Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Abrasive Pads and Woodworking
To get a really smooth finish on a project, it's important to sand between coats. This eliminates any "nibs" that can be caused by anything from dust in the air to bubbles in the finish.

For years, I used sandpaper and steel wool in between coats to smooth out a finish. But recently I've been using a fairly new product -- abrasive pads (I know I'm a little behind, but when I have something that's works, I'm slow to change).

The pads look a lot link the kitchen pads used to clean pots and pans. They didn't clog up with dried finish like sandpaper or leave tiny "slivers" behind like steel wool. And they were flexible enough to mold to curved parts of a project.

The pads consist of small abrasive particles that are bonded into a "web" of interlocking fibers. This web is what gives the pad the flexibility to conform to irregular shapes. The web design also prevents the pads from loading up with dried finish.

As you rub the pad across the workpiece, the fibers wear away and expose fresh abrasive particles. So it's like having a new pad with each stroke. The result is a uniform surface that accepts the next coat of finish evenly.

One other advantage of the pads is they're especially suitable to water-based finishes. That's because the fibers that make up the web are synthetic. So unlike steel wool, you don't run the risk of accidently leaving behind a "sliver" that can rust when the finish is applied.

The pads are available from hardware and woodworking stores and mail-order catalogs. There are several brands, and several grits in each brand. Each manufacturer color codes the pads according to grit.

The confusing part here is that the coding isn't consistent from one manufacturer to the next. So look carefully to be sure you're getting the grit sizes you want. Grits range from very coarse to extra fine.

If you haven't tried these pads yet, I suggest you don't wait as long as I did to give them a try. It's one of those little changes that can take some of the hassle out finishing.

Go to Tip #31
Woodworking Tips Index ©August Home Publishing Company