Now I know this will be a bit of a shock to the system, especially coming from me – the “Electron Murdering Woodworker”, but, not every job in the workshop is best done with power tools.
I know, I know – breathe – here is a paper bag each, we can hypoventilate until the panic subsides.
I’m not referring to pneumatic tools either. I’m talking about handtools, and elbow grease.
When sanding components, there are times when a power tool just is not the right tool – whether it is unnecessary overkill, or it cannot get into the area of concern, or it would turn a 2 second job into a 2 minute one. When that happens, out comes some sandpaper, and it is wrapped around a sanding block to tackle the task.
Now there are some problems that can occur with this (at least by my experience)
1. The paper grips on the workpiece too well, and the block rotates rather than slides, and you give your knuckles a good rap. Done it before, don’t know how – must be a handtool thing 😉
2. The paper slips off the block a bit, and you sand with an edge of the paper, rather than the middle (which then folds and scratches)
3. You catch the paper on a sharp corner, and it catches and tears
4. You regularly need to reposition the sandpaper on the block to expose a fresh portion
5. Some sanding blocks need the paper correctly sized, causing wastage
All these things to dissuade me from hand sanding in preference to a power sander.
But there is another solution. How about using a belt of sandpaper, rather than a sheet? It is cloth-backed, and much more tear resistant. Being a belt, finding a fresh portion (without using a portion with a previously-created fold) is easy, and the entire belt can be used for sanding, rather than some of the sheet of sandpaper never being accessed, as it was just being used to secure the sheet to the block.
How about a block that carries the sandpaper firmly, yet with a quick-release allows the paper to be rotated to a fresh portion?
And one that isn’t just a lump of timber or cork (technically, a piece of cork is a lump of timber……), but the working surface can be larger as it will not waste sandpaper unnecessarily.
I refer to the Sand Devil, from Professional Woodworkers Supplies
It takes a standard belt of sandpaper, and has a quick-release lever to remove tension, allowing the belt to be quickly repositioned to expose a fresh cutting surface, or offset the paper on the block to get right into tight corners.
As you can see, there are a few different profiles on the Devil – a square corner, a larger radius corner, a smaller radius point, and the tapered section to help get into tighter places. The rear shoe is moved by the quick release lever to apply or release tension.
You can check out more details at PWS (including some videos Sand Devil have made)