better sander

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Forum topic by horseyhorse posted 10-29-2014 10:49 PM 1515 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1333 days

10-29-2014 10:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sanding sculptures

Hello! I tried to search for this topic for a bit but couldn’t find what I was looking for exactly. I carve rocking horses, with lots of small curves but also a few flat surfaces. My demand for them has been picking up a little, and I need to finish them faster. I think most of my time is spent sanding.

I’ve been using the dewalt plam sander pictured here, and have been really frustrated with how long it takes and how much sand paper I go through using this thing. It wears out the main spots on the sand paper in no time, and I can’t imagine that most people aren’t using something better. I don’t have money to add a lot of tools, but I think I need to add one mega great versitile and fast sander to get things moving faster. What do you suggest? Is an orbital going to be easy enough to control to get the details I want? Spindle? Am I just an idiot for not starting out with the orbital right away? Thanks for your help.

Oh I also have a foredom tool to sand out the grooves and eyes and stuff, so I have that covered.

22 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2344 days

#1 posted 10-29-2014 11:31 PM

You need a softer pad to get better use from the paper on contoured surfaces.

3M Soft Interface Pad

I’ve not seen one for a square sander so you may want to consider a random orbit sander and in my experience, the random orbit sands faster than the square type sanders. I’m partial to the duel mode 6” sanders like Festool’s Rotex for speed, power and versatility but even the cheaper versions from other manufacturers are pricy. A standard 5” ROS with a soft interface pad should be a good balance between performance and cost.

Also, welcome to the forum.

-- See my work at and

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Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2949 days

#2 posted 10-30-2014 12:30 AM

Nice horses!

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3574 days

#3 posted 10-30-2014 01:14 AM

Would a wheel flap sander work?

-- .

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3153 days

#4 posted 10-30-2014 02:50 AM

Hello Horsey, welcome to LJ’s.
I would love to have a Foredom someday.. but most my wood carving has been small, so until I start some larger pieces I just Dremel it. Do you use sanding mops?

I also hate wasting money and time on sand paper… but mostly I just hate the dust. If you have not tried yet… I use scraper cards… they come in many thicknesses and the thinnest cards bend easily to organic shapes… but they also need to be sharpened more. OR reshape on on a grinder the match your contour. You can make a rough burr to take off more wood… and a clean small burr for smoothing. They I can usually get my surfaces smooth enough to start at a 320 grit. Saves me a lot of money and the card always cuts the surface clean, so you get to see the wood as you shape and smooth. I love using them.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View runswithscissors's profile


2767 posts in 2052 days

#5 posted 10-30-2014 06:59 AM

Broken glass (window glass) provides a lot of random shapes, convex and concave. You can usually find shapes that will work as scrapers for almost any contour. Usually only one edge will be sharp, and they don’t last very long before dulling, but the price is right. Sounds dangerous, but I do it frequently and have never cut myself. You can put a piece of masking tape over edges and point you aren’t using if you are concerned. I find slightly convex edges work better for scraping flat surfaces than straight edges.

Break the glass inside a thick paper bag to contain the flying bits. Wear eye protection.

Your horses are gorgeous, true works of art. I am very impressed!!!

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View horseyhorse's profile


8 posts in 1333 days

#6 posted 10-30-2014 11:24 AM

Thanks for responses, I haven’t tried scraper cards before, sounds really interesting. And I have lots of glass around cause I did stained glass for a while. Haven’t tried flapper wheels, or I did once and it didn’t seem to do much, I think my stuff is too large. Good things to check out…

View OSU55's profile


1702 posts in 2017 days

#7 posted 10-30-2014 11:43 AM

Nice horses! For the flat surfaces, a block or bench plane. Curved surfacesm card scrapers, which will work for flat surfaces as well. Also, take a look at what bowl turners use for sanding. There are many versions of d drill powered 2-3” dia pad on a rod driven by a drill. Flapper sanders wear quickly for the expense imo.

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 1576 days

#8 posted 10-30-2014 12:02 PM

Beautiful horses! I personally would use (carefully) a soft pad ROS in places and hand sand the rest. Start with 40 grit and work your way up. Your fingers are contoured, wrap the sandpaper around them.

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8 posts in 1333 days

#9 posted 10-30-2014 01:12 PM

wow, doing a little research I am blown away by the world of card scrapers. I’m pretty much self taught so I don’t know a lot, and never heard of them before. I’m hoping I can make them work for my curved stuff. These things will save me mountains of wasted sand paper, as well as me shooting myself in the face due to insanity after sanding the same thing over and over for days. Thanks everyone!

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tom in indy

41 posts in 2375 days

#10 posted 10-31-2014 12:10 PM

WOW those are awesome !!!!!!!

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


3287 posts in 2016 days

#11 posted 10-31-2014 01:48 PM

I think that a sanding mop from Klingspor would be a great tool for you. A lot of people using them for scroll saw projects and I use mine on Intarsia projects. They are great for sanding contoured shapes.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10542 posts in 3456 days

#12 posted 10-31-2014 02:40 PM

Redoak49 has the solution for sanding curved parts. If you want to use a scraper as well, I’d suggest investing in one or more of these from Stew-Mac.

Great looking horsies, BTW.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View horseyhorse's profile


8 posts in 1333 days

#13 posted 10-31-2014 10:39 PM

Thanks, that sanding mop does look interesting. I’ve tried the small flap sanders meant for dremel tools and wore it out very quickly. Maybe those tough larger mops will be better…

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2949 days

#14 posted 11-01-2014 01:35 PM

I found a sanding mop to smooth out the wood nicely but it did not shape the wood well. Not aggresive enough. I reciently purchased a Festool sander and it sure is smooth running and light compared to my other sanders. (DeWalt and Porter-Cable) Festool cost about double the others though.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3153 days

#15 posted 11-01-2014 02:11 PM

wow I’ve never seen those Stew-mac scrapers before. i will have to try them. thanks Gene. i just got the recent woodcraft catalog in the mail… seems the have more styles, shapes, and thicknesess than ever.
I’ve also turned old 1.5” chop chisels and flat head screw drivers into scraper style tools for details.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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