How to Avoid Failures While Sanding

Sanding tips: learn how to avoid failures on your next DIY project

If using sandpaper is the limit of your sanding experience, we’re here to help. Whether or not you’re new to Dremel, taking the time to prepare is the best way to ensure smooth sanding. Plus, being aware of the most common sanding mistakes before you start is the best way to avoid making them yourself! From understanding RPM (rotations per minute) to following the grain with your sanding tool, we’ve rounded up sanding’s best tips. Learn what to avoid before you begin, and you’ll have smooth surfaces in no time!


Consider ventilation and protection while sanding

While you may think of it as little more than a bit of dirt, sawdust is harmful if inhaled. Ventilation is especially important when it comes to sanding surfaces that have been painted, since paint particles are toxic. Harmful particles are also released when sanding metal and fibreglass. Do your sanding outside, or in an area with large windows. If neither option is available, then using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the sawdust and wood chips will also work. And most importantly: to avoid breathing in dust or getting it in your eyes, always wear a dust mask and safety goggles. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands.


Test your sanding skills first

To avoid damaging the surface or removing too much material of for example, a beloved toy, always test it first. Every sanding tool, or Dremel sanding accessory, is different – some are harsher than others. Learn more about Dremel’s sanding accessories in How to Start Sanding. Also, experiment with different RPMs (rotations per minute). Get a few scrap pieces of the material you’ll be sanding, and see what a low RPM does compared to a high RPM. The same goes for pressure.


Choose the right RPM for your Dremel Multi-Tool

Every Dremel Multi-Tool has a setting for RPM: rotations per minute. With a high RPM you might remove too much material or even create burn marks. To avoid potential mishaps, always begin with a lower RPM and test on scrap material. Take notice of the material too. Harder materials can handle a faster speed, while softer materials might need a lower one. Plastic could even melt, when the RPM is set too high and the material gets hot. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of turning the sanding tool on first to check the desired RPM, before touching it to the surface.


Let the sanding tool do the work

Avoid creating dents or gauges in your work by maintaining a light, even pressure. For flat surfaces, use long, consistent strokes. Go over the surface more times rather than attempting to do it all in one go. Holding the sanding tool with two hands in a golf grip, and taking your cues from the sanding equipment itself, will result in the best finish. If letting the tool do the work doesn’t feel natural, it could be that the grit of your accessory is worn down. In that case, replace it. When you have the correct accessory in good condition, you should be able to let the tool guide you.


Choose the right sandpaper grit for each job

Expect to cycle through a number of different accessories with every sanding project. It’s rare that a project will require just one. If you’re sanding an old window, use an accessory with low grit, such as a sanding band, to remove old paint. Then move onto a sanding disc to smooth the surface. A higher-grit abrasive buff is perfect for giving a final smoothing to detailed projects, such as the legs of a baroque chair. Compare all accessories for sanding in the Comparative Fact Sheet.


Go with the grain when sanding wood

The naturally occurring lines and rings you can see when you look at a piece of cut wood are known as the grain. When you start sanding, it’s important to move the tool in the same direction as the grain. If you sand against it – especially with a coarse sandpaper – you may cause splinters or chips. Even if you don’t cause larger cross-grain tears, sanding against the grain can still create scratches. These scratches become more obvious after painting or varnishing. When sanding wood, ensure the smoothest result by keeping in line with the grain.


Keep your sanding equipment fresh

If you’ve ever sanded wood by hand with sandpaper, you’ll know that it eventually wears out. The same applies to the accessories of a rotary tool like the Dremel Multi-Tool. To ensure you get the best results, replace the Dremel sanding accessories in good time. If you’re planning on doing a lot of sanding, try the Dremel EZ SpeedClic system. The sanding mandrel is a handy accessory that allows you to easily switch sanding bands. Always place the sanding band over the rubber part of the mandrel. If it shifts back a little, the rubber can melt, rendering the mandrel unusable.