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  • Sanding Belt Block Sander?

    BB Sander FinishedSanding blocks come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials. In past issues of this blog we have shown methods for making custom sanding blocks from auto body filler to packing foam to a deck of playing cards. One type I have seen in use in most every shop I have been in consists of a wood block inside a sanding belt.

     

    Typically, these are pretty crude, just one or two pieces of wood cut to fit inside the belt, and some sort of wedge pressed in to tighten the fit. I have made and used these myself, but they rarely worked as well as desired. Mostly the problem stems from maintaining a tight fit. Sanding belts are made from a loop of cloth backed sand paper joined to itself with special tape forming a belt. So even belts made together as one size vary slightly in actual inside measurement. Sanding belts also do stretch over time and with use which is why all belt sanders have spring-loaded tensioning devices.

     

    BB Sander Pieces

    Ideally, the block to fit inside a sanding belt should also have a tensioning system, and we will show you how to do this with inexpensive materials. Our "sanding belt block sander" starts with a piece of 3/4" plywood or MDF, ripped to the width of the belt and cross cut to be about 1/2" shorter than the inside of the belt. This block is then cut in half to accept the tensioning system.

     

    I have made these before with a couple of bolts between the sanding block halves to adjust the overall length, but while it was an improvement over wedges, it was less than optimal. This design will use 3/8" aluminum rods with springs to keep the sanding belt under tension. The rods keep the block halves aligned and the springs apply tension.

     

    BB Sander DrillStart by marking the block halves on the mating faces, and drill two shallow 1/2" holes in each face. This step is really the only one that requires any accuracy, you need to insure that the holes line up as precisely as possible. Once the 1/2" holes are drilled, a 3/8" bit is used to drill deeper holes centered on the 1/2" ones, giving you 3/8" holes with a 1/2" counter bore.

     

    In Part 2, we will assemble the sanding block and cover details of getting the fit right. As always, we are interested in your thoughts and opinions of the information we provide. You may comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com

  • Abrasive Choices

    GritsWhile it might seem simple at first glance, choosing the proper sanding supplies for your application can actually be fairly complex. You need to decide the grits you will need, the backer that will perform best and even the type of abrasive used (usually a mineral) needs to be determined.

    In previous blog posts we have discussed grit standards used in classifying sanding supplies, the different types of backers available, and have posted several times on getting the best results with whatever sandpaper you are using. But a question came up recently about choosing the abrasive material in regard to the specific task at hand.

     

    uvs150615-001The issue was if the material being sanded should be a factor in the mineral used as the abrasive. For example, should a body shop finishing a car choose a different type of grit than a woodworker or someone restoring a fiberglass boat? And that discussion brought up the question of the finish desired. We know that wood being sanded in preparation for paint finishes with a different grit than wood to be stained. But should these choices of finish also help determine the mineral abrasive used as well?

     

    It turns out that the abrasive material that makes up your sandpaper can affect the sheen of finishes in wood and the surface of unfinished materials. For example, in our "Quality" 2Sand.com  blog of August 2012, we explained how Garnet is relatively soft and is often favored by fine furniture makers. Aluminum Oxide is much harder. The particals tend to have very sharp edges, so they create well defined peaks and valleys in the scratch pattern. These sharp edges reflect light poorly making for a low sheen on the surface.

    80 Grit 150 Grit 220 Grit

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Silicon Carbide, on the other hand, tends toward less angular particles so the peaks and valleys created are different, with sharp peaks and rounded valleys. This reflects more light, creating a finish with more gloss. Buffing compounds are often used as a final sanding finish reducing the sharpness of the peaks even more.

    Wet sanding is commonly used when working in metals, fiberglass, glass and plastics. It is less common in woodworking, but in any case, wet sanding requires using sanding sheets or sanding belts fabricated to stand up when wet. This will often limit your abrasive material choices. Garnet, for example, is virtually never available in a wet/dry sandpaper.

    We are really interested to hear your experiences and preferences when it comes to how you choose the sandpaper, sanding belts sanding disks or sanding rolls for the types of work you do. Feel free to share with us by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com

     

  • Several Sizes (of Sanding Belts) Don't Fit All

    Fortunately for our industry (not to mention our sanity) most commercial belt and drum sanders have become standardized so that they all take belts of standard sizes. But there are still a great many older sanders out there that require the odd sized belt. In addition, belt sanding is not exclusive to woodworking, and there are many sanders being used around the country that may use odd sized sanding belts which would be wildly expensive and difficult to replace. And some sanders, old and new, actually use sanding belts as part of their conveyor belt feed system.

    IMG_2786So, how does one source a custom sized sanding belt when needed? Well, of course, we at 2Sand.com, can help. We can make custom sanding belts for you from 5” to 700” long,  3/8” to 54” wide, and in a variety of sanding grits and types of sanding abrasives. From the 2sand.com home page, click on the “Custom” button all the way over on the right of the header. This will take you to a page that explains everything you need to know to get your free quote to meet your specific needs.

    Need an extra long 3/4” wide belt for that gun stock sander? We got you covered. Got a great old stroke sander in the shop that needs a specific size? No need to replace a perfectly working sander just because it is non-standard. You can buy a LOT of custom sized sanding belts for the cost of buying, shipping and installing a new sander; and let's face it, most new sanders can’t compete with a well maintained piece of “old iron”.

    IMG_2785Nor are you limited to just custom belts. Oversized sanding rolls, and even sanding sheets, can be made to your order. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is just a call away at 800-516-7621. Be sure to read through our custom page. It explains what your options are and how to determine the size sanding material you need to order.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. We want to hear what you think about these projects we do, clever hacks you want to share, or whatever is on your mind. You can comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com And if you like these blogs, be sure to share them with friends and co-workers!

  • A Flap Over Sanding- Pt. 2

    Completed

    While contemplating new ways to use the roll sandpaper we keep on hand for lathe work, we hit on the idea of making our own flap sanding wheels. In Part 1 of this series, we showed you how to layout and make the disk. In this post, we can finish it up.

    With the disk cut out, holes drilled and slots cut, the next step was to figure out how to hold the sanding strips securely while allowing for reasonably easy paper changes. Step one was to bevel all of the hole edges top and bottom with a countersink.

    Bevel Holes

     

    Really, the most difficult part of the design was to find the right method for holding the sandpaper. Since the holes are 3/8" and the roll sandpaper takes up space in the hole, 3/8" plugs were out, but 1/4" plugs were too small. 5/16" plugs might have been ideal, but a 5/16" plug cutter is not found in most shops. After much trial and error, the simplest solution was the best: Square pegs in the round holes!

     

    Inserting5/16" strips of scrap wood fit snugly enough to hold the sanding strips during use, but were fast and east to insert and remove! The square stock was ripped on the table saw then cross cut with a handsaw to about 3/4". I cut 4 inch long strips from the roll sandpaper, folded each in half around one of the square "pegs", and slipped this into one of the holes on the flap sanding disk. Look closely at the photo here and you can see that the square is positioned so that one of the corner points is aligned with the slot in the outer rim of the disk. This keeps things from rotating and provides the right amount of friction. You may need to make your square strips a little smaller or larger depending on the drill used, backer on the paper and such.

    Completed in DrillAll in all, you should find this a fun and very useful idea for around the shop. In the next post, we will explore some of that! We have even already gotten suggestions for uses we did not have in mind when we designed it!

    Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. We want to hear what you think about these projects we do, clever hacks you want to share, or whatever is on your mind. You can comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com And if you like these blogs, be sure to share them with friends and co-workers!

     

  • A Flap Over Sanding - Pt 1

    Completed in DrillIn a previous sanding supplies blog, we talked about how "sandpaper" is not just sheets and disks; that got me thinking about the 1" wide rolls, and how they can be used to solve finishing issues around the shop.

    Having just finished our series on making custom profile power sanding tools, I came up with the flap sander shown here. It works with hex shank quick-change adapters for the drill, is simple and inexpensive to make, and the flaps can be changed out quickly when needed.

    Disk TemplateThe body is a 4 inch disk of 3/4" plywood, cut out on the drill press using a circle cutter. This allows for making the disk whatever size wanted with a 1/4" hole perfectly centered on the circle. A second circle is scribed 3/8" in from the perimeter and the circle is divided into 22.5 degree segments as shown.

    Sixteen 3/8" diameter through holes are drilled as the anchor points for the sanding strips, and then slots are cut from the perimeter to the center of each hole at the band saw. These slots need to be just wide enough for two layers of the roll material.

    ShaftsA set of inexpensive hex-shank driver bits from the hardware store provide the mandrel that connects to the drill. The Phillips point is ground off and the shaft pressed (read hammered) into the center hole of the disk.

    Several different concepts were attempted for securing the strips of sanding material into the hub before hitting on an idea that was both simple and easy. We will cover that in the next edition of the 2Sand.com blog. Meanwhile, you can order your roll sandpaper now and it will be in your hands when you are ready to complete your flap sander!

    Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. We want to hear what you think about these projects we do, clever hacks you want to share, or whatever is on your mind. You can comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com And if you like these blogs, be sure to share them with friends and co-workers!

  • 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. -2Sand.com

    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. -2Sand.com

    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. -2Sand.com

    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.com

  • 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. -2Sand.com

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