Chris Schwarz's Blog

Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 10: Abranet

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I do almost no power sanding. But I do use abrasives in my work. And the only abrasive I use is Abranet.

I hesitate to call it “sandpaper” because it is absolutely nothing like sandpaper. There’s no paper – it’s a woven mesh. And the abrasive is nothing like sand. But it lasts forever, doesn’t clog and leaves a nice surface behind.

I purchase the 5” discs in #220-grit and use them on a cork sanding block. I bought a box of 10 discs about two years ago and still have four left. It seems expensive ($20/box) compared to the stuff at the home center, but the truth is quite the opposite. Because it lasts so long, it’s the least expensive sandpaper I’ve ever used.

So how do I use it in the shop? In the same way that abrasives have historically been used in a hand-tool shop: at the very end and sparingly. Since the 18th century, Western surface preparation has been something like this: Plane until you cannot improve the surface. Scrape out any small imperfections that the plane could not fix. Use a fine abrasive to blend the two types of surfaces and fix any tiny imperfections.

It was only in the late 20th century that we developed two masochistic approaches: power sanding (and all the dust it creates) and finishing off the plane (which can require a lot of fussing).

You can get Abranet at many fine woodworking stores. Pick up a box and I think you’ll be hooked.

— Christopher Schwarz

For Day 1 of this year’s gift guide, click here.
Day 2 is here.
Day 3 is here.
Day 4 is here.
Day 5 is here.
Day 6 is here.
Day 7 is here.
Day 8 is here.
Day 9 is here.
For my gift guides from 2013 and 2014, click here.

8 thoughts on “Anarchist’s 2015 Gift Guide, Day 10: Abranet

  1. laterthanuthink

    Hi Chris. When do you power sand? Do you use a festool sander when you do? Historically, what was the fine abrasive used after scraping?

    Thanks for all you do. Keep up the good work!

    1. Christopher SchwarzChristopher Schwarz Post author

      I power sand when I use sheet goods with extremely thin face veneers (a customer decision).

      The fine abrasive used after scraping is something in the range of #180 to #220 grit historically.

  2. wdewitt

    Hi Christopher,

    You say that you use this on a cork sanding block. How do you attach it? The sandpaper doesn’t seem to have a ‘peel and stick’ back and wouldn’t glue seep through the mesh?

    Regards,
    William de Witt

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