Reusable sanding screens extend abrasive life
February 1, 2022 | 8:24 am CST
Freud Diablo SandNET abrasive net

Available in a wide variety of formats, grits, and configurations for hand and power sanding, Freud’s Diablo SandNET products feature a ceramic abrasive bonded to a mesh backing.

Let me start by saying I hate sanding. I find it tedious, boring, and often dusty and dirty. Of course, I do appreciate what a properly prepared surface does to improve the finish on a product, but I just don’t enjoy the process. I’d rather build than sand.

So, when the folks at Freud sent me a huge sample pack of all sorts of sanding products from their new Diablo SandNET line, I wasn’t instantly enthusiastic. But when I opened the box and started looking at all the various products, I was intrigued. This was definitely different.


Screens not paper
The foundation of the SandNET system is a mesh screen with ceramic abrasive. The idea is to reduce clogging and extend the life of abrasive materials. I’ve seen mesh sanding products before for specialized purposes such as drywall, but these new products are intended for wood, metal, and plastics. Freud says the ceramic blend of abrasives they use is designed to maximize performance while the net construction reduces clogging and dust buildup.

In fact, you can shake out dust from the screen, vacuum it, and even rinse it to clean it, and it’s good to go again. Freud claims that allows for 10 times the life of standard comparable abrasive products.

Lots of choices
The sample pack I got had a huge range of choices. There were screens to fit on a reusable dual density foam hand sanding block. There were sheets to work in ¼ and 1/3 sheet sanders or by hand. There were sanding discs to work with random-orbit and DA sanders including a special foam pad to aid in dust collection. There were also individual foam abrasive blocks that are part of the SandNET system but don’t feature the obvious mesh surface. 

Putting mesh to the test
When I look down at my sandpaper or disc and see it quickly clog up with dust and gum, I know it’s not working the way it should. That’s just not a problem with the SandNET products. They keep working, and the sanders I have hooked up to dust collection worked better. When I really get going and do clog the mesh, the process of shaking, vacuuming, rinsing, brings it right back to full use. I really couldn’t detect deterioration in the abrasive comparable to what I’m used to seeing.

Certainly, the abrasive on these mesh products does wear out eventually, but it’s definitely more durable and resistant to abuse than conventional paper or cloth backed products. Of course, how you sand, how much you sand, and what you sand, will all make a difference. But the SandNET system is worth trying out in your own shop. For more information, visit diablotools.com.
 

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.