Being able to power sand your finished bowl makes things go so much quicker and keeps your fingers away from any uneven edges. I normally use 3 different grits of sandpaper as I get closer to the finished product. Each time I change grit I have to rip of the sanding pad and stick on the next. This repeated removal wears out the sanding pads and makes it so the don't stick as well the next time. I got the idea for making my own sanding pad holders from a YouTube video done by Woodturners of Southwest Missouri. A store bought version can cost around $33 while the ones that I made cost less than $1.48 each ($19.24 invested and enough to make 13 pad holders). A huge advantage to my DIY sanding pad holder is the quick disconnect so you can have dedicated holders for each sandpaper grit.
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Step 1: Materials
I bought the bits and quick disconnect from Harbor Freight and the gardening pad and Shoe Goo from my local hardware store. The 2x4 and 2" Velcro I had around the shop. Once you have made as many sanding pad holders as you could possibly want you will still have extra materials. The gardening pad will work great for cushioning custom wooden chucks and Shoe Goo is a great flexible adhesive to have around the house.
For each pad you will need a 2x2" wooden block with enough thickness that the bit can be pressed into it. You will also need a 2x2" section of Velcro and an over sized round piece of foam.
Step 2: Preparing the Wood Base
Determine the size of the bit you are going to use and select a drill slightly smaller than it. Drill a centered hole all the way through the wood block. Take a bit and hammer it into the wood block. As long as you can still fit the quick disconnect on the back, deeper is better. Later on I applied a healthy dose of thin crazy glue to the assembly just to make sure nothing would spin. The bit doesn't have to be perfectly up right in the block because once you put it on the lathe it will correct its self. After mounting it to the lathe and trying to knock off the corners I quickly learned that cutting the corners off with the band-saw is much faster and easier. This should be done when initially cutting out the 2x2" block.
Step 3: Initial Shaping and Glueing
Before shaping the wood base I would advise gluing the Velcro to the foam pad. If you do that first it can be drying while you turn the wood base. As long as the base is round the profile doesn't matter too much. I used my old 2" sanding pad as a diameter reference while working but it doesn't have to be very precise. Over sized is better than under. In an effort to keep the overall length to a minimum (can fit in tighter spots) I parted off the end of the base until it was flush with the end of the seated bit. After a little sanding the base was ready for gluing as well.
Its worth noting that Shoe Goo is not a high temp glue and aggressive sanding can generate enough heat to cause glue to fail. If you think this might be an issue for you use a glue that is for higher temp applications.
Step 4: Final Assembly
To keep things looking neater I trimmed the extra Velcro off the foam, this probably isn't required but I still stand by the choice. Put a healthy amount of Shoe Goo on the wood base and the bottom of the foam pad. I smeared the two pieces together and twisted them together to insure a even coverage. To keep pressure on the assembly while it was drying I put it in a bar clamp with just enough pressure to start compressing the foam.
Step 5: Multiplication
While you have everything set up, why not make a few extra? I went with 6 extra because that was how big the 2x4" was (that's as good of reason as I needed). The only limiting factor for how many you make was the number of bits. Between the 3 that came in the set that had the quick disconnect and the package of 10 I could have made a bunch more!
Step 6: Fill Your Shop With Bits of Blue Foam
I returned the glued up assembly to the lathe and once again used my old sanding pad holder as a size guide. An additional reason I used the extra sanding pad was to apply slight pressure to the assembly to keep it together. I didn't wait very long for the glue to dry so I figured a little extra security couldn't hurt. Use a freshly sharpened tool to round the foam to its final shape, I wouldn't bother trying to cut the Velcro while on the lathe. Once removed from the lathe use a scissors to trim the Velcro and give it a finished look.
Step 7: Rainbow Sanding Pads
As I mentioned in the beginning, I generally go through 3 different sanding grits on each bowl. To keep things as easy as possible I color coded 3 sets of sanding pad holders (1 backup) with wood dye. Now I can leave a sanding pad on the holder and know just by looking at it if it is 120 grit or 320!
If you are going through the work of making your own sanding pad holder you might as well make your own sanding pads! I had made the above video a while ago that walks through that process. By custom making your own disks and disk holders you can make whatever size combinations you want or even custom make them for a certain project. Thanks for taking a look and thank you again to Woodturners of Southwest Missouri for giving me the initial idea.