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Fast Lead Time | Precision Cutting

This Blog Post will guide you STEP-BY-STEP on how to cut, etch, and sandblast mirrors. In this project, we etched a front surface mirror to create a futuristic, sandblasted clock. We made a video of the entire project to show exactly how to do it.

The blog post will take you step-by-step on how to cut a circle out of glass. Then, it will guide you through the sandblasting techniques!

Why would you want to Sandblast?

Today, I’m going to show you how to create a frosted effect in glass created by sandblasting, with a few other ways to partially remove mirror coating. The glass I’m using today is a First Surface Mirror which is used in Engineering, Optics, and Beauty, for a precise reflection that’s super accurate and glamorous!

sandblaster

There are many reasons why you would want to etch a mirror!

For example, creating a line in glass can be used for targeting & navigation systems in aerospace, or for fabulous applications such as creating a “Lighted Mirror” effect for vanity Smart Mirrors. You can also enlighten art installations, and high performance makeup mirrors to see your true, fabulous self! Or, you can simply use it to decorate your home or local business!

sandblasted-glass

First, let’s take a little bit of time to explain what sandblasting actually is. Sandblasting creates an elegant frosted effect without using paint. An abrasive material is blown using compressed air to etch the surface that’s going to be blasted. Pretty cool, right?

Sandblasting can be used to create striking architectural design, such as hospitality spaces, gyms, and medical buildings. It can provide privacy and discreet, recessed lighting.

What is a First Surface Mirror?

This is the type of mirror we chose to use for our DIY Wall Clock Sandblasting Project.

A first surface mirror, also known as front surface mirror, is an optical mirror providing superior accuracy for engineering and scientific applications. Unlike a standard mirror, which has the coating on the back side, a first surface mirror provides a true reflection with no double image.

Ultraviolet Optical Mirror

Now that you have the basics down, lets start sandblasting!

Materials Needed

Below are some of my favorite stencil designs. You can use any stencil design you want, but you can use these for inspiration!

Step 1: Safety

The first step to any glass project is to put on safety gear! Grab your glasses and gloves, then we can start!

Step 2: Find the Center Point on the Mirror Piece

You can do this by using a tape measure to mark the middle of each side of the mirror. You can mark on the laminate side with a sharpie.

find-center-of-mirror

Step 3: Use a Circular Glass Cutter to Cut the Glass

Cut the glass by placing a circular glass cutter in the center of your mirror that you just found by measuring and marking it.

Then, move the glass cutting tool around the center, applying slight pressure to cut through the laminate.

Step 4: Loosen the Glass

Loosen the glass by slightly pushing down on the mirror. Be sure to wear gloves! Don’t push too hard, but just enough to slightly move the mirror from the cut you made.

Step 5: Remove the Laminate from the Outer Circle

At the top corner, peel back the laminate.

remove-blue-laminate

Step 6: Cut the Excess glass

Cut off the excess glass by placing a score line from the circle to the outer edge. Use a handheld glass cutter to do this. Do it on all four sides and corners. DO NOT cut INSIDE or on the circle. Only cut the excess glass.

Score the glass

It should look like this.

Removing the excess glass

Step 7: Break Off the Excess Glass

Use glass pliers to break off the excess glass. First, you will want to make sure your pliers are even with the thickness of the glass. To do this, place the pliers on the glass, and twist the knob until the pliers and glass are at the same thickness. Then, align the score line with the line in the middle of the pliers, and gently press down.

Remove excess glass

Step 8: Apply Masking Tape and Comb it Down

Apply masking tape to the side of the mirror with the laminate. Then, comb down the masking tape with a scraper tool or a credit card to make sure all of the air bubbles are released.

Air out the bubbles

Step 9: Line Up the Template

Line up the template to the middle of your mirror.

Template

Step 10: Tape Down The Template

Use tape to hold the template in place. You will want to tape from each side so your template does not move.

Tape

Step 11: Trace the Inside Lines

Trace inside the lines of the template with a fine-tip marker.

Tracing the template

Step 12: Remove the Template

Simply remove the template from the mirror.

Remove the Template.

Step 13: Cut the Lines

Use a 35 Degree X-ACTO knife to trim and cut over the lines that you made from the template. You will also be cutting out the laminate.

Trim

While you are cutting the tape, be sure to keep your X-ACTO knife at a 35 degree angle.

Cutting the Outline

Step 14: Trim the Excess Tape

Trim off the excess tape using the X-ACTO knife.

Trim the Excess Tape.

Step 15: Sandblasting

After you remove the excess tape, put together your Sandblaster!

We like to use the sandblasting gun “SpeedBlaster Gravity Feed Media Blaster”. You can purchase it from the “Materials” list at the beginning of this blog. We fill our sandblaster with Aluminum Oxide, and use a compressed air hose.

Once you have your sandblaster all set up, you will want to make a table or stand to set your mirror on. You will want to do this outside, or somewhere where it wont damage anything.

Then, put on your face mask to protect your entire face from any debris that might get near you and lay your mirror on the table.

You will want to spray your sandblaster about six (6) inches away. Spray evenly across the mirror.

This process is removing the mirror coating. So, it is important to leave the tape covering any parts of the mirror that you don’t want sandblasted.

Sandblasting

Step 16: Bring the Mirror Back Inside

Once you’ve finished sandblasting, be sure to bring the mirror back to your work area. It should be evenly coated like this:

Sandblasting

Step 17: Remove Tape and Laminate

Now, you can remove the tape and the laminate underneath to reveal your Sandblasted Creation!

Remove the laminate

Step 18: Drilling the Hole

Drill a hole into a piece of acrylic.

Drilling into Plastic

Step 19: Place Clay on the Acrylic

Place clay on the acrylic. This will act as a reservoir when you are drilling the hole into the mirror. Make sure the clay is all the way down, and that all the corners are touching and packed together.

Drilling into Plastic

Step 20: Find the Center Point

Use a tape measure to find the center of the mirror. You will want it to be as accurate as possible, because this is where you will be drilling the hole for your clock. Feel free to make a dot with your marker, since you will be drilling through it anyways.

Measure the Circle

Step 26: Clean the Mirror

Finally, all you have to do is clean the surface of your first surface mirror! Use an ammonia free cleaning spray (or a lens cleaner) and a microfiber cloth.

Clean the mirror.

Step 24: Sanding

Grab your sanding block, and sand at a 45 degree angle. Be sure to sand both sides.

Sand the Edges

Step 23: Drill

Use a glass drill-bit to drill into the mirror. Apply light pressure while drilling.

Drilling into the glass

Step 22: Add Water

Add water into the hole of the acrylic.

Apply the acrylic to the glass.

Step 21: Apply the Acrylic to the Mirror

Apply the acrylic to the mirror with firm pressure. Press down the acrylic until it is fully secured.

Measure the Circle
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