The best woodcarver’s sanding discs were discontinued by 3M a few years ago. I was trying to order a case of new ones when I got wind of the discontinuation from my regular supplier. It took weeks of searching the internet until I found a small country hardware store that still had one case left. Naturally, I bought the case but they are now looking a little shabby.
Why a Case?
Time and convenience is very important when I am sanding sculptures or craft items. Normally, I would suit up 6 discs at a time. As soon as the paper on one disc is no longer useful, I would take up the other disc and continue sanding without a break in the routine.
There are only three other woodcarvers on the island that I know of. Hardware stores would not conduct many sales if they were to stock supplies for such a limited market. We have no choice but to order online and you must stock extras, even tools, because there is no available repair stores or spare parts.
The same year that 3M discontinued the manufacturing of the sanding discs, I was fortunate to have a personal dialogue with one of the managers who was on island on an incentive trip for 75 of its employees. It so happened that the organizers of the trip had ordered a wooden gift for each person on the trip.
I informed the manager that I was not surprised the sanding discs were discontinued. The design was poor, the carbon paper discs did not last very long before the paper discs would be dislodged from the pad and, not only being a nuisance but expensive as well.
The reasons why the disc pads failed was carefully explained and I then tried to introduce my fix for some financial compensation, “Too bad,” she said, “We just dismantled the production line.”
Even before I bought the case, I had redesigned the disc pad and still using the ones left, might have lost a few. My carvings are known for their silky smooth finish, curved surfaces are a feature of my work, and scratch marks are next to zero. The redesigned are almost perfect for sanding wood sculptures or handicrafts. They produce A1 finishes and saves the artist a lot of time.
1. Sand all reachable surfaces with grit 80 using angle grinders.
2. Sand all reachable surfaces using grit 150 x 5′ sanding paper using hand drill and redesigned 3M disc pads.
3. Sand all reachable surfaces with 220 grit sanding paper discs and hand drill.
4. Sand all other reachable surfaces with Dremel drum sanders. I wish you can purchase the drum sanders in 220 grit, I have never seen one. There is also a redesigned drum sander for smoother sanding.
5. There is a final finishing touch, sorry, I am not ready to share my trademark secret as yet.
6. All work has a mineral oil finish. Keeps the wood natural and does not attract dust, regular rubbing with a sponge or piece of cloth soaked in mineral oil is necessary to keep that fresh look.
A new source of modern tools for the woodcarver was discovered by accident after writing this post-Treeline. Naturally, I had to edit the post substantially. My tradesecret is no longer a secret. They are producing close to what I was using for years. I only wish they can produce the drum sanders in smaller diameter sizes for sanding empty spaces in sculptures, plus a 5″ sanding disc pad with 1/2″, 1″ and 1 1/2″ foam pads. I no longer have to purchase Velcro and foam to redesign my own disc pads.
Be sure to visit Devonish Art Gallery in Anguilla!