If you display your embroidery in hoops, you'll want to sand them to make them look and feel nicer! If you use wooden hoops for embroidering (I normally use plastic), sanding them will prevent the wood from snagging on your floss or fabric. You can also stain or paint the hoops once they're sanded. :D
I like to buy my wooden embroidery hoops in bulk to save money, but this means I'm not getting the highest quality hoops and they need a little work before using them.
I buy the majority of my hoops through Create for Less - they have a huge selection of wooden Darice hoops in various sizes for good prices.
The Darice hoops are good quality over all, but they have sharp edges and splinters that you don't want marring your embroidered fabric. They also come with quite large labels adhered to them, so I'll show you how I remove those too.
Step 1: Tools + Materials
After years of fighting with sanding hoops, I think I have finally figured out the best way if you don't have access to a belt sander (which is what I'm hoping to upgrade to soon!). :D
You will need:
- a 320 grit sanding block
- a 400 grit sanding block
- an X-Acto, box cutter, or other sharp knife
- a dust mask
- wooden embroidery hoops
And for real, use the dust mask. Sanding the hoops produces a crazy amount of wood mess. I normally do it in my garage with the door open. :)
We're using sanding blocks here for two reasons:
- Protecting yourself from splinters. For a long time I used sand paper when sanding hoops, but that required me to wrap the paper around the hoop and apply pressure with my hand. I have had splinters go through the paper and into my hand. And I've also had them dig their way into parts of my hand that weren't protected by the paper. It hurts. Don't do it.
- Lessening hand strain. Holding a sanding block is much easier than trying to conform a sheet of sand paper to the hoop. I crank out loads of embroideries, and sanding the hoops with sand paper was giving me serious claw hand.
Step 2: Remove the Label
First off, we need to remove the label from the hoop! Sometimes I get lucky and find a batch with labels that peel right off, but that's rare.
Most of the labels I've encountered on wooden embroidery hoops are a nightmare, so I like to scrape the label off using a sharp knife. Here I'm using a box cutter!
Once you remove the label, you might find that the adhesive has darkened the wood underneath. We'll sand the outside of the hoop now to get rid of that.
(You can also rub the area with a little rubbing alcohol if it's super sticky underneath)
Step 3: Sand the Outside of the Hoop
Leave the hoop intact and tightened - don't separate the rings yet!
Grab your 320 grit sanding block and sand all along the outer ring of the hoop, making sure to get the label area well to remove the adhesive. :)
Step 4: Sand the Front and Back of the Hoop
You'll use the 320 grit sanding block for this bit too! Continue to keep the two rings together and tightened. :)
While I am posing nicely with the hoop for photos, I normally lay the hoop flat on a work surface, hold it down and sand away. It goes much faster that way.
You want to remove any bumps or uneven wood grain that may be present - try to make the surface as smooth as possible.
Once you're done sanding both sides, hold the hoop and tap it firmly against a hard surface to knock all the sanding dust out of the groove between the hoop rings.
Step 5: Lightly Curve the Edges
Now you'll want to grab the 400 grit sanding block.
Keep the two rings intact and hold the sanding sponge at a slight angle against the outer edge of the hoop. Lightly sand all around this edge so that it ends up slightly rounded.
Repeat on the opposite side.
I don't take this too far, I just like to make sure there are no sharp edges left. This will make your hoop easier to hold if you're using for embroidering, and it will make it so much nicer to touch when it's framed. :)
Step 6: Remove Any Dangerous Bits Inside the Hoops
Now you'll want to separate the two hoops. The inside of the outer hoop and the outside of the inner hoop tend to have quite a few rough patches and splinters. If you leave these intact, they may snag your fabric and floss.
I tend to use the 400 grit for this for the most part, but if I find a really rough spot I switch to 320 grit.
And there you are! Wonderfully smooth wooden hoops that are easier to work with and nicer to display embroidery in. :D