An abrasive habit

We all have some shop practices we don’t brag about. This is one I probably shouldn’t admit, but I don’t see me changing the habit any time soon.

I’ve talked before about my love of woodworking scraps, but that was always about wood scraps. You know, the stuff we use to make more stuff. The stuff that makes up half the word “woodshop.” Even though I made a concerted effort a year or so ago to get rid of or otherwise reduce my scrap stockpile, I still have plenty. But I also have a weakness for another kind of scrap.

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See that plastic bucket up there literally overflowing with bits and pieces of sandpaper in every conceivable grit and condition? Well, I have another just like it and it, too, is overflowing. Some of the pieces are large enough to attach to a sanding block, but most are smaller and folded multiple times. Some are barely used, while others are as nonabrasive as tissue paper.

Most of these were used and/or created while on the lathe – odd, small pieces work well for nooks and crannies – and once the project was done I tossed the pieces into the buckets. Then, when starting a new lathe project the first thing I do is grab a bucket. When it’s sanding time I just reach into the bucket and find a piece of the right grit with a bit of life still in it. When a piece is completely spent (a rarity), I just drop it on the floor and sweep it up when cleaning.

Having these two buckets of sandpaper scraps wouldn’t be too bad if that’s all it was, but I also keep a variety of scraps in the trough of my workbench. If I need to quickly touch up something they’re right there and easy to grab. Handy, but that trough tends to fill with additional scrap pieces of sandpaper more quickly than you would think. (That may have been when I started that second bucket.)

In David DeCristoforo’s most recent blog, he asks what our New Year’s resolutions are. Perhaps I should make this mine. Might as well. I’ll break that resolution very quickly, thus taking pressure of any other resolutions I might foolishly make.

A.J.

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