Anything I can do to reduce the amount of sanding I have to do is a good thing for 2 reasons, first of all, sanding is not my favorite chore but also I want to make sure I keep dust to a minimum as much as I can. It also helps if I can reduce my waste, which in this case means better and more use of sandpaper. It may be small, but it all counts.
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... and the first topic is about being thrifty and getting the best use from sandpaper, and I use mostly sheet sandpaper, but I also use roll sandpaper from time to time. I like the sheet sandpaper for a final hand sand and I always find that when I am finished with a sheet of sandpaper there is always a bit of good sandpaper left over that can be used ...
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Those little pieces of leftover sandpaper are perfect for making little wooden sanding files that come in super handy from time to time and cost little or nothing to make. You can use ordinary tongue depressors that you can purchase for next to nothing a the dollar store, or from various craft stores, but have more than enough wood to make my own, and I can make them a bit thicker and of different sizes too. The sandpaper for these would often be otherwise thrown out, and it comes from my hand sanding blocks were the edges of the sandpaper get little or sometimes no use and be trimmed off in strips and used to make these handy little sanding files.
I mostly use flat sandpaper or sanding discs on my random orbital sander, but from time to time I find sandpaper that comes in rolls to be the handiest, so I always have a bit of that on hand too, and mostly I am using that when I am turning wood on the lathe, but on other occasions too. What I like about sandpaper in rolls, is it's easy to store but simply building a small wooden box of suitable size, then treating one edge with an old hacksaw blade for trimming off the sandpaper at the right length you need ... a quick and handy way of storing and using rolls of sandpaper.
I'm forever making cabinet doors and frequently (if not always) they need some sanding after the slots for the panels have been routed. I need to make sure that I am not rounding over the edges of this wood as it can then appear like the joints are nice tight looking ... to solve this and other edge sanding chores, using a backing board to keep the sanding block vertical and flat to the edge you are sanding will give a nice flat sanding surface without any worry of rounded edges.
Gluing boards together is a mainstay of most woodworkers. Then, of course, comes the glue removal and then sanding the glue lines and the boards to be as flat and even as possible. To achieve this, it is common to use the flat side of a square, or any other flat edged ruler or edge, but knowing where to sand and where not to sand can be confusing. To help me remember this, I will mark low spots on a board with circles, which means areas to stay away from and high spots with "Xs" to help indicate where sanding should take place. The Xs, of course, disappear quickly, which they should and can be remarked depending on the wood, the grit and how far down they need to be taken to help make the board flat.
Many years ago another woodworker showed me an item that can be used help clear the dust-clogged sandpaper belts and disc, it is called by a few names Sanding Eraser, Crepe Blocks, Crepe Rubber Blocks, Sander Crepes, sandpaper cleaner etc. ... but all these are are small blocks of some sort of rubber, that acts like an eraser or sanding belts and disc and helps to clear them of sandpaper build-up. They work great and will extend the use of your sanding belts and discs by a substantial amount, depending on the material you are sanding and the grit you are using, but I've had mine for many years, so not only are the ecologically friendly, they seem to last a good time as well.
Copyright Colin Knecht