Premium Sanding Blocks Make Short Work of Surface Prep

sanding-blocks-glamour-shot-1024x678 When it comes to sanding I have two simple goals. I want to spend as little time as possible on the task, and I want the best possible results because I’ve put a lot of effort into the project up to that point and I don’t want to take any shortcuts that could compromise the appearance of my project. For most projects I use a random orbital sander and palm sander up through 120 or 150 grit, then I hand sand to 220. I’ve invested in good quality power sanders that do a great job, but the hand sanding phase is critical because it produces the final surface that will receive the finish. I’ve used a lot of approaches to hand sanding, including folding an abrasive sheet in my hand which leaves an inconsistent (wavy) surface, homemade wooden sanding blocks upon which it is a pain to secure sandpaper, and low cost commercial rubber versions that leave the sandpaper too loose and waste too much of it by only using a small portion of the sanding surface.

After doing a bit of research I found a couple nifty sanding blocks that promised better results. But, at roughly $20 apiece, would I actually receive enough value from a sanding block to justify such an indulgence? My curiosity got the better of me so I decided to buy one of each : The Preppin’ Weapon by Time Shaver Tools and the SandDevil by SandDevil USA.

Preppin’ Weapon

sanding-blocks-preppin-weapon-changing-paper-1024x808 This premium sanding block is made of high impact ABS and uses 2-3/4” x 9” sheet abrasives which conveniently, and cost effectively, are exactly one fourth of a standard 9” x 11” sheet of sandpaper.

Standout features.

The Preppin weapon is ergonomically designed. When you place it into your hand it feels like it belongs there. Installing sandpaper is quick, with solid cam action levers that lock the paper solidly into position underneath two high quality clamping brackets. Once properly locked, the sandpaper does not shift around like it does on cheaper sanding blocks that I have used, which can cause tearing and lead to sub-par sanding results. The cushy rubber pad underneath the sandpaper is great for gently easing sharp corners on a project.

sanding-blocks-preppin-weapon-action-shot-1024x648 The Preppin’ Weapon produced great results on flat surfaces and curves, as well as softening sharp corners. It’s great to be able to do all of that with a single tool using standard sanding sheets which are economical and versatile.

SandDevil

The SandDevil is a unique design that utilizes standard 3” x 21” sanding belts, and locks them into position using a locking cam mechanism that is similar to a belt sander. This product appealed to me because of the fact that it uses the same size belt as my belt sander so I know that I’ll always have abrasives on hand. Also, because you can rotate the belt, it allows you to use 100% of the abrasive. Unlike most sanding blocks that place some of the sandpaper underneath the locking clips.

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Standout features:

I absolutely love the easy process of installing and changing belts. Flip…slide…slide…flip…and seconds later you are back in sanding business. Sanding surface wears out? Flip…rotate…flip…and off you go. Seconds later you’re sanding again. With a large (9-3/4” x 3”) hard plastic base, the SandDevil excels at perfecting a dead flat surface on large panel surfaces such as a desk or table top. Also, by keeping the huge surface (37% larger than the base of the Preppin’ Weapon) against the work piece at all times, sanding time is reduced dramatically over most hand-sanding techniques. The large size makes the SandDevil a bit cumbersome in my hand, so I’m not as inclined to use it on surfaces that are vertical, edges, or corners.

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Decisions, Decisions

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you want to start with only one $20 sanding block, so here are a few thoughts to help you choose.

  • – I feel that the Preppin’ Weapon is a more versatile all around sanding block for flat, curves, edges and softening corners. The rubber backer pad, ergonomic design and use of economical sanding sheets makes this a good choice if you like to hand sand all aspects of your project.
  • – If you primarily reserve hand sanding for only the “show surface” (top of a table, desk, chest, etc.) then you might consider the Sanding Devil as its massive surface area and solid base provide a great means of perfecting a large flat surface, and the clever paper changing mechanism will keep you moving along through the sanding process.
  • – If you are like me and just can’t decide, then pick up one of each. Put 180 grit on the Preppin’ Weapon to hand sand the entire project, and install a finer abrasive on the Sanding Devil to perfect the show surface of your project.
Discussion
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3 Responses to “Premium Sanding Blocks Make Short Work of Surface Prep”
  1. Randy Beat

    It’s a shame that allot if not most woodworkers today would be lost without their power tools or new plastic gadgets to do what hands used to do. Recently most of my tools were stolen leaving me with what I call caveman tools, yet I created with hand tools what I could have done with power tools with no loss in craftsmanship. If civilization is ever truly threatened it will take thousands of years to relearn these skills.
    Bottom line…..learn the basics first, and teach the basics first!
    “I can give a man a bowl and he will have it until he looses it or breaks it, or I can teach him how to make a bowl so he has one whenever he needs it or can teach someone else how so they can feed the world”.

    Reply
  2. Brian

    For the dumb newbie among us why not do your final sand with a ROS with a very fine grit like 220?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Brian,

      That’s a viable option. Many woodworkers like to do a hand sanding as the final preparation step, but a good quality ROS can do the job effectively as well.

      Happy Woodworking!
      Kate
      WWGOA

      Reply