Hate sanding? Try this super-block
Our Tools & Materials section is one of the most popular departments in the magazine. But we only review new tools there, and occasionally we miss something. So let me tell you about the best tool value in my shop. Don’t hold the corny name against it (the woodworking market is full of those), the Preppin Weapon makes hand sanding a pleasure. That’s right, I said a pleasure.
The usual approach is a shop-made block, with a layer of cork. You wrap the paper around it and hold on tight to keep it taut as you sand. It works fine, but it adds a bit of hassle to an already tedious job. Also, these kind of blocks work best with small, squarish pieces of sandpaper, which load up and get dull quickly.
Enter the ultimate surface-prep weapon. Borrowed from the auto-body industry, the Preppin Weapon is the ultimate sanding block for woodworkers. First off, it is longer than the usual block, fitting a 1/4-sheet strip of paper perfectly. That means the work goes faster and the paper lasts longer. And it holds the paper only at the very ends of the strip, meaning you aren’t wasting much. How does it hold it, you inquire? With two little ingenious clips that you activate with a simple lever at each end. The paper goes on and off in seconds, and stays perfectly taut and flat!
On top is an ergonomic landscape of humps and bumps that fits your palm and fingers perfectly. Below is a firm layer of foam that distributes sanding pressure evenly, a must on any block. I’ve been using my block for years now, and the foam is as good as new.
The Preppin Weapon is widely available on the Web, for around $20, in a variety of colors, so you can buy more than one and color-code your grits! I only have one, since the paper goes on and off so easily (plus, I’m cheap).
Team up this uber-block with a simple sandpaper cutting jig, and your sanding struggles are over.
The Preppin Weapon is a corny name for the best sanding block in the biz.
It fits your hand like a glove, holds the paper tightly so you don't have to, and covers a lot of ground.
Sandpaper lasts longer on this long block, but when it has to come off, it does so with the flip of a lever.
A new strip of paper goes on just as fast. Attach it at one end, pull it tight, and then attach it at the other end. The clips pull the paper tight as they close.
For the ultimate sanding setup, make a paper-cutting jig like this. It is just a base, fence, and old hacksaw blade, and is sized to tear off a perfect 1/4-sheet strip. Put a washer under each end of the blade to make it easy to insert the paper.