October 30, 2014

What do those arrows mean on the back of my sanding belt?

When sanding with a belt sander, you always want to make sure your belt is
oriented properly. Some sanding belts do have a preferred direction, and they
have been manufactured to consider the arrow on the inside. These arrows,
however, are only important to pay attention to when your belts have an
overlapped joint and there is a “bump” to be concerned with. In that case, you
will want the arrows on the inside of the belt to follow the same direction that
the belt is running on the sander. Most belts made in the United States---and all
of the sanding belts we convert at abrasiveresource.com -- are now manufactured with a high strength tape butt joint, and belts made with these butt joints can be
run in either direction . . . so it's OK to ignore the arrows. The tape spliced joints are bi-directional.

Bi-directional belts can be installed either way. The only adjustment you’ll probably have to make is “tracking” to keep the belt centered on the rollers. Hold the sander up, turn it on, and see if the belt either rubs against the housing or starts working its way off the rollers. With the trigger on, adjust the tracking knob until the belt is centered on the rollers. You may have to make a slight adjustment when the sander is on your work piece. If your sander has automatic tracking, you won’t need to be concerned with manually adjusting the tracking.

September 30, 2014

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 Manufacturing company in 1964 matted, framed and hanging in our lobby here at Abrasive Resource and they, quite frankly, look a lot like sanders you can purchase today… although they do look much heavier! Sanding is a chore—there’s no way around it. But today’s new models can make it easier:

Basic Portable Sanders:

belts sander
Belt Sanders- Portable belt sanders are made for fast removal of stock. They will quickly smooth down and level a surface, remove paint or glue lines. They are available in several sizes, but the most popular handle belts in a 3" x 18", 3" x 21", 3" x 24" or 4" x 24" size. 

Random Orbit Sanders- Once the surface has been leveled with a belt sander, the next sander to use may be a random orbit disc sander. These sanders use an oscillating action that removes swirl marks. Random–orbit sanders may be palm sanders or have a grip design and are available in either a pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA disc) design or a hook and loop disc option.

Finish & Detail Sanders- Finish sanders typically use a straight-line or vibrating action. They are sold in half sheet, third sheet and quarter sheet models as well as small palm style detail models that are often referred to as mouse, triangle or diamond sanders. Finish and detail sanders are available in all different shapes, but they all have the ability to get into tight places and corners.

Abrasive Resource laser cuts coated abrasive discs, sheets and strips in all different shapes, sizes and grits. If you need a hard-to-find sheet for a specific sander or application, please give us a call at 800-814-7358 and we’ll be happy to troubleshoot it with you!

For reviews on specific sander models, we referenced this article: http://extremehowto.com/all-about-sanders/

August 27, 2014

Back to Basics: Cloth Sheets

Most abrasive products, like sanding belts and sanding
discs, are ready to use right out of the box. But other sanding
supplies--like sandpaper or cloth sheets and rolls, usually need
to be cut to size before you are ready to sand with them. And
some abrasives benefit from being “broken in” before sanding
to improve their performance. Here are some “tried and true”
tips for handling cloth sheets:

  • Cloth sheets can usually be torn evenly along the weave of the fabric backing
    by ripping carefully across the sheet from one edge to the other. Otherwise,
    a utility knife cuts nicely from the back of the sheet. Common sizes are
    4-1/2” x 5-1/2” and 3-2/3” x 9” for power sheet sanders.
  •  When sanding curved or irregular surfaces, your cloth sanding sheet will
    benefit from a little additional flexing. Just pull the back of a 9 x 11 sheet
    over the edge of a benchtop or machine table. Then turn it 90 degrees and repeat.
  • Even if you choose the most popular name brand of abrasive, it won’t do
    you any good if you continue to sand with that cloth sheet once it’s dull.
    Change out your cloth sheet with a new one as soon as you notice it is
    no longer sharp. Dull abrasive sheets require more energy to remove
    stock, decreasing your productivity. In addition, they will contribute to
    a poor finish on wood.
Most cloth backed sanding sheets have a flexible, J weight fabric backing and
are available in grits 40-400. They are seen as a general purpose abrasive for
wood or metal and can be used by hand or attached to high speed vibrating
sanders. Abrasive Resource also converts custom-sized cloth backed sheets
for specific industrial or artistic applications. 

For more information on cloth sheets, visit the Abrasive Resource website 

or call us at 800-814-7358.

July 22, 2014

Sanding Diamond Willow

Tools that will do the job:
Scrapers, chisels, knives (no folding blades though--it's too hard to see what you're doing through the blood) and of course, sandpaper. All sharp tools must be used in such a manner and direction that the hand not holding the tool is out of danger.

Procedure: Remove the bark from the diamonds. This can be done most effectively with a rounded blade such as a gouge chisel or a knife. Whatever the tool, do not cut too deeply into the diamond area. Traces of bark in the deepest recesses enhance the final appearance. If you prefer to remove all traces of bark, you must take care not to cut to a depth that exceeds the diamond's special coloration.

Next, smooth the overall surface to whatever degree practical using a scraper, rasp, block plane, broken glass (an old Boy Scout trick) or other tool that lends itself to the purpose.

Sanding follows and this is the most important element in creating a good-looking finish.

Sandpaper Recommended: You will need standard Aluminum Oxide Production Paper. Grits needed are 100, 120, 220 & 320. The paper should be tri-folded for easy gripping during use. 90% of the sanding has to be done with the 100 grit paper, so resist the temptation to go to the other grits until you have smoothed the wood to the greatest degree possible with the 100-grit.

Coating: This can be done with whatever finish you prefer except that polyurethane is not recommended. Tung oil finish works very well for everyone.

Submitted by Holace Nelson of Holly Industries

April 27, 2014

What is the difference between open coat and closed coat sandpaper?


Closed Coat means that close to 100% of the backing on a coated abrasive product is covered in abrasive grain. Closed Coat products are more aggressive and cut faster because the grit particles are grouped more closely together.They also provide the best finishes because there are no gaps between the grains. You receive the full benefit of the work that the abrasive grain is capable of doing.


Semi-Open and Open Coat means that there is more space between grain particles on the abrasive product. Semi-Open Coat usually refers to about a 30% reduction in the amount of grain on the backing and Open Coat usually means that there is about 50% coverage. Semi-Open and Open Coat products have less grain on the backing, which results in less cutting power per grit designation...they are not as aggressive as a Closed Coat abrasive product. In addition, Semi-Open and Open Coat products have gaps in their grain coverage, so the finishes they provide are not quite as even and will tend to fall on the coarse end of the finishing scale for that particular grit.

So what’s the bottom line?

You should always use a Closed Coat abrasive unless there is a reason for you not to. The main reason to switch to an Open Coat abrasive is that the material you are sanding or grinding is soft or gummy. Soft materials are soft woods like Pine, Fir, Spruce, Larch, Cedar, Cypress, Redwood, Tamarack, and Yew. Soft metals include Aluminum, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Magnesium, Titanium, and Zinc. When you attempt to sand these types of materials with abrasives manufactured with a closed coat, the areas between each grain will load up with sanding swarf. Eventually it will load up to the point that it’s taller than the grain and will completely cover the grit. If you continue to sand with a “loaded” abrasive, you will burn both the belt and most likely your workpiece. This is where Semi-Open and Open Coat abrasives are most useful.

By spacing out the grains on the backing of an Open Coat material, you create room between individual grains which will help to reduce the amount of sanding swarf stuck between the grains. You can then use compressed air, a rubber cleaning stick or even the movement of the running sander to help dislodge the swarf from the abrasive. This will enable you to sand soft materials for longer periods of time and with better results.

Woodworkers that only sand cherry, oak, ash or other hardwoods usually don’t experience any problems sanding with an Open Coat abrasive, but you would benefit from using Closed Coat abrasives for your hardwoods and reserve Open Coat materials for soft woods only. You sacrifice life, speed and quality when you use an Open Coat abrasive product on a bare hardwood finish for no reason. This may not be practical for smaller woodworking shops that work with different wood varieties every day, but certainly something to consider.

February 22, 2014

Prepping A Car for Finishing

Body Shop Business published a great article about car refinishing a few years back. The mindset that car refinishing is easy seems to be spreading throughout the industry. But there are no shortcuts to perfect paint jobs, and thorough prep work is essential to a lasting, quality repair.

No Scuff ’n Shoot Here
by Nathan Tarr

Clean, Clean, Clean
Many times I’ve observed a refinish tech pull a job into the paint shop, pull out a DA and go to town on the car. And I cringe every time I see it. Why? Because they’ve violated what I consider the golden rule of prep work: Always work with a clean surface.

There are many contaminants on a car’s existing finish, and every paint company makes several types of cleaners to get these contaminants off. The first thing all refinish techs should do to any car they work on is spray it down with their chosen paint company’s waterborne cleaner. Wipe off the cleaner using clean towels, making sure you’re actually cleaning the panel and not just smearing around the gunk. These waterborne cleaners are designed to rid the panel of nasty stuff like bird droppings, bug guts and grubby body tech fingerprints.

You’ll also want to use some solvent-based cleaner on the panel and clean it again. When you just start sanding on an unclean surface, you’re just grinding all that wax and gunk into the paint, which will ultimately result in a repair that just doesn’t last.

Technicians generally don’t have to deal with customers, so we usually don’t have a personal connection with the cars we’re working on. As a result, it’s pretty easy to become thoughtless with other people’s property. But as professionals, we all need to treat these cars in a professional way. Before you go slopping up a customer’s interior, close the windows and cover up any openings that allow dust and sanding goop to go where it doesn’t belong. It’s also a good habit to protect the panels next to the ones you’re sanding with masking tape instead of relying on your extreme skill with sandpaper. The extra time you spend protecting the customer’s car will be nothing compared to the time it’ll take you to fix an extra panel you damaged after zoning out.

Inspect the Damage
The car is clean and protected, but you’re still not ready to get on with this “scuff and shoot” just yet. Now is a good time to check over the body technician’s work. I make sure the repair looks right and is finished in the appropriate grit. Most primers are made to fill 180 grit scratches, so an 80 grit repair is unacceptable in my mind. Yes, my primer will fill the coarser grits, but only for the time being. In most shops, it isn’t standard operating procedure to take care of primer shrinkage three months after the car is delivered to the customer. Now is the time to give the body tech a second chance to finish his repair…

To read the complete article, please visit Body ShopBusiness.com

January 08, 2014

Why do some woodworking shops use Silicon Carbide paper wide belts?

We’ve been supplying sanding belts to the woodworking industry for 29 years now and the “traditional” belt recommended for wood sanding has always been an aluminum oxide, open coat belt.  It is the most common, all-purpose woodworking abrasive, and for good reason. It is the only abrasive mineral that fragments under the heat and pressure generated by sanding wood. This characteristic is called friability and is highly desirable. As you sand, aluminum oxide renews its cutting edges constantly, staying sharp and cutting much longer than other minerals. Aluminum oxide is also a relatively tough abrasive, which means that its edges won't dull much before they fragment. Its friability and toughness make aluminum oxide the longest lasting and the most economical mineral for wood sanding applications.

But sometimes life or price isn’t the determining factor.  In recent years, higher end woodworking plants have started to incorporate Silicon Carbide paper-backed belts into their wide belt finishing line. Why, you ask? Well, here are some of the properties of a silicon carbide paper belt that are beneficial to woodworking:

  1. Different types of abrasive minerals will stain differently. The same grit belts of Silicon Carbide will stain differently than Aluminum Oxide, with a lighter color gradient than when sanded with the traditional Aluminum Oxide belts.
  2. Silicon Carbide is sharper than Aluminum Oxide, and is effective at removing the “hairs” that is the result of the wood fibers being bent instead of cleanly cut by an Aluminum Oxide belt. These fibers then “stand up” after staining and contribute to a blotchy finish.  Common practice is now to belt sand with Aluminum Oxide in your coarser grits, and then switch to Silicon Carbide for your finer grits to eliminate any fuzziness that was created by sanding with the AO belts.
  3. Paper backed belts have a flatter substrate, so the grain height is much more exact over the whole surface than cloth backed belts.  All of the grit starts and ends at the same height—you don’t have the potential for variation like you do when some of the grain sits on top of the cloth threads versus in between the cross-hatched woven cloth threads.
  4. Finally, paper belts run cooler—they dissipate the heat more effectively than cloth belts. And less
    heat=less glazing of the mineral as it wears down & higher quality cutting, which contributes to a finer finish.

Basically, it comes down to finish. Silicon Carbide belts may not last quite as long, and they usually cost more than Aluminum Oxide belts—but they are the preferred wide belt for final finishes in a lot of professional cabinet shops and furniture manufacturers!

Interested in ordering sanding belts?. Just give us a call at 800-814-7358 or contact us through our website.

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...