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One of the earliest machines I remember Dad having in the shop , besides a table saw and a radial arm saw , is a 12″ disc sander. I hated to change the disc on that thing. Peel the backing off then work like the dickens to slide it in place and get it adhered before the glue stuck on something other than where it should. Every time, the results were the same.

Finally, I discovered a simple step-by-step method to get the job done without nasty consequences. I know that many of you will think this a foolish waste of blog space, but heck, that’s what I do. So here goes.

Begin by using a knife to slice the film on the back of the sanding disc. It’s not a Herculean event. Don’t cut all the way through.

Peel off one half of the film

Slide the still-filmed portion of the back into the slotted area between the machine’s disc and the table (or covering) while you keep the un-filmed area away from the surface. After you get the sanding disc positioned, press the sticky portion to the machine’s disc to adhere one half of the sanding disc to the machine. Half the task is complete.

Next, spin the disc so the stuck part is down inside the machine and the still-filmed part is at the top. Bend the sanding disc out from the machine’s disc and simply peel away the remaining film.

Press the second half of sanding disc to the machine’s disc and you’re ready to work.

Granted , this is not undiscovered woodworking knowledge. I almost thought this technique too simple for the blog, but it’s small techniques such as these that keep the blood pressure down. Do you have any similar ideas that make shop life easier? If so, add it to the comment section. I could use a few more points shaved from my stats.

– Glen D. Huey

Save money and time in your shop with “601 Woodshop Tips & Tricks,” from a guy with 50 years of experience in woodworking, Graham McCulloch. Click here to order a copy.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Cliff

    I used to use a glue stick with regular paper,
    (hard to find these days specific for the purpose)

    then self adhesive, but cleaning always a task.

    I converted mine to hook and loop.

    makes life a little easier:o))


  • Larry Cronkite

    Great idea.
    Now, how do you keep the sanding disc from coming loose from the machine plate?
    I always have to rotate the plate by hand and press the sanding disc to the plate before every sanding job.
    I’ve tried cleaning the plate with everything from acetone to steel wool and nothing seems to work.

  • Aluminum Extrusions

    I always hate this process. It needs to be applied to perfectly… Instant frustrations! Thanks for the tips.

  • Rob Young

    @Steve, re:silicone paper

    Check with stores that specialize in cooking and baking supplies.

  • Chris Marshall


    What’s your method for getting the old sandpaper off the metal disk to begin with? Any solvents work particularly well to loosen it enough to scrape it away? I think that’s the bigger challenge when I have to change paper–getting the old stuff off and the disc clean.

    I agree with you: love the sander, hate the paper changes. Glad I don’t have to do it very often.



  • Steve

    You need a sheet of silicone paper. This is the backing paper that’s used with all kinds of adhesive stuff, including your sanding discs. I get mine by saving the backing from adhesive labels that I print for various things.

    You can trim the silicone paper to whatever size is appropriate for the task at hand. It’s best to trim it so that it covers all but a small area of the adhesive. You hold the silicone paper and the sanding disc (or whatever) together, and position the sandwich over the thing that you want to stick the disc to. Once you’ve gotten things aligned, press the exposed adhesive down, then slide the silicone paper out a little at a time as you press more and more of the disc into contact.

    The advantage of doing it this way is that you’re less likely to trap an air bubble if you gradually work your way across the disc.

  • Glen

    There you go. Dave says it’s a great idea and I’m stoked. Then Rob comes along and lets all the air out of my balloon. I feel my blood pressure rising. What ideas do you guys have? Or am I going to have to dig through all the machine manuals for time-saving ideas?

  • Rob Young

    Picking a 12" sander at random…

    See page 12. Not exactly the same technique but close enough for me to say it is important to RTFM on ALL your equipment. No matter how simple you think it is to operate. 🙂


  • Dave

    Great tip Glen, You should submit that for tip of the month!
    You might also want to clarify when you say spin the disc, it should be done by hand with the machine unplugged. You know someone will try to do it by pressing the on button,they’ll loose a spleen, and you’ll be the subject of a 5 million dollar lawsuit!
    Just my opinion I could be wrong.

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