November 21, 2005

Sanding Slow when Woodturning

OK, I agree. Sanding is not one of the "fun" parts of woodturning. However, your final finish will only be as good as the surface on which it is applied.

Some turners want to sand too fast--trying to get it done quickly... But sanding fast creates more friction than is desired--and more heat! Don't spin the piece in the lathe so fast that you can feel the abrasive getting hot. Eventually your sandpaper will quit cutting and just glaze over. In addition, the heat can burn the wood's surface. 250 rpm is a good guide for maximum lathe speed on most pieces.

If you are disc sanding with our little 2" and 3" hook and loop discs, "dial down" the speed as much as possible on your sander. 150 rpm works fine--just because the back-up pad has a little sticker on it saying you can use it at 18,000 rpm doesn't mean you should try!

Remember the old fairy tale of the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the prize.

For more information on abrasives for woodturning, visit our website or, give us a call: 800-814-7358.

November 14, 2005

What is Deburring?

Deburring is the term used for the process of removing burrs--undesirable protusions and metal edges that result from machining operations. Sometimes stones are used for deburring, but more typically coated abrasives or non-woven products are used. Just the kind of abrasives we specialize in at Abrasive Resource! For more information on deburring, call Abrasive Resource at 800-814-7358 or check out the

November 11, 2005

Stationary Belt Sanders

Belt sanders are useful for removing stock, surfacing, smoothing and even creating decorative straightline finishes. These sanding tools come in many sizes--from 1/2" wide strip sanders to huge stroke sanders with a sanding surface as large and wide as a door!

Strip Sanders use narrow sanding belts, usually just 1 or 2 inches wide, which travel vertically. A table supports the work as you press it against the sanding belt. These tools are commonly used for sanding and shaping small parts, fitting joints and sharpening. A few can be configured to sand the edges of interior cuts.

Mid-size stationary belt sanders mount sanding belts between 4 and 6 inches wide, providing a generous sanding surface. They're versatile tools, capable of a wide range of sanding tasks. Most can be used in two positions--horizontally and vertically. Sand concave surfaces where the sanding belt travels over the rollers, and straight or convex surfaces where it rides over the flat metal platen between the rollers.

Stroke Sanders are among the largest sanding machines, mounting belts up to 52" wide and over 12 feet long! The belt travels horizontally as you press it down against the surface of the stock with a large pad or stroker. This is a production tool used in commercial shops.

Common Sanding Procedures
These tips will speed your sanding and help produce better results:

1. Do not press too hard when you sand! It may cut more quickly for a few moments, but the abrasive will rapidly clog due to excess heat and soon become ineffective. In addition, you can bog down and damage the motor.
2. Use a worktable, fence or miter gauge to support the work whenever possible. This practice is safer and it also helps you to be precise in your sanding.
3. Adjust the worktable to within an 1/8" of the abrasive. Where the sanding belt travels past the work table, there is a "pinch point". If you should let your fingers stray too close to the moving abrasive belt, they may be dragged into this opening and pinched--or worse! Even though sanders have no knives or cutters, large abrasive machines can tear off or sand away fingers if you give them a chance. By placing the work table close to the sanding belt, you reduce the pinch point and decrease the risk that your hands might be caught in it.
4. When using a vertical belt sander, set up the work table so the belt travels down, past the table. The motion of the abrasive helps hold the stock on the table, making the operation both safer and more accurate.

Sander Maintenance

Sanders require more maintenance than most tools for the simple reason that they generate more dust! This fine dust is a mild abrasive that can eventually ruin bearings, rotors and other moving parts. Make it a habit to regularly vacuum your sander. If any part of the sander becomes difficult to operate, it probably needs cleaning. Follow the instructions in your owner's manual to take apart, clean and lubricate. From time to time, wax and buff the platen of a belt sander to help the belt slide across it smoothly. Also wax and buff the work table, fence and miter gauge. Just be sure you always buff out the wax after you apply it! Otherwise, the wax will mix with the sanding dust and form a gummy mess...

As the Internet grows, more information will become available on older models of sanders--instruction manuals are popping up online and miscellaneous parts are for sale. Keep in mind that Abrasive Resource can help you with any size sanding belt--even if the sander you have has been discontinued!

For more information on custom sanding belts for older model sanders, check out:

Information for this article was taken from the book "Sanding and Planing" by Nick Engler with permission from Rodale Press.

Contact Wheels for Abrasive Belts

A Contact Wheel is an essential component of sanders designed to be used with coated abrasive belts. The wheels are typically made with a hard rubber wheel or steel which provides support of the coated abrasive belt at the point of contact with the workpiece.

Contact Wheels may have surfaces divided into alternating grooves, slots, and lands in a variety of patterns to alter the grinding characteristics of the coated abrasive belt.

Abrasive Resource doesn't supply contact wheels for sanders, but we have referred our customers to the Contact Rubber Corporation in Bristol, Wisconsin.

For more information, contact Abrasive Resource at:

To reach Contact Rubber Corp:
For more information on contact wheels and other abrasive terminology, check out the Grinding Technology Glossary at:

Abrasive Resource joins the ISA

Abrasive Resource, which supplies abrasives for maintenance & repair as well as production requirements, recently joined the Industrial Supply Association.

The ISA's mission is to "improve the performance of the Maintenance, Repair, Operating and Production (MROP) Supply Chain."

The company is featured in the recent e-newsletter sent out by the ISA and we have included a copy for you to read here as well:

New member profile

Abrasive Resource is a national distributor of coated abrasive products based in Minneapolis. In business for more than 20 years, the company specializes in sanding belts, discs, rolls, sheets and other specialty items.

Our claim to fame is our service. We specialize in the types of business than many larger distributors do not want to go after, such as small and medium-sized customers, people who order in less-than-unit quantities, or customers that are not located in major metropolitan areas so it is difficult for salespeople to call on them, says sales manager Debbie Swanson, who co-owns the company with her husband Randy.

Abrasive Resource has customers in the metal finishing, woodworking, automotive, glass and solid surface industries, but sells to virtually anyone who uses sandpaper products, she says. It ships in-stock orders within 24 hours and can often provide 24-hour service on custom orders as well.

We treat our customers like we would like to be treated. Our sales and service people are trained to know our products and to be friendly and helpful, she says.

With no outside sales force and fewer than 10 total employees, the company sales come from the telephone, catalog and direct mail pieces and the Internet.

Its free e-newsletter, The Finish Line, and a new blog called The Sandpaper Blog are two ways Abrasive Resource keeps in touch with customers, sharing information on current technology and trends, special sales on abrasive products, and new ideas on how to run shops more efficiently.

Abrasive Resource recently received the Integrity Award from the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. The Integrity Award recognizes companies that demonstrate an exemplary level of ethics in all their business dealings. The company was nominated by a customer and selected by an independent panel of judges as the winner in the 1 to 10 employee category.

Swanson decided to join ISA after attending a regional meeting in Minneapolis led by ISA executive vice president John Buckley. She was most impressed about information included in the ISA Profit Report, which enables her to compare her company financial performance to other distributors.

He did such a wonderful job explaining what the association has to offer that we signed on the dotted line that day, she says.

To learn more about Abrasive Resource, visit our website:
For more information on the ISA, visit their website at:

Custom Sanding Belts

Abrasive Resource is able to supply custom sanding belts in any size--they are made up exactly to your specifications!

Here's a guide to help you measure your existing belt:
1.The first measurement is the width of the belt...simply measure straight across the width of the material. However, the width isn't necessarily the shortest measurement. The width is always the same direction that the belt joint is going (so it is easiest to measure the width near the existing joint). Just make sure you measure straight across and not at an angle like the joint is!

2.The second measurement is the entire length of the belt, or its circumference. The most accurate way to determine this is to cut the endless belt at the joint (with a utility knife), lay it flat on your workbench and measure along one side of the material --from tip to tip.

If you need to order custom sanding belts for a sander where there are no existing belts, you have two options.
1. You can take a soft measuring tape (like tailors use for sewing) and feed it through your sander, taking the exact same path the sanding belt would take, and make a note of the total length. Some of our customers have done the same thing with a piece of string, cut to the right length and then measured it out on the workbench.
2. Or, check the operation manual included with the machine. If you don't have this anymore, they often can be found posted on the Internet. Just search by the manufacturer's name and the model number.

Finally, as we become a more global society, our customers are purchasing imported sanders that often have the belt sizes listed in the manual in millimeters. Here's an easy way to convert those belt sizes into inches--divide the millimeters by 25.4. So, a 940mm x 1905mm belt converts to a US size of 37 x 75 inches!

Questions about custom sanding belts? Give us a call at 800-814-7358 or check out the Abrasive Resource website:

Sanding Belt Splices

Abrasive Resource is a National Distributor of coated abrasives and sanding products. Although we carry 1000's of different abrasive products, the most popular category by far is our sanding belts! We can supply stock belts for same day shipping and custom belts in sizes from 1/8" wide all the way up to 52" wide can be shipped within 24 hours!

The majority of our customers prefer a "butt splice" on their belts--the two ends of the belt are angle cut, butted together and anchored with a special film tape that is developed specifically for abrasive belts. The advantage is that this allows the belt to be bi-directional--it can be run in both directions, facilitating longer life and ease in use. We offer different thickness tapes depending on the application--some offer higher tensile strength and some are less obtrusive, making "belt chatter" less likely.

26 other splices are available as well, including the traditional lap splice. The lap or sometimes called overlap splice has all or part of the mineral removed from the top lap to provide a smooth, thin construction. Another option is a wavy butt splice. On the wavy splice the two ends of the belt are die cut with a wavy pattern, butted together and anchored with a film material pressed on the back side of the belt.

For more information, please visit our website:

How to make a Tackcloth

A tack cloth is one of the best ways to remove sanding dust and grit before applying a finish. One method of making your own tackcloth was suggested by one of our woodworking customers!

  • Soak a piece of cheese cloth in water, wring it out
  • Soak it in turpentine, wring it out again
  • Drip enough clear varnish on the cheesecloth to make it "tacky" all over
  • Store in a zip lock bag to keep from drying out

For more information, visit our website at:

Surface Conditioning Abrasives

Non-woven abrasives that are used for surface conditioning on metals are becoming more popular every year as prices go down and distributor inventories go up! Surface Conditioning abrasives are manufactured by needling synthetic fibers into a woven base called the scrim. On one side of the now "fuzzy" material a mixture of resins and abrasive grains are applied. The uncoated side remains soft and fuzzy which enables it to now act as the "hook" for those customers that require the surface conditioning material in the form of a hook and loop disc.

Surface conditioning discs are not only available as hook and loop, however. Abrasive Resource has discs available with an arbor hole attachment for angle grinders or a quick-change style fastening system. In addition, surface conditioning abrasives are very popular as a belt material as well. Hand-held file belts, bench stand and backstand belts, portable sanding belts as well as stroke sander and wide belts. The three dimensional construction allows the material to follow surface variations and contours easily. The cushion of the non-woven substrate produces a consistent finish.

Most often, surface conditioning abrasives are color-coded by grit--with all of the major manufacturers following the same code (what a refreshing change, huh?) Brown or tan for coarse, Maroon or red for medium, Blue for Very Fine and Grey for Ultra Fine.

Here's a guide of the most popular uses for surface conditioning abrasives:

Edge breaking, Radiusing, Burr Removal

Eliminating mill or tool marks
Weld removal
Flash or parting line removal
Removal of handling marks
Imparting a uniform finish

Corrosion removal
Paint removal
Gasket/adhesive removal

Surface roughness reduction
Removal of micro-burrs
Cosmetic finishes (satin and brushed)

For additional technical information, contact Abrasive Resource at (800) 814-7358, send us an e-mail to, or for specific product information check out our website at

Abrasive Resource wins 2005 Better Business Award

The Better Business Bureau has announced that Abrasive Resource is the winner of the 2005 BBB Integrity Award in category one (1 to 10 employees).

This award recognizes businesses that display an exemplary level of ethics. The competition was judged by an independent panel of community leaders in business ethics. Companies were evaluated against criteria including commitment to and demonstration of ethical practices in the marketplace; high standards of behavior towards customers, employees, suppliers and communities; truthfulness and accuracy of sales practices, ethical reputation among industry peers and communications programs to assist employees in carrying out established ethical policies.

Abrasive Resource will now be eligible for the 2006 International Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics competition.

To learn more about Abrasive Resource, check out their website at:

Basic Sanders

The basic styles of portable sanders haven’t changed very much over the years. We have some old advertising posters from the Rockwell Manuf...