Sanding Sponges Offer Soft Touch for Contoured Surfaces

By Bill Esler | Posted: 04/30/2014 4:34PM

 

Reaching into contoured surfaces, flexible, abrasive sanding sponges and pads are the right choice for a wide variety of curved or contoured applications on wood. Thicker and more flexible than sheets, sponges and pads provide an alternate to the gripping angle on sanding sheets – welcome relief to tired hands.

Pads and sponges can handle light stock removal, can be used for sanding sealer and wash-coats, for touch-up or repair of primer. They can also be used for removing raised fibers on whitewood as well as for stain and sealer sanding.

Reduced clogging is another advantage over paper. Because sponges and pads are flexible, the dust can be knocked or “flexed” out of them. And the combination of flexible foam backing material and abrasive grit adhesion tends to continually release sanded material as you go. They can even be washed.

The soft backers allow for pressure control, with foam backing distributing the weight of the hand – especially helpful on sanding veneers or roughing coats. Unlike paper, which can fold or crease – and then scratch – this is less of a problem with sponges and pads.

The utility and acceptance of sponges, pads, and sanding blocks, is reflected in their wide availability. Here a few sources:

Uneeda abrasive sanding sponges are washable and reusable, as well as durable. Uneeda’s Uneesponges are available in thicknesses of 3/16-, ½- and 1-inch, with aluminum oxide and silicon carbide abrasive grains and a variety of grades. Uneesponges are suitable for sanding curved, contoured or flat surfaces. Uneeda’s abrasive sanding sponges are washable and reusable as well as extremely durable. sandpaper.com

3M is a natural in sanding sponges and pads, given its status in the commercial and consumer sponge and scrubber market. In its Flexible Foam Sanding Sponge, which is just 3/16-inch thick, 3M touts an innovative foam construction, ease of grip, and durable abrasives that hold the sanding sheet to the sponge.

Most sponges are thicker; the relatively thin 3M pad design means the sponge can be curled to slip under curves. Offered in medium to a new ultra-fine grade (for clear coat sanding) the sponge grades are equivalent to 120-180 (medium) all the way up to 800-1000 (ultra fine).

They can be ordered by the case of 250 or in packs of 20 shipped 120 packs to the case. shop3M.com

Sanding Blocks
Klingspor offers the UltraFlex Sanding Pads, which incorporate a dense foam structure and a coating of either aluminum oxide or silicon carbide grains. “This makes for an extremely long-lasting pad that is very flexible for finish-sanding of contoured parts and profiles,” Klingspor says. A double density hand block features one hard side for blocking while the other side is softer for feather or contour sanding. A hand palm sander, hand sanding block and the ergonomically contoured hand block are also offered. klingspor.com

Sia Abrasives offers Abrafoam, which it says is produced in a continuous environmentally-friendly production process. Following the application of the adhesive, the abrasive grit is gravity fed and scattered onto two adjacent sides of the block or one side of a pad.

The process provides a consistent grit coating even on the edges of the product. Internal production of foam, says Sia, allows them to adapt the material hardness for the person doing the sanding. This provides good surface results with manual sanding on wood, paints and varnishes.

Sia Abrasives Standard Block features a combination of high removal capacity and good surface quality. It has 4-sided grit coating, adapts to all surfaces, edges and profiles. It can be cleaned with compressed air or water, and can reused multiple times. Sia recommends it for sanding out varnishing errors, such as varnish runs, orange-peel effect and dust motes. sia-abrasives.com

Norton offers WoodSand Molding and Millwork Abrasive Sponges. With four different shaped surfaces, the WoodSand Molding sponge is designed to conform to inside and outside corners, curves, contours and flat areas of crown, chair rail, door casing and base molding.

It has a ¼-round edge for sanding inside curved surfaces, flat sides for flat ,and mild contoured surfaces, and a 45° edge for getting into sharp inside corners. It can be rinsed and reused multiple times. nortonabrasives.com


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About the Author

Bill Esler woodworkingnetwork.com

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Associate Publisher/ Editor in Chief, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for editing Custom Woodworking Business and coordinating content for Wood Products , CLOSETS , WoodworkingNetwork.com, and related newsletters. Bill’s expertise includes using innovative print manufacturing techniques to grow audience engagement, digital printing, purls, QR codes; and lead-generating webcasts, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at besler@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

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