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I’ve decided I need a blast cabinet to help me prep things like Green River fish and various invertebrates. I have a few questions I’d like to post for feedback. First, I have a stereomicroscope with a Barlow lens, so I want a cabinet with a flat top. Even with the Barlow lens the working distance between my microscope and the specimen is only about 6”, so a cabinet with an angled window won’t work. I will primarily be using this with an air eraser and a Dremel engraver tool. I don’t expect to pick up any kind of serious pneumatic air scribe, and I recognize what I will be trading off by not doing so. @Malcolmt gave a design for a blast cabinet here: http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/76546-affordable-trilobite-preparation-setup/ Also, in September I visited Fossil Butte National Monument. At their visitor center they had a ranger demonstrating how to prep fish under a blast cabinet. I didn’t take photos but the FBNM website has a video showing their blast cabinet in use. I liked that design. Here are a couple of screen shots I clipped from the video: Here are my questions: 1. The FBNM blast cabinet opens from the front. I’ve seen other designs that open from the top. Opening from the front would seem to be nicer because I wouldn’t have to move the microscope out of the way every time I want to reach in. Am I missing anything here? 2. I plan to use it with a shop vac and dust collector (see below for my ideas there). A lot of people say you need to seal every joint in the blast cabinet securely to prevent dust from getting out and all over the place. But if you look at the photos above, the FBNM blast cabinet has three large holes on the side, presumably to help with airflow to the shop vac. Should I be drilling holes like this or not? I don’t expect to use sealed gloves on the armholes, just some sort of fabric I can reach through, so that should be another path for airflow. 3. I’m a bit limited on space. While 20x24 inches would be a nice size, I think I may only be able to do 16x20 inches. That would also let me use a 16x20 piece of glass from a picture frame for the top. Do you think that would be a sufficient size (I don’t expect to be prepping any large vertebrate fossils)? 4. For dust collection I have two choices. @Peat Burns uses the Dust Deputy: http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/79131-what-is-your-microscopeair-blaster-setup/&tab=comments#comment-871944, and @Ptychodus04 designed a Water Trap system: http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/79125-water-trap-dust-collector/&tab=comments#comment-834634. That one is cheaper and seems like it is less likely to let really fine dust escape so I will probably try that. Anyone have any recommendations here?
This is just an FYI in case anyone is interested. I was at Harbor Freight this evening and walked past this blast cabinet on sale. I thought it was a pretty good deal, $114. They also had a free standing one that you didn’t need a table for and could pull a barstool or a tall chair up to on sale, but it was quite a bit more. T