Skat Blast USA 960-DLX Deluxe Abrasive Blasting Cabinet Review

I have been using my Skat Blast cabinet for almost 2 years now. Due to the lack of online reviews of this company’s cabinets I would like to take an in-depth look at mine.

I originally ordered the 940-DLX, but due to what I assume was a mix-up at the TP Tools store I got shipped a 960-DLX. I got it shipped via their LTL service who delivered it straight to my garage

The 960-DLX comes with a flood light inside of each corner instead of 1 light in the 940-DLX. In retrospect having 2 lights is necessary for blasting complex parts with lots of sides like valve covers and wheels. I would not recommend switching them out with regular bulbs, the flood lights pierce through the media cloud much better with their directional light.

The light fixtures connect directly to the electrical box on the top of the blast cabinet. It’s a very simple approach, with off-the-shelf parts that can easily be replaced should they break. A foam pad between the electrical box and the cabinet prevents blasting media. Although very simple, it’s very effective.

I added additional lighting through some 12V LED strips to the inside of the cabinet. While they don’t do as good of a job as the flood lights, they do help get rid of shadows when blasting parts at odd angles the flood lights can’t reach.

One of the largest complaints I have is changing the protective mylar film on the inside of the window. This film is a sacrificial layer between the glass and the blasting area that prevents the glass from being etched by ricocheting media. It must be replaced regularly in order to see inside the cabinet well. Trying to replace the film by reaching inside the cabinet often results in the film not being applied squarely or one corner of the film not sticking to the glass because it wasn’t applied completely flat. According to TP Tools the best way to change the protective layer is to completely remove the glass panel from the cabinet. This is accomplished by removing the multiple sheet metal screws that squeeze the black plastic border against the glass to the cabinet. Since these screws are self-tapping, replacing the film multiple times and removing and reinstalling these screws multiple times wears out the holes made by the screws. This can be corrected by installing some jack nuts and replacing the self tapping screws with regular screws. It would have been nice if it came this way though.

The cabinet needs another 8 or 10 inches of height to be comfortable for me. I have to hunch over to get a bit my hands into the gauntlets. I left my cabinet up on the pallet it was delivered on but I would still like it to be taller. The media trap door on the bottom of the cabinet is too low to the ground to slide a 5 gallon bucket under. I have to use a small plastic container and fill it up several times to drain the cabinet.

The filter for this cabinet keeps my garage spotless. I have a 5 gallon bucket with a Dust Deputy in-line with the vacuum to help separate the rust etc before going to the main filter. The included vacuum is quieter and performs better than the small shopvac I have for my HF blast cabinet.

In hindsight the dust deputy probably isn’t necessary, but keeping my garage clean is of utmost importance, so I consider it an extra safeguard.

Using my blast cabinet to prep valve covers for powder coating.

The stock air filter is washable and reusable. I purchased a second one to rapidly swap them, then wash the second one in the sink and let it dry. I am always surprised at the amount of dirt that comes out of the filter when I rinse it.

I have never noticed any blasting media or dust coming out of the cabinet itself. The vacuum keeps a strong negative pressure inside the unit, making sure the only air coming out of the cabinet is going through the vacuum filter.

Tips for making the protective film last longer:
1. Keep your air filter clean. Reduced vacuum suction keeps dust in the cabinet longer creating a larger dust cloud and scratching the film more.
2. Keep an eye on your blast media status. I have found that worn out media scratches the film faster.
3. Keep the objects you are blasting as far away as you can from the film. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the film gets more and more scratched, you hold the objects closer and closer to the film so you can see through the scratches.

Trying to blast with a cloudy window only hinders blasting speed.

Some general blasting tips:
1. Blasting doesn’t work very well against some coatings. For instance latex paint and powder coating resists blasting very well. They need additional prep before blasting, like paint stripper.
2. Trying to blast objects that have large chunks that fly off instead of being obliterated land in the media and either block the holes in the pickup tube or get stuck inside the gun. Clearing out the passageway is done by placing a hand over the end of the nozzle and forcing the air through the media hose. If the objects remain in the media though they will continue to clog the passage until they are drained and sifted from the media.
3. Keep your blasting cabinet dry. I use an oil/water separator directly before the air enters the blast cabinet. It removes all the moisture before it enters the cabinet. Wet media makes the media clump up and clog the pickup tube and gun.
4. Stay on top of maintenance. Replacing wearable items, cleaning filters, etc all keep the cabinet performing optimally.

Another modification I made was adding an hour meter to the cabinet. It’s easy for me to forget how long I’ve used the cabinet, unsure when I need to be replacing wearable components in the gun, replacing worn out media, or emptying the air filter. I added a 120V hour meter to the switch controlling the air filter to keep track of the time spent blasting.

Blasting with a clean window is much easier and results in faster blasting.

I use an Ingersoll Rand SS5 5HP 60 Gallon Single Stage Air Compressor with this cabinet. When the cabinet is running at 90 PSI controlled by an oil/water separator dial the air compressor runs continuously but keeps up with the demand. After blasting is complete it usually shuts off after 10-20 seconds. Regularly change your oil if you are running a consumer grade air compressor at 100% duty cycle! I added an aftermarket DIY “air dryer” between the compressor to the tank to cool the air and remove excessive moisture during long running sessions. I also added an automatic drain valve to the bottom of the tank to remove moisture that gets into the tank. In hindsight I should have just upgraded to the next model up which has all of these features built in. Any compressor that can output 10-15 CFM at ~90 PSI will be able to power this cabinet. If you have a small compressor consider moving down to the smaller orifice gun, although it will hurt your blasting speed.

I have been using the cabinet for the past 6 months mainly blasting valve covers. Most of them are corroded enough that the factory paint is no longer present and they can be blasted immediately after boiling them to remove excess oil and getting gunk out of the baffling. Blasting in general is not good at removing the factory paint.

The gun has several wearable components inside that need to be regularly replaced or performance suffers. The gun has never clogged the entire time I have used it. Although it works very well the gun isn’t very ergonomic, I find myself regularly switching between holding by the grip and holding by the pickup tube. I think a nozzle shaped like a wand or something you can hold like a large pen would be more comfortable if using the gun for a long period of time. I would highly recommend starting off with the carbide nozzles, they last much longer than the ceramic ones and pay for themselves quickly.

Feeding the gun is the pickup tube. This cabinet’s pickup tube works very well. When using blasting media with no chunks of blasted off paint or dirt the gun never surges or runs out of blasting media. When there are pieces of paint or objects larger than the media they will get stuck to the sides of the pickup tube and limit the media going into the gun. Covering the tip of the gun and forcing air through the pickup tube temporarily clears the objects, but until the cabinet is drained and the media sifted it will continue to clog. I wish the cabinet had a finer screen to catch large objects while letting the media through. Removing the tube from the cabinet for replacement is very simple.

Using the blast cabinet to restore an Ariens snowblower.

The foot pedal is very nice compared to the trigger activated gun. Gripping the trigger for long periods of time leads to cramps, especially when you find yourself gripping the gun too hard unintentionally. Simply step on the foot pedal and blast away. The pedal has a cover that is large enough for me to easily fit my size 12-13 shoes in without being cramped.

I originally had a Harbor Freight blasting cabinet that I slowly modified to make it perform better. In retrospect I should have started out with the Skat Blast cabinet. It performs better and ended up being about the same price after I did all of the modifications to the HF cabinet.

Despite some shortcomings, overall I would highly recommend this Skat Blast cabinet. Made in Ohio, with a 5 year warranty and readily available replacement parts, I am able to blast most parts very quickly and get finished parts out the door faster.

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