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Sanding Tips
How to make easy work of hand sanding small parts.
Just tape a piece of coarse (60 to 80-grit) sandpaper to your benchtop, grit side up. Lay the piece to be sanded on top of it. Using a sanding block with a finer (100, 150 or 220-grit) paper, press down firmly and sand in a back-and-forth fashion. The coarser paper will hold your workpiece in position while the finer grit paper does its job.
Sliver-free steel wool holder.
Cut a tennis ball in half and stuff a wad of steel wool into the hollowed-out side. This approach works particularly well for polishing turnings on the lathe, as it also protects your fingers from heat build-up.
Pad or palm sanding irregular surfaces.
When using a Pad, Palm or Orbital sander to smooth surfaces that are purposely irregular, add a layer of foam rubber (such as weather stripping) between the pad and your sandpaper. This will provide a thick, flexible cushion to help the sole of your sander conform more closely to the shape of your workpiece surface during sanding.
A hand-sanding block that "forgives".
When working with workpieces having irregular-shaped edges or surfaces, use a large, soft, pink rubber eraser as a sanding block. You can even use steel wool, wrapped around these erasers for fine, finish sanding.
Make your own miniature disc sander.
Use an engine valve from a car or lawn mower. Just grind it down to the size you need and hot-melt a piece of sandpaper to the valve head. Pieces of cloth-backed belts make the best, most durable choice. Chuck the disc into your portable drill or drill press and go to work.
Smooth sanding of bandsawn arcs
If you're planning to edge-band the curved edge of a plywood workpiece with either veneer or a thin strip of hardwood ... you may have a tough time getting a tight-fitting, invisible joint between the two.

Here's the solution. Rubber cement a piece of sandpaper to the mating edge of the scrap piece that came from your bandsawn arc. Use this as a contoured sanding block to smooth your arc. Since it should match the arc in your workpiece perfectly, this approach will do the job quite nicely.

Don't throw away small pieces of abrasive belt cleaner.
Instead, glue them to a long, narrow piece of scrap wood with contact cement so you can hold them safely in your hands when using them.
Knife-edged sanding block.
When you need to sand into an extremely narrow, crack-like opening, try wrapping a piece of sandpaper around the thin edge of a hand scraper. It reaches easily into tight spaces, yet gives you enough surface to get a good grip on things.
Sanding accurate coves.
To sand shaped coves on table or cabinet edges, create a "mirror image" of the cove on a block of scrap stock, using a rounding-over shaper cutter or router bit. Then, just wrap a piece of sandpaper around the block and sand away. Your sandpaper can be glued to the block or not ... it's up to you.
One more way to make easy work of sanding small parts
Attach a full or half-sheet of sandpaper to a piece of particle board or plywood with rubber cement. For added sanding versatility, glue an 80-grit and 100-grit sheet on one side -- and a 150-grit and 220-grit sheet on the opposite side. Be sure to maker your board large enough to leave at least an inch of border around all four sides so it can be clamped to your bench top when in use.

Grasp your small workpiece firmly (use rubber office fingertips to get a better grip on really small pieces) and move it back and forth across your sanding board. To change worn-out sheets, simply remove the old sheets with rubber cement thinner (available at art supply stores) and replace them with new ones.

Increasing the durability of hand-held sandpaper
Sometimes, when working with irregular-shaped pieces, you have to use your hand as a back-up block during sanding. To keep your sheets from tearing-up so quickly during these operations, cover their back sides with duct tape prior to use.
Dispensing abrasive powders
It's hard to get an even coat of abrasive powders such as rottenstone, pumice stone or similar products when pouring them out of their boxes. Try using a large, stove-top style aluminum salt shaker.
Removing "stuck" sanding drum sleeves
Loosen your drum and place it in the freezer for several minutes. It will contract, making removal or replacement much easier.
Minimizing vibrations when power sanding with a hand-held sander
Try wearing a glove with a padded palm, like those used by handball players.
Understanding the differences between cloth and paper backings for abrasives
CLOTH BACKINGS are the most durable and are available in two grades..."X" (or "drill") is the heaviest and is recommended for machine sanding. "J" (or "Jeans") is lighter in weight and is ideal for use where more flexibility is needed for reaching into shaped areas.

PAPER BACKINGS come in five weights from "A" (lightest) to "F" (heaviest). In most cases, finer abrasives come with lighter weight backings while coarser materials use heavier backings.

Proper belt sanding speeds
If you have the ability to adjust the speed of your belt sander, it's important to note that as a Rule Of Thumb, coarse grit paper can be operated at higher speeds than finer grit papers without burning or scorching.
Double grit sanding drums
When doing a lot of drum sanding that requires both coarse and fine grit papers, try cutting a coarse and a fine sleeve in half (height-wise), then using half on the bottom of your drum and the other half on the top. Change from grit-to-grit by altering your depth-of-cut with your drill press quill feed handle.
Extending the life of pad sander paper
Pad sanders tend to "eat" sandpaper quickly. To minimize this, attach a piece of duct tape or ordinary contact paper to the back side of the sandpaper before attaching it to your sander. This will help keep the paper backing from tearing.
Quick, Inexpensive Sandpaper Cutter
Attach a (new or used) hacksaw blade to a 14" x 10" board. Place thin washers under each end of the blade before screwing through the attachment holes. For quick reference and added convenience, scribe (or mark with a pencil) lines on your back-up board that represent standard sized sheet cuts. Slip your sandpaper under the blade, press down on the blade gently and pull up on the sandpaper to cut.
Hand or machine sanding parts too small to hold with your fingers
Use a dab of hot-melt glue to temporarily attach your part to a small dowel or wood strip. When you're finished, just place the entire assembly in a freezer for a few minutes and the piece will easily separate from the dowel or strip.
Easing palm sander sheet replacement.
With some palm sanders, getting the replacement sheets into position would be lots easier if you only had three hands. Since that's not an option, try this technique. Place your new sheet on your benchtop, abrasive side down.

Lay a pencil or small diameter dowel on top of one edge that will be tucked-in and roll the sheet tightly around it about one revolution. Remove your pencil or dowel and repeat the process on the opposing sheet edge. Insert one end into your sander. When you do so and smooth the sheet out against the bottom pad, the curved-up end should automatically curve into the sander's clamping mechanism.

Make-it-yourself miniature disc sander
Cut the valve stem out of an old inner-tube, leaving a 2" or so diameter disk of rubber on the end where the stem enters the tube. Rubber cement a small disk of sandpaper onto it, chuck it into your drill press or portable electric drill and go to work. It makes a nice, small diameter, highly flexible disk sander that's great for getting into small, concave areas.
Belt sanding concave surfaces
Make a wooden convex curved insert to fit between your sanding belt and the platen of your sander. It isn't necessary that it be an exact mirror image of your intended concave surface, but it should be the same WIDTH as your belt and platen and as thin as possible, while still doing the job. If your belt release won't work with the insert in position, your insert's too thick. Use your sander or jointer to thin it down a bit and keep trying until everything fits snugly.
Orbital/Palm Sander paper that LASTS!!
Ordinary sandpaper doesn't hold up well for use with palm sanders or orbital sanders. Instead, consider purchasing cloth-backed sanding belts and cutting them to the proper sizes. You can usually get a few usable sheets from a portable belt and many more from a larger, stationary belt. You'll soon discover that these pads will far outlast any paper-backed sheets you might use.
Make-it-yourself contour hand sander
A deck (or two) of old playing cards can make a great contour sanding block for moldings and shaped edges. Just wrap a piece of sandpaper around the long edge of your deck(s) and grasp the opposing faces/backs. Press the deck edges into your shaped edge and sand away. It's important that you use sandpaper with a thin, pliable backing when performing this operation as stiff-backed papers won't conform properly.
Attaching Abrasive Paper To Contoured Sanding Blocks
Sometimes, it's necessary to make specially contoured hand sanding blocks for smoothing out the shaped edges of cabinets and furniture projects. Some examples might be drop-leaf joints, ogees, beaded edges, etc. To do this, we have to make "mirror-image" sanding blocks with coved or rounded-over edges. Once the block is created, abrasive paper must be attached to it. Unfortunately, this paper can lose its abrasive properties quickly and could require frequent replacement before the job's done. One way to solve this problem is to mount your abrasives to the blocks with special "feathering disc adhesive" used by auto body repair technicians to hold abrasive discs to air-powered rotary or block-type sanders. Available at auto paint stores, this special adhesive remains tacky under use, allowing the worn-out sandpaper to be removed and replaced a number of times.
A "Non-Skid Parking Lot" For Your Orbital Or Pad Sander
Most power sanders won't come to an instantaneous stop when they're turned off. As a result, when you flip them off and set them down on the benchtop, they could easily scoot off the bench and onto the floor. By keeping a small piece of carpet on your benchtop, you'll have a place to set your sander when you turn it off...without fear of it scooting off the benchtop.
Home-made flap sander gets into contours and tight spots
Cut 8 to 10 sheets of (preferable cloth-backed) sandpaper into small, 2-1/2" x 5" pieces and punch a 1/4" hole in the center of each sheet. Stack the sheets on your benchtop with the holes aligned and the sheets alternated with grit side up - grit side down....and fanned out to create the appearance of a disc. Insert a 1/4"-20 bolt through the holes with a large diameter fender washer on each side of your stack and tighten. Chuck it into your portable electric drill and start by making some practice passes on a piece of scrap stock to get the "feel" of how it works and to soften or "dog-ear" the corners before using it on your actual project pieces.
Two "Hot" ways to remove sanding discs
1: Place the disc in an oven at about 200 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes, then use an old kitchen knife to peel the sandpaper off the disc,

2: Use a hair dryer set on high to soften the glue by heating the sandpaper side. DON'T USE A COMMERCIAL HEAT GUN...They get far too hot and could start a fire.

Choosing the right sandpaper for power sanding.
Sandpaper is available in "open coat" and "closed coat" styles. Open coat abrasives have more space between the abrasive particles than closed coat abrasives. As a result, closed coat papers cut more aggressively than open coat papers (and rightfully so, since they rely on elbow grease). Open coat abrasives, on the other hand, won't load-up as rapidly as closed coat abrasives. So ... when power sanding, always look for open coat abrasives.
Another way to clean clogged sandpaper
If you don't have an abrasive cleaning stick...and your sandpaper is not too seriously can often clean it by gripping both ends firmly in your hands and rubbing its back (non-abrasive) side briskly back-and-forth over the sharp edge of a board.
Tumble-style sphere-maker
The next time you have to make a bunch of small wooden balls for a game or similar project...and don't want to take the time to turn them on your lathe, try this trick.

Make a 4" to 6" high wooden box with an open bottom and top. Its inside dimensions should be 1/4" or so wider than your belt and about 12" or so long. Figure a way to attach it to your horizontal, stationery belt sander, suspended about 1/8" or so above the surface of the belt. Attach a 45-degree wedge of wood across the bottom inside edge of the "outfeed" end of your box.

If you're making 1" balls, cut a bunch of 1" cubes and toss them into the box. Lay a weighted piece of wood over the top of the box and turn on your belt sander. The wedge on the outfeed end will keep your cubes tumbling inside the box, while the sanding belt removes the corners. The amount of time required to do the job will vary, depending on the sandpaper grit you're using and the length of time you leave the cubes inside the box.

Turn off your sander periodically and open the top to check on your progress.

Make-It-Yourself Contoured Sanding Block
To create a sanding block that matches the contour of a piece of molding, start by laying a piece of waxed paper across the contour to be matched. Next, cover the waxed paper with a thick (3/4" or so) coating of auto body filler...pressed firmly into the contour. Allow the filler to dry completely. Then, wrap a piece of fine grip sandpaper around your home-made, contoured block and go to work.
Extending The Life Of Narrow Sanding Strips Used For Spindle Turnings
Back these narrow strips with duct tape or nylon packaging filament tape for a LOT longer life.
Cotter-pin sander/polisher
The next time you need to sand the inside of a hole or a small radius, try this trick. Slip a piece of sandpaper or steel wool through the two halves of a large cotter pin (at the rounded end) so the abrasive extends about 1" beyond each side of the pin. Chuck the pin into your portable drill or drill press and go to work.
Quicker replacement of palm/pad sander sheets
Cut a sheet of plywood that's the same overall size and thickness as the pad on your sander. Wrap your new sheet of sandpaper around the block and crease both ends of he paper nicely over the block before installing it on your sander.
Machine sanding resinous woods
Woods such as pine, cypress, fir, hemlock and others often have large pockets of resin that will quickly clog sandpaper. When sanding these woods, pay close attention to the amount of pressure that's required to remove the stock. The need for excessive pressure usually means the sandpaper is loading-up ... a problem which could lead to burning and scorching. When this occurs, it's time to clear your sandpaper with an abrasive cleaning stick ... or change it.
Open versus closed-coat abrasives
CLOSED COAT abrasives offer a solid coat of abrasive materials. As a result, they provide more cutting surface and a faster cutting action than open coat abrasives. This makes them better for hand-sanding operations and is why they "load-up" rapidly when used for power sanding.

OPEN COAT abrasives have abrasive materials covering 50% to 70% of the backing surface. This makes them better suited for machine sanding and for working resinous or "gummy" materials, since they're far less likely to "load-up" than their closed-coat counterparts.

Quick, easy sanding of multiple small pieces
The next time you have lots of small, identical workpieces to sand for a "production job", think like a manufacturer. Most manufacturing operations use abrasive tumbling machines to remove burrs from small pieces. Chances are, you have the makings for such a machine in your laundry room...called a "clothes dryer".

Find a soft, plastic container that contained margarine, lard or similar products. The 5-lb size is a good choice. Line the inside of your container with sandpaper, double-stick taped or glued into position. Place your small pieces inside the container and snap the top into position.

Toss the container into the clothes dryer, along with a blanket or several heavy towels. Set the dryer on a "no-heat" setting, turn it on and let it do the work for you. Remove it frequently to check on your progress.

Make-it-yourself round sanding block
When you need to hand-sand concave surfaces, use a short length of auto heater or radiator hose. Just slit the hose down its length on one side, insert the ends of your sandpaper into the slit and go to work.
Make-it-yourself round-nose sander
Sometimes, you need a hemispherical-shaped sander for getting into rounded areas of a project. This one can be made quite easily with a 3-1/2" long by 3/8" diameter carriage bolt, a couple of nuts and washers, a 1/2" thick wooden disc, a child's sponge rubber-filled ball cut in half and a piece of lightweight sandpaper cut into a disc with pie-shaped cuts made around the edges. Make the wooden disc the same diameter as the diameter of your ball. Drill a 3/8" hole in the center and attach the 3/8" bolt to the disc with the washers & nuts. Cut off the bolt head. Next, use hot melt glue to bond the hemispherical ball to the disc and allow to dry. Stretch your sandpaper over the ball with the pie-shaped cuts overlapping. Affix it to the edges of the wooden disc with staples or a hose clamp. Chuck the end of the 3/8" bolt into your portable drill or drill press and go to work.
Stop "Crossover" When Sanding Mitered Joints
When sanding mitered corners, it's difficult not to cross over the miter line, causing unsightly cross-grain scratches that can be difficult to remove.

To solve this, stretch a piece of thin brass shim stock (available at commercial tool supply houses, auto parts stores and some home centers) tightly along the diagonal miter line and attach it temporarily with duct tape. Keep the tape off the top surface of the shim stock. Then, just sand up to and over the top of the shim stock, protecting the opposing side. Repeat for each side of your corner.

Thin sanding sticks get into tight spots
Attach sandpaper to thin strips of scrap paneling or plywood with double stick carpet tape to create sanding sticks that will get into narrow, tight spots.
Holding small, thin workpieces for sanding
Start by laying a full sheet of 80-grit sandpaper (grit-side-up) on your benchtop. Then, lay your workpiece on top of this sheet. Now, use a 120-grit (or finer) sheet to sand the opposing surface of your small workpiece. The coarser sheet will keep your workpiece from sliding while you sand it with the finer sheet.
The properties of sanding materials
FLINT: Inexpensive, medium hard and light tan or off-white in color. Recommended only for rough work such as paint removal, etc. Not recommended for fine finish sanding. Used primarily for soft woods.

ALUMINUM OXIDE: Moderately priced, second in hardness to Silicon carbide and usually brown in color. Recommended for general purpose sanding of woods and metals.

GARNET: Moderately priced and not as hard as Aluminum Oxide. Very brittle, which makes it self-sharpening and fairly long-lasting. Usually reddish in color. One of the best choices for woodworking.

SILICON CARBIDE: Expensive, very hard, most often blue-black in color. Well suited to working with all types of metals and for smoothing finishes on woodworking projects.

EMERY: Inexpensive, medium hard, black in color. Recommended primarily for metal-working.

CROCUS: Moderately priced, very soft, bright red color. Usually ground to a fine powder and used primarily for metal-working.

Pencil lines help ensure even sanding
When machine sanding large surface areas, it can often be difficult to tell which areas have been sanded and which have not. You can solve thisproblem by drawing zig-zag pencil lines across the surface to be sanded. Draw your lines LIGHTLY. Don't press too hard. Then, sand the surface until all the lines disappear.
Right-angle edge sanding block
If you must hand-sand the edge of a workpiece and want to be certain your edge is at a 90-degree angle to the surface, make a right angle sanding block out of two pieces of 3/4" stock....about 6" to 12" long. Screw your two pieces of stock together, being certain they're at a right angle. Wrap your sandpaper tightly around one of the pieces (just once...NOT multiple thicknesses) and hold the other piece tightly against your workpiece SURFACE. Your sanded edge should be at a perfect right angle.
Stopping sandpaper "loading"
If you're hand sanding a surface that has a light finish on it and notice that your sandpaper keeps loading-up with resins or finish, solve this problem by sprinkling a light coating of pumice-stone powder on the surface and you'll find that your sandpaper will last longer and cut faster.
Form-fitting sanding block for odd shapes and lathe turnings
Make a sanding block from 1/2" to 3/4" thick rubbing felt that's usually available at woodworking stores, paint stores and similar locations. Thin sandpaper sheets, wrapped around the block will usually conform to your shape quite easily.
Rubber Cleaning Sticks extend the life of abrasives
If you're doing a lot of power sanding, chances are, your abrasives are probably "loading-up" a lot. This is especially true if you're sanding resinous woods like pine...and/or using a lot of fine sandpaper. Instead of replacing your disk, drum or belt when it loses its efficiency, try using an Abrasive Cleaning Stick. These special rubber sticks are made to clean sawdust, resins and similar materials out of your disks, drums and belts...and will extend the usable life of your abrasive materials by up to 400%.

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