Introduction: Sanding Sticks

This is a tool that has many uses. The first time I saw it was while watching my engineer father working on a draft board, and using a small version of it to sharpen his pencils. Later, when I got a little older, and both we were building model airplanes and boats together he made a few to help fine finish the compound curves the models had.

It is fairly easy to make and almost free, besides the flimsy looks it is rather sturdy being laminated from two pieces of wood and last a long time because the file like nature of the surface is longer wearing on the sandpaper than if using sheets by hand alone. there are no high spots to wear out prematurely...

Sanding sticks are convenient, but they can be made from just about any scrape of decent wood, plywood and take any shape necessary. The Sandpaper can be anything, paper or cloth and in any grade needed.

I made it at TechShop Chandler,

Step 1: Materials Needed

The materials are some small paint stirring sticks and sandpaper of your choice. I used Titebond glue but anything else that can stick the sandpaper to the wood works.

Paint stirrers are sometimes free for the asking, at least around here...

I save scraps of plywood that can be fashioned into a file like shape for larger projects, and also use tong depressors from craft stores for fine work.

Sand paper can be bought at hardware stores in sheets, however the best bang for my dollar is at local woodworking stores. They sell remnants from machines by the pound and usually have a bin full of different grits on cloth backing.

Step 2: Prepare Materials

Get it all laid out. Take out a straight metal ruler, and on a cutting mat using a fresh blade for the cutter lay the sandpaper grit face down and cut strips just a bit thicker then the stick width. The face down method preserves the blade and it will last longer that if cutting with the grit face up.

If cut just a bit wider (1/16 or so) It is easier to position the strips when gluing, and when dry, they can be easily trimmed to the actual width. Get them about the right lenght, though, the handles do not need to be covered. They should resemble real files in construction not emery boards.

Step 3: Gluing Sandpaper

Smear some glue on the sandpaper strips, not too much so it drips and ruins the grit, and lay them on the sticks on one side only. Use some wax paper to prevent them from sticking to the two scrap pieces of wood boards that were used as cowls to clamp them down. If you are careful you can skip the wax paper

Let the whole assembly dry. When done, take them apart, if you were careful enough they will just came off with minimum effort and the grit is not clogged by glue.

Set them down on the cutting mat grit face down, and using the cutter trim the edges flush. Now they are ready for final gluing.

Step 4: Laminating the Sticks

Now that you made the one sided sticks you can glue them together two by two to get the final product. I used the same Titebond and carefully smeared some, on only one side of the pair. They do not need a lot of glue

Put a rubber band at one end (the handle) and some paper tape at the other. It will prevent slipping and the sticks will dry aligned and true.

Clamp the whole setup again between scrap boards and tighten with some clamps. I made two complete sticks so I stacked all four halves together. You can probably stack quite a few and get a whole bunch ready at the same time, and end up with a full assortment of grits in one shot.

Let the whole assembly dry again.

Step 5: Finishing

After they are dry, take them out, they should be pretty stiff and ready to use. You can drill a hole in the handle and hang them up. They should not be thrown in a heap in a drawer because just like files the cutting edges will get dull from rubbing together.

As an additional embellishment one can wrap some cord around the handle to give a more comfortable grip.

It is best to make these in batches and cover a large assortment of grits in one glue up. They are long wearing especially the cloth backed variety. These are not for wet sanding so use appropriately. They are great for all kinds of wood, foam and also metals, whatever the sandpaper was meant for these will handle. They can also be made with a slight curvature for special profile work.

After i made them I used one to round of the edges of my other tutorial where I made an "wood slapper" used for delicate auto body work where a metal or nylon hammer would be too harsh or shaped wrong

Hope you found these tools useful, I did


Step 6: Use

I use my sanding "sticks" just like files, although they are somewhere between emery boards and files. They work great on balsa wood but they are good for just about anything including metal. They take the burr of sharp metal edges as well as being used for my manicure needs :)

It would help to write the grit on the handle so you can remember later, the sandpaper was glued with the markings down I hope and cannot be read any more...

Hope this helps somebody, Cheers