10 Sanding Tips You Need To Know
Tips from The Pro's
Sanding Tips You Need To Know
1.) Build Yourself A Drum Sanding Jig
This easy-to-build jig transforms an electric drill into a stationary edge sander for inside curves on all kinds of projects. To build one, you need scrap 3/4-in. plywood, a short 2×4, a 3/8-in.-diameter U-bolt to fit around your drill and two 3/8- in. wing nuts. Housing design and chuck length vary from drill to drill, so we won’t list exact dimensions. Use the steps found here as a general guide for building a jig that fits your drill.
2.) Use A Sneaker To Clean Sandpaper
Make sandpaper nearly new again with a lowly old sneaker. Start up your power sander and dust collection system (remember to wear hearing and eye protection). Then slowly press the rubber sole of an old sneaker along the sandpaper—you’ll see a difference instantly!
3.) Stationary Belt Sander
This jig firmly holds your belt sander upside down for easier sanding of handheld project parts. Each sander has a different shape, so custom-cut the plywood sides with a jigsaw to fit yours. Work for a tight fit so the sander is rock steady while you’re working. Use clamps to hold small pieces and don’t wear loose clothing.
4.) Thick Skinned Sandpaper
Another cool sanding tip. Put duct tape on the back of sandpaper and cut it into custom-sized strips for sanding in tight spots. The tape’s tough hide lets you sand without tearing the paper. The strips work great for sanding lathe turnings, cleaning dried glue from project parts, and doing any other job that requires a firm yet delicate sanding touch. Use a sharp utility knife and a straightedge to cut the strips.
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5.) Laundry Day for Belts
A neat tip to extend sanding belts you’re probably holding over the trashcan right now.
Fill a bucket with hot water and laundry detergent, mix well, then toss in the pitch-covered, burned-out belts. Let them soak for several minutes, then scrub off the loosened debris with a stiff-bristled plastic brush. Set the belts aside, and when they’re dry, cut them into wide strips for sanding blocks or narrower pieces for freehand use on delicate or hard-to-reach sanding jobs. Resist the temptation to put the belts back on your power sanders; just use them for hand-sanding.
6.) DownDraft Sanding Box
This easy-to-make sanding box really swallowed the dust in our tests. And it was sturdy enough to support larger workpieces. Learn how to build one for your shop here.
7.) Avoid Over Sanding
Power-sand the tops of plywood edge-bandings with ultra-light pressure, use fine-grit sandpaper, and rub a pencil firmly along the glue joint before sanding to help monitor where, and how fast, the surface is being sanded away. If you press the sander more to the banding side, go slow and keep a hawkeye on the disappearing graphite. You’ll never waste a 4×8 sheet of expensive plywood—or two hours ﬁtting and gluing on bandings—with an irreversible mistake.
8.) Flashing Sanding
When you’re sanding in the corner of that next masterpiece, your vibrating or random orbital sander can dig some nasty scratches or dents with the sander body and the sandpaper on adjoining surfaces. And they’re nearly impossible to fix.
Try this bulletproof tip from Leo Tellgren. Hold a small sheet of metal flashing or plastic laminate between the sander and the surface you don’t want dinged up, and then sand as close as you want with no worries. Scratches go on the metal, not on the wood.
9.) Most Incredible Sanding Block
For the final sanding of a prize project, it’s hard to beat good old hand-sanding. When you put away the power sanders and carefully hand-sand with the grain—using finer and finer grits of sandpaper—you’ll produce a smooth surface to take pride in for years to come. To make your own “super hand sander,” glue a piece of computer mouse pad or other “closed-cell foam” to a wooden sanding block. This creates a firm base that gently increases sanding torque on flat surfaces and convex corners while ensuring a flat, scratch-free surface. Use a heavy coat of photo-mount spray adhesive or rubber cement to glue the mouse pad to the block. Apply adhesive-backed sandpaper to the block for the beginning sanding steps. Since extra-fine sandpaper isn’t widely available with adhesive backing, apply ordinary extra-fine paper to the block with a light coat of photo-mount spray.
10.) Custom Sanding Bow
Screw strips cut from cloth-backed sanding belts to shop-made wood bows of different thicknesses and use ’em to shape and smooth furniture parts and lathe- turned projects. The coarser grits remove wood quickly, and the finer grits will shine up curved surfaces in a jiff. You can screw the sandpaper strips on with varying tension to best fit the job at hand.