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Abrasives

Skill Level: Beginner

Introduction

Whether you are preparing a window frame for repainting or taking the sharp edges off cut metal, you will need some form of abrasive. But if you use the wrong type, you may spoil the finish – so get to know what’s available, and which type of abrasive to use for the job in hand. Whatever the project, whatever the material you are working with, the finishing process is all important. Any surface blemishes will spoil the finished job: could even be dangerous and cause nasty cuts.

 
The range of abrasives is wide and the difficulties of making the right choice are compounded by the variety of “forms” abrasives can take: different forms, for a variety of tasks

 

Which abrasive?

If an abrasive is to do the job for which it is designed, it must be harder than the material it is to smooth down, so when you buy it, make sure it suits your purpose.
Sandpaper is no longer available but the term is still used today to describe abrasive papers.

Glass paper

This abrasive consists of particles of crushed glass mounted on a paper backing and is usually used for smoothing down wood or soft plasters and wood fillers.

Garnet paper

Garnet paper is more of a specialist cabinet and furniture makers abrasive, made from finely crushed particles of the semi precious stone. This is a good all rounder, and is good for all types of wood. It is more expensive than glass paper but comes in a range of fine grades.

Emery cloth

Emery cloth is made from corundum crystals and is ideal for a range of metals and other hard surfaces. Emery cloth is often used for to polish copper or steel piping before soldering joints.

Wet and Dry

Many abrasive papers become clogged very quickly which cannot become dislodged easily simply by shaking or tapping. Wet and dry paper however, is prepared with a waterproof adhesive so can be dipped in water during use. This ability not only helps clear the abrasive of debris, but also acts as a lubricant when a fine surface finish

Silicone carbide

Silicone carbide is basically a combination of pure glass and carbon backed on paper. This makes it a hard as well as pliable material, and very usual when working on metals – sanding down car body parts, or keying metal surfaces before touching up paintwork.

Aluminium oxide

Aluminium oxide paper is another very tough abrasive grit: and copes well with harder metals. Often available in block form, it is also suitable for wood.

Tungsten carbide

Tungsten carbide is another extremely tough abrasive: almost diamond hard. It is often sold on a metal sheet for both hand and power sanding work. Tungsten carbide can be used for a range of applications and materials from wood, stone, metal, plastic and glass. It is more expensive than many other abrasives, but is more durable, and longer lasting.

Other types of abrasive

There are other types of abrasive around too: more specialised, but worth a mention. Fine wire wool is a useful abrasive for certain applications; it is used in furniture making, can be used for rubbing down paintwork, between coats. It can be dipped in wax and turns a gloss finish to a nice satin finish effect. In a heavier gauge. Wire wool is suitable for abrading metals.
 
Metal polishes too are an abrasive, and can be used effectively to remove fine scratches from metals. Paint stripper solutions too are a form of abrasive.
 
There are many abrasive pastes and powders now on the market. In other words…there’s an abrasive to suit most needs.

Tools you will need:
Pack of 5 Rolson Four Row Wire Brush
Pack of 5 Rolson Four Row Wire Brush
- Oakey 230mm x 280mm Assorted Glasspaper Sheets x 10
Oakey 230mm x 280mm Assorted Glasspaper Sheets x 10
- Oakey 230mm x 280mm (Coarse) Liberty Green Aluminium Oxide Sheets x 3
Oakey 230mm x 280mm (Coarse) Liberty Green Aluminium Oxide Sheets x 3
- Steel Wool 200g Assorted Pack - Fine Medium & Coarse
Steel Wool 200g Assorted Pack - Fine Medium & Coarse
- Rolson Wire Brush with Scraper
Rolson Wire Brush with Scraper
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