Sanding Discs

I’m not going to discuss actual sanding here.  You can watch the videos for details, okay?  If anyone has a specific concern/question not covered in the video I could be coerced into adding more info. here!

See my two videos on Sanding:  Video one and Video two. I discuss hand and disc sanding in them.  I would also like to state that I no longer purchase the “red adalox” that I talk about in the video because Rio finally carries the sticky backed Aluminum Oxide discs.  It’s not that I hate the paper backing but, I really dislike it.  They don’t last long, tend to fall apart rather quickly and are ugly.  It’s a personal problem.

If somebody, out there, would just make a flexible, plastic disc, that came in all grits,  I wouldn’t have to go through this song and dance.  But, alas……   Anybody out there listening?  Like 3M maybe?????

My Method for Creating Flexible Sanding Discs

psa-discs PSA Discs from Rio Grande

3M now carries a pretty full line of aluminum oxide sanding discs (3m PSA Sanding Discs) ranging in grits from 180 to 1200.  They come with a sticky back and are intended to be used with their mandrel, which is a firm, rubber backed mandrel. psa-mandrel I find the hard backing difficult to work with because of its inflexibility and other reasons (see below).  So, to make them more flexible and have a wide range of grits available, I’ve developed a method of using the  PSA Quick Change Sanding Discs with the Moore’s Sanding Discs.

The differences, between the two types of discs, are:

  1. mooresMoore’s discs have a square-ish shaped brass hole for the mandrel and the PSA has none.
  2. psaThe PSA’s have nothing in the center (like a mandrel) that can mar your work.

But, the flat, inflexible backing, that comes with the PSA kit,  can be too aggressive (sanding wise) and doesn’t follow the shape of the piece very well.  They are great for flat surfaces. You can also put your flex shaft into a vise (horizontally)  and roll the metal over the spinning PSA disc (while on the stiff, flat-backed, rubber mandrel).  It’s easier to sand curved surfaces, with the PSA, using the flex shaft like this.

If you want to order the PSA’s individually here’s the link at Rio, just click the grits you want. Don’t purchase the ones with the hole in the center, for this technique!

Here’s the mandrel  (close-up) for the Adalox and Moore’s disc.

A brief note on these mandrels:  occasionally the head gets squished shut and the disc spins around on it.  Not a good thing as no actual sanding is getting done.  So, take the disc off, get a small slot headed screwdriver, and wiggle it down into that split there.  Don’t over do it, sport – just a little bit.  Check the fit of the disc now.  Ah, so much better, eh?

So, generally I use 7/8″ Moore’s Abrasive Discs.  Gesswein is, once again, carrying the white plastic ones.  These are, by far, the best discs to use with the PSA’s. The part number is 845-2865 Coarse845-2863  medium, 845-2860 fine, 845-2859 extra fine.  I imagine that any plastic disc would work.  If you have some other brand, try it.  Moore’s Abrasive Discs from Gesswein.

So, now for the song and dance you’ve all been waiting for:

First, take the used (or new) Moore’s disc and turn it over so the backside faces up.  (I generally use, used disks, as I get double usage out of them that way).

Next, pull off a 3M sticky backed disc in the grit you need.  Carefully, center the sticky disc to the back of the Adalox or Moore’s.  

Next, you need to cut a little “X” through the sticky disc so, flip the disc back over (the new back side), pull out an Exacto blade and cut from one corner, of the brass mandrel slot, to the other.  See the image below.

We do this to allow room for the mandrel head to pop through.  Otherwise, it doesn’t fit the mandrel properly. See? (Look Down).

That’s it!  Pretty easy and now you have a flexible sanding disc.

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4 thoughts on “Sanding

  1. Hi Maz, Great question. I guess, how I sand or finish, depends on what area I’m finishing. If it is plated or very thin, I will probably sand by hand and make little sanding sticks by wrapping the sandpaper around a toothpick. I like the polishing pins too, for recesses and hard to get at spots. There are also, those little felt pins that can be shaped on a file, loaded with compound and used to polish intricate areas. When I’m at the pre-finishing state – say, areas with rough, uneven surfaces and if space allows, I use micro files (link for Micro-Mark –,7847.html?sc=WGB&utm_source=GoogleBase&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=GoogleBase&gclid=CMSM8sL4pLUCFQKoPAodSTcAow) for the first finish then wrap sandpaper around the files like the toothpick/sandpaper thing. I start with 220 grit and then work my way up to 100 or 1200 grit. There are also polishing cords (link is for Gesswein – The technique is called “Thrumming”. Thrumming is great for tight spots, like around settings. I don’t use tumbling for cleaning – only for shining up/burnishing work. Many love steam cleaners. I have one but, never use it. I like the soap/water/toothbrush thing best.

    So, hope these responses answered your question. I’m going to add some of this information on my web page, so, thanks so much for bringing it up! I love feedback and great questions!!!! Thanks again and take care, Nancy

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for your reply regarding mini fibre wheels on the finishing page. I did get an alternative to these, I have watched all your videos, big fan. I am wondering how you sand your delicate work (I have seen your sanding videos) but, like your brooch you demo’d with on cleaning jewellery video, using Castile soap. Do you use the sanding discs or by hand to sand this type of work? Or tumble?

    Thanks Maz

  3. Hi Ken, Thanks for the comment. I’m trying to get clear on which sanding discs and which company we are talking about. Did you get them from Rio Grande? Are they the PSA or Aluminum oxide ones? Both of these types, although they might not specifically say that they are for use on brass, are fine for brass, bronze, aluminum, silver, gold, etc. Or are we talking about the company Otto Frei and the Moore’s sanding discs? Those are great for metal too. All of the discs mentioned are great for metal so, sand away! I did notice that there were two links that were messed up on my sanding web page. One, to Otto Frei had changed and the other was to the wrong product. Sorry, if this caused any confusion. I did the page awhile ago and things change (and I make mistakes, alas). Good luck with the sanding and if you have any questions, please just write. I love helping people get started. Take care and talk to you later. Nancy

    ps – That sandpaper chart of mine needs to be updated! Just need more time, time, time, time….

  4. You mention on your sanding video the actual ordering numbers for the sanding disc. I did order the ones you suggested but noticed that they aren’t really made for sanding brass? Forgive me but you are talking to a limited experience newbee here. Are the flexable disc that you gave the ordering numbers for okay to use on brass? The chart that the company offers says that the actual disc for metals are different from your suggestion and that is shows on the graph that it is not recommended for metals…..? (the graph is blank). I really like everything you do Ms. H. and I learn so very much just reading and watching your videos. Looking forward to picking your brain a lot more in the future.