How to Use Abrasive Paper or Sandpaper
Abrasive papers are made with a variety of coatings, such as granules of glass, garnet, emery, silicone-carbide and flint.
‘Sandpaper’ as such does not exist, this being the misleading name given to glass-paper. Glass-paper and garnet-paper are used for smoothing bare wood to a fine finish. Garnet-paper lasts longer and gives a cleaner cut.
Silicone-carbide paper is better known as ‘wet-or-dry’, referring to the two ways in which it can be used. When dry it is used like garnet or glass-paper. When wet, it is for cleaning off and smoothing down paint. It will last a long time wet, and gives a very smooth finish, though it does leave a sludgy mess which has to be washed off. It is suitable for rubbing down paintwork on both metal (such as car bodies) and wood. The paper should only be kept damp — not running with water.
Emery-paper is for finishing metal only.
All these papers come in ranges varying from coarse to fine. With all of them, the procedure is to start with a coarse paper and work down through the finer grades until the required smoothness of finish is reached.
A fine finish can only be achieved with a fine paper — a coarse paper will not give a good finish, no matter how worn it is. On cabinet scraper rather than abrasive paper — dust produced by sanding clogs the grain, use a
Always use abrasive paper with a cork sanding-block. These only cost a few pence each and are vital for an even finish, as they hold the whole of the paper flat against the surface at the same time. If you use the paper in the palm of your hand, it will only cut where the hand is pressing it against the wood.
If you have to smooth down a shaped edge or a moulding, it is worth cutting a matching-shaped block out of cork or wood, and using the paper wrapped around that. To get the block to match the moulding exactly, cut it roughly to shape then put a piece of abrasive paper on the moulding and rub the block to shape on it.
Damp wood will not clean up to a good finish with any kind of abrasive paper.
Always store abrasive paper in a warm cupboard — damp paper is useless.
If paper becomes clogged during use, clear it by running the back of the sheet over the edge of the bench. This will also make the paper more flexible and therefore less liable to crack.
Have at least one file handy for odd smoothing jobs, such as rounding off corners, trimming laminate bonded to ply or, and flattening a combination of wood and metal. A 250 mm (10 in) long flat file, with a fine cut, is a good all-round pattern. Use it two-handed, at waist level. Cut on the forward stroke, taking care not to work with a rocking motion as this will give a curved surface.
For smoothing floors and other similar large areas, use scrapers with metal or wooden handles, such as the Skarsten scraper.
Floors can be smoothed more easily by doing the main area with a hired commercial sander, but a scraper is still needed for edges and corners where the sander cannot reach.
Scrapers with replaceable blades are available in smaller sizes for a variety of smoothing jobs, and they are easier to handle than cabinet scrapers over long periods.