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  • Sandpaper, Abrasives, and Sander History

    Sandpaper and Abrasive Sheets

    While "sandpaper" is the generic term for abrasive sheets, it obviously does not describe all the various types of sanding supplies available! Sanding sheets may be paper, cloth, plastic film, fiber (similar to fiberglass) and now even mesh, as in Mirka's Abranet products.

    Sandpaper Sheets Sandpaper Sheets

    The thickness (or "weight") of the paper backing is rated on a scale A through F, with A grade being the lightest. Cloth backing is rated J, X, Y, T and M with J the lightest.

    When choosing an abrasive sheet, these ratings help you figure out what backing will best suit your needs. For sanding flat surfaces, a stiffer backing will help prevent digging in, or rounding over the edges, while a lightweight backer should be chosen to wrap around a profile sanding block to smooth moldings.

    While it is important to choose the right sheet for the job, if you find yourself with the wrong backer for the task at hand, here are two tips:

    1) Lightweight sanding sheets can be bonded to a heavier backer to improve it's performance and durability sanding flat surfaces.

    2) Heavier backers can be "broken down" and made more flexible by rolling and unrolling the sheet into a tight tube shape. The many fine creases created will make it more flexible.

    History of Sanders

    Prior to the advent of random orbit sanders (read sanding discs), sandpaper was primarily sold in rectangular sheets, with 9 x 11" as the standard size. Why does this matter? Well, when electric sanders became available, they typically came in two sizes: half sheet sanders and quarter sheet sanders.

    The great big silver Porter-Cable sander of old, the 505 was a half sheet sander.

    Porter Cable 505 Sander Porter Cable 505 Sander

    and the Porter-Cable 330 was a quarter sheet sander.

    Porter Cable 330 Sander Porter Cable 330 Sander

    Knowing that these sanders were half or quarter, determined the pad size and that you could get two or four usable pieces of sandpaper for your sander from each full sheet purchased.

    Before you decide this info is no longer important, bear in mind that pad sanders like these still hold a place in many professional shops. When used properly, they excel at sanding door panels and can get much further into the corners than any rotary sander can.

    Admittedly, this may or may not be usable info for you personally, but we believe that the more you know, the better decisions you can make.

  • Easy Hole Sanding

    Hole Sander BeautyOver the years of this blog, we have shared a number of shop-built sanding devices including sanders for the lathe, and various rotary sanders for drills such as our flap sander that uses sandpaper rolls. This month, we are dealing with how to get your sanding supplies inside various-sized holes.


    Recently I was making pierced gallery rails on my CNC. The rails came out quite well, but I needed an efficient method for sanding inside all of the circles in the rails. My first thought was one of the drum sanders from my set, but they were too big. The obvious solution was to wrap sandpaper around an appropriately sized dowel. I could have used PSA backed sandpaper or double-face taped the sandpaper to the dowel, but these options are prone to heat failure and make changing grits too time consuming.

    Hole Sander Cut



    The solution was to wrap a piece of sandpaper roll around the dowel after slipping it through a slot cut in the end of the dowel. This allows you to select a dowel slightly smaller than the hole to be sanded and cut a slot across one end as long as the roll sandpaper is wide.



    Hole Sander Wrap

    I have found that how you wrap the sandpaper roll section matters. Slip the sandpaper into the slot with 1/4-1/2" exposed through one side, and the remainder out the other, about 1-1/2 turns around the dowel. The long end wraps over the short end, helping to keep the sandpaper roll held in the slot.

    Now your drill can rapidly and cleanly sand the inside of various-sized holes. I have found that with the proper length of sandpaper roll (this is where the 1-1/2 wraps around the dowel comes from) you can even move from hole to hole without stopping the drill or needing to hold the wrap to insert it.

    As ever, we encourage your comments and ideas. You can comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter account.

  • 5 Sandpaper Hacks for Spring Gardening

    Spring is finally here, and with the warmer weather my mind turns to gardening. Early spring is a prime time to get your tools ready and your seedlings started – and on their way to the beautiful plants you will enjoy this summer. So what better tool is there to get your spring gardening going than sandpaper? Yes, that’s right, sandpaper. Here are my five favorite sandpaper-inspired spring gardening hacks:

    Remove rust from toolsRemove rust from tools. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a few tools that are showing a bit of rust after sitting all winter. Not to worry - I find that 80-grit sandpaper is coarse enough to remove a light coat of rust from tools like spades, hoes and trowels. Just work methodically from the center toward the edges, using light pressure until the rust is gone. If you have a heavier amount of rust to remove, you may need to use a wire brush before applying sandpaper. And don’t forget to protect the cleaned tool buy rubbing it with a light machine oil when you are done.

    Remove burrs from clipper blades. Disassemble the clippers so that the blades can be worked separately. Secure a piece of 320-grit sandpaper to your work surface then place the back side of one clipper blade against the sandpaper and work in a circular motion until all burrs are removed; repeat with the second blade. Wipe clean, apply a light machine oil and reassemble.

    Revive handles. This one may seem a bit obvious, but it’s often overlooked. A few minutes spent sanding splinters and peeling paint from handles can make them much more comfortable – and safe – to use. Remember to protect any bare wood when you are done!

    Scarify seeds with sandpaper


    Give seeds a head start. Some seeds, like nasturtiums, peas, and beans, have a thick coating that makes them harder to germinate. One method of speeding up germination is a process called scarification, and sandpaper is an excellent tool for this. Simply put 6-10 seeds on a piece of sandpaper and place a second piece on top. Then rub the seeds between the two pieces of sandpaper for a few seconds. Now your seeds are ready to be planted!



    Deter slugs with sandpaperProtect your babies! Slugs are a bane in any garden, but they are especially dangerous to tender new plants and shoots. Slugs have tender bellies and won’t crawl across sandpaper, so it’s a great slug deterrent! The easiest way to do this is to create a collar of sandpaper by cutting a slit to the center of an orbital sander disc. Slide the collar over the plant stem and say goodbye to slugs eating your baby plants!

    The great thing about each of these tips is that they can all be done with USED sandpaper. Yup – you don’t have to dip into your stash of the good stuff – just save up your old sandpaper and get one more use out of it. It’s good for the environment – and your garden too!

    I hope you find these garden sandpaper hacks as useful as I do. Please reach out with comments below or on Facebook. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel too!

  • Plan for Success - Sanding Supplies ETA

    We’ve all heard the phrase, "timing is everything," and while we here at 2Sand.com think timing is certainly important, we don’t believe ‘everything’ starts and ends with timing. When it comes to the success of projects, we tend to agree with President Dwight D. Eisenhower when he said “planning is everything.” Without planning, even the simplest of tasks can go awry and the ability to put perfect timing into play is minimal.

    Estimate Shipping and Tax

    Planning allows you to look into the future, decide how that future will look, and then take action today to make it happen. It is often the source of inspiration that pushes you to innovate, by creating new solutions to make your vision of tomorrow a reality. Planning also gives you the ability to manage change, determine timing, and even practice perfect timing to make certain that events occur when you want them to happen: things like getting your sanding supplies when you need them.

    2Sand.com recently launched a new feature in your shopping cart and checkout to help you manage your sanding product needs and estimate when you will receive your order. For FedEx and UPS shipping options, we now provide shipping cost AND an estimate of when you should expect delivery based on your location and shipping method selected. This new estimation feature not only takes into consideration shipping time, but also lead, packaging, and handling times, giving you a true idea of when your sanding discs, sandpaper rolls, and sanding belts should be at your door.

    Go ahead and try it – go shopping for the sanding supplies you need, then complete the Country, State/Province and Zip/Postal Code information in the Estimate Shipping and Tax box below your products. Click the Get a Quote button and – voila! Your shipping options, delivery estimates and cost are all laid out for you.

    We hope you find this new feature to be as handy as we do and make it part of your plan for success in your shop!

  • Do Not Try This At Home

    Over the years, we have written several blog posts about the history of sanding and the technical details about sanding supplies. For the Holidays this year, we thought we might share some sandpaper fails we have seen during our surfing. If it gives you a chuckle, consider it our gift to you.

    Windshield 2Now, we here at 2Sand.com know that you are smart people. We know this because you buy your sanding supplies from us! We are quite aware that you do not believe everything you read, especially on the internet, but we have found that trouble can also lay in not reading things carefully! For example, several sources on the internet say that windshield wipers can be "restored" or "renewed" using sandpaper! The thought is to sand the edge of the wiper to remove  dirt and nicks in the rubber. They then go on to recommend a bit of petroleum jelly on the blades.



    windshieldI am not sure that this tip would work at all, since wiper blades often fail from UV damage, and I would NEVER want to spread a thin layer of petroleum jelly on my windshield; but it seems that some folks did not read the entire tip and put sandpaper UNDER their wiper blades! We all know that glass is very tough, but aluminum oxide will cut glass like a diamond.






    TattooAnother internet gem was a question on removing tattoos! Yup, some genius actually asked if sandpaper can be used to remove regrets! The answer, of course is YES, sandpaper CAN remove a tattoo, but you REALLY do not want to do it this way! Dermabrasion is really best left to the medical professionals. I wonder if they were planning to try random orbit sanding or a belt sander? Which grit would be best to start with? I think you would need to use a wet/dry sandpaper at any rate.

    These are just a few small but scary glimpses into human folly that we came across during the last year, and we thought sharing them around the Holidays might make you smile. You are smarter than this, you know that ordering your sanding supplies from 2Sand.com is fast and economical, especially when you log in and use our website to help you track your orders.  Order history allows you to see usage rate and reorder your favorite supplies quickly.

    Happy Holidays from all of us Here at 2Sand.com Please Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel

  • 2 Ways to Instruct


    Tape FailIf you think about it, there are two basic methods of sharing "how-to" information with others. One is teaching from the front of the class, or the "I am an expert in this and will be sharing my expertise with you" method. The other is teaching from within the class, or "I have an idea, let's see how it works together" approach.

    Here in the 2Sand.com blog, we have done both. For example, we certainly used the "teach from the front" method when discussing subjects such as sanding belt shelf life or why your choice of abrasive material matters. At other times we embarked on sanding projects not knowing if they would work at all, but inviting you to follow along as we tried it out as we have done with our flap sander and power profile sanding projects.


    Inside SandingBoth of these teaching styles are legitimate and have their place, but I have to admit to a personal preference for the less formal teaching from within method. I like sharing both the successes and occasional failures with the reader. I think it tends to spur more creative thinking within the audience, and it tends to encourage people to share their ideas and thoughts more as well.




    In UseAnd in some rare cases, the two methods of instruction actually emerge side by side. Our Sanding Storage Center series published a few years back began life as a study in how best to store sanding supplies when not in use, and evolved into a much larger project, that of building a downdraft sanding table with customized storage for belts, discs and sheets of sandpaper.

    At any rate, we fully intend to continue using both methods of teaching to bring you as much useful information on sanding and sanding supplies as we can, and we love to hear from you with any ideas or comments that our posts might inspire. You can comment here on this blog, on our Facebook Page or on Twitter. -2Sand.com

  • Sanding on the Lathe

    Someone made a comment to me recently that inspired this post: He said that "A lathe is a rotary tool looking for an application". Now, we all know that it is highly useful for turning wood and other materials in the traditional sense, but his looking at it like a "moto-tool" rather than strictly as a tool for shaping wood was inspiring.

    2015-10-03 09.04.06I was talking with Mike Meredith of Doctor's Woodshop. He makes an excellent line of friction finishes specifically for the lathe. As part of his demonstration, he showed me a pretty slick sanding head he made for his lathe designed to sand rounded parts. It is a pretty simple turned disk with self adhesive hook material applied to the face. On this, he can apply a hook and loop sanding disc directly, or a sanding pad, or even a couple of sanding pads on top of which he then adds a hook and loop sanding disc.

    This allows him to create a powered sanding pad with exactly the amount of "give" that he wants for the sanding to be done, anything from a rigid sanding pad to a very soft one that will conform to even fairly tightly curved parts. Obviously, the sanding disc being used must be flexible enough to mold to the part along with the built up padding, and we discussed how Abranet sanding discs are ideal for this application.

    CircleNow regular readers of this blog will recall that we published a series on building a 10" disc sanding station for your lathe, but Mike's idea went in a different direction. and then I came across an article in the Feb 2014 issue of Woodworker's Journal Magazine featuring an master woodwind maker, Tim Cranmore. The one page article has a photo of Tim sanding a part on what is obviously a shop-built sanding drum powered by his lathe.

    WWJ Lathe SandingI am always struck by the creativity of trades people when they encounter a specific problem that needs a solution. Mike and Tim both pointed me in new ways of looking at the lathe as a power-head as much as a turning tool, reinforcing the "Sandpaper Mash Up" concept that has been discussed in this blog before. So I invite you to share your creative uses of "a rotary tool looking for an application" Share your by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter feed. -2Sand.com

  • Cranial Download - Fabrication Details

    Mission Plans 9_0004These days, my shop consists of one person, me, and since I do all the design work as well, passing along details on construction and finish is not an issue. Not that this means I don't still screw things up, far from it, but thinking on this reminds me of my days working in shops as an employee.

    One of the real issues encountered all the time in just about every shop was getting ALL of the info needed for the job from those who created the idea, to those who ultimately had to build it (An old boss of mine referred to this as a "Cranial Download"). This is no easy task, and I think very few companies have found a great solution. Sure, prints and drawings can show dimensions, shapes, hole locations and such, but what about all the rest? There are a myriad of details that may have been thought of during the design and drafting that rarely make it out to the shop floor, and this is especially true of sanding and finishing details.

    In UseI have seen cut lists that reference edge banding; "EB 2s 1L" means that both short edges and one long edge of a part gets banded. But do you also pass along such info for sanding?  Or how you envisioned the sanding and surface prep being done?  Does your bench person know that the piece being made is supposed to be "rustic" and exactly what that means in your mind?

    Most companies do have standards for what grit to sand a part to for paint grade or staining, and that is helpful, but often for custom work, the shop floor needs more info. Did you envision edges being rounded by a belt sander to look more handmade? Will the part be "distressed" after finishing by block sanding at corners? If you do not pass that info along, there is no reason for the shop person not to use a router and bit.

    100_1726Passing details along with the job as it flows through your plant is a challenge. Share your solutions with us, we would love to hear the creative ways you have solved this issue. You can comment here on the blog, on our Facebook Page, or via Twitter -2Sand.com

  • The Sanding Disc Shuffle

    Using 2It's not a new dance craze. The Sanding Disc Shuffle is the process of working through the grits with hook and loop discs. I typically start with 80 or 100 grit, then move on to 120 or 150, and if needed will work up to 220 or 320.

    Long time readers of this blog know that we are big on dust control, so properly aligning the holes in the sanding disc with the holes in your Random Orbit Sander does make a difference. But when sanding a large number of parts and swapping sanding discs as you work through the pile, this can eat up a lot of time. There is a pretty easy way to help automate this process.

    Marking It is nothing more complicated than a board with some strategically placed dowel pins. The pins hold the sanding discs in place but also function as guides for the sander, insuring hole alignment with every sanding disc change. Start by ripping a plywood scrap a bit wider than your sanding disc, in this case, 6 inches wide for 5 inch discs. Cross cut it to accommodate two or three sanding discs side by side with a bit of space between. This one is for two discs so it ended up 12 inches long, a three disc version should be around 18 inches.

    Drilling Lay the discs out and mark the center of two holes in each disc, then drill 3/8" holes in those locations for a short section of dowel. Glue dowel segments in place so that they protrude only about 1/4 inch above the board face.  Taper the top ends of the dowel pins to insure that the sanding discs and the sander can drop smoothly over them. And that is all there is to it.


    In use, a sanding disc of each grit being used is placed over the dowels with the hook and loop side up. When switching grits, one disc is peeled off the sander and placed in it's spot back on the board, then the Random Orbit Sander base is lowered onto the dowels holding the next grit in order. The dowel assure the holes in the sanding disc are perfectly aligned with those on the sander and you can get right back to work. On a big sanding job, you should find this trick saves a lot of time and improves your dust collection as well. And no more need to bend over retrieving sanding discs that get knocked to the floor!

    We hope you find this tip useful and encourage you to share with us your tips. You can contact us by commenting here on the blog, our Facebook Page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com


  • Are You Ready?

    In UseMany years ago I was the service writer for a small three bay gas station/service center, back in the days when you actually could get repairs rather than slurpees where you bought your gas. We had a local parts supplier who would visit once a week, to check our hardware bins and automatically refill any nuts or bolts we were getting low on.  One day, the (usually absentee)owners decided that this was costing too much, and that THEY would monitor the bins and order replacements as needed.

    Most of you have already figured out where this is headed. Within weeks, I had mechanics standing around waiting for an $0.08 nut to show up so they could finish a car. We were billing about $40/hour back then, and had plenty of work, so the hardware situation very quickly began costing a LOT more than the money we had previously had "tied up" in hardware inventory.

    Tape FailWhat does this have to do with sanding supplies? Well, that would depend on how well you have your inventory under control. Are you, as you read this, truly aware of what sanding disks you do or do not have on hand? Are you sure you have the right sizes and hole patterns for all your sanders? Do you know how old your stock of sanding belts are? They do have a shelf life, we discussed this in this blog back in April of 2012. The tape used to hold them together only lasts so long, and this includes wide sanding belts.

    Now, we are happy to point out that having an account at 2Sand.com can help with this. It can track your order history and help remind you on items you order regularly, but the point of this blog is more about being prepared. If you had a big job come into your shop today, would your team be waiting around for some simple, inexpensive tool, hardware or sanding supplies, or do you have everything to hand? Answering this question is just another small step toward efficiency you can take at little cost in time or money. The rewards could far outweigh the investment.

    As ever, we want to hear from you! What small efficiencies do you employ in your space? Respond to the blog, on our Facebook Page, or via Twitter-2Sand.com

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