Whether you’re working with wood or metal, you can’t do a proper job of finishing without sandpaper. But what if you don’t have any sandpaper and the store is out? In this article, I list the top 11 alternatives to sandpaper that you probably already have lying around the house or in the garage.
Chopping blocks for sanding
A cloth embroidered with emeralds
Duo: sand and leather
Shells from walnuts
Stone scouring pads Steel wool
Wheels for grinding
Stone used for exfoliating calluses
Towels for cleaning surfaces
sponges used for scrubbing
In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of various materials and see why some are more suited for certain tasks than others.
Sandpaper alternatives for wood
When working with wood, sanding blocks are superior to traditional sandpaper. The abrasive texture is reminiscent of sandpaper, yet they are referred to as sponges because they are soft and malleable, rather than rigid and flat, like a kitchen sponge. Their adaptability makes them ideal for sanding non-flat surfaces, such the legs of a chair or table.
As long as you’re careful, you may use this on wood as well. Emery cloth is commonly used with power tools and can be purchased in sheets or rolls. It is far more long-lasting than sandpaper because of the cloth covering that shields it from damage and prevents it from wearing away.
Nail emery boards are very similar to sandpaper. One side is often smooth and suited for finer sanding chores, while the other is typically much rougher and suited for harsher sanding tasks. When you don’t have anything better, they can help you get the job done of sanding wood.
Sand and leather
Flat surfaces that don’t require a lot of sanding work well with the sand and leather technique. If you want to sand something with sand and leather, you need first sprinkle dry sand on the item. Then, massage the item with the leather to smooth off any sharp corners.
For the same purpose as sand, walnut shells are frequently employed in the abrasive blasting process. To smooth the surface, a piece of leather cloth is used in conjunction with a coarse powder made from ground walnut shells. Walnut shells are more expensive and harder to come by than sand.
Sandpaper alternatives for metal
Emery cloth, which is backed with a protective cloth, functions like sandpaper but lasts considerably longer. It is commonly used in electric tools like belt sanders and is offered in rolls, sheets, or bands. The sanding surface on the front is typically used for metal rather than wood, and is comprised of corundum, magnetite, and hematite.
If you need to get rid of rust from a metal object, steel wool is the way to go. You may get it in a wide variety of grades, from fine to course, making it suitable for a wide variety of metal and woodworking tasks.
Stone sharpening tools
Stone is used in the creation of a variety of tools, some of which are used to hone the edges of metal tools and implements. Oil stones, whetstones, or water stones are commonly used for this purpose, and they require either water or oil to remove the splinters of metal that form when the tool is sharpened. Most whetstones require soaking in water for several minutes before usage.
Metals are shaped and smoothed with grinding wheels. They’re wheels that spin quickly while you hold the object being smoothed, and you can use them on a pedestal grinder or a workbench. Metal is the only acceptable material for use when sanding with a grinding wheel; never use it on plastic or wood.
Volcanic pumice is used to smooth rough skin on the feet and hands. Pumice can be purchased in a powdered form that can be used to sand wood. When sanding wood, it is typically used in conjunction with a felt block. Other sorts of powders are used for sanding rocks and handmade jewellery, and these typically consist of flakes of mineral and metal.
Scrub pads and sponges
These can also be used like sandpaper would for tasks such as sanding down freshly painted wood or metal furniture or scraping away rust.
Can you make your own sandpaper?
Get some heavy paper and adhere some sand with glue to construct your own sandpaper. While emery powder and glue can be purchased for use in its place, sand is preferable due to its low or non-existent cost and easy accessibility.
How to make sandpaper (8 steps)
Depending on the scale of your undertaking, you’ll need to select sandpaper of several grit sizes (see the following subheading). Sandpaper sheets should be suitable for little jobs, whereas wooden blocks are better suited to major ones.
In order to rub vigorously against a rough surface, you’ll need to obtain paper that is highly stiff, coarse, and textured.
Arrange your paper in a flat surface, like a table. Put another piece of paper underneath it to collect any glue or sand that could fall through the cracks.
Use a thick liquid glue to coat the paper entirely.
Spread sand evenly over the paper (using a mesh gardening sieve will make this easier).
Glue should be allowed to dry until it can be touched without sticking.
Put a board over your sandpaper and press down on it with a hefty object.
Allow the sandpaper to set for 24 hours.
It’s likely that the sandpaper you laid down on top of the other paper has become adhered to it; to separate them, you should use a knife. Once unrestricted, sandpaper can be trimmed to the exact dimensions required for your work.
If you need a sandpaper block for a bigger job, you can always create one yourself. For this, you will need to adhere your sandpaper to a wooden block as described above until it has set, and then wrap your paper around the block using adhesive. Following steps 6 and 7, you need only press it down with weights and let it sit for 24 hours to fully set.
How to choose the right sandpaper for the job
It is vital to choose the proper quality of sandpaper for your project as different grades have varied functions.
Suitable for the first sanding straight after the wood or metal has been cut.
Best used for sanding before treatment with varnish or shine.
Suitable for smoothing a surface between applications of paint, varnish, etc.
Mostly used for the finishing touches and polishing.
If you’re working with wood, then you would normally start with coarse sandpaper and progressively move up to finer sandpaper as the wood gets smoother.