Tax Day Entertainment

April 15th, 2014

Yes, it is April 15th as I write this. Tax Day. The magic day when business owners and the self employed get to write not one but TWO checks to our Uncle. One to pay the rest of last years taxes, and another to pre-pay what we hope to earn over the next three months even before we actually earn it! But rather than get ourselves all worked up, we decided to provide a public service to our customers by announcing our new YouTube channel! We have been promising new things for 2014, and this is one of them. has an official YouTube channel. Just one video at the moment, but we plan on adding them regularly.


Our premier video is on making a dirt simple honing plate for keeping hand tools properly sharp during use. I own and use a power sharpening system, and many folks use water or oil stones for sharpening, and both these options are still needed. But when working at your bench chopping mortises, you need to refresh the edge pretty regularly to work efficiently and keep the cuts clean. I have found that walking back and forth to the sharpening station breaks the ‘stride’ of my work, and oil or water stones are too messy to keep on my bench while working. So I keep a honing plate on hand for refreshing the edges.


The honing plate is nothing more than a sheet of wet/dry sandpaper mounted to a scrap of MDF. It provides a smooth level surface for touch ups on my tool edges during use. It is not for setting initial bevels or repairing nicks and other damage, that would take forever. But when I feel my blade is not biting properly, a few seconds on the honing plate gets me right back to work.



So while you are standing in line at the Post Office waiting to get your returns postmarked, you can kill a couple minutes watching the first of many how-to videos we plan to bring you! We have plans for others, but we also invite you to let us know what you would like to see. Products you want reviewed, techniques you with to learn, whatever. Share your ideas with us and we will add them to the list. As always, you can  share by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.


Watch the Video

Too Cool to Not Share

March 19th, 2014

OK, we are a sanding supplies company, and although some people might tell you that all we talk about is sanding, that’s not quite true. We do have other interests, and this week proves it. We found out about two new products that are simply too cool not to share.


The first is a lighted outlet cover that was shared by Pro Tool Reviews called SnapRays. This is one of those ideas you sometimes find that make you wonder why your brain does not work that way! I have a hallway in my house that screams for this, and one or two in my shop would also be welcome. Someone is going to make a fortune off this. I have no idea what they cost, but since they tap off of the brass “hot leads” on the sides of the outlet, there is no actual wiring to do, it’s totally DIY!




The second cool thing we came across was woven veneer. Not strips in a basket weave, but actual veneer cloth. Woodworking Network carried an article this past week about Ki-Ori Tennage, an actual fabric woven from veneer. This is a modern take on a traditional Japanese textile process. What makes it stand out to us is that it is flexible like a fabric, but looks like actual wood even when formed onto 3D shapes. It is expensive and not easy to find yet, but there is a LOT of interesting potential here. I have ordered a sample kit of this new material and am looking forward to getting my hands on it. Not sure if I even have a use for it, but we will see.



We live in an interesting time when innovation is sometimes hard to keep up with. Fortunately, sharing interesting things with our friends and customers has also never been easier, as proven by the new things you heard about today! We, as always, invite you to share with us as well and we will pass along anything we think is noteworthy. Feel free to share by commenting here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

Clever Tips

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.




Winds of Change

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 and we can finally begin sharing the information with you! We are well into the opening of a “brick and mortar” storefront for! 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.

Back To School?

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.

Not a New Year’s Post

January 8th, 2014

As our regular readers know, we really do not like the ‘seasonal’ blog posts and such. At, 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.



3 Sandpaper Mashups

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.

A Gift of Plans for Your Gifts

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. 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, 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 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.

How Big is Your Christmas Stocking?

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.

I Hate to Say It, But…

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.