Sunday, September 18, 2016

Removing Sandpaper From an Aluminum Sanding Block

A few weeks ago, on Twitter, I was asked:

"@rocketn00b Can you tell me which spray adhesive you use to stick sandpaper to your aluminum sanding block so it isn't permanently stuck?"

Mark is referring to one of my favorite tools, the Great Planes Easy Touch hand sander. I first found out about this on Chris Michielssen's excellent Model Rocket Building blog, and it's a terrific sander. If you don't have one, I highly recommend it. I have two, so I can easily switch between coarser and finer grits of sandpaper.

The Great Planes sander comes with a few sheets of self-adhesive sandpaper, and you can buy more from them, but only in coarser grits. If you want to use a finer grit (say, 320 or 400), you have a few options. The first is to cut regular sandpaper to size and apply it with spray adhesive.

The other is to buy self-adhesive rolls. A great resource for this is Klingspoor's Woodworking Shop.

The adhesive on this sandpaper is really strong, and after reading a recent post on Model Rocket Building, I realized I wasn't alone in having trouble getting old sandpaper off the block.

But I recently figured out the trick, so I thought I'd share it here.

First of all, to answer the Twitter question, any spray adhesive will probably do. Most of them loosen their grip in water, so soaking the sander for a few minutes should do it.

Simply soak and peel.

But with the Klingspoor paper, that doesn't quite work. This stuff holds really strong. You may try to peel with your fingernails, and end up using some kind of putty knife or scraper, but still the paper tears, leaving lots of sandpaper and adhesive behind which takes a lot of work to remove.

But you can cleanly remove stuck on sandpaper from an aluminum block with little effort using warm, running water.

Start by running a stream of warm water directly onto the edge of one corner of the sander.

After a few moments, that corner will loosen up and you will be able to carefully peel it away from the sanding block.

Allow the warm water to continually flow right onto the seam between the sandpaper and the sanding block. With a firm grip, slowly peel the sandpaper from the block.

You may find that the sanding block is now completely clean. More than likely, however, there will be a few small spots of adhesive still stuck to the block. An adhesive remover will take care of that. Goo Gone will work well. I personally like using Ronsonol Lighter Fluid. It breaks down adhesives but doesn't leave a lot of greasy residue.

Just apply a layer of the lighter fluid to the sanding block and allow it to soak in briefly.

The remaining adhesive will wipe cleanly off the sanding block with a cotton ball or swab.

Rinse the sanding block and dry with a paper towel. It should be clean and ready for more sandpaper.

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  1. I have the opposite problem. I bought the "gift pack" combination of the 11" easy-tough hand sander, and two rolls of supposed self-adhesive paper. However my rolls, while shrink wrapped, have dried out. Or is there some secret technique of re-activating the adhesive that I don't know? As a result, I haven't used it yet, but I'm pretty disappointed in the unit as it was packaged and shipped for free to me via

    1. Well, if it was from Amazon, you can return or exchange it for free. The Klingspoor stuff is pretty tacky. I doubt you'd have the same problem with their rolls. And you can find a greater selection of grits from them.

      I did have a Great Planes sander which arrived from Amazon in bad shape - the package had been waterlogged and the sander was bent. Not sure why they sent it in that condition. But I did the return and got my new sander before I had even sent the bad one back.

  2. Thanks for the pictorial and explanation to remove the Klingspor sandpaper. I'll post a link on my blog to this post on yours.