Even more sanding tricks

Nuggets of sanding information submitted by readers of WOOD magazine.

  • Sand uniform curves on your spindle sander

    When making a pair of rockers recently, I wanted to ensure uniform width. But I found it difficult to accurately sand them freehand with my oscillating spindle sander.

    The solution lay in the bull-nosed fence I use to saw curves on my bandsaw. I clamped the fence to my sander's tabletop, as shown left, with the desired width of my rocker between the abrasive spindle and the fence's nose. After carefully shaping the outside curve, I sanded the inside radius of each rocker by feeding it between the drum and fence.
    —Allen Bakke, Forest Lake, Minn.


    To make your pressure-sensitive-adhesive (PSA) pads stick better, preheat the sander's pad with friction by running it against a nonmarring surface such as a scrap of carpet. You'll see that PSA pads won't stick to a cold pad but will adhere readily to a warm one.
    —Johannes Michelsen, Manchester Center, Vt.


    I've noticed that the outer edges of the triangles on my detail sander wear more quickly than the center area. To get better "mileage" out of each triangle, I move the disc forward on the pad, trim off the worn areas, and proceed to use the fresh sandpaper. Moving the triangle forward twice will triple its life.
    —Bill Bartz, San Jose, Calif.

  • Sharpen knives yourself and save

    Instead of sending your jointer knives out to be sharpened, save money (and time) by sharpening them yourself. All you need is glass, sandpaper, and a couple of scraps of hardwood.

    Fashion a guide block, as shown in the drawing left, about 4-6" longer than your knives, with one edge beveled to match the grind of your knives. Joint or sand that edge smooth. (I sanded down to 320 grit and waxed the bevel).

    Make a pushblock the same length as and 18 " thinner than the width of your knives. Joint one edge of the pushblock flat and attach a knife to it with cloth-backed double-faced tape.

    Next, glue a sheet of 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper to a flat sheet of glass and lay your guide block on the abrasive. Keeping the knife flat against the beveled edge of the guide block, as shown, stroke the knife back and forth to sharpen it. I work my way from 220-grit up to 600-grit sandpaper for a superfine edge.

    Finally, flatten the knife's back by switching the pushblock to the other side of the knife. Remove the burr by sliding the knife back and forth across the 600-grit abrasive a few times without the beveled guide block.
    —Eric Sutton, McDonough, N.Y.


    When you need to sand something at a right angle, you should use an edge sander. But these specialized machines cost a lot of money and can take up valuable room in a small shop. Make your belt sander do double duty as an edge sander by laying it on its side and securing it with a plywood cutout and clamps. Trace the outline of your belt sander on a piece of 34 " plywood about 24" square. With a jigsaw, cut out the shape of your belt sander and leave an extra 14 " clearance at the bottom of the template for the belt to move freely. If your sander cuts into the bench below, shim it up 18 " and place a clamp on the sander to steady it.
    —Daniel Knippel, Ft. Huachuca, Ariz.

  • Emery boards make great sanding sticks

    Rather than gluing small strips of sandpaper to wood, use an emery board the next time you're faced with a delicate sanding task. You'll find that emery boards are inexpensive, disposable, and come in different grits. For a permanent sanding helper, buy a metal fingernail file impregnated with diamond dust. (You can find these in the nail-care section of pharmacy, grocery, and discount stores.)
    —Verne Holmes, Redlands, Calif.


    When I use the belt on my belt/disc sander, it makes me a bit nervous to have the disc spinning there while my attention is focused elsewhere. To avoid inadvertent damage to my hide and hobby, I built the shield shown out of scrap plywood and pine. First, nail the frame together, then glue the front and back panels to it.

    The shield rests on the sander's table without fastening, and I've never had a problem with it rubbing on the disc for more than a second. The only time I remove it is to use the disc sander; otherwise, it stays in place to protect the disc and my hands.
    —David Evans, Roy, Utah

  • Hinge makes continuous sanding easier

    While sanding a series of flutes in a project recently, my fingers got severely cramped while holding the sandpaper around a dowel. I knew there had to be a better way! A short length of continuous (piano) hinge left over from a previous project provided the solution as shown in the drawings left.

    I wrapped sandpaper loosely around the open hinge, and then closed the hinge, pulling the sandpaper taut. A binder clip keeps the whole assembly together. Flipping the hinge over and moving the binder clip to the barrel side of the hinge also gives me a nice square edge for sanding into the corners of dadoes and grooves.
    —Tom Peters, Midland, Mich.


    Here's a trick I've used over the years to improve the appearance of less-than-perfect edge-to-edge joints. The key is a "feather wedge," a scrap of the same species as the workpiece, beveled about 3° on both sides. After applying glue to the slot, gently tap the wedge into place and wait until the glue dries before sanding flush.
    —Chuck Hedlund, WOOD® magazine staff

  • Can somebody please get the foam?

    For sanding irregular shapes, inside cuts, and rounded edges, you can't beat sandpaper wrapped around foam pipe insulation. Cut the insulation about 8" long, insert the edge of a piece of sandpaper into the slit in the insulation, and wrap it tightly. Secure the paper with masking tape.

    The insulation provides backing for the sandpaper but gives enough to follow the contour of the workpiece. If you need more rigidity, insert dowel the same diameter as the inside of the insulation.
    —Frank Ryan, Eugene, Ore.

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