Introduction: Prepping and Polishing Tiny Spaces

About: Old inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who wants me to invent things for around the house... Now how cool is that?

The past few days have been exceptionally cold, so opening doors to sand blast a set of headers for my project car seemed unwise.

I opted to prepare them for paint using the grinder wire / brush, bronze wool, emery cloth method. It was easy work up to the point where the gaps between pipes prevented me from accessing areas out of reach by any of these tools.

I tried poking sticks to slide strips of emery cloth, but only got frustrated when the cloth kept slipping off the end of the stick....

I thought taping the cloth to the stick would work, but that would only prevent me from moving the emery to a fresh position.

What to do? What to do?

Step 1: What's Needed

The idea is simple and uses only three components:

1: A steel spring clamp. The kind that has removable vinyl covers to protect work from the jaws.

2: A flat strip of steel. I found some 1/2" spring stainless that proved to work perfectly. The strip's width should be not quite, but close to the width of the clamp's jaws.

3: Depending on the task at hand, either coarse emery cloth or a polishing grit wet/dry paper (wet/dry is tougher than regular paper).

Step 2: Make the Tool

Remove one of the plastic tips from the clamp. I never liked these, so years earlier I had removed and stored them. Finally, my habit of storing junk that everyone else would have thrown away paid off.

Using a sharp knife or scalpel and from the inside, poke a hole through the flexible plastic tip's closed end. Slice across the top, the width of your steel strip.

Next, cut the strip to a length that's comfortable to hold and long enough to reach into any spaces you have. Grind one end straight and round the other.

Step 3: Get to Work

Tear a long piece of cloth or sand paper to the same width as the steel strip and fold it over the square end. Slide the cap over that and you're ready to work. When the grit gets used up, slide the tip off, reposition the paper and slide it back on.

The paper will stay in place, allowing the tool to go into deep crevices without sliding off.

Prepping with sand is more convenient, but when the conditions don't favor it, or sand isn't good for the job, this little tool might save the day. When the header project is done, mine is going directly into the finishing drawer of my tool box.