The importance of sandpaper for woodworking

The importance of sandpaper for woodworking

Every woodcarver and woodworker knows that sometimes finishing the project takes up as much time as we invested in actually carving, gluing, cutting the wood. Sanding is a very important step in brushing and polishing the surfaces to make the wood smooth for oiling, waxing, and painting.

A good set of sandpapers can make this journey fun and easy, and speed up your whole process. So, it matters a lot to have the sandpapers of different grit to finish sanding step by step until you achieve perfect smoothness.

Sandpaper Types

There are different types of sandpaper based on the abrasive material they are made of. This material is what you use to brush the wood and remove the lumps, and while you will usually meet aluminum oxide in practice, there are other materials to consider.

Silicon carbide sandpaper is a thin synthetic material that you can polish anything with (seriously anything), but after using it once you can throw the sheet away.

Zirconia alumina and Ceramic alumina are other two synthetic materials that are designed to polish metal, ceramics, and wood. You can use them for hardwood, but they will perform well when sanding the glue on the joints of your work. You can also use them to polish over the painted wood.

Garnet is a natural abrasive that is commonly used to sand raw wood, while Emery, on the other hand, is a natural material that is used for sanding metal and hard surfaces.

Sandpaper Grit

We can divide sandpaper into types according to the abrasive material they are made of, but we can also diversify them according to the level of the grit of the material. 

Some sandpapers are designed to remove a larger amount of wood and are used for leveling the lumps on the surface of the wood, or lumps caused by the glue on the edges. For this kind of sandpaper, we say they are rough, used for heavy wood removal. In practice, 60-grit sandpaper is a great choice in your toolset. This is the best sandpaper for woodworking when you want to remove the wood pieces that are sticking out.

The medium-rough sandpaper is around 100-grit, used right after you are finished with the rough sanding. You need this one to make the surface more smooth and polish it nicely to prepare it for the final part.
The fine and super-fine grit sandpapers are literally used as a cherry on the top of the cake. In theory, fine grits go up to 8000, but you will hardly ever need something so delicate in woodworking. Again, when it comes to fine grit papers, the best sandpaper for woodworking is around 120-180 grit, and that is more than enough for every woodworking and woodcarving project.

Using Sandpaper tips

Before you give a go to the set of sandpaper, make sure you checked out the sandpaper reviews from other craftsmen. 

Sandpaper usually comes in a pack of multiple sheets, but often a great deal is to buy an assorted grit set – a set of sandpapers with different grits, that will cover you for the whole sanding experience.

If you are thinking of investing in mega fine sandpaper grit such as 1000 or more, there is no point in using them when woodcarving or woodworking. These thin single-use sheets are most effective if you wish to polish a waxed, painted wood that has been dusty and needs a refreshment. But overall, these are hardly ever used in a woodworking workshop.

What is your sandpaper of choice? What do you think about combining different grit sandpapers when finishing your projects? Share with us in the comments below.