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Handheld sanding blocks are a must for every woodworker. They allow you to easily hold sandpaper, remove unwanted material, and smooth projects. There are many commercially available sanding blocks, but these sanding blocks can be made quickly from scrap 2x4s and spare dowels. The block is split for about three-quarters of its length, and the belt is tensioned with a removable dowel.

Step 1: Design

With this design you can virtually create sanding blocks in any shape or angle you can think of. I have uploaded the dimensions of these two sanding blocks in both PDF downloads as well as the SolidWorks files used to create them.

Step 2: Parts

The only materials you need for this project are:

Step 3: Cut 2x4

Using either a band saw or table saw, rip lengthwise down the 2x4 till it's 3 inches wide and 9 5/16 inches long.

Step 4: Router Edges

Using a 3/8 inch roundover bit, round the four ends of the block.

Step 5: Drill Dowel Pin and Relief Hole

Drill a 3/8 inch hole 1 inch from one end and a 1/2 inch hole 7 inches from the same end. These holes will serve as a location to insert the dowel to create pressure across the sandpaper belt, and to disperse stress to keep the block from cracking.

Step 6: Router Finger Grips

Set up the fence to rout a 1/4 inch deep cut with a 1/2 inch radius starting and ending 1 inch from each end.

Step 7: Make Relief Cut

Cut an 1/8 inch wide slot through the dowel pin hole to the relief hole. This will bisect the sanding block and cause it to separate with the insertion of the dowel pin.

Step 8: Cut Dowel Pin

Cut 3/8 inch dowel to 3 inches in length. Sand a bevel on one end. Slide the sandpaper belt around the block. It should be mostly tight while sliding over the block. If it does not fit, cut a little more off the end of the block, re route the ends of the block and repeat as necessary until the sandpaper fits. If the sandpaper is loose, cut a new dowel pin with a larger diameter until sandpaper is tight.

Step 9: Size 2x4

Cut the width of the 2x4 down to 3 inches wide and 9 91/6 inches long. Cut a 45 degree angle on one end.

Step 10: Drill Dowel Pin and Relief Hole

Drill a 3/8 inch hole 1 inch from one end and a 1/2 inch hole 7 inches from the same end. These holes will serve as a location to insert the dowel to create pressure across the sandpaper belt, and to disperse stress to keep the block from cracking.

Step 11: Router and Round Corners

Using a 3/8 roundover bit, router the top edge of the square end. Using a sander, roundover the 135 degree angle on the top of the sanding block.

Step 12: Make Relief Cut

Cut a 1/8 inch slot from the square end of the block through the dowel pin hole to the relief hole. This will bisect the sanding block and cause it to separate with the insertion of the dowel pin.

Step 13: Router Finger Grips

Set up the fence to rout a 1/4 inch deep cut with a 1/2 inch radius starting at 1 inch from one end to 7 inches in.

Step 14: Cut Dowel Pin

Cut 1/4 inch dowel to 3 inches in length. Sand a bevel on one end. Slide the sandpaper belt around the block. It should be mostly tight while sliding over the block. If it does not fit, cut a little more off the square end of the block, re route the ends of the block and repeat as necessary until the sandpaper fits. If the sandpaper is loose, cut a new dowel pin with a larger diameter until sandpaper is tight.

Step 15: Results

This was a quick and easy project that I originally found in the October 1999 copy of American Woodworker. You can view the publication here.

<p>I just love this concept!</p><p>A thought: Would it be possible to taper the slot with the slot wider at the center of the block and thinner near the outer edge so that the dowel could be inserted by hand in the middle and slid toward the edge (thinner end of the slot) to expand the wood block and tighten the belt?</p>
<p>That sounds like a very interesting idea! Then there would be no need to use a larger dowel when the belt starts to stretch. If you make one please share the results! </p>
<p>Another option would be to place notches at intervals, rather than sliding.</p>
<p>Great plans! Definitely going to make myself a pair of these. Think that I'll use maple, just because I have some. Another plus is that sanding belts last better due to the cloth backing and they're made to stand up to the heat of power sanding.</p>
<p>And you can just rotate them to get fresh sand paper. Great design!</p>
love this! definitely making some of these
Sounds cool
<p>It is a good idea for my sanding block improvement, usually I glued the belt sander, and quite difficult to peel off.</p>
<p>This is brilliant! Such a simple design, but so functional. </p>
<p>LOVE this! Looking forward to making some; thanks!</p>
<p>Great Idea</p>
<p>I love this one. I have a bunch of 2x4's cut to size and sanded for my blocks this looks way better and will keep the bents tight. Nice job thanks! A quick easy build.</p>
<p>Very good and simple proyect with excellent explanations, thanks.</p>
<p>FYI... When sanding wood surfaces before staining or painting, it is best to use a hard flat sanding tool such as you have here. Soft or foam bottomed sanders will only cause uneven sanded surfaces because they dig into the softer wood between the grain layers. A hard bottom sander bridges over the softer areas and keeps the sanded surface flat. I have always wrapped sandpaper around an oak block to sand with but I like your idea better.</p>
<p>I made something very similar to this last year, instead of the slot with the dowel, I slowly sanded the block down until the sandpaper would just slip onto the block. It worked great on the project I used it on.</p>
<p>Thanks for the handy ible, i really need something like this...:)</p>
<p>These are genius! </p>
<p>YES! am very glad this came up in my suggestions feed. I have needed something like this for YEARS. best project ever!</p>
<p>I still have a couple of belts from a broken sander (I know have large fixed one). So far I re-used those belts by cutting them and glueing them to a plate. But this is much smarter - of course. Thanks for sharing! </p>
outstanding idea. great instructions too. thanks for sharing.
I can't read the solid works project files.. any chance you could upload .stl's for 3d printing? I'd love to make a pair!
<p>I added those STLs to Step 1. I'm not sure how ABS or PLA would do with the strain of inserting the dowels. Print it and let me know, now I'm curious!</p>
<p>Wonderful creative useful concept! Well documented 'ible. I like the animated gif too!</p>
<p>What a great idea!</p>
these are great! I'd love a pair. Also would love a gif of the paper being taken on and off to show how simple it would be using this method.
<p>I added a GIF to the intro. The dowel is driven in place by a hammer or mallet. Thanks for taking a look! </p>
<p>Very nice thanks!</p>

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Bio: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Mechanical Engineering. I love making things and doing anything outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am ... More »
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