Which sandpaper should I choose?

sandpaper-gritsSandpaper for wood is used to either strip paint from old items destined for recycling or preparing projects for their final finish.

Further down you can see our Sanding Paper Grit Chart

If you get the preparation right you are on the Road To Success. Choosing the right tools for any job can be the make or break but this also applies to the finishing process. If you choose sandpaper for wood that is too coarse you’ll be left for lots of deep scratches. Sometimes coarse papers are required but it is knowing when to use them. This also applies to fine abrasive papers as these can clog very quickly. 

Sanding is part of the process to the end result but like I’ve  always been told that if you start right you finish right. This is true in so many respects but  the part between the beginning and the end is also very important.

Why do I have to sand?

With most projects, you will require to participate in some sanding activity. Sanding is used for the preparation before the final finishes are applied.

air-sander-mirka-alternative

The problem is unless you have a basic understanding of the principles behind the art of sanding a project. You are going to struggle in producing a well-prepared piece of work.
Sanding is the first stage of finishing a woodworking project.

What happens if I have  poorly sanded my project?

Most finishes hold no prisoners. Any areas that have not been sanded enough or there are scratches in the wood will show in the final finish. Unless it’s what you are looking for it does look quite bad.

Which sandpaper should I use?

There seem to be so many different types of sandpaper available. Some seem course And some seemed that they wouldn’t even do anything because they’re so fine.

Please remember that different projects require different types of sandpaper. 

Types of sandpaper abrasives

There are many different types of sandpaper. As a force of habit and history influences me to call all abrasive papers ‘Sandpaper’. This is because sandpaper was effectively glass paper. As you know no glass comes from sand, hence sandpaper. Originally most abrasive papers were made using a backing paper with Glass dust bonded to it.
Real sandpaper is a backing paper covered with grains of sand. These grains of sand would be graded or even ground for the finer papers.
Today we have a multitude of different abrasive products we can use. Including budget offerings and also the more expensive Mirka or Festool abrasive papers.

 What abrasive papers are available to us?

 First Iwill list the types of abrasives first.

  • sandpaper all glass paper
  • aluminium oxide
  • Silicon carbide
  • Garnet

Glass Paper Sandpaper

Oakey Glasspaper sandpaperGlasspaper was first manufactured By John Oakley in London in 1933. But the history of sandpaper goes right back to China to the 13th century.

Today we woodworkers aree more keen on modern manmade abrasives. Glasspaper is often found in budget stores and has poorly bonded to the backing paper. Brands like Oakey are still worth considering if working on furniture ETC. I prefer Silicon carbide for my workas the grit sees to be more reliable and consistent.

Sandpaper is available different levels of abrasiveness  

  • 40 grit – coarse
  • 60 grit – coarse
  • 80 grit – coarse / medium
  • 120 grit – medium / fine
  • 180 grit – fine
  • 240 grit – extra fine

Aluminium Oxide

rolls of aluminium oxide sandpaperAluminium Oxide is not just used for abrasive papers. Aluminium oxide is a chemical compound of aluminium and oxygen. Before Aluminium Oxide became popular Garnet was used as an abrasive bonded to a backing paper. Garnet is still used in the production of abrasive papers. Garnet Is Poplar for Woodworking sanding tasks.  

Today aluminium oxide is produced in huge quantities of over 115 million from Bauxite ore. Sorry to bore you but Bauxite is hi in Aluminium hydroxide. 

Aluminium oxide papers are available in different quality grades such as green and red. are usually resin bonded onto the backing paper. 

Aluminium oxide abrasive papers are very much better quality and more durable than glass paper. These abrasive papers use a heavyweight resistant backing that is electro-coated and fully bonded aluminium oxide Grit which lasts a long time.

How can I use aluminium oxide abrasive papers

Because the price of papers are extremely durable and themselves to machine use. You’ll find that most machine sander the price of discs or pads or sheets are made using aluminium oxide. 

The most popular abrasive grits are:

  • 40 grit – coarse
  • 60 grit – coarse
  • 80 grit – coarse / medium
  • 120 grit – medium / fine

Silicon carbide

silicon-carbide sanding blockSilicon carbide is also known as carborundum. Carborundum paste is often used in engineering to grind valves for instance in a motor car is good at grinding metal it is an ideal abrasive for use with car body finishing as the metal is also often exposed. 

What is silicon carbide?

Real Silicon carbide Made from a naturally formed mineral Moissanite. Moissanite is extremely rare I would never remind to the volume required today. 

Mass-produced silicon carbide

Silicon carbide has been mass-produced since 1993 in the form of a powder. This powder has been made into a variety of different materials such as industrial ceramics and brake shoes by sintering.

Abrasive papers come in a very wide variety of grit. 

  • 60 grit – coarse
  • 80 grit – coarse / medium
  • 120 grit – medium / fine
  • 180 grit – fine
  • 240 grit – extra fine
  • 320 grit 
  • 400 grit
  • 600 grit
  • 800 grit
  • 1000 grit right up to 12000

Garnet Sandpaper

garnet-sandpaper-01Garnet is not just a precious stone but a very useful mineral that can be crushed into abrasive Grit. Garnet is not just one precious stone but refers to a group of precious stones. These hard stones come in many colours not just red. 

Why is garnet used as an abrasive?

This precious stone when crushed produces many sharp edges. When bonded to a backing paper it is then an abrasive that can be used in Woodworking. During use, the abrasive grit can break and produce fresh cutting edges. You could say it is rejuvenating. 

Where do we use Garnet paper?

A price of garment paper is very popular within the woodworking community. It is a popular paper for the finishing of furniture. Some hardwoods are susceptible to burning when using abrasive papers but garnet is very durable.

Do woodworkers still use Garnet paper?

I am quite fond of garnet paper but there are a few issues that I have found. As I natural great I find that some cheap manufacturers could do another reliable abrasive papers. This can be in the form of a rogue grit which can scratch the workpiece on finer papers

  • 60 grit – coarse
  • 80 grit – coarse / medium
  • 120 grit – medium / fine
  • 180 grit – fine
  • 240 grit – extra fine
  • 320 grit 

Buy sandpaper in USA amazon.com by clicking on these links

Buy sandpaper in UK amazon.co.uk by clicking on these links

Sanding Paper Grit ChartCAMIFEPA
Extra Coarse 24, 30, 36P12, P16, P20, P24, P30, P36
Coarse40, 50, 60 P40, P50
Medium80 P60, P80
Fine100, 120 P100, P120
Extra Fine 150, 190, 220P150, P180, P220

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