Training and information on sanding is becoming more accessible, with schools partnering with suppliers for training in automated and hand sanding. Finishing manufacturer Mirka provided a training session (shown here) at the National Institute of Wood Finishing (woodfinishing.org). Its curriculum, directed by Mitch Kahonek, operates within Dakota County Technical College near Minneapolis.
Madison (WI) College recently staged its 5th annual Sanding Seminar, in partnership with 3M and Stiles Machinery. The Madison College Cabinet Making & Millwork Program, a member of the Woodwork Career Alliance education network, is directed by Pat Molzahn. (3M, by the way, has begun rolling out a new generation abrasive for the wood industry, Cubitron II.)
The American Wood Finishing Institute (awfi.org) in South Boston, VA, founded by Phil Stevenson, focuses on training incumbent workers to upgrade skills, and consulting on best practices in wood finishing production workflow for cabinetry and furniture manufacturers, along with other industries.
Tips and Safety for Abrasive Belts
Machinery and abrasives suppliers offer troubleshooting and best practices tips on sanding, such as these FAQs from Uneeda Enterprizes.
What is the correct grit sequence to use on a wide belt sander?
First you must decide what grit you want to finish with and then work backwards, taking into account how much total material you are looking to remove. You should not skip more than one grit in any sequence to optimize abrasive life and ensure the highest quality finish.
How do I know if I am maximizing my abrasive life?
Abrasive life is a function of what type of material you are sanding, machine condition, environment, and grit sequence.
Should I clean abrasive belts?
Cleaning of abrasive belts is only recommended when soft materials such as pine are being sanded. These materials tend to load abrasive belts prematurely and once cleaned, will still perform well. It is not recommended to clean belts that have been used on hard materials such as oak and cherry because once these belts are worn down they cannot be re-sharpened after cleaning.
Why do I sometimes get swirl marks or fish eyes when disc sanding with a pneumatic random orbital sander?
Swirl marks, also called fish eyes, are usually a result of insufficient air pressure into the sander causing the sander to slow down. Random orbital sanders should run with a minimum of 10,000 RPM. Any slower and swirl marks may appear.