Sanding on the Lathe

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Forum topic by clieb91 posted 04-28-2012 04:22 PM 1600 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3545 posts in 4171 days

04-28-2012 04:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe sanding finishing sandpaper

Hi All, In need some advice or even opinions as to the best grit to sand up to on the lathe. I mostly do pens and have had a woodturners roll pack that is finally giving out. I just yesterday pulled out a sheet of Norton 3x and used it for my knock out tool I made. I was impressed with the amount that it took and no loading as compared to those pieces from the rolls I have. The issue is that 3x is only sold up to 400 Grit. I this generally sufficient. I have done some pens up to there and just barely gone over it with 600 and then EEE.
Would kind of like to move away from the rolls if I can as I am seeing that the sheets are much less expensive.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

8 replies so far

View Doe's profile


1420 posts in 3066 days

#1 posted 04-28-2012 09:27 PM

When my roll pack ran out, I used Norton sheets and found the quality was so much better. I also have wet/dry 600, 800, and 1000 grit that I don’t use as much for non pen turning. For pens, I also use Micro-Mesh® Pen-Sanding Pads that go to 12000.

I think the best grit is the one that feels the best; sometimes I stop at 400, sometimes I go to 600 or 800 for general turning. I love the silkiness from the micromesh for pens and a pen has to feel good. I think the determining factor is how much sanding do you feel like doing? Bonnie Klein said that she uses 220 and occasionally 400 and a tiny piece will last about a month. Needless to say, she sharpens her tools much better than I do!

I liked the convenience of the roll pack strips so I used a cheap 12” plastic paper cutter from Staples and cut the sheets in one inch (ish) strips. Some people like to use big clips to clamp the strips but I was positive they would end up on the floor so I got some small metal cans with lids for each grit. It’s easy to pull out a strip and you never have to fiddle like you do with the roll packs to fish the strip out when the end slips back in the box.

I hope I didn’t meander too much

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View clieb91's profile


3545 posts in 4171 days

#2 posted 04-29-2012 11:48 AM

Thanks Doe, that is just the type of feedback I was looking for. I have made myself a cutting jig for the sandpaper strips so I wind up with bits 1.5×3. I like the idea of the cans but they may take up a little more real estate then I am willing to give up right now, I am going to try to just use a clip board which I made using clothespins.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Bluepine38's profile


3380 posts in 3321 days

#3 posted 04-29-2012 02:31 PM

Most hardware stores stock foam sanding pads, usually in 3M and a house brand, the medium and fine
work great for getting the wood fairly smooth and are not as expensive as those small ones, but if you
need to go finer, you will probably need to go to Lee Valley.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View clieb91's profile


3545 posts in 4171 days

#4 posted 04-29-2012 06:56 PM

Thanks Gus, I have never thought much about the sanding pads but if I can get a decent one it might be worth wile to give them a try.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4258 posts in 2797 days

#5 posted 04-29-2012 07:05 PM

+1 on what doe said. I do the same thing.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View lunn's profile


215 posts in 2544 days

#6 posted 04-29-2012 07:52 PM

I use auto body scuff pads (sorta like scott brights) from a local auto body supply store. I use the red ones that start out about a 320 grit but as they wear they get very fine. They also stock ones that start at abt. 600 grit that ive never tried. They wont leave marks like sandpaper or fuzz like steel wool and conforms to any shape. Comes in a 3 pack 4×6 sheets about $3.00 .

-- What started as a hobbie is now a full time JOB!

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 3020 days

#7 posted 05-02-2012 02:31 AM

I’ve been using 220 and 320 sticky back 6” discs to start with. That gets the blank even when using a small wood block. Then I use about a 400 and then a 600. Final sanding is along the length to even out the sanding marks.
The 400 is on a roll and the 600 in in sheets, both from auto parts store.
Note that if the final blank calls out, for instance, a .330” then I turn down to about .350. I then sand with the 320 and a block to see where the high spots are then even those out with a flat scraper. The the 320 again to knock down any small tearouts so that the surface is nearly even.
Remember the best tool is practice…practice and more practice.

-- Website is finally up and

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4454 days

#8 posted 05-02-2012 02:43 AM

I use a bit of everything, but my favorite material for lathe sanding is Mirka abranet. The stuff is expensive, but it lasts a long time, and the results are great.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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