. Thank you for the input I appreciate it.

Scott Shepherd
11-17-2009, 4:12 PM
Try this one as well :


Both make some nice stuff. I agree with Gary and Mike. Hard to beat true etched glass.

Mike Null
11-17-2009, 5:37 PM
I'm on my second time around with sand carving. The first time I had the expensive stuff--Rayzist.

This time I went with mostly Harbor Freight but splurged on a PAB gun. I'm more pleased with this set-up as the PAB gun gives me the ability to control the flow better than anything I've tried before.

I also went with silicon carbide as my medium as I was tired of the static electricity with aluminum oxide.

I charge more for sand carving then for laser engraving as it just takes more time. But for glass, crystal, ceramics and stone sand carving has no peer.

Gary Hair
11-17-2009, 7:55 PM
I have been doing some checking on different systems because I am sold. I am leaning towards Rayzyst. Do you have any suggestions. As for metal I have been marking metal with Thermark and am very happy with the results even though it is a bit time consuming. Thank you for the input I appreciate it.

Rayzist has a great product but, in my opinion, it's way overpriced. You can build your own system for a fraction of what they charge for theirs.

If you have more money than time, buy theirs, if you have more time than money, build your own.

You should check out craigslist and ebay, you might find a used system. Also check on cutting edge, I think there were some links to used systems there.


Bob Davis
11-19-2009, 3:45 AM
We've had a sandcarving system for a couple of years. Got it cheap (so I thought) with the intention that it would be a usefull addition to our set of toys.
I've had no joy whatsoever. I've found it to be amazingly frustrating, demanding, dirty, time consuming, capricious and an all-round waste of space. It seems like there is only one way to get the job right, but 500 ways to get it wrong. At present the compressor and cabinet are in my shed at home while the other mountain of gear required is in a spare corner of our family room awaiting entry to Ebay. Saleable items produced = $nil.
I'm sure there are people who use the system to advantage, but I'm not one of them and I don't think that is likely to change. I'm sure I could become proficient with it, but we're almost too busy with the work we have - I've decided I don't need the drama and can't afford the time and commitment required to push it. The space required is also in short supply.
Your mileage may vary. Good luck if you proceed with it.

Rodne Gold
11-19-2009, 10:23 AM
I think you need to look how machinery is marketed as to whether you gonna make money out of it , if it's "make a million bucks a week in your garage working 1 hour a day" then steer clear.
I have quite a serious sandblasting/carving setup , do I make money out of it ?- YES!!!
BUT I make almost nothing sandblasting/carving stuff on gifts , glass etc ..the way you intend to use it. I make good money is terms of finishing stuff we make with a matte effect and mainly make money out if it when its used with our etching setup. I use a polyester mask on the metal , laser ablate it and use the sandblaster to clear away glue residues.
The big problem with sandcarving is that the price of entry is cheap so competing with the housewife/whomever buys one hoping to make a buck is very difficult , they beat you with more experience if they established and less overheads.
In any event , the key to sucess is marketing the service , but marketing to a non existant demand is also pointless.
What is your customer base and do they have a need for sandcarving? IMHO a small vinyl cutter or a small 2nd hand print and cut machine like a Roland Versacam or even a small rotary engraver might be a better , albeit more expensive , bet.
Sandcarving can do more or less what a laser can , but a little better with a lot more effort - so in essence you arent really adding anything "different" , just doing what you can already do.
A vinyl cutter will take you into new territory as will a vinly print and cut machine and a rotary will enable you to mark stuff in a more traditional way than a laser and will fit in with your setup.
If you want to go cheap in terms of capital expenses , maybe a small sublimation setup would also be a good option.

Mark Winlund
11-19-2009, 2:27 PM
Rodne... I just wanted to say that I think you are one of the most knowledgable people on this forum. Most of the time, your comments are concise, to the point, and most important, correct. Experience counts, and you are willing to share it. Thanks for contributing.


Cindy Rhoades
11-19-2009, 2:37 PM
I thank you all for your comments. I find many help things in this forum and enjoy it very much. There is a need in my area for this type of work because there really isn't anyone within 65 miles that does what I am wanting to do. They are not willing to help out John Q Public with small requests such as single items or small things they want personalized as a reasonable price. I do admit I am sort of in the categaory Rodney was talking about "housewives" I run my business out of my home and have very little overhead and I don't have employees. All of my equipment is paid for so I don't have to figure in finance payments. I live in a rural area that was hit very hard by factory shutdowns and downsizing so I want to be able to offer my services at a reasonable price in my community. I do work with other businesses also and things have started to pick up a little. I have done some reseach as to the need and possibilities of products I can do to justify the cost to myself. When I get my machine and get past the initial learning curve I will post some work. Again thanks