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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

DIY sanding stick tutorial: how to make sanding sticks

Updated: 4 days ago

how to make a sanding stick

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 (like the best budget orbital sander) 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)

Step-by-Step Guide

1: Gather Materials

Assemble the materials you need for DIY sanding sticks so you have them to hand. 

2. Measure and cut sandpaper

how to make a sanding stick
how to make a sanding stick
how to make a sanding stick

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

how to make a sanding stick
how to make a sanding stick

I used strong glue to stick the sandpaper to the paint stirring stick.

4. Label sanding stick

how to make a 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)

testing sanding table leg
testing a sanding stick on coffee table leg

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.

Sanding tools list

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. 

Where next?

If you are looking for the best tools to buy, be sure to check out my post on the must-have DIY tools for beginners.

I've written a DIY dictionary guide to sanding terms and definitions which you might find useful.

Check out this handy tutorial on the best budget orbital sander

There's a section dedicated to sanding in my online course - DIY and home styling for beginners

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