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  • Back(er) Story

    Over the years writing these sanding supply blogs, we have spent a pretty fair amount of time discussing the merits of different abrasives, the science behind grit choice, and even the variety of sanding disks, sanding beltssheetsand rolls that constitute sanding supplies as a group. But we have only really just touched on the backers that keep all the abrasives working together. There are a surprising number of backing materials that sanding products are made from, and various choices within each material. So let's examine the story "behind" your sanding supplies.

    Since sandpaper is virtually a generic term for all sanding supplies, we can logically start with paper backing. Paper is the most common material used as a backer because it is the least expensive and easiest to manufacture. But even the "simple" paper comes in 6 different weights (thicknesses) designated A through F from lightest to heaviest. Paper is a fine backer for many sanding tasks, but falls apart rapidly if wetted, and does not handle high stress or temperature well.

    Cloth is the second most common backer used. It may be cotton, polyester or rayon, and it too is designated by weight. But just to make thing difficult, cloth ratings are J,X,Y,T and M from light to heavy! Cloth is typically used for sanding belts or in roll form for drum sanders. The stresses and heat involved in belt sanding require a more sturdy backer than paper. From hand-held belt sanders to wide belt sanders, pretty much all of the belts are cloth. Cloth backers are a bit more water resistant than paper, but for wet sanding, other choices are made for the backer.

    Wet sanding uses water or other liquid lubricants to create a "slurry" that aids in the smoothing of a surface. It is typically used as a finish sanding technique for metals, plastics, fiberglass and the like, but we have also had good results using the technique on wood. Obviously, the backing for wet/dry sanding supplies would need to be waterproof. Plastic films, such as mylar, are common as a rubber impregnated layers of paper.

    Knowing the backers available, and choosing the best one for your sanding task, can improve your results and save you time and trouble. Lighter, more flexible backers are best for sanding odd shapes like profile moldings, while very stiff backers remove material more aggressively from flat surfaces. Sanding supplies may seem simple, but there is a surprising amount of science that goes into them!

    As ever, we invite you to share your thoughts and knowledge with us by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

    And if you like these blogs, be sure to share them with friends and co-workers!






  • Not Just Disks and Sheets!

    For many people, sanding supplies are all about disks, sheets and belts, but abrasives come in many forms beyond those.

    For example, there are a number of drum type sanders on the market that require roll sandpaper of various sizes. Some brands require smooth back that is clipped onto the drum and others use hook and loop. Although these sander manufacturers sell rolls for their machines, they are not always the best value. Did you know for example, that a drum sander can use 3, 4 or 6" wide rolls interchangeably?

    Narrower rolls of paper are also available in 1-2 inch widths that are excellent for use at the lathe. Sanding a series of turned chair legs can use up a fair amount of paper rapidly, so having rolls of varying grits on hand can speed the process along quite well. Just tear off a strip you need and sand away! The narrow roll can conform quite well to beads, coves and other details

    And abrasive particles are not the last word in sanding supplies. Non-woven abrasive pads are a great option when cleaning up finishes between final coats, removing rust from cast iron table tops and smoothing fragile surfaces such as polyester castings.

    No matter the abrasive task you may have at hand, remember that what is hanging on the wall at the home center are not your only options. There are a great many varieties of supplies and should not be an afterthought. You put a lot of work into the task at hand, and your abrasives are another tool to be used. Choose the form as carefully as you would select the proper saw or router bit. It is not just about sheets, disks and belts.


    As ever, we invite you to share your thoughts and knowledge with us by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

    And if you like these blogs, be sure to share them with friends and co-workers!

  • Sandpaper Grit Chart

    No matter what sort of sanding supplies you are reaching for, the first decision you need to make is what sandpaper grit to start with. But the sizing on sandpaper grit numbers seem to be backwards. Like wire sizes, smaller numbers actually mean larger. In the case of sandpaper, this means bigger particles and more aggressive stock removal. And then, to add to the confusion, a while back manufacturers changed the numbering standards almost without bothering to mention it, or why! We are here to help sort it out for you.

    First, you need to understand that there are different agencies that decide what grits are what numbers! There is the Coated Abrasives Manufacturer's Institute (CAMI) in the US and the Federation of European Producers of Abrasives (FEPA) in Europe. For a long time, sanding supplies here in the US were labeled with the CAMI system which just used numbers. More recently, most manufacturers have switched to the FEPA system with a "P" preceding the number. But the two systems are NOT exactly the same, so an 80 grit sanding disk is NOT exactly the same as one labeled "P80". 80 grit abrasive particles average 201 microns while P80 averages 192. So P80 sandpaper is slightly more aggressive than 80 grit. Add to this that the Japanese abrasives scale is different than the other two, and the plot thickens!

    And while the rougher abrasives are pretty close if not exactly the same, at higher numbers, the differences become greater so a 400 grit CAMI falls between FEPA's P600 and P800!

    Now in truth, for most of us the difference between the CAMI and FEPA scales makes little enough difference on a day to day basis, but it is important to know about since there are times when the grit choice is important. I know that at times I have rubbed a new sheet of sandpaper on a cement floor to "break down" the grit a little bit because it was just a little too aggressive for the task at hand. So next time you are wondering if the 120 grit sanding disk in your hand actually is cutting faster than you thought it would, be sure to check the actual label or talk to your supplier,and see which standard was used for grading!

    As ever, we invite you to share your thoughts and knowledge with us by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

    And if you like these blogs, be sure to share them with friends and co-workers!

  • Profile Power Sander in Action

    After fixing the expired PSA adhesive used to make the custom power profile sanding block in the last 2Sand blog, it was time to take it for a test drive. So I turned a small walnut bowl with some suitable curves.

    I found that the power sander worked just as designed. Using my cordless drill on high speed (1600 rpm) I was able to quickly work my way from 80 grit to 220 using the Abranet 3" sanding disks I had prepared. The hook and loop pad worked great, making the sanding disk change very easy. I was impressed that the edges of the Abranet disk where I had darted them did not tend to lift even at higher speeds.

    I turned the outside of the bowl first adding a spigot to the bottom, and, of course, properly sanded the outside before clamping the bowl into the jaw chuck to hollow the inside. I'm using Abranet 3" disks here, but any hook and loop 3' sanding disk would work on this custom made power sanding block.  Of course, you can find the whatever aluminum oxide disks you want on our site!

    Once the inside was hollowed out, I went back to work sanding the inside face. My results were just as good, and I still had no issues with the sanding disk coming loose from the power sanding block. The only issue I encountered was that I back cut the lip of the bowl, and this profile could not reach inside the rim. Hmmm, maybe I need to turn a new block with a smaller diameter so that the outer edge of the sandpaper wraps around so I can reach those undercuts...

    The bowl came out quite lovely, the only area not quite as smooth as the rest is that inside lip area.

    We are always interested in your ideas, solutions and questions. Please do not hesitate to give us a shout out here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

  • 2Sand, We Have a Problem!

    Ok, time for a "mea cupla". In the previous few blogs I've been sharing how I made a custom power sanding block for use on my bowl turnings. After being gone from my shop for two weeks, I found that the adhesive on the hook I applied to my power sander block was failing. I suspect that it is because that hook material has been hanging around my shop for nearly a decade. I had bought it for some project and kept the leftovers, but then don't we all? Obviously it would not do as is.

    So epoxy is usually my go-to for adhesion issues. I figured if I could keep the outer edges in place, the rest would be fine. So I mixed up a small amount of epoxy. Pro Tip: for small amounts, the bottom of a soda can is an excellent mixing bowl. The cans are free and can still be recycled after mixing. Beats cutting a scrap of ply or something.

    I spread a thin layer of the epoxy around the block where the hook ends, working it under the edge that had lifted, and making sure I got a bead all the way around the edge. I was very careful not to get any more than I had to into the hooks themselves. After applied, I again used painter's tape to hold it all down as it cured. Unlike air dry glues, epoxy cures from a reaction between the two components, so being firmly taped did not effect the dry time.

    Once fully cured, the hook seems to be totally secure and ready for work. In the next blog I'll show you how it works in action on a turning.

    We always encourage your input, so please feel free to comment here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

  • Getting Fit Pt. 3

    If you have followed along through parts 1 and 2, we have a dome shaped power sanding block that is now covered with a piece of hook material ready to hang on to your sanding disks.

    We also have a plywood template for cutting the proper sized darts in our sanding disks so that they too will conform to the desired shape. Now I have gone through a few extra steps to use hook and loop disks for this power sander, but if you want to use PSA disks, just skip the steps in the last post and apply the disks directly onto the block, the shape of the disk won't change.

    Besides being easier to changes grits with, the hook and loop system provides just a little flexibility to the sanding surface, much as a layer of foam would.

    Personally, I really like the Abranet disks for this project. Being an open mesh rather than a more solid backer, they lay more flat and follow the contours better.

    Cutting the disks is easier than cutting the PSA hook material was, although it will dull your knife very quickly. The process is otherwise the same, clamp the template over the disk and cut the darts from the center outwards. Be careful no to mis-align the disk and template as you turn them to cut the section covered by the clamp.

    Now the disk just gets pressed onto the power sanding block. One odd trait of hook and loop is that they actually tend to engage each othe more thoroughly as they rub together. Take advantage of this by rubbing your thumbs back and forth around the disk to seat it.

    Pit is hard to see from the photos, but I also positioned the sanding disk so that the seams between the sections are staggered with the seams in the hook material. This makes it less likely that a catch in on of the seams will also peel up the hook.

    So there it is. That is the process I used to form disks to this profile. Use the techniques in part one for measuring the circumferences and you can do the same for a wide range of convex and even concave shapes!

    Please feel free to contact us with suggestions for information or how-to articles you would like to see. Feel free to contact us by commenting on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

  • Getting Fit Part 2

    Continuing our efforts from the previous blog, we have a fan-like drawing stuck on a piece of 1/4" ply to use as our template. Now we need to cut it out so it can be used as a template to cut some hook material for our power sanding block and, ultimately, the loop backed disks.

    I started by drilling 1/8" holes at the point of each 'dart' that needs to be cut. This just makes it easier and cleaner when cutting up to the point. I cut the circle out on the band saw and then cut all the darts to finish the cutting template.

    Next, I clamped the template to my bench with my PSA backed hook material trapped in between. Again, I cut around the circle, then notched out the darts. Use a fresh blade in whatever knife you are using, and cut firmly to obtain clean cuts. The clamped parts will need to be rotated, to get under the clamp, so be careful not to mis-align the template and material as you do.

    With the hook part cut, it can be applied to the hemisphere. Getting the center of the hook properly located on the apex of the dome is important, so take the time to get it right. Start sticking the hook down in the center and work opposite 'legs' down from center out. Be careful to press them flat, but do not try to stretch the hook tight by pulling, the tension caused will tend to pull the legs loose over time. (Don't ask how I know this!)

    PSA adhesives are generally formulated to set in 24 hours, so I taped all the legs tight  on the block and left it to set. Like most things in woodworking, patienIn the meantime, please feel free to comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.comce is key. So while you are waiting for the glue to set and for the next blog, please feel free to comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

  • Getting Fit

    Nope, this is NOT about weight loss, exercising or New Year's resolutions. It IS about fitting sanding disks to odd shaped power sanding blocks. In a previous blog, I posted links to a couple of videos showing how to fashion your own power sanding mandrels. These were all basically flat mandrels, but have inspired me to try my hand at creating custom shaped power sandal blocks on the lathe. We will be posting a new video covering all of this on our YouTube channel soon.

    The first lesson I learned from this process is that circular sanding disks do not lay flat on hemispherical surfaces! I needed a way to figure out how to "dart" the disk to fit best on the domed surface of the block.

    I began by drawing lines from the center of the dome 1-1/2" down to mark out the final position of the disk edge. With four of these lines, I was able to measure the actual circumference of the dome where the disk would end up. This one measured 8-9/16". Of course, the disk circumference is about 9-7/16", So I needed to cut away several "V" sections from the disk, totaling 7/8" I created a drawing representing this, and pasted it to a scrap of plywood.

    The next step will be to cut this template out and use it to cut a piece of PSA hook material to mount on the block. The template will also be used to cut the "darts" in my 3" hook and loop disks to fit. So far, I'm pleased with the results of all this. Stay tuned to see how this all works out, and if you want to try this on your own, we will be posting a full video once I work out all the bugs!

    In the meantime, please feel free to comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

  • Resolved:

    2015 is upon us, and 2014 is rapidly drawing to a close. This has been an exciting year for us, with moves and lots of other changes. We are looking forward to 2015 and have noticed a few things that we want to improve upon for the new year:

    First and foremost, with all of the changes, we have to admit that the blog has been a bit lackluster. Looking back through the archives, we noticed a distinct lack of the sort of how-to based posts we used to run. They are fun to do and popular with readers, so we resolve to do more of these in the coming year!
    With the physical store, we are looking at adding some new product lines that we think will complement our current offering nicely. Any suggestions those of you nearby the store would like to suggest will be given due attention.
    Lastly, we are known for our customer service, and we resolve to not lose that reputation. Nothing that we do is more important to us than keeping you happy. We know full well that you have many options for buying sanding supplies, and we appreciate that you buy from us!

    So stay tuned to this blog in the coming months, we are planning to start the new year with some useful turning projects that will be helpful for finish sanding you might need to do in the future. And please feel free to contact us with suggestions for information or how-to articles you would like to see. Feel free to contact us by commenting on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

  • Save Steps and Time

    While I generally prefer hook and loop backed sanding disks for their quick change convenience as I work through the grits, there are times when PSA disks are preferable. One of these cases is when power sanding bowls on the lathe using small disks. Depending on the shape of the vessel being sanded, it can be quite strenuous, with a lot of heat being generated with both the work and the pad spinning. Cloth backed disks are my choice for tasks like this since they tend to be more durable than paper backed and are less prone to being torn off when engaging the work at an odd angle.

    Woodturners of Southwest Missouri

    The issue with PSA of course, is that the disks are pretty impossible to re-use. You can buy multiple mandrels and keep each outfitted with a different grit, but even then, you need to chuck and un-chuck each mandrel as you switch pads. It would be a real time saver if you could use a quick change hex shank system like with driver bits. Well, you can!

    Kevin Krull

    I found several videos online from various people on YouTube describing ways to turn your own mandrels using longer hex shank bits. The lathe allows for making the body for whatever size pad you want to use, (we sell 1", 2" and 3" PSA disks) and even center drill the hole for inserting the hex shank. When combined with a quick change holder, your drill-driver can be used for power sanding and you can change from one grit to another nearly instantly.

    Robbie the Woodturner

    I love YouTube for all the information there as well as the inspiration! These videos have given me some ideas for other turned pad holders. I feel a video series coming on, stay tuned!

    Be sure to send along your questions, suggestions and ideas, we always want to hear from you. You can comment on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

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