Sanding questions.

I can't say enough about how much useful information I have found in this news group. As I don't like freeloaders, I think I can contribute something here.
As my nickname suggests, I do a LOT of sanding...and I mean a LOT. And because I learn so much in this NG about my first love, woodworking, I am more that happy to share what I have learned about sanding since the days when solid surface countertops only came in 4 colours. (now 400)
Envision this: a 4-ft x 6-ft kitchen island top.
Black or very dark colour.
Windows everywhere.
At the point of purchase, the customer signs a waiver.."This is black, ma'm...it will show everything. Do NOT call me if the electrician drags his tool-belt all over it."
But, as it is over 30" wide, I need to make a seam during fabrication. And I get to sand it till the seam disappears. Then I get to make it shiny..semi gloss. And optically flat. Only the guys at Mt. Palomar Observatory have a more daunting task when they polish their mirrors... ok..I embellish..
The most important things to remember, 1) Buy the best you can afford. One can drop a $1000 on a sander/sucker combo. Fein comes to mind. My current favourite is Festool's Rotex 150 with a CT-22 sucker. Not only does the Rotex suck dirt off the work, it also blows air in the middle of the pad. See animation under Products>animation>RO 150E http://www.festool-usa.com / The biggest punch for the buck for the non professional, IMHO and a combo I use all the time, is the Ridgid 6" ROS (Really a Metabo) hooked up to a good sucker with a 1 micron bag. I use a 4.5 HP (Yea right) Shopvac with a 10 gallon 1 micron bag (Sold separately, batteries not included, see you lawyers for details.) 2) make sure it has very good dust removal. See above 3) choose the right paper for the job. I now use, almost exclusively, Mirka Abrinet. Sure it costs money, but lasts, and lasts and no holes to align up on any 6" sander. It's a screen. I also make up a lot of my own pads from Scotch-Brite style hand pads and I glue them on an old sanding disk. NEVER put ScotchBrite-style pad directly onto your Hook & Loop (Velcro) sander. The little nibs will wear off quickly. 4) clean..CLEAN.. in between sanding steps. The grit from the previous paper WILL keep scratching. IOW.. when you go from 180 to 220, the work is full of 180 size particles...blow it off, wipe it... hell, LICK it.!
I also use a LOT of sanding sponges..fine on one side, medium on the other. Handy little things, those... CAREFUL when you sand along the edge of an oak board along the grain. Large splinters can travel up through the sponge and accordion into your right hand's index finger's second joint, requiring surgery and enough antibiotics to make a grown man puke. Or so I'm told.
Hope this helps. Rob www.topworks.ca
PS.. I am not affiliated with Festool, Mirka, Pfizer, Heineken, Chivas, Bentley Motor Cars, or Meg Ryan. And the rumour that my Aunt Bee is a lesbian, is just that.... a rumour, okay??
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Very good Sandman. I'm sure however, that a few will reply back with,"Hey, my Harbor Freight does the same job and it was only $6.00".
If you want to know what works best, ask someone who does it for a living. They almost to a man say, buy the best tool you can afford.
The guy that installed the high end counter top at a friends home to the center island I built for him did a masterful job. He used the same tools and procedures you described below.
Very good point on cleaning between grit changes. This also applies to sharpening as well.
Dave

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I'll agree to a point, the best tool isn't the most expensive tool, and with speaking of sanders, I Ryobi 5" ROS, I got 3+ years ago as a one time use, I needed that day!, it was a refurbish for $20, use it, and was rather impressed, later I did a comparison between it and my brothers B&D, I think he paid $40 for it, and a friends Dewalt, costing only $80, and the B&D didn't compare, just didn't have the same power, but the Ryobi and the Dewalt where very close in preformace. the major diff that I could tell was the Dewalt seems to be made better, the dust bag little heavier duty, etc. and the Dewalts' probably going to last 2x-3x longer, but the Ryobi is 1/4 the price what do you expect! and the Ryobi seems mush better made then the B&D, and dose a better job. take money out of the equation you get the Dewalt, bring money back in and I have enough for the Dewalt, I'd get 2 Ryobi ROSs and a 1/4 sheet sander, an ROS for medium and then fine sanding then the 1/4 for ultra fine finish sanding, for the same price I get a complete sanding setup, and if one of my ROS breaks, I always have a backup.
the other thing to look at here is the sander is only 3/4 of the equation, not all sandpaper is created equal. I have a pack of assorted grits I got from HF 2 years ago and it's almost full, I've only used like 2 sheets from it, and it's probably going to stay that way for a long time the stuff was complete crap, 3M isn't bad it's nothing great, the stuff that's impressed me the most was the Nortin 3X, it's more then worth the extra cost, I haven't done the math, but I wouldn't be supprized if it saves money in the long run. the stuff lasts much longer.
Sandman is a pro, his sanders keep food on the table, my guess is his setup isn't, at least in concept, that much different then mine, the major diff is he's using much more expensive tools, if one of my sanders goes down, it's a pain to change grits on the remanding ROS, for him it's a little more of a problem, it takes time, and time is money.
TeamCasa wrote:

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[snipperectomy]

You said a mouthful there, Richard. Now, here's a silly thing, 3M does make a very good paper; the Micron series. I put that on my 6-hole 6" RidgidROS, the paper loads like crazy. Same paper at the same speed on the Rotex, 6" 9 holes, works great..and for a long time. Go figgur. Norton is a very good quality product. A lot of automotive guys use Norton. I use a lot of Klingspor 6"x6hole 180 grit on two PC ROS sanders. There is no dust collection on those things, and I have tried to retrofit an adaptor PC sells with mixed results. The room those work in, has a serious recirculating filtration unit.

Throw it out. Sounds to me that HF products are mostly suspect? We don't have them here in Kanuckistan yet, but I am 5 minutes from Port Huron MI, and that is 45 mins north of Detroit... so I'm sure I can find one. Hell, my sister is on her way from Olatha KS for the holidays, maybe I should ask her to bring me some?..*G*

A guy I know, who does the same thing as I do, had a Fein sander crap out on him one time. One phone call, and 4 hours later the sales rep had dropped off his demo unit and picked up the faulty unit for repair. That's another thing you get for the money. AFAIK, Festool will go through similar lengths, but I have never heard of a Festool product breaking down in my line of work. (Could be I don't get out enough?) BTW, they make the coolest close-quarter drill... my Milwaukee 1/2" close quarter drill is baffed. Not that it owes me any money, that thing has driven tens of thousands of 2 1/2" chipboard screws....mmm 13 years of use. With a few exceptions, all my stuff is Milwaukee. I just love that 1 3/4 HP Bodygrip router. I put a 1/2 thick Corian baseplate on it and with a 3/16 roundover bit, I clean up thise edges on my countertops like wiping on stain, I just love that thing...(2HP variable speed version coming to a tool cart near me...)
Am I a little extra talketive today? Oh yea... all caught up and winding down till Jan 5... I get to party with my 3 daughters..YAY!
Out.
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Good information sandman but I find the properties of wood and those of solid surface counter tops to apparently be different. I never clean the wood surface between grits and get magnifying glass good results. That said however I use a premium 3M paper all the time.
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Leon, I couldn't agree more. When working with wood, it usually is in anticipation of a series of finishing steps. Surface prep for stain alone requires a whole different approach than any I would be concerned with in Solid Surface. I also don't concern myself with sanding steps which set up for the next coat (for adhesion purposes, cohesion in laquer). Since 1976, I guestimate that I have done all the doors and end-panels for about 500 kitchens and many more library shelves etc etc. Different woods, different schedules. Different stains, different schedules etc. Catalyzed laquers, milk/washes, solid colours, shiny finishes, matte finishes, high-tech 3 part acrylics, every job was different. One of my guys made me a hunter and his dog in intarsia. Hand buffed, sanded, waxed, stroked, fondled, licked, kissed, polished. The finish was immaculate. Jewelry grade. I have the highest respect for guys like that. He wasn't in my spray-booth very long though... too picky...too slow.
I semi-retired in Sept 2003. All I have left, business wise, is my solid surface dept. It allows me to make plans to build a shop on my property so I can go completely anal and make sawdust. Will my shop have a DeVilbiss downdraft booth with HVLP guns and pot-fed laquer??? Not on your life. I want to make things that are hand buffed, sanded, waxed, stroked, fondled, licked, kissed, polished. Like dashboards for old Jaguars....yea...that's it... burl... *drools*

I couldn't imagine changing paper and NOT cleaning in between.
Doesn't make me a bad person *grins*

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wrote:

Snip
Well it is nice to have you around with your input. Occasionally we need expert advice on surface preparation for things other than wood. ;~)
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wrote:
[Excellent treatise on sanding snipped]
Rob, I sent you an email regarding this post earlier today. Did you get it? If not, please email me at snipped-for-privacy@pobox.com so I can resend.
Thanks.
- - LRod
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
http://www.woodbutcher.net
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I received your e-mail, and will be replying this evening. Thank you for the kind words.
Rob.
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