Using a sanding block will make sanding any wood surface faster and easier. Instead of buying manufactured blocks, you can make a selection of your own for your home shop or tool chest with materials you probably have on hand. Here are a few suggestions on how.
Hard blocks are used for sanding flat surfaces using a variety of grits. Cut a block from a 2×4 scrap of hardwood to comfortably fit your hand. This will take some trial and error. If you cut the block too wide, your fingers won’t span the block to maintain a good grip and the block will slip. Too narrow a block produces cramps after gripping the wood for extended periods. The best fit is when your thumb and fingertips just reach over the block for a natural grip. The block must also be the right thickness.
This also depends upon hand size. Too thin and you’ll be sanding the tips of your fingers as you work. Not a good idea. Experiment. Try different woods, but make sure that the wood is hard enough so the edges won’t round over with use. Cut sheet sandpaper into thirds. Fold it over the top of the block. Secure it with a large rubber band or piece of duct tape.
Medium blocks use medium and fine grit papers and can be made from several materials.
A cork block can be made by laminating two or three 1/4 thick cork layers cut from a sheet of cork you can find at your local home center. Spray the bottom with adhesive and attach your sandpaper. Once the sandpaper is worn or clogged, peel it off and replace it. The cork also gives a little, producing less fatigue.
Another block can be made from a strip of belt leather by gluing sandpaper to one side. The leather is stiff but flexible enough to conform to contoured or rounded surfaces.
Softer blocks have more flex resulting in a smoother finish when used with fine grits.
Cut foam plastic trays from your local mega-mart to fit a wooden block and attach with spray adhesive. A felt pad blackboard eraser works well, especially on irregular surfaces, and comfortably fits in your hand. Just wrap sandpaper around and secure with a rubber band or duct tape. Green floral blocks are good choices for sanding rounded surfaces but wear out quickly.
Pink rubber erasers are flexible and bend easily, great for a variety of contoured or rounded surfaces. Use a light touch. Erasers will crumble or break if used with heavy pressure.
Foam insulating soda can holders work well. Cut the bottom out and use spray adhesive to attach the sandpaper on the outside for sanding curves. Insert sandpaper inside for sanding dowels or rounded surfaces.
A computer mouse pad cut into strips and laminated is also good for curved and rounded surfaces. Attach sandpaper with spray adhesive. These remain flexible enough to achieve a very smooth surface with fine-grit, good on curved or rounded surfaces like stair rails or posts. The pad can also be glued to a wooden block.
Specialty sticks can be made of any wood to which a strip of sandpaper can be glued. Wooden paint stir sticks come pre-cut with a handle providing a long, narrow surface for sanding with a see-saw motion, great for use in narrow openings. Attach six-inch strips of sandpaper with glue or wrap and secure the paper with duct tape. Wooden rulers, yardsticks or strips of flat molding can be made the same way.
Flexible wooden nail files are good for small, narrow surfaces. Both sides of these have embedded medium or fine grit. Once the embedded grit is worn, you can replace it by attaching a strip of sandpaper with spray adhesive.
Pencils are good for sanding holes or tight curves. Simply glue a strip of sandpaper with spray adhesive to the pencil tip.
Using these hand-made blocks and tools should make your sanding jobs easier.