Speeding up hand sanding

Ty Adams

KNIFE MAKER
I just thought I'd share a few things that I have learned over the last couple of knives. I enjoy hand sanding it is the point where the knife really starts to shine. With that said I have been looking for ways to cut that time down.
The first thing I can't take credit for. John Wilson mentioned it in post. Thanks John. It was adding a piece of leather as a backer to your sanding block. It makes a huge difference in how long it takes to get out previous scratches.
The second was doing my final grind with a 400 grit cork belt. The combination of the 2 has cut my hand sanding time in half.
Here's the knife fresh off the grinder.

IMG_20170703_145007.jpg

Here it is 10 minutes later at a dirty 800 grit.
IMG_20170703_145036.jpg
Now it will take me another 10 minutes to clean this up and have a clean finish. I was just amazed at how those two small things made all the difference in the world. I'm sure all the people that have been at this for awhile already knew about this. I just wanted to share.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I'm really happy to have helped, Ty. The leather backer speeds things up tremendously. The only downside is that the backer can also wash out any sharp lines/angles that you have. When I'm trying to protect a feature, I have found that a piece of j-weight belt as a backer works pretty good for that added bite without allowing the sandpaper to round over corners. Of course it's not nearly as effective as leather, but it is way more effective than sandpaper alone on a hard sanding stick. In the absence of a piece of j-weight belt, I use a piece of worn out sandpaper underneath the new piece of sandpaper. The doubling-up effect still gives the fresh sandpaper some added bite.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
The best tip I ever got for hand sanding was a post from Frank Niro who suggested Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil. I know everyone has their preferences, but of all the things I've tried nothing has come close for me as far as saving time and getting a pretty satin finish. I've heard the old adage that "Oil polishes, water cuts" and I know it's true- but I begin hand sanding at 320 grit and mobil 1 floats the swarf off the surface like nobody's business. I love the stuff so much that I buy it in the gallon jugs and use it in my vehicles so that I only need to keep one type of oil around.
 

Motor City Mike

Well-Known Member
The best tip I ever got for hand sanding was a post from Frank Niro who suggested Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil. I know everyone has their preferences, but of all the things I've tried nothing has come close for me as far as saving time and getting a pretty satin finish. I've heard the old adage that "Oil polishes, water cuts" and I know it's true- but I begin hand sanding at 320 grit and mobil 1 floats the swarf off the surface like nobody's business. I love the stuff so much that I buy it in the gallon jugs and use it in my vehicles so that I only need to keep one type of oil around.

Haha. Good to know.

I just changed the oil in my F150 and always use Mobil 1 synthetic but my truck takes almost 8 quarts. It's cheaper to buy two 5 quart jugs so I have a couple quarts left over.

Thanks for the tip
 

Ty Adams

KNIFE MAKER
Thanks for the tips John. I become more and more picky about the final finish. I'll have to try some of your tips.
Here's the line up of what I use for the final finish.
IMG_20170704_080842.jpg
What do you think of my fancy sanding bar? I made a nicer one with foam and shaped handles. I keep going back to this one.
The cut up paper towel are used only once then they go in the trash. I only make 2 or 3 passes before I rotate the sandpaper.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Going the full-Nick-Wheeler I see! Nothing wrong with that!

I use my sandpaper until it stops cutting. With the Mobil 1 the sandpaper lasts quite a bit longer than it used to. But I still use it like it's free and toss it the second I don't think it's biting. When I get to my final grit and start with the one-direction strokes only, then I'm like you. A couple of drags and it's outta here!
 

Frank Niro

KNIFE MAKER
Hi John. I wonder if you and I are the only ones that have been using the Mobile 1 ? Well. I believe I have found another product that works even better. I may not go to the shop to work today since the heat is extreme but I'll get the product name a bit later. I tried the leather on the sanding board and as you said it washes out grind lines. Still it may be a useful thing at times.
I like hollow grinds. I always seem to end up with a lot of hand sanding. I now start with 600. The 400 would most often leave deep grooves. I am using micarta blocks with an appropriate curve. I just place the sand paper cut in strips over the curve and just hold it on with my fingers.
Frank
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Frank, I'd love to hear what product you are using. The Mobil 1 is magical and if there's something better then I'll buy a drum of it to make sure I never run out!

The leather works very well for me since I do full flat grinds as there's nothing to wash out. I stay away from any transitions to flats, though- that's when I'll use a second piece of sandpaper as a backer. I use it the same way you do in that I simply wrap a cut piece around my sanding stick/backer and pinch it with my fingers. I used to try all sorts of ways to get the paper to stay on the stick and then I realized that the paper doesn't last long enough to go through the hassle. Just grab a piece, bend it around and go back to work.
 

J. Hoffman

Dealer - Purveyor
I use windex for all the lower grits and then use oil on the finishing cut. Does Mobil 1 really make the difference. I have some HD Synthetic oil left over from my last oil change. Will that work, or do I need Mobil 1?
 

Frank Niro

KNIFE MAKER
Hi again. the truth is I've had several makers tell me the Mobile 1 couldn't be good if another type didn't.
So to move on I went out and purchased a can of this stuff because Geoff Flato told me it was great to use with only a drop or two drilling holes in titanium. Yes it sure is !!!! I then had to try it the next time I was finishing a blade. And yes, it works even a bit better I think if the leather is also used. but is very good when used on hardened stainless steels. I do suggest you read over the contents of the spray can before buying. It may not be a product you want to use. This product is called CRC Brakleen.
Unfortunately as it comes in a spray can it wants to spray out far more than just a little. I'm going to try pinching the red "hose" in hopes that may help.
Frank
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Hmmm. I have cans of CRC Brakeclean already. It is great stuff. Honestly, I'm scared to use it for hand sanding just because where I hand sand is in the deepest pocket of the shop without great ventilation. That stuff is fine out in the open but I worry about spritzing it for hours at a time while I sit there breathing it, and I don't want to hand sand in a respirator.

Still, I will give it a shot. If it works that much better I'll figure out a ventilation solution. Thanks, Frank!
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I use windex for all the lower grits and then use oil on the finishing cut. Does Mobil 1 really make the difference. I have some HD Synthetic oil left over from my last oil change. Will that work, or do I need Mobil 1?

I used Windex for a year before Frank turned me on to Mobil 1 full synthetic. For hand sanding hardened stainless, my experience is that Mobil 1 is probably 25% faster than Windex. The real improvement I saw was a drastic reduction in streaking and stray marks. In short, I can go to town sanding back and forth and finish doesn't end up looking swirled or covered in j-hooks. The Mobil 1 synthetic appears to do exactly what they claim- it pulls the loose particles up off the surface and keeps them in suspension as you sand. The unseen benefit here is when you wipe the swarf with a paper towel- I get way less unintentional stray marks as I wipe off the crud because it's up in the oil and not laying on the steel waiting to be dragged like loose gravel. Seeing is believing. I'll bet I read Frank's advice for two months before I tried it, but once I did the result was so obvious.

Will any synthetic oil give the same result? Probably close. I have used Castrol synthetic a few times when I had some on hand. It was not as good as the Mobil 1 but was still better than the Windex. I know I sound like a Mobil 1 salesman, but after seeing how it handles loose grit in hand sanding, I switched my vehicles over to it.
 

J. Hoffman

Dealer - Purveyor
I like using G96 oil for somethings a round the shop, but it only comes in a spray can. I took an old saline solution bottle (from contact lenses) and sprayed all the oil into the bottle. It worked great. Now I can just put a drop here and there, as needed. Make sure you don't seal the lid after you fill it though, it will puff up from the propellant. I use old saline bottles for all different stiff. They work great.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Lloyd Hale quote from years ago.
Water cuts. Oil polishes.

If you want more aggressive cutting action when hand sanding, use a bit of water. If you want to a consistent finish, use oil. Using either will help float away metal dust that clogs the paper and stray abrasive bits that scratch unevenly.
 

Frank Niro

KNIFE MAKER
Just doesn't give the same results at all, Tracy, though it does eliminate some of the chemicals if you are concerned.
Frank
 

wmhammond

Well-Known Member
My problem occurs before I start hand sanding. After I come out of the temper oven and start to finish grind I usually start with 100 or 120 grit on my Pheer grinder. Then my progression is 220, 400, 600, 800, 1200. Then I go to hand sand and I like to start with 400 but quite often I have grinder scratches left that require me to start with 220. Makes me crazy that I can't get a good finish grind off the grinder. Any suggestions? Thanks

Wallace
 

Ty Adams

KNIFE MAKER
My problem occurs before I start hand sanding. After I come out of the temper oven and start to finish grind I usually start with 100 or 120 grit on my Pheer grinder. Then my progression is 220, 400, 600, 800, 1200. Then I go to hand sand and I like to start with 400 but quite often I have grinder scratches left that require me to start with 220. Makes me crazy that I can't get a good finish grind off the grinder. Any suggestions? Thanks

Wallace
Use blue dykem in between belt changes. When you can't see any more blue you're ready for the next grit.
 
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