March 6th, 2014
It seems clear to us that these blog posts and our newsletter get the most attention and response when we offer tip, tricks and ‘How-to” information rather than just our obviously insightful commentary on the world of Sanding Supplies. So a fair amount of my work is scouring the internet to find interesting things to share with you. (My wife has a different term for this work I do, but that is another topic) This week, Wood Magazine came out with a very clever tip on using an electric toothbrush as a tiny detail sander. You can read it here.
This got me thinking again (see our post on Sandpaper ‘Mashups’) about clever shop applications for household items, and not just sanding as we discussed in the Mashup blog. Electric carving knives are wonderful for cutting and scultpting foam. Wax paper is a bit outdated in many kitchens but no known glue or finish will stick to it, so I always have a roll in my shop. and way back in 2011, we even posted a blog on using a vacuum freezer bag as a micro veneer press. Toothpicks, chop sticks and cuticle sticks can all be found in my shop along with a seamstress’s fabric tape measure. I have had the privlege over the years to be able to measure a number of furniture pieces in museums, and the fabric measure is safer since it is much less likely to scratch, and flexible enough to easily take curved measurements.
So in our continuing efforts to bring you interesting and relevent information, we always ask you to share your ideas with us too. What clever uses have you found around the shop for common household items? Feel free to share them by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
February 14th, 2014
Wow. This winter has been just brutal all around North America and even our UK friends have been hard hit. I think we are ALL ready for a change, specifically a change to Spring and the milder temperatures it brings!
But there are other changes afoot as well! We have been hinting around in this blog about changes we are embarking on here at 2Sand.com and we can finally begin sharing the information with you! We are well into the opening of a “brick and mortar” storefront for 2Sand.com! We secured a facility last year to upgrade our warehousing and shipping operations, and it has proper space for a retail storefront and showroom! We are very excited about this, and we even have a couple of candid shots of the shelving being installed as I write this.
The physical location will, admittedly, have the most impact for those of you who are geographically close to us, but we believe that this new “click and mortar” organization will have benefits for all our customers. We are looking at not only using this new space for retail sales, but we are also looking into ways to use it as a classroom and a ‘hands-on’ try-it space as well. We want to devote some space to an area where actual customers can try out sanding supplies or new tools and help us decide which should be included in our product line and which may not be worthy! This real life feedback from end users should allow us to really tailor or lines to the best quality and value products for all our customers.
Much of this is still sort of nebulous and we are refining these ideas as we move forward, but stay tuned (boy, there is a saying that young people have no idea of it’s origin) and we will keep you informed of the progress we are making! As always, we welcome your input. You can contact us by commenting here, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
January 26th, 2014
Last month’s post about trade shows got me thinking about personal and professional developement. It is an issue that is always on my mind. I am convinced that learning does not and should not end with a graduation ceremony. But I have also found that as trades people, we often find ourselves working alone in our shops or with a small circle of co-workers that we interact with regularly. These fairly closed orbits can make it tough for new information and ideas to find their way to us.
Books of course have always been a big part of learning, and since Guttenburg invented the movable type press, the scope and availablitity of books for learning has continually been improving. Trade shows too, at least the best ones, offer seminars and lectures to help attendees learn new things. And often retailers where we buy our tools and materials offer classes in various subjects of interest to their customers.
Pre-internet, these were pretty much the range of learning opportunities for trades people outside of formal schooling. But the web has opened up a great many learning opportunities. YouTube is almost like magic these days. Need to know how to adjust the parking brake on a 1985 Mustang? Search YouTube, someone has filmed the process. And through search engines you can find information on nearly any technique, tool, material or process that you wish.
But it still comes back to you wanting to learn it. In my home woodshop, I like to choose the projects I build not because I know I can do it, but because I am not quite sure I can, and will need to learn new skills to sucessfully complete the job. At that point I can begin scouring YouTube, Google, online forums and such to find what I need. In the last year I attended trade shows, used the internet and even sat in on some seminars presented by vendors to learn new things. One was a day long program (including a nice lunch!) on the current state of 3D printing. That is a technology that is advancing so quickly that it can be hard to keep up to date, but it opened my eyes to a lot of things.
So where do you go for personal and professional development? You can share your ideas for self improvement by commenting here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
January 8th, 2014
As our regular readers know, we really do not like the ‘seasonal’ blog posts and such. At 2Sand.com, we think that a good idea needs to be acted on right away, not held until some arbitrary date. Major changes ARE underway here, but we have not waited until January 1st to begin.
Last year, we moved into a new warehouse/office and even added some staff. Our commitment to providing you great service, low pricing and fast delivery will never change, but we moved to some new digs and added a few folks to help us keep that promise. We are currently exploring some other interesting new changes as well, so stay tuned to this blog and our newsletter to keep abreast.
As I write this, the entire country is in the middle of a deep freeze. A friend in Florida is talking about 38 degrees, Nashville reports single digits and all over the country garage shops are not being used because it is just too cold. Fortunately, we found an indoor option over the past weekend attending one of The Woodworking Shows, in Baltimore. It’s always a great time to wander around, see the new offerings and demos, and get a chance to chat with other woodworkers. We tend to be a solitary bunch, often working alone in our shops or with only a few others, so any chance to meet others and get in a little professional development should be taken advantage of.
What shows or events do you participate in? Do you go to the hobby based shows like this weekend’s? Do you prefer the industrial shows like IWF in Atlanta coming this August? Juried events, craft shows, woodworking clubs? Share your favorite events and why you find them valuable. You can share your favorites by commenting here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
December 7th, 2013
Ok, yes, I used the terms mashup and sandpaper in the same title. But it really does work here. A “Mashup”, for those of you without teenagers in the house, is repurposing songs or videos or some combination of them to create new content, and that is sort of what this post is about. I thought we might spend a few moments talking about uses for sanding supplies other than their designed purpose.
For example, as a kid I learned that my mother’s emery boards were ideal ready-made sanding sticks for my model making. they were stiff, easily held, and came with both coarse and fine sides. They were sized well for model work and could even be cut or trimmed to fit small spaces. I still use them to this day when I meed a sanding stick for very tight openings like the vents on some toe kicks I made for my kitchen. They were made for manicures, but easily crossed over into my model making and then my woodworking as well.
A fairly common tip handed out in “Happy Homemaker” type columns in newspapers (do they even exist anymore?) is to sharpen scissors by making repeated cuts into a sheet of sandpaper. This actually works since to work properly, scissors need to have cutting edges that are quite flat and straight that shear against each other. Through use and abuse, the edges can be nicked and worn. Slicing up a sheet of fine (220 grit or finer works best) sandpaper restores the edge smoothness. But I will throw in a marital hint here; DO NOT try this with your wife’s prized fabric shears! And please do not ask how I know this.
In the shop I use a lot of sleds, jigs and fixtures as I work. These often require a small part to be firmly held in place as a part is being cut. A bit of sandpaper on the face of the jig greatly increases the friction between jig and part and helps hold it in place. Fine, but not too fine grits work best. 80 grit might mark the part, especially if used with clamps, and the surface is too rough to rely on the part sitting as flat as possible. 600 grit is very flat, but might be too fine to really add any grip. 180 to 320 is the right range for this task.
And, of course, once we think of sandpaper as increasing friction, it is a small step from jigs to ladders, step stools and the like. Very heavy grit (40-60) sanding supplies have been used as “non-skid” material for years. In fact, when I recently needed to buy some, they were sold with “grit” ratings even though they were completely unsuitable for sanding! But if you need to re-cover a step on your stool or add a bit of traction around an entry way, an old sanding belt can be “up-cycled” to this purpose. Cut into strips and apllied with contact cement, it can prevent loss of footing for virtually no cost!
If you have repurposed sanding supplies outside the shop, or found unusual abrasives that are not normally found in the shop, share them with us. You can share them by commenting here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
November 25th, 2013
As of this writing, there are 30 shop (not shopping) days until Christmas. If you are organized and on top of your game, you have everything finished and waiting to be wrapped. If you are like me, you are still scrambling for ideas!
As an early gift to you, we are passing along a number of sources for free or inexpensive plans. With time short, we will concentrate on reasonably simple projects that can be completed in the time left!
Your first stop probably should be the websites of your favorite woodworking magazines. Most have all sorts of free plans available for download, as well as a great many more in their online stores. I have made several gifts over the years from the pages of Wood, ShopNotes and Woodworker’s Journal.
Lots of personal and business websites feature plans as well. ConsultingWoodworker.com has a page of plans scanned from antique woodworking books, as well as .pdf files of all his published magazine articles. Minwax too has free plans they publish to encourage customers to try new projects. (using Minwax products of course!)
A relatively new source for plans is Sawtooth Ideas. This is a website that offers plans submitted by others. Some are free, some for sale. What makes it unique is that all of the plans not only give you the downloadable file, but also a 3D computer model than can be viewed using their free “Idea Room” software. The 3D model can be viewed from all angles, exploded, and individual parts isolated with dimensions.
This time of year, your poor mailman is overloaded delivering extra Holiday sale flyers and catalogs. These can be an excellent source for inspiration as well. Ralph from ConsultingWoodworker.com, who writes freelance articles for woodworking magazines says that this is one of his best sources for inspiration. The Lee Valley Christmas Catalog is always a great source of cool gift ideas (for them AND you) as is Sky Mall if you happen to be traveling by air this season.
Of course, this would not be the 2Sand.com blog if we did not remind you to stock up on the sanding supplies you need to finish your gift projects! You do NOT want to find yourself on Christmas Eve with no more 220 grit! (Don’t ask me how I know this)
As ever, we welcome your comments, suggestions and questions. You can share them by commenting here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
November 7th, 2013
Christmas coming, fat geese, halls decking, all that stuff! Yes, Halloween was last week, so naturally we are officially into the Holiday Season! In honor of that, We wanted to share with you some of the cool ideas we have seen this year for “stocking stuffers”. These are smaller items that either you can give to your friends, co-workers and woodworking club members, or you can pass on this list to your loved ones when they ask what on earth to get you!
We would be remiss, of course, if we did not start with items we offer! Sanding sticks fit nicely into socks and really, one can never have too many. Mandrel mounted sanding pads are great for turners. Don’t forget to slip in some sanding disks as well!
We think these “Pencil Blades” from Lee Valley are really cool! Keep one in the storage compartment of your utility knife and you’ll be able to mark with a knife stroke of pencil line at any time!
There are a number of new measuring tools on the market this year as well. The Uniruler is a very new take on the traditional wooden folding ruler; Future Tools has a pair of innovative new designs in tape measures; and the Step Gauge 3D Ruler is a unique set up tool for around the shop.
We try to keep up with all the nifty new products coming to market, but if you know of one we should share, do not hesitate to let us know! You can let us know by commenting on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
October 16th, 2013
After our recent post on pore filling through slurry sanding a reader mentioned that I had not covered the actual proceedure, and had only said: “in the same order and grit”. Mea Culpa. I was unclear and should have said; “in the same order and grit as you would normally sand your project.” The only change to do the slurry sanding is to use a wetting agent (light cut shellac or oil finish) and wet/dry sandpaper in the final one or two steps. The rest is the same.
Now if you want to know what grits to start and end with, and how far to “step” between grits… I hate to say it, but…it all depends on what you are doing. Start with what the finish is to be. If you are painting and want to see the wood grain in the paint, then you can finish pretty quickly, sanding to 120 and done. But if the paint is to be smooth and glossy, you will need to sand down to 220 or even 400 to get the polished look you want. A clear oil type finish requires less sanding than a stained piece since the stain will instantly settle into every scratch on the surface and stick out like a sore thumb. The slurry sanding technique should be sanded down to 400 or even lower since the entire purpose is to acheive a smooth finish. So here are a few tips and tricks to help guide you:
Use a low angle light to find and eliminate defects BEFORE finishing! All sanding leaves scratches behind, even at 3600 grit. The trick is to insure that all the scratches are as small as you want and very uniform in size so that they blend together. In reality when we say that there is a scratch in the face, what we really mean is that there is a random scratch that is larger than the background scratches. A strong light shown across the surface at a very low angle will reveal these outsized defects by elongating shaows the same way a setting sun does.
Try wetting your surface before sanding. All finishes will raise the grain of your wood to a degree as the finish wets the fibers and loose ends curl up. Oils do this much less than water based finishes, but they all do it. Wiping the surface with a cloth dampened with water before sanding will raise these loose fibers so you need not sand as much between finishing steps. Sand with your first two grits, then wet the surface, let it dry and finish the sanding steps. You will be amazed at how much less fuzz you get once you begin applying finishes.
Use proper dust collection. As you sand, not only are wood particles being cut from the high spots of your part, but often bits of the abrasive from the paper come loose as well. Good quality paper reduces this, but it happens. Then you run the risk of having these 100 grit particles under your 150 grit paper as you sand away. As you can guess, one or two of these bits will just leave big scratches all over the surface. Good dust collection during sanding and wiping off the surface between grits will greatly diminish this issue and will help you get more life from your paper.
As much as I do hate to say it, there really is no ‘one size fits all’ instruction for what grits to start with, how far to ‘step down’ between grits, and where to stop. Generically, I like to start with 80 grit, then 120, 220, and 320 if needed. Soft woods might skip the 80 grit and finish with 400, hard woods may end at 220 but add 100 after the 80 grit. A really fine furniture piece might see me sanding all the way to 600 in 6 or 7 steps. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Use more steps with smaller ‘jumps’ between grits, and over time you will develop a feel for what works.
We hope that you find this information useful, and we would love to share your tips and tricks with our readers as well! You can share them by commenting here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
October 7th, 2013
Even though Fall only officially started on Sept. 22nd this year (according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac) many of our customers are already firing up the shop heaters. We wanted to take a few minutes to pass along some tips to help you get ready for the coming cold.
First, before firing up the shop heaters, make sure they are clean and ready to go. You’ve had dust blowing around the shop all summer long, so take a few minutes to vacuum them out and blow them off before you fire them up. A lot of shops I’ve been in, the workers often turn the heaters on before management even knows. So don’t wait around, you do not want to find out the hard way that they are filled with dust, wasps or a bird’s nest. (I’ve seen all of these) You may also want to have your heating contractor come by for a proper cleaning and tune up. If you’ve not done it in a few years, you may actually save money on heating this Winter.
While you are cleaning out the heaters, don’t forget the other appliances around the shop. Back when I worked ina stair shop we had a very exciting afternoon as the dust built up behind the shop refrigerator burst into flames! Which also reminds me that you may want to insure that your smoke detectors are fully operational as well. Not only do batteries get low, but dust build-up can cause false alarms or failure.
While most professional shops are not allowed to get too cold during the Winter, many home or part-time shops do. Did you know that glues and finishes can be adversely affected by cold? In my unheated home shop I bring glues and other non-volitile items into the house to keep them warm. I do not bring flammables in, but do try to minimize the ammount that I have in the shop that may be spoiled by the cold. Check the labels or manufacturer’s websites for this sort of information. Epoxies are less adversely affected by cold, but are much easier to work with when warm, so those get moved indoors as well.
And, of course, in prepping for the cold, you want to make sure that you have the right sanding supplies on hand so that you do not run out due to weather-related shipping issues!
What sort of seasonal tips do you have to pass on and share that I’ve missed here? Share them here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com
September 27th, 2013
The open pores of woods like walnut or oak must be filled before a truly fine finish can be acheived. Even with extensive sanding and several coats of finish, the open pores will be felt through the topcoat. Slurry sanding is an old technique that can provide great results with modern supplies.
Several products are available to fill pores prior to finishing, but are sometimes difficult to use, may change the appearance of woods chosen for their specific color, or interfere with the finishing program to be applied. So I like to reproduce an old technique that has worked for centuries: slurry sanding, also known as flowed finish or by other terms. Traditionally, a wet finsish is applied, then rubbed out with pumice stone, and allowed to dry. Shellac is highly recommended for this process since it dried quickly and works well with most finishes.
Before quality sandpaper was commercially available, pumice stone was used as we would a fine grit sandpaper. Sanding like this with the surface wetted keeps the sanding dust in the wet finish, creating a fine slurry that is forced into the pores of the wood, creating a very smooth surface but does not alter the look of the wood. Because the slurry is made up of the wood being filled, there is no issue with color matching. If the wood is to be stained, it is stained first, so again the match will be perfect. No filler will take stain or finish as exactly as the wood itself, so this method keeps the wood color true.
For oil finishes, I use the oil itself, wetting the wood, then HAND sanding it out with a fine grade of wet/dry sandpaper. You must use a quality paper made to be used wet or you risk having the grit fall off the paper into your finish. Here I have a sample part of red oak. One side is sanded dry in the same order and grit as the other which is sanded wet for the last two grits. The slurry side is then carefully wiped clean and both sides oiled a final time. In the low angle light, you can clearly see the difference.
If you plan to use a top coat, then shellac is best to keep the part wet as the last two sanding steps are carried out. A lighter weight of shellac is used to keep it wet a bit longer than normal. If you do not mix your own shellac, then cut the pre-mixed with a bit of alcohol to thin it out. Shellac won’t interfere with most finishes once it is dry.
We hope that you find this information useful, and we would love to share your tips and tricks with our readers as well! You can share them by commenting here on this blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter. -2Sand.com