Choosing The Right Abrasives


Choosing the right abrasives

If you think "abrasives" means strictly sandpaper, you've only scratched the surface of what's available. Here's a sound sampling.

Coated Abrasives Coated abrasives include products made up of abrasive minerals bonded to a backing material with a glue or resin bonding agent. They come in sheets, disks, belts, drums, cords, cloth strips, and sponge-backed blocks for sanding contoured surfaces. Each form has its uses, but you also have to pick the right abrasive minerals and grit sizes to get the best results.

Your Abrasive Options You can choose from two natural minerals (flint and garnet) and three manufactured ones (aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and zirconia alumina.) See your options in the chart on the next page.

Grit Sizes: Our Recommendations Grit number (or mesh number) refers to the particle size of the abrasive mineral, from 36 grit to 600 grit. However, the sanding products you'll most often use fall within the 60- to 220-grit range. When sanding bare wood prior to finishing, you don't need to work your way through the full range of grit sizes, especially if you use a power sander for some of the work.

To smooth a flat surface, such as a table top, we start with a sander equipped with an 80- or 100-grit aluminum-oxide belt, then switch to a finishing sander using 150- or 180-grit garnet paper. We finish up with 220-grit aluminum oxide paper.

Abrasives Chart

Application   Tool/Product   Abrasive   Grit

Surfacing rough wood, fast stock removal   Surface sander, belt sander   Aluminum Oxide, Zirconia Alumina   36-80

Rough-sanding mill marks, saw marks, defects, end grain   Orbital sander, belt sander, disk sander   Aluminum Oxide, Zirconia Alumina, Garnet   60-100

Smooth sanding   Orbital sander, disk sander, sheet sandpaper   Aluminum Oxide, Garnet, Silicon Carbide   120-320

    Sanding blocks, non-woven pads   Aluminum Oxide, Silcon Carbide   Medium-

Sanding contours   Sanding drums, disks, flappers, cords, strips   Aluminum Oxide, Garnet, Silicon Carbide   80-320
    Sanding blocks, non-woven pads   Aluminum Oxide, Silicon Carbide   Coarse-Fine

Wet sanding, applying stains or oils, sanding between finish coats   Sanding sheets, non-woven pads   Silicon Carbide, Aluminum Oxide   240-600
Fine-Extra Fine

    Steel wool (except wet)       #00-#0000
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