Jewelry Tool Freebie: Sandpaper + Paint Stirrer Stick = Make Your Own Metal Sanding Sticks

Rust, finances, borrowing neighbors, wear and tear–these are the threats that will endanger your jewelry-making tool collection. Avoid all those things with this handy project for making your own sanding sticks. You can customize any way you want–use different shapes of wooden centers to make different shapes of "files," and make several in different sandpaper grits for a complete collection. When the outer layer wears out, just peel it off and start with the fresh one underneath.

Make a sanding stick
by Helen Driggs, Senior Editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine.

Since I've been sanding off a lot of tool rust these days, I thought a quickie demo was appropriate. A sanding stick is an easy tool to make and endlessly useful to have around. There are many ways to make them, and I'll show you how I do it below. The point is, if you've never used one, once you do, you'll wonder how you lived without one. Just get several grits of metal sandpaper, a few paint stirrer sticks from the hardware store, a flat bladed screwdriver, and a roll of masking tape. This project will take you about 10 minutes and will save you many, many hours. Ready?

step 1
1. Cut the sandpaper sheet in half. Lay a piece grit-side-down on a clean surface.
Step 2

2. Lay the stirrer so the top edge lines up with the top edge of the sandpaper.

Step 3 3. Use the blade of the screwdriver to gently score the sandpaper along the bottom edge of the stirrer. This is an important step!
step 4 4. Roll the stirrer, folding the sandpaper at the line you scored with the screwdriver. Score along the bottom edge, and fold again. Repeat scoring and rolling for the entire sheet of sandpaper.
step 5 5. Check your edges, and keep your work neat as you roll the sheet around the stick layer by layer. Trim excess paper along an edge of the stick.
step 6 6. Attach the paper to the stick with several wraps of masking tape at the top and the bottom.

step 7

  7. Mark the grit of the sandpaper on the tape.

Use the stick like you would use a file. When the paper wears out, peel off a layer–which is why you scored the fold lines as you rolled the paper on–it will tear cleanly on the scored line you made. —Helen

Find lots of great ways to put these sanding sticks to use–browse the fun eProjects in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop!

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