Catching up with a few of the blogs out there, and found some photos on Marc’s website (The Wood Whisperer) which made me sit up and look rather quickly.

Custom Built

Custom Built

Kind of like something from “Pimp my Ride” at first glance – flame paint job on a tablesaw (hey, why not!) but what really dropped the jaw was the plaque underneath the Powermatic sign “Custom Built for The Wood Whisperer”

How awesome would that be?!!  (And yeah, I’d take a self-portrait like that too if I had one of those in my shop!!) (Image comes from his “Failed Promotional Shot” series) Lucky bugger.

Update: If you can’t own one, you can make a paper one – Wood Werks has a PMC section on their website where you can create your dream machine, and print it out 🙂

Actually, not such a silly idea – it parallels something I was suggesting to Carbatec a year or so back, to have paper printable versions of each of their main machines so you can build a model of your workshop, plan (scheme) future acquisitions and how they’d fit into the current space (or how they would justify another workshop expansion!)  Not just a bit of fun, but subtle marketing at the same time.

A Gritty Problem

Do you have a stack of offcuts of sandpaper that still looks in good condition, but you cannot tell what they actually are (without guessing, or at least wasting quite a bit of time)?

I know I have thrown away a lot of useful pieces for just that reason.  Many resulting from frenetic work around the lathe, slicing off strips of sandpaper of various grits during the process.  Unless I am particularly neat (I’m not), or remember to write the grit number on the back (I rarely, if ever do), I find that often the various bits get mixed up, and that means they become just more waste, an ever-increasing pile of useful, but useless bits of sandpaper on the shop floor.

A Random Stack of Various Grits

A Random Stack of Various Grits

Why do sandpaper manufacturers print so little detail on the backs of their papers?

One Australian company has decided to apply some common sense to the problem, and instead of printing numbers randomly on the back of the paper, they have decided that the easiest solution is to colour code the backs of each grit a different colour.

The term they have chosen to use is Colour Coded Grit.  Common sense prevails!


Taking that random stack of paper from the photo at the top of this article, and we now have:

Colour Sorted Grits

Colour Sorted Grits

So now those scraps of paper are no longer waste.  Picking up a piece of sandpaper and knowing without hesitation what grade it is, is simple.

There are 6 grades of sandpaper available: 80, 120, 180, 240, 320, 400.  They are only available in emery paper, a cloth backed, flexible paper which is popular with wood turners.  The abrasive is a naturally occurring mineral which is largely corundum, which is in a refined state, Aluminium Oxide (another common abrasive particle).  The other benefit of cloth backed paper is it can easily be torn along the grain, so getting consistent width pieces is very easy.

The company has no plans to increase the range of grit sizes (I asked) – their research over many years of supplying the woodturning community in particular indicated that the sizes currently on offer cover about 90% of their requests.  They also have no plans currently to provide hook & loop backed disks for sanders (random orbital, or the rotary sanders preferred by wood turners), so my problem on that front persists (unfortunately – I commonly have a stack of disks that I can’t distinguish easily what grit they are).

So if you have the ongoing problem as I do of distinguishing between all the bits, pieces, sheets, rolls and scraps of sandpaper in various states of use, at least the problem of telling the common grades apart has been taken care of, and using an abrasive which is very effective for woodworking to boot.  It can be purchased in lengths of 2m, 5m and 10m, and the most popular product is the 300mm wide 6 pack (one of each grit).  Once you run out of any particular grit, you can buy replacement rolls individually if required.

Reference Card

Reference Card

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