How to Choose Sandpaper

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

Using The Right Sandpaper

How to Choose Sandpaper
Image: Source

Using the right sandpaper is the key to a successful project

To me, sanding is a necessary evil. I don’t know anyone who enjoys sanding.  My carpenter friend George always reminds me to use good sandpaper and change it often, he says, “sandpaper is cheap, labor is expensive.” 

How to Choose Sandpaper Guide

Using the right sandpaper can make a job faster and less tedious .

Sandpaper is made by binding an abrasive material to a paper or cloth backing. Sandpaper comes in sheets, rolls, bands and disks.

Using the right sandpaper means choosing the proper sanding grit. When talking about sandpaper “grit” we are referring to the number of abrasive particles per inch of sandpaper.

The lower the grit the rougher the sandpaper, the higher the grit number the smoother the sandpaper.

Using the right sandpaper means matching the grit with what you are trying to do. The following table is a general guide on how to choose sandpaper.

Sandpaper Grit:

40-60 Coarse Heavy sanding and stripping, roughing up the surface.
80-120 Medium Smoothing of the surface, removing smaller imperfections and marks.
150-180 Fine Final sanding pass before finishing the wood
220-240 Very Fine Sanding between coats of stain or sealer.
280-320 Extra Fine Removing dust spots or marks between finish coats
360-600 Super Fine Fine sanding of the finish to remove some luster or surface blemishes and scratches.

Aluminum Oxide and Garnet

The two used most often by carpenter and woodworkers are Aluminum Oxide and Garnet.

Aluminum Oxide exhibits a high degree of friability which means that when heat and pressure are applied it fragments. This is means that it creates new sharp edges which allow you to continue sanding longer than other types of grit.

Garnet tends to wear out a lot faster than aluminum oxide but produces a much smoother product. It does sand /cut slower. Garnet is an excellent choice for the final sanding of a project.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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