We really can’t finish the discussion of surface sanders without touching upon the value that sanding sticks adds to our arsenal of tools. These simple odd-shaped assortment of wood covered with sandpaper is often a life-safer tool when we really need them. You will find that just when you have all of the sanding sticks that you need, you require an odd-shaped stick to get into that difficult spot you can’t reach with anything else. Here is a listing of some typical sanding sticks you will want to make to get you started.
Tools and Materials:
The 1″ x 2-1/2″ x 8″ Workhorse:
I use this sanding stick the most – that is for hogging down most of my wood. It is a great size for fitting in your hand comfortably and you can stick some rough garnet paper on one side and medium or fine on the opposite side. Use the Self-Adhesive Sandpaper Rolls if you can get them. This will save you a bunch of time and you don’t have to deal with the vapors of the sanding disc adhesive.
1″ x 4″ x 16″ With Wooden Handle:
This one is preferable to make out of cabinet grade plywood. Fashion a handle for it and secure it to the rear portion of the stick. I use this stick exclusively for flattening out fingerboards. Use the self adhesive sandpaper again and be sure to chamfer the edges of these stick to protect you guitar from the sharp edges.
1″ x 3/8″ x 6″ Mini:
I use these to sand out the string slots of the classical guitar peg-heads. They are also useful in fine bridge work, interior brace final sanding and the purflings. Again place different grit on each face.
I use several assortments of these sticks. Cut a dowel to a 4 to 6″ length. Now at the center-point of the dowel, take a hand saw or band saw and cut about half the length of the dowel or a little more.
This slot serves as the slot to lock the sandpaper in the dowels. Just cut the sandpaper to the correct width, insert it into the slot and wrap it around the dowel.
These are useful for sanding brace scallops, the transition area from the neck to the peg-head, the heel and many other curved areas. You will want to make several of these from different diameter dowels.
Special Shaped Sticks:
You will find that you may want a special shaped sanding stick for a one time job, or a specialty job like the fretboard sander above. You may need a curved sanding surface and a pointed tip. Whatever the application you will find these little shop tools are very hard to replace and you will wind up with a whole box of them for many different purposes.
Some of my specialized sanding sticks include several radius sticks for sanding the scallops at brace ends and at internal brace ends. I make these quite thin (from 1/4″ to 3/4″ thick) with the adhesive sandpaper on the curved edge. Mount 80 grit adhesive sandpaper on these little guys and you can make short work of cleaning up plane cuts and chisel marks. You are then ready for 220 grit.
These are little sanding surfaces that I typically mount on the face of a metal scraper. This allows me to sand in otherwise inaccessible areas, such as the thin kerf of the classical guitar neck side relief channel. It’s unbelievable how much time this saves. Again, I use 80 grit adhesive paper to achieve the highest degree of wood cutting.