Introduction: Folding Sandpaper for Longer Life

Picture of Folding Sandpaper for Longer Life

My father was an old school cabinet maker. He learned his trade during the depression, a time when everyone learned to be frugal. One of the first woodworking tips I remember him teaching me was the proper way to fold sandpaper. Using this method the sandpaper will last much longer. Sandpaper is expensive, even today.

Step 1: Here's the Issue

Picture of Here's the Issue

If you simply fold sandpaper twice, the abrasive surfaces face each other. While you are happily sanding away with the first side, the two abrasive surfaces are ruining each other.

Step 2: Start With Some Creases

Picture of Start With Some Creases

Fold the sandpaper in half, making a sharp crease across the middle. Open the fold and rotate the paper 90 degrees. Fold once again and make a crease 90 degrees from the previous crease.

Step 3: Tear Along a Crease

Picture of Tear Along a Crease

Using the edge of the table saw, or a sharp corner on the workbench, tear along one of the creases. Any crease will do, I always pick a short one, I'm kinda lazy.

Step 4: Fold Number One

Picture of Fold Number One

Fold one of the panels over, as in the photo.

Step 5: Fold Number Two

Picture of Fold Number Two

Fold again, as in the photo.

Step 6: Fold Number Three

Picture of Fold Number Three

When you bring the last flap down, notice that there are no abrasive surfaces facing each other. Neat.

Step 7: Sand Away!

Picture of Sand Away!

Now you can sand to your heart's delight. Unfold and refold as necessary. You can even wrap the sandpaper sandwich around a block of wood if you wish. Notice how much longer the sandpaper lasts, simple, but amazing.


jscott70 (author)2017-11-16

Hi I read all comments and can't believe no one else has suggested folding in two as usual, then apply a little PVA glue and clamp until dry, as a bench hand joiner for 25 years, I've always used this method. Not only does it prevent slipping, creasing, crumpling etc, it gives a nice firm, malleable piece which can be edge cut with pincers to whatever shape required or to remove a clogged edge to give a fresh edge still using the same piece.

JudyP63 (author)2017-08-02

This made my day. Thank you!!!

deluges (author)2017-07-28

Thanks for this useful tip

bleake (author)2017-07-26

Nice trick. Works better than the method I have been using for years which was folding paper in thirds. One side on top of the other such that the grits never meet.

GWN1 (author)2017-07-25

I watched my father do this, but had forgotten. I'm very glad to see so many people respond gratefully. Thanks!

pmrii (author)2017-07-25

Nice presentation and in theory sandpaper life is longer. However there is more to sandpaper longevity than knowing how to fold it. The first "step" is to select the right kind and grit of sandpaper for the project. Folding is the second step. The third step is knowing how to use it properly for sanding.

Master these steps and you can come out with a beautiful "base" for your finish.

Phil Rasmussen
The Mountain Woodworker
Hendersonville, NC

blackpearlin (author)2017-07-24

Thanks for the simple but valuable trick.

LACADIEN (author)2017-07-24

Super,i try it and its wenderful,THANKS.

CPUDOCTHE1. (author)2017-07-23

I just fold sand paper in half. Back side against back side. If the sheet is too big, I just cut it to twice the size of what I want to use.

If you just fold it once it will tend to unfold during use. there is drag on the wood AND drag on your fingers, so the paper will slip away over itself. Notso if you fold it double, like in the "ible.

David Catriel (author)2017-07-24

Cool little tip. Thx for sharing!

craftymom1956 (author)2017-07-23

very nice. As a woodworker myself, I forget others don't know all these little tips. Thanks.

geotek (author)craftymom19562017-07-23

We have a makerspace, The MakerBarn. Out of our 100 members, about 80% are woodworkers. I was preparing some sandpaper the other day and one of the more experienced members asked me what I was doing. It was then I realized not everyone knew about the technique. So the instructable was born.

arpruss (author)geotek2017-07-24

Until this instructable, I didn't even know that it was useful to fold sandpaper! So, yes, the information is good to spread.

tthomas0189 (author)2017-07-24

Don't forget to first relax the paper by pulling it across the edge of the table- this will also make it more flexible and easier to bend to fit your curve.

Nice instructable!

Big Mikel (author)2017-07-23

This is just plain smart. Of course this comes from the era of "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."

ClareBS (author)Big Mikel2017-07-24

My favorite quote.

TonyT87 (author)2017-07-23

I have been a Carpenter for 43 years and when I sand I do the by folding the paper in two then tear along that line now you have two pieces fold one side to on third then fold the third over then you will have no abrasive sides touching each other.

squared59 (author)2017-07-23

I worked as a cabinet maker for many years and never came across anyone who folded sandpaper that way. All of your points are valid and most people fold sandpaper incorrectly. I find that this method gives you a piece of sandpaper that is too big to use. I have always cut full sheets into 4 pieces (used to be standard for sanders) and then take that piece and fold it into thirds.

swereska (author)squared592017-07-23

A painter (as in walls) taught me to fold it the same way.

His point was that there was no way for you to apply pressure to a larger piece with your fingertips anyway.

I can't speak to "real" wood workers, but I always work with a quarter sheet and fold / wrap / distort / mangle as necessary.

GeraldG38 (author)squared592017-07-23

I would suppose that any rectangular sized piece of sandpaper could be folded using this technique if the folding of a full sized sheet yields too large a working piece for you. I have seen this technique described before but have failed to adopt it largely because by the time I get down to the hand sanding, which I dearly hate, I usually have enough sander scraps to get by with.

Cliffystones (author)2017-07-23

Many thanks for this simple tip. My late Father was also raised during the depression and loved to re-finish old furniture. I still have fond memories of helping him . Though he seldom hand sanded, doing mostly table tops, bar rails and such for the local Moose Lodge and VFW.

justiniano (author)2017-07-23

Thanks for the tip I hate sanding an is the better thing you shout do because in the sanding is the success of your job I do scale models and the sanding is so important for a good finish paint God bless you all.

kjlpdx (author)2017-07-23

I am finding that the hook and loop discs last far longer than the sheets of sand paper, so I use them for hand sanding as well.

Alaskan Bev (author)2017-07-23

I was given a generous supply of different sized wood dowels. When I'm sanding wood with curved valleys, as in your photo, I find a short length of the dowel that best fits the curve, wrap a small piece of sandpaper around that, and sand evenly and efficiently.

dauphin1974 (author)2017-07-23

I love this kind of "smart-hint" thing. I won't forget this when I start my next project - thanks for sharing!

PCAddict (author)2017-07-23

Thanks for sharing this tip. Thanks to you I have all ready started with my first sheet of sand paper in this manner! I have several pieces I need to sand this week and should be able to get it done with less waste than normal.

Lovetra (author)2017-07-23

WOW! These are the tips sometimes learned at the knees of an older generation many of us have even forgotten that DO, by word of mouth, and now the internet passed on. I think it is also a part of being a member here at Instructables.

sean.finch.92 (author)2017-07-23

Cool good idea, I will try that on curvey parts of the wood. ??

DennisO22 (author)2017-07-23

That is a neat thing to know. Also. Before you crease the sheet. Pull the back of the sheet across a sharp edge of a piece of furniture keeping it taught. This will 'break the size' in the paper and give you a flexible sanding surface that will not crack if the sheet has to be 'bent'.

RobertA2 (author)2017-07-23

Excellent. Thank you.

steveastrouk (author)2017-07-23

Good to see an old technique permanently recorded.

billbillt (author)2017-07-23


mbonifax (author)2017-07-23

Easy & effective

PravinP32 (author)2017-07-23

Thanks for the simple but effective tip!

TedK15 (author)2017-07-23

I was taught this way of folding sandpaper from an old cabinet maker also, he also mentioned the depression when he talked about how far it makes the sandpaper stretch. I still do it to this day. Thanks so much for sharing everyone needs to know these old school techniques ?

doitoitmself (author)2017-07-23

great idea! Thanks!

Kaval (author)2017-07-23

Simle but well done and usefull.

axgnUW5VU8 (author)2017-07-23

Nice. Frugality is enacted by a mindset that makes use of such ideas. So much of what I know comes from my depression-era father's tutelage but, more, so much of what I am is because of his way of living. Thank you for the gentle reminder about where I came from and why I am who I am.

About This Instructable




Bio: Retired Electronic Design Engineer. Member of The MakerBarn.
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