Is sandpaper a dirty word? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 10-03-2011, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Is sandpaper a dirty word?

My old master and teacher (father) use to have a few golden rules.

One was that sandpaper for finishing belonged only in a production shop. Hand made period re-production may not see sand-paper, only hand planes and scrapers and some times a few small plane marks should show.

He had a lot of rules and liked finishing most of his pieces in natural woods with only mineral oil and paste wax.

Picture of one of his works is attached.

Sometimes I cheat and I do use sanding machines, but it always makes me feel bad.

Doing six chairs at the moment and I will probably do some sanding.

Opinions?
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post #2 of 21 Old 10-03-2011, 03:57 PM
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Only if its dirty sandpaper

Sandpaper and it's variants have been around the woodworking crafts for untold centuries . Its' a tool , just like any other .
If it works without stuffing up the work , why not use it

Your dad did grand work
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post #3 of 21 Old 10-03-2011, 04:39 PM
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From what I see in the picture your father did fabulous work.

Sandpaper is a perfectly acceptable tool. An essential tool in my case.

Are you from around the Pinehurst area? I grew up in Southern Pines. (many, many years ago. Graduated high school 1954)

George
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post #4 of 21 Old 10-03-2011, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
From what I see in the picture your father did fabulous work.

Sandpaper is a perfectly acceptable tool. An essential tool in my case.

Are you from around the Pinehurst area? I grew up in Southern Pines. (many, many years ago. Graduated high school 1954)

George
Thx George.

Yep, I'm in Pinewild, Pinehurst, real close to your old stomping grounds.

I'm not from there originally from South Africa. The piece shown was made there, from Imbuia (Brazilian Walnut) and South African Yellow Wood. (Podocarpus latifolius). It is their national tree and protected now.
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post #5 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 04:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuka Jock View Post
Only if its dirty sandpaper

Sandpaper and it's variants have been around the woodworking crafts for untold centuries . Its' a tool , just like any other .
If it works without stuffing up the work , why not use it

Your dad did grand work
I seriously doubt that. Sandpaper can't be a that old invention. If you look at old woodwork you can clearly see that no sandpaper is used. The crisp and sharp edges of even complicated profiles are not dulled with sanding. This was accomplished with very sharp tools and and of course skill to use them. The different techniques of use of chisels, handplanes and scrapers was taken to a very high level. In woodturning skew techniques made it possible to make sharp profiles impossible to obtain with scraping and sanding.

Sometimes a grass, I belive the english name for it is Rough Horsetail (Snake Grass in South Africa), was used as a kind of sandpaper. The stalk of this plant is hard and contains silicon. (my grandmother used it to clean kitchen pans) Also shark skin has been used.

Back to your question, depends how you look at it. If you put an honour in using handtools an earmark of a good craftsman is that no or little sanding is needed. If on the other hand you more look on the result and use all methods available sanding is just one of them.

BTW, wonderful piece your father made. Is it still in your posession?
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 04:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Longknife View Post
I seriously doubt that. Sandpaper can't be a that old invention
Do the research , and note that I said "Sandpaper and it's variants"
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post #7 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Manuka Jock View Post
Do the research , and note that I said "Sandpaper and it's variants"
What results did your research come up with?
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post #8 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Longknife View Post
What results did your research come up with?
Did you read my first post on this thread ?
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post #9 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 07:33 AM
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No expert on how long it has been around, but sandpaper gives tooth for a finish to hold onto. Many finishes won't stick to a surface that is too smooth.
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post #10 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuka Jock View Post
Did you read my first post on this thread ?
Yes, I certainly did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuka Jock View Post
Only if its dirty sandpaper

Sandpaper and it's variants have been around the woodworking crafts for untold centuries . Its' a tool , just like any other .
If it works without stuffing up the work , why not use it

Your dad did grand work
A bit unspecified for a research result, if I may say so.

My research has led me to that sandpaper was invented in England 1833 (not exactly untold centuries ago) Use of sharkskin and Rough Horsetail is also mentioned. However I belive those methods was used only at rare occasions and for specific tasks.
I base my opinion (as stated above) on my studies of old woodwork, reading books on old woodworking techniques and by talking to old woodworkers who mastered the use of handtools.
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post #11 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 07:37 AM
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Well, I'll be...

Jock is right.
It's the "variants" that were that old, more of precursors than what we typically call sandpaper these days. You both are correct.
According to the Wiki folks since the 13th Century:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandpaper

BTW I'm no master woodworker like your father, but when things don't exactly line up surface wise, a 64th or so, I bring out the ROS sander and some 80 grit to level them out. I had to do this on some Poplar doors yesterday, where the grains run at 90 degrees and hand planing would have caused tearout on one or the other. I really like to use cabinet scrapers when they are appropriate.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 10-04-2011 at 07:45 AM.
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post #12 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
According to the Wiki folks since the 13th Century:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandpaper
Quote:
The first recorded instance of sandpaper was in 13th century China when crushed shells, seeds, and sand were bonded to parchment using natural gum.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandpaper
That was the first page on the rank that came up when I , out of curiosity after the challenge , did a search on sandpaper . I didn't even have to enter in 'history' as a keyword .
I'm baffled as to how a body could not find it

Sand , and sharkskin , and pumice where available , have been used here in Polynesia by carvers , for centuries , on stone , bone , and wood .
I have used all three myself just to try them out . I prefer the sharkskin . Its' less messy , and I found that wet sanding was better than dry .
Wet pumice is great for polishing .

Last edited by Manuka Jock; 10-04-2011 at 09:01 AM.
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post #13 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 10:15 AM
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Sanding with sharkskin, is one of the very few things I haven't tried. Must get me some "JAWS"!

Harrison, at your service!
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post #14 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Longknife View Post
BTW, wonderful piece your father made. Is it still in your posession?
Thx for the complement, yes I have quite a few pieces he made here in the US.

Sometimes, I will follow his Cape Dutch style, using Black Walnut and Yellowheart.

As far a sanding goes, I normally sharpen my own jointer and planer blades and get a pretty good finish that way, by following with hand planes and scrapers as touch up in a few spots. When it comes to more complex shapes, as in chairs for example, that becomes too labor intensive. On the lathe, I always sand, he did that as well.

The problem with sanding, especially with precise joinery, is losing accuracy if you sand in the wrong place.

Last edited by WillemJM; 10-04-2011 at 10:38 AM.
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post #15 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by H. A. S. View Post
"JAWS"!
You could sand Noah's Ark with the skin from that one .
It might be all 60 grit tho
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post #16 of 21 Old 10-04-2011, 11:36 AM
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Technically, you wouldn't be able to tell a properly sanded surface from a properly hand planed one once the finish is on, not without a microscope and a trained eye. Either can look great or not. It's the skill of the woodworker, not the tools they use. Sandpaper is just a tool. We all have ways we prefer to do things. As soon as we think we better than another because of what we use or how we do things, we stop growing and put ourselves in a box. Of course, living in a box can be easier. You have all the answers and won't listen to anything else.
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post #17 of 21 Old 11-01-2011, 12:19 AM
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Sandpaper uses

I agree with Hammer1 that it is a tool. And, with any tool, there is a proper place and an improper place to use / misuse. Using sandpaper while creating the piece has its place, preparing the piece for finishing is another opportunity. But, if you use modern finishes, sandpaper is often needed for helping to level between coats. You mentioned mineral oil and paste wax, which wouldn't really need sandpaper, but my grandfather would have welcomed some of the newer finishes and used them with sandpaper during the finishing process. He probably would have used it during construction, but he couldn't afford it.

But, that is a very nice piece of furniture.

Kevin
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post #18 of 21 Old 11-04-2011, 10:27 PM
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What a stunning, eye popping piece of furniture!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Longknife View Post
I seriously doubt that. Sandpaper can't be a that old invention.
Maybe not in the form of grit glued to paper, sure. But abrasives have been around since the geological beginning. And you can bet that humans employed them in one way or another since antiquity.

You know, I once had the mindset - my personal "rule" - for over a decade of carving and whittling that I'll never sand my work. But after years of seeing the work of others I realized that my "rule" was born of laziness and stubbornness. I wanted that rustic, primative look. But in reality, what I was doing was turning out pieces that were unfinished and looked it.

That's not to say that sanding is always a necessary procedure. But don't dismiss its benefits for the sake of family tradition. About 10 years ago when I stopped being lazy and stubborn my work improved dramatically. How? One word: sanding.

Last edited by Chaincarver Steve; 11-05-2011 at 11:55 AM. Reason: Corrected what auto spell check messed up.
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post #19 of 21 Old 11-05-2011, 08:30 AM
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If the old ways were better, we would still be doing it that way.
Most of the great masters were inovative as well as creative. They had to use what was available. In many instances, it was the masters that invented or discovered the 'new' tools and techniques.
Modern woodturning is a great example. Hollow form bowls didn't become popular until better steels were available for designing and making the tools necessary for hollow form turning.
I'm sure somewhere in the future archeologists will be looking back at us and having this same discussion.

Tony B Retired woodworker, among other things.


"Strive for excellence and settle for completion" Tony B
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post #20 of 21 Old 11-07-2011, 05:21 PM
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just want to that tke piece your dad made is beautiful.i hope you keep it in your family for generations to come.i type very slow so i am not correcting it
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