How to Keep Kids From Wasting Sandpaper – Part 2

Two years ago, I built a jig to help me cut sandpaper sheets into a few different practical sizes for our classroom. The sizes that we use are eighths, quarters (long strips) and half sheets.

The eighths pieces are very useful for hand sanding and for working small to medium sized projects. We mount the long quarter sheet on our beloved Preppin sanding blocks, and the half sheet is useful when I sharpen gouges and chisels.

Begin building the jig by drawing a rectangle the size of half a sheet in the middle of a piece of plywood. Then I divide the rectangle in half to outline the long quarter sheet strips. I drew another subdivision to outline a traditional quarter sheet rectangle, shown in red. This size also helped me complete the cuts of the eighth sheet segment (see below) and cut traditional quarter sheet sizes.  

To cut the paper, I use a hacksaw blade that is screwed onto the jig, with the teeth facing towards the cutting field. You can adjust the height of the saw blade to match the thickness of your sandpaper by placing a thin shim made of cardboard underneath the holes – or you can leave one screw a bit loose, which will allow you to lift the saw blade before tucking the paper underneath. Either way, make sure that your screw shank equals the hole diameter.

Last word of advice: when cutting, place the sandpaper upside down and apply firm pressure on the blade as you rip the paper up.

– Yoav Liberman

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PWM Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs
Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.

3 thoughts on “How to Keep Kids From Wasting Sandpaper – Part 2

  1. Shawn Nichols

    Shout out to the preppin weapon. It’s one of my go-to tools in the workshop for breaking the corners of my projects. My little girls love them too as they are easy to hold and don’t do any damage if they drop them on the concrete shop floor.

  2. Jim Dee

    This two-part column is great. Obviously it doesn’t just apply to kids! A similar regime is in place in the teaching shop at Highland Woodworking; their almost identical paper-tearing jig is wall-mounted.

    I can’t help piggybacking on your excellent idea by contributing one I got from Drew Langsner at Country Workshops: use spray adhesive or double-sided tape to improvise “rasps” of varying shapes and grits with small pieces of sandpaper. One of the most useful of these is to use a short length of an old broomstick, which is great for working on concave surfaces – – the rigidity of the wooden rasp allows you to keep your workpiece’s arrises nice & crisp. I would hesitate to let kids or beginning students use my good rasps and files without hovering, but a piece of scrap wood with sandpaper glued to it? No problem!

    Thanks for applying practical intelligence to show how a seemingly trivial subject is worth careful thought and action!

    1. Yoav LibermanYoav Liberman Post author

      Jim, thanks for your helpful comments and the tip. I think that building makeshift rasps is a fantastic idea. I will surly make some for my students next year. You are absolutely correct, students, particularly the inexperience, one can damage an expansive rasp very quickly. In the past I mentioned that I use Homasote to build vies jaws liners to cushion my student work but also to protect out tools. I also have a technique of mounting regular sandpaper on a wooden dowel to help students sand in difficult places. I will show this in my blog in the near future but practically it a 4” dowel with a kerf cut through its center to about 3” long. The paper is then inserted into the kerf and wrapped around the dowel.

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