How to Make a Sanding Bow

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Introduction: How to Make a Sanding Bow

About: I like to make things out of wood.

Everybody hates sanding, right? I don't mind it so much myself, but certainly some sanding jobs are more tedious than others. Here's a tool that can bullnose the edge of a shelf in short order, if that's something you ever needed to do.
It's simply two notches cut into a 1" x 2" with a relief cut to allow the sandpaper to give. The strip of sandpaper is reinforced with strapping tape and wraps around two keys that fit into the notches. This arrangement works best when the sandpaper is stretched as tight as possible.

The blank actually measures 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 15".

I'm leaving 3" for the keys because I'll be using a block plane to fit them, and it's easier to plane a 3" piece than two individual keys.

Supplies

For this project you will need:

  • Rough grit sandpaper (60 or 80)

  • Strapping tape

  • 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 15" blank

  • Hand saw

  • Coping saw or chisel

  • block plane (optional)

  • Pencil

  • Ruler

  • Square

  • Knife

Step 1: Layout and Cut the Notches

I often prefer to work off a center point so I'll make a mark at 12", find the center of the bow, and measure 4 1/16" off the center each way. These marks represent the inside walls of the notches. I'll lay out 1/2" for each notch and then score all my cuts, including one cut in the center which will serve as a relief cut when I'm shaping the handle.

I used a marking gauge set for 1/2" to define the depth of the notches.

Step 2: Make the Keys

From the 3" piece, I split 1/2" off one edge. It will have to be planed or sanded to a fairly loose fit.

Next, I cut a shallow kerf in one edge, no deeper than 1/8". This tiny groove will receive the end of the sandpaper.

Then, I cut 2 pieces about 1" to serve as the keys.

Step 3: Prepare the Sandpaper

The secret weapon here is Strapping Tape. Reinforce the back of the sandpaper with the tape, but don't extend the tape all the way to the ends. Leave about 3/4 of an inch untaped. The back of the tape is slippery and the sandpaper will hold better if it can grip the key somewhere. It's best if the tape goes just around the first corner of the key.

Step 4: Test the Fit

The moment of truth.

No use in shaping the handle if it isn't going to work.

Step 5: Shape the Handle

I used a roll of tape to mark the curves on the ends.

For the long curve, I clamped scraps to the blank and used them to bend my ruler, leaving the handle at least 3/4" thick.

Step 6: Finish It

Once I know it's going to work, I'll cut out the curves, sand it, and finish it. If you don't have a coping saw, a chisel will do the job just as well. The relief cut in the center makes cutting the long curve with the coping saw easier, but it's critical if you are using a chisel.

This is one of those tools you didn't know you needed until you have one. You may be surprised how often you find your self reaching for it. Happy sanding!

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    12 Comments

    0
    boffincentral
    boffincentral

    Tip 11 months ago

    Cloth backed sandpaper will allow you to avoid needing strapping tape. You can buy this by the roll for not a lot of money.

    I like your design. It's the best I've seen!

    Thanks.

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 11 months ago

    I’m glad you like it.

    Thanks for the tip! That’s an idea worth investigating.

    0
    silkier
    silkier

    11 months ago

    What a beautiful "simple" tool.
    So satisfying to watch creation in action.
    Thank you.

    0
    Vellegazelle
    Vellegazelle

    11 months ago

    Your instructions and video are very clear; the end result is clean and functional. Are you a purist in your craft, about not using power tools?

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 11 months ago

    Half by necessity, half by design. I don't have access to powered equipment at all right now. I don't miss it tho, because I've always been into hand work. As I get older, I am really coming to appreciate the quiet of it. It's more satisfying in some other ways as well.

    I am very much a minimalist, by the way. Simple designs well executed are a beautiful thing to me.

    0
    Vellegazelle
    Vellegazelle

    Reply 11 months ago

    I totally get it. As a seamstress and quilter, of course I use my machines for stitching long seams, decorative motifs, or clothing construction. But there's nothing more quietly soothing than taking needle and thread in hand for completing meticulous handwork. It is a peaceful endeavor and, as you say, satisfying.

    0
    obillo
    obillo

    11 months ago

    This is an excellent DOUBLE instructable. Double because first you can make a sanding bow for peanuts rather than pay $20 to Rockler or $22 to Lee Valley Tools. Second, you now learn if you don't already know that Amazon is not necessarily your first choice?best price option. The $20 bow direct from Rockler is $30 from Azon. Same thing w/eBay, by the way. Kudos to Kinderhook.

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thank you, and I'm glad this makes you happy.

    0
    williamhdixon
    williamhdixon

    Question 11 months ago on Step 1

    How did you know how far apart to cut the notches? I would have thought you would need to cut the keys first, wrap the sandpaper around them, and measure how far apart they are. (Or is this your second one, and that's how you did the first one? Or are you just that much better at measuring and calculating than I am?)

    0
    Kinderhook Woodcraft
    Kinderhook Woodcraft

    Answer 11 months ago

    Trial and error, my friend. I first made one of these a very long time ago. I spent some time working this model out so that it would (hopefully) work for anyone provided you're using rough grit. Obviously the game changes when you go to finer grits.

    Keep your eye on me if you're interested in how to handle grit changes. The next project I'm going to do will require it.

    0
    jbeattie89
    jbeattie89

    11 months ago

    Perfect hand tool to use with carving!