Even the most automated shop finds it hard to escape hand sanding from time to time even if it only the occasional touch-up. And for the full custom operation working with something new each job, hand sanding may be an unavoidable part of the job. So, how do you make a hand process more efficient?

Ali Industries recently released a line of hand sanding accessories under the Zip Sander brand. These are clever devices designed to tackle a wide variety of sanding operations, adding comfort and a level of precision to the process.

Foam-backed tools

Key to all of the Zip Sander products is a bright yellow foam rubber backing. The basic tool is a six-sided foam block with points on either end and a big round grip handle on top. Hook and loop connections allow for easy and sure attachment and replacement of the abrasive paper, which comes in a wide variety of grits. The pointed ends are just the thing to reach into inside corners in drawer boxes and cabinets.

If you are used to more conventional sponge sanders, there is a Zip Sander sponge holder that gives a better, more even pressured grip on the sponge block. I particularly liked the Micro Zip Sander, which puts a foam handle on a small rectangular sanding surface. The 1 x 3-1/2-inch sanding area is just the thing to get into tight places like the raised sides of raised-panel doors or inside radii on curved work.

Going beyond woodworking, there is also an oval handle unit called the AutoZip Sander targeted for automotive work, and there are handle and pole sanding units designed for large surfaces such as drywall.

Easy to use

Using these sanders is certainly not rocket science. Simply attach the hook and loop sandpaper and go. Results were what you’d expect from a good foam-backed sander. One project I tackled with the Zip Sanders was refinishing a rifle stock, and the little Micro Zip Sander was very handy around tight curves like the bottom of the cheek piece, while the larger unit covered more even surfaces.

In addition to the Zip Sanders, Ali Industries offers a full line of abrasives under the Gator brand.

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