Golden rule of sanding is: organise things so you avoid having to sand as much as possible. By this I mean, try to keep the sanding to the final finishing of the piece, not for shaping. Even the router makes sawdust that is subject to gravity. Sanding dust stays in the air long after you’ve taken off your mask, lands on your clothes and gets transferred to surfaces all over the house. Even my Festool vac isn’t up to the job of catching it all.

Power sanders are fantastic, though. Handheld ones are good for larger projects but the real benefit is in the stationary ones. They take up a lot of floor space so they have to earn their keep – in fact I recently relegated my table saw to the shed to make room for them and that really shows how useful they are. I’ve got a belt/disc sander for flat areas and outside curves (and adjusting mitres on small boxes), and an oscillating spindle sander for the inside curves, such as the inside of the penholders. Trying to sand these by hand is simply not feasible, and using more robust shapers like the Microplane just pulled tearout off the edges which was hopeless. The golden rule of sanding, in this case, says: get your cuts as accurate as you can on the fretsaw in the first place, and glue the pieces very carefully. Even then you’re going to be taking quite a lot of wood off with the sanders.

abranet bobbin200I have found that changing the sleeves on the spindle sander is not the simple job that the manual suggests, especially on the smaller bobbins. Just slide it off indeed! Admittedly my OSS isn’t new – it was an eBay purchase – but I use the smaller bobbins quite a lot and so I’ve come up with a plan, which also incidentally uses my favourite abrasive medium, Abranet. I got a roll of P80, cut a strip, laid it in a helix over the existing sleeve and secured with cable ties. Works a treat!

Of course the cable tie gets in the way for taller items, but that’s a limitation i’ll live with for now.

sanding thimble200This is my latest invention, also using Abranet. Just cut a small strip and attach it to your finger with a rubber band. I never got the hang of thimbles when sewing, but this is great for tidying up an errant dig with the chisel.

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