How to sand a rubber washer

What would you use to sand, reduce the thickness of a flat rubber washer? Sandpaper? Most likely I only need to remove 1/64th" at most 1/32". I have plenty of washer so trial and error will get the right thickness sooner rather than later.
Experience with this group dictates that I must explain the why. :)
We have a transfer valve on the garden tub. The shower head broke. The part is obsolete, replacements from Delta are made differently and because of the deck mount would not be a good choice. Changing out the deck mount would be a major project. I bought a hand held shower unit at Lowes, but the thread run length is slightly different and the old washer was bad. The OEM washer is also obsolete and did not even have a part number. I substituted a regular flat washer but it is slightly too thick resulting in the angle of the dangle being wrong.
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Colbyt
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I don't think rubber sands very well,it would be better to shave it down somehow. maybe a disposable razor? I'd suggest a hobby plane,but you'd need a scary-sharp blade.
WRT sanding,maybe one of those oscillating multitools(Fein,HF,etc.) could sand it down. But the remaining surface will be rough,not smooth.
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Jim Yanik
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Put it in the freezer (the colder the better) and then 'lap' it on emery paper. Repeat as necessary.
Dry ice would work better but be aware that the rubber will become brittle.
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I like that idea. May have to try it some day when I have a situation similar to the OP's.
nate
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On 7/5/2012 9:16 AM, Colbyt wrote:

...
Probably have better luck going to larger supply house and finding one of right thickness or make one of one or more layers of gasket material to get the proper thickness.
Or, for just a tiny bit, I'd probably try squishing one in a vice to see if could get it to hold some compression just enough to make it work.
Abrading rubber is tough and likely to leave a surface that won't seal even if get it done. But as for how to try it, I'd give holding it against the side of the grinder wheel for a while and see how that works...might have to double-sticky tape it to a small block or something to kept it flat and give something to hold on to.
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How about multiple thinner washers?
I would think that a sharp razor blade would allow you to "slice" it as opposed to sanding it, although it might be hard to keep the cut perfectly even.
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On Thursday, July 5, 2012 11:21:53 AM UTC-4, DerbyDad03 wrote:

1. Double-edge razor blade. 2. Metal shims the same thickness as the desired end result on each side of the washer to guide the blade. 3. Two really steady hands.
My fingertips started bleeding just at the thought of doing this.
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Colbyt wrote:

I sand down rubber corks to use as tips in my cane, no reason why you can't thin down a washer. If it were me, I would...
1. stick washer to something rigid with double sided tape 2. sand away
Coarse paper works better than fine, rasps work well too.
The thoughts about cooling/freezing have merit.
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On 7/5/2012 10:16 AM, Colbyt wrote:

I just sanded one around the circumference to get it to fit a spray head. No problem and I used a medium course paper.
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On 7/5/2012 10:16 AM, Colbyt wrote:

Freeze it, then sand w/ fine sand paper? Rub with solvent? Actually, I haven't a clue, but these are what I'd try :o)
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Colbyt wrote:

Drop it on the hot skillet for a few seconds and let it melt a tiny bit.
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Could you find an "O" ring that would work????
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On 07/05/2012 07:16 AM, Colbyt wrote:

Go to a plumbing supply store, the dirty one where working plumbers go to get parts, and ask them. Bring the part with you.
Jon
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Power tools, and a careful touch. Be warned, it'll smell bad. Trying to sand rubber by hand is doomed to failure. Dooooooomed.
nate
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Most rubber parts will sand just fine on your small bench grinder. Might take clever fixturing, but can be done. Better to head to your auto parts store and buy a sheet of rubber gasket material of the right thickness and a gasket punch set. Neither of these is a $$ deal breaker and what you buy will be useful for other projects/repairs. BTDT. You can easily make your own punches from pieces of tubing close to right size, like EMT, for example. Just sharpen the edges like the gasket punch and be sure to use some end grain wood as backup for the punch so as not to destroy the sharp edge.
Joe
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First, a Forstner bit will result in a much more precise flat bottom hole than a spade bit ever will.
Second, good luck finding the washer after the belt sander sends it flying across the room.
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wrote:

The Forstner bit or the flying washer? ;-)
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Colbyt wrote:

Check McMaster.com, they have rubber washers in neoprene and EPDM in various sizes and 0.062", 0.093" and 0.125" thicknesses and should have rubber sheet stock in many more thicknesses you can cut a washer from.
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wrote:

Actually there were several good suggestions and I will report back what I try and what works. I won't be playing with razor blades but thanks anyway.
Just to clear up any misunderstanding; this was a lucky diameter on a standard faucet washer and I think they only come in one thickness.
Colbyt
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