Sandpaper life- again

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Forum topic by drpdrp posted 10-30-2012 06:00 AM 1963 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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150 posts in 2070 days

10-30-2012 06:00 AM

So, I did some searching and found several posts discussing sandpaper life. The gist of them was- sandpaper is cheaper than labor- use a lot of it. And I’ve applied this advice already.


I’d like to get a little bit more technique behind this and hope you guys can help. My questions are two:

1) How can I (as a newbie) tell when the paper is ready to be switched out? Surely one does not go until it stops making dust… do they?

2) What can you do to make the paper last longer? I ordered several 10yard rolls of Porter Cable paper off Amazon and am super happy with it compared to the sheets I was getting at Lowes. (mostly from a usability standpoint- sticky back, easy to cut, comes in a big roll…) However, it sure doesn’t seem to last long. I keep remembering or imagining hearing that a little bit of padding under the paper extends the life. Is this so? If so, how much padding?

The project I’ve been working on is a set of blocks- big ol’ alphabet blocks. I cut 4×4x2 pieces out of 2×4s, rounded the edges, engraved letters on the face and sides, and set about making smooth. The week leading up to buying my new sander I would put a strip of the PC paper on a length of plywood and run the blocks back and forth. That worked pretty well- but I could only get a couple of blocks before it really seemed that the performance had one south.

To make the super rounded edges I want I’ve been sticking the paper to sponges and camping pads. It seems like that helps the paper curve very organically around the edges of the block- but it sure seems to die fast this way too.



11 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3133 days

#1 posted 10-30-2012 06:09 AM

The first thing I would advise is picking up an abrasive cleaning stick. This is one 6 dollar investment that will pay dividends in recovered cost in lost sandpaper. Sometimes, the sandpaper is not eroded as much as it is clogged. Rubbing this across belts, discs, and paper will remove the clogged particles and add life to it.

In the search field, in the upper right corner, type in “sandpaper” and you should get a few hits on this site indicating brands that other LJ members have had good luck with. I believe there are also articles indicating what types of sandpaper are more suited to other products. I read a magazine artile in woodsmith or fine woodworking, that detailed the types of sandpaper and their best usages. I will post this in a thread and let you know when I do.

Welcome to LJs,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2538 days

#2 posted 10-30-2012 12:10 PM

Welcome to LJ’s!
Agree with the abrasive cleaning stick – I have a few lying around my shop, and they greatly extend the life of the paper.

Instead of buying your paper from amazon or Lowes, take a close look at Klingspor paper.

A lot of people here believe this is the best paper to be had, including two of their 5” pad series, the A-Z, and their Sterate.
They also offer great deals on bulk packs of industrial aluminum oxide paper, which I use a lot of. The AZ discs just never seem to wear out, until finally, after a long time, the actual grit will start to release from the paper. It actually never loses its cutting edge.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View bondogaposis's profile


4759 posts in 2375 days

#3 posted 10-30-2012 12:58 PM

For sanding curved edges I use a sanding black made from MDF or plywood and craft foam. You can get sheets of 6mm thick (1/4”) craft foam at craft stores like Michael’s or Ben Franklin like this. I attach it to the wood block w/ contact cement. I don’t use PSA paper on it because that would tear the foam apart. I size the block so that a 1/4 sheet of sandpaper wraps around it nicely and I can hold on to it from the sides.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2310 days

#4 posted 10-30-2012 01:31 PM

Get this stuff and stop worrying about sandpaper wear.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Zinderin's profile


94 posts in 2156 days

#5 posted 10-30-2012 01:41 PM

I throw sand paper away typically because it loads up, not because it quit cutting … I too subscribe to the “sandpaper is cheap, labor is expensive”, but I also sand as little as possible. I would rather spend time and money on keeping my tools sharp, than sanding and sand paper.

I need to try the Abrnet Russell, I’ve looked at it before, meant to get it and didn’t. I’m gonna go order some now.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#6 posted 10-31-2012 02:04 AM

I second the Abranet and the crepe rubber cleaning block! Norton 3x is also excellent quality and long lasting (if you keep it clean).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2874 days

#7 posted 10-31-2012 03:19 AM

Good post, drpdrp.

The time to change paper is when it stops cutting. Imagine little crystalline rocks glued on the paper. They cut like crazy until the edges of the rock get rounded over. Then it does a better job of generating heat than cutting.

If, however, the rocks get surrounded by resins and oils from wood, they won’t cut either. At that time they can be cleaned with a cleaning stick or a liquid abrasive cleaner.

Often a blast of air can gain a little more yardage off a disc.

I suspect that we’re making a judgment to stop and peel off and discard a piece of sandpaper with input from our ears, our eyes and our hands, oh and nose.

I have known cabinetmakers who discard based on objects sanded or minutes used. I subscribe to the “If it’s not cutting, out it goes” camp.

There are several brands of quality paper out there, including those mentioned. I like Carborundum discs. Used to use a lot of Sungold belts before random orbit danced onto the scene. Mirka is well liked as well.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View drpdrp's profile


150 posts in 2070 days

#8 posted 11-01-2012 05:44 AM

Lee- forgive me if this makes me seem dense but…

How can I tell when it stops cutting? Or maybe, what are some clues?

View skeemer's profile


95 posts in 2388 days

#9 posted 11-01-2012 10:48 AM

Has anyone made a diamond-embedded sandpaper? Seems that would be the most effective and longest lasting.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3133 days

#10 posted 11-01-2012 11:00 AM

They do, but I believe the expense would hardly be worth it for most applications involving woodworking. If one really wanted to diminish the use of sandpaper, becoming more familiar with planing and scraping would be more cost effective and useful in the applications we would most likely use sandpaper in.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2117 days

#11 posted 11-02-2012 07:45 AM

It can be hard to tell when the sandpaper is spent. One of the easiest papers to figure that out with the is the Norton 3X. The grains on their paper are fairly large and spaced far apart. You can tell when the paper is spent just by looking at it. The grains will basically just rub off.

When it seems to take more effort than it should to get the wood sanded that probably means the paper is spent. You can also run your finger along some fresh paper and then along the paper you are using and kind of feel whether your paper is worn or not.

And the amount of sawdust you produce is a good indicator. Fresh paper will generate more sawdust.

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