What is a sanding stick?
A sanding stick, or sanding file, is a flat sanding stick for manual sanding. DIY sanding sticks can be fashioned from loose sheets of sandpaper wrapped around a piece of wood (e.g. a paint stirrer). Making a DIY sanding stick is such a simple DIY hack and it costs nothing if you have a sheet of sandpaper as you can stick it to almost any piece of wood or stick.
Why use sanding sticks or files?
Sanding sticks play a helpful role in woodworking and crafting projects by providing precision and control during the sanding process. Electric sanders are great for speed and power, but a precision sanding stick is brilliant for detail work and sanding in tight spaces. By making your own sanding sticks, you can create a whole set with different grits to use for a variety of surfaces and tasks. Sanding sticks are easier than a sanding block which you have to keep in contact with the sandpaper - you glue the sandpaper to the sanding stick which saves the hassle.
How to make a sanding stick
Below are the sanding stick materials that I used, but you could adapt to suit any wood offcuts/sticks that you have to save money.
You will need
Sheets of sandpaper
Paint stirrer or wooden stick
Clamps (optional you could use heavy objects as weights)
Pen (optional but useful to write the sandpaper grit details)
1: Gather Materials
Assemble the materials you need for DIY sanding sticks so you have them to hand.
2. Measure and cut sandpaper
I placed the paint stirrer along one edge of the sandpaper and rolled it over until the sandpaper fully covered the wooden stick.
3. Glue sandpaper to sanding stick
I used strong glue to stick the sandpaper to the paint stirring stick.
4. Label sanding stick
It's a good idea to write the p-value aka the grit of the sandpaper on the stick because you won't be able to check the back of the paper where this is labelled as it is glued to the stick.
5. Test your sanding stick(s)
Once you've made the DIY sanding file, test that they work well and are easy to use. I recommend making a whole set of sanding sticks of varying grits for maximum use.
Use higher grits for finishing and lower grits to start removing the top layers at the start of a sanding project.
Tips for sanding
Here are some more general sanding tips that you might fine useful...
Start with lower grit (coarse), move up to medium, and then fine.
Sanding sponges are handy for curved surfaces.
Move through the grits without skipping more than one or two at each stage.
Mark the surface with a pencil. Move down a grit level when you have sanded the pencil mark away.
Mouse sanders have a pointy 'nose' which is handy for corners.
Wrap sandpaper around paint stirrers to create handy little sanding tools for tight spaces.
Other recommended sanding products
These are the sanders that I've tried and tested.
Cost £3.50 Amazon
Perfect for light sanding & finishing off on larger jobs. Ideal for sanding in tight gaps and crevices.
Cost £20 Amazon
A great value, low-cost sander. I used this for many DIY projects, including my DIY stair runner.
Cost £50 from Amazon
I upgraded to this model recently and it's quick & efficient.
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