This is 12 Awesome uses for 80 grit sandpaper, your guide to everything 80 grit sandpaper is capable of doing. You’ll never look at an 80 grit piece of sandpaper the same way again, and there are lots of great uses that you may never have thought of. Enjoy.
80 Grit Sandpaper
80 grit sandpaper is one of the most aggressive grits that you can buy, which makes it suitable for a lot of different tasks in woodworking. There are also a lot of different ways to buy 80 grit paper, and that makes it more versatile as well.
For a lot of you, the grit that’s on your belt/disc sander will be 80 grit, which is perfect because it’s excellent for removing material.
You’ll also find 80 grit in sandpaper sheets as well as types made to go on powered sanders.
There are however a lot of things that you can do with the sandpaper that are not apparent right away, and I’ll show you several. This is a very versatile item to have in the shop, and here is how you get more mileage out of it.
See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker
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Make Semi Permanent Sanding Blocks
If you use the belt from a belt sander, new of course, you can make semi permanent sanding blocks and sanding sticks very easily. These are wonderful to have the shop, and as soon as you have a couple you will find a lot of uses for them.
All you have to do to make a bunch of these is cut up some small pieces of hardwood that you can use as blocks, and then cover one face with a piece of 80 grit sanding belt. Just cut the belt up into pieces, and glue them on the wood.
These make great sanding sticks, because you get all the power of 80 grit sandpaper plus the strong, rigid backing of a piece of wood. Even thin pieces can be strong enough to get very aggressive with the sandpaper in tight spaces.
Make a few of these a little larger, you can use them for bigger projects. You can even use them to spot level certain areas on projects, and you can also use them to power through inlays to get them close to the surface before final sanding.
Make Dowel Sanders
Another great thing to do with 80 grit sandpaper or sanding belt is to wrap it around larger dowels to make curved sanders. These are great, because you get all of the toughness, plus a radius that will help you sand curved items.
Wooden dowels can range in size, but is long as the sandpaper curves around it without creasing or cracking, then your dowel has not gotten too small. You can also use a larger piece of wood that has a curved sanded in place.
Most sanding blocks and sanding sticks are flat, and that’s OK. However, if you add some rounded and curved blocks to the mix, you increase what you’re capable of standing, and it’s far more effective than standing by hand.
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The perfect grit for these blocks is 80, and even better if you can use material from a brand new sanding belt instead of sandpaper. The sanding belt will last a lot longer, and it’s easier to clean between uses then paper.
Remove Material Quickly
If you need to remove material quickly, 80 grit sandpaper is your grit. The other nice thing about this grit level is that it’s not so aggressive that it leaves super deep and jagged scratches that take a long time to remove later.
Material removal is important, and you don’t want to spend 10 hours sanding something when you could just use a more aggressive grit and get through it. However, you definitely don’t want to go to aggressive for the reasons I mentioned earlier.
80 grit is a perfect compromise paper, because you get a ton of power and a ton of material removal but without leaving really bad scratches. This means you can quickly go through the sanding and shaping process, without giving yourself a bunch of extra work down the road.
Breaking Sharp Corners and Edges
A piece of 80 grit sandpaper is great to have around for breaking rough edges and sharp corners on your projects. These areas do not take a finish nearly as well as when the sharp areas are rounded slightly.
When you do this, you create more surface area for the stain and finish to adhere, making it work better. Corners tend to soak up a lot of color, but they don’t colt clear coats as well. This means dark areas that easily rub off.
Instead of going through all of that, break the corners with 80 grit sandpaper. Fold over a piece of paper so it covers your hand, and carefully remove the sharpness on the edges and corners. When they feel smooth, you are done.
Add Texture to a Wood Surface
Another fun thing to do with 80 grit sandpaper is to add texture. This can be on the surface of the wood itself, adding texture to wood filler prior to drying, or it could even be on a painted surface. The choice is all yours.
With a nice piece of 80 grit, drag slowly across a piece of wood with a lot of pressure, will leave distinct lines. They are not nearly as aggressive as other grits, but it will leave behind a little bit of a rustic/aged textured that can be appealing in some pieces.
You can also use this sandpaper over a thicker layer of paint to create lighter spots, and visual texture on a piece. This intentional distressing looks really good, and is the hallmark of the style of project.
Leveling a Surface With a Belt Sander
Another great use for 80 grit sandpaper is leveling a surface. If you have a workbench for example that needs leveling, then a belt sander and 80 grit sandpaper is a perfect combination to get the job done quickly.
The nice thing about 80 grit on the belt sander is that it’s aggressive, but not too aggressive. It will remove material fast enough to make you happy, but it won’t beat up the surface so much that you have to spend a lot of time sanding out the scratches.
Speed for the sake of speed is definitely not a good thing. If you take back a little of the speed, and use 80 instead of the very rough grits, it will work better. You will actually spend less time, because you’re not spending so much more on the back end fixing scratches.
Distressing Edges and Corners
Many times, you will need to distress edges and corners of a piece in order to achieve the look that you’re going for. This is very common on rustic reproduction furniture, and on projects that are meant to look as though they’ve been aged.
Using 80 grit sandpaper, you can easily address these areas. All you need to do is grab your sanding block, wrap some 80 grit around it, and then start sanding the edges. If you need to be a little more aggressive, a sanding stick can be super helpful too.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to aggressively take down a corner, almost to the point of removing half of the thickness of the material. This is where sanding stick with 80 grit can really help you power through, and it won’t be much slower than using a power sander.
Another thing you can do with your edges is wrap your 80 grit sandpaper around a large dowel, and run it lengthwise, perpendicular to the edge of the piece. It will create a small divot, or valley on your project, and that can add to the look.
Roughing Surfaces Prior to Gluing Together
Glue needs to have a little bit of roughness on the surface in order to stick properly, and 80 grit sandpaper can help. Those tiny scratches in between the joints help create a mechanical bond between the two pieces.
This is especially important when you are working with materials other than wood. Shell, laminate, and metal are all smooth. These materials benefit from having scratches on the surface prior to gluing, and they hold together better.
The best practice is to lightly scuff both mating surfaces with 80 grit sandpaper prior to applying the adhesive. Make sure that you see scratches on both surfaces, and that they are even across both.
Do this first before mixing any epoxy. Of course you can do this for wood glue as well, but you won’t have the time sensitive component as when you are working with two part epoxy. Either way, don’t let your adhesive firm up on you before you get a chance to apply it.
These scratches don’t have to be incredibly deep either. In fact all you need to do is create some lines on the surface that you can see with the naked eye. At the micro level, these are chasms and gorges that your adhesive can flow into.
When that happens, the adhesive itself grabs onto the jagged fibers of the material, and holds on a lot tighter than grabbing the flat sections. This means a much stronger bond, and a longer-lasting project with less worries.
See Also: 7 Easy Woodworking Joints for Beginners
Removing Heavy Soil and Grime From a Bench Top
Restoring an old workbench is a fun project. It’s also a very lengthy project, and a very dirty project. However, it can also be extremely rewarding and you can end up with a carpenter‘s bench that has a lot of history, and makes you happy to be the new owner.
That being said, a lot of carpenters benches that you find in the secondhand market will have grime on the top that needs to be removed prior to use. This is were 80 grit sandpaper can really save the day, and help you speed through this process more efficiently.
Get yourself a few sanding belts for your sander, because depending on the nature of the grime, it can build up in the paper, and render it ineffective pretty quickly. You can clean out the belts of course, but after a while you will need new ones.
Make your initial passes just to remove the top layer of grime and grit. Work to consistently and evenly remove this layer before working on leveling the surface. The grime layer can sometimes be greasy, so getting rid of it prior to leveling is important.
Your 80 grit sanding belt is perfect for this job. It’s strong enough to pull away the needed grime, but also not so aggressive that it leaves bad scratches. It’ll be easier after the leveling top to smooth out the surface, and restore the bench to its former glory.
Sanding Surfaces Flat With a Granite Plate
Sometimes you need to sand a piece of flat, and it has to be perfectly flat. This can be hard to do in some cases, however you can make the job a lot easier with 80 grit sandpaper and a granite plate.
Granite plates are sold in a number of different sizes, and they are precision ground to be dead flat within a certain tolerance. The price of the plate will directly reflect the tolerance, and the more accurate and the plate the higher the price.
For the purposes of most woodworking however, even a plate with a weaker rating is still extraordinarily accurate for anything that you would need to do. Add in some 80 grit sandpaper, and you have a very efficient way of creating a perfectly flat surface.
All you need to do is lay the sandpaper with a grit facing up on top of the granite place. You can clamp down the edges, or tape them down, and then work your project against the surface. The granite provides the backing, and also the flatness.
It’s important when you’re standing a piece against a flat surface that you hold the piece flat itself. This can actually be a lot more difficult than it sounds, so pay attention as you’re sanding and don’t be too aggressive.
The problem with rapidly sliding your piece back-and-forth is that you end up tipping the edges up and down without really knowing it. This creates more of the dome shape than a flat shape, and is not what you’re looking for. Go a bit slower, and it will work out better.
See Also: 13 Myths About Getting Into Woodworking
Shaping Metal Quickly
Sometimes you need to shape a little bit of metal while you were doing a woodworking project. For woodworkers, the metal that you use is more often accent type metal rather than large pieces of metal.
Examples can be corner trim, kick plates, and small decorative pieces of soft metal. The combination of metal and wood can be very appealing in a project, and it’s also a contrast of soft and hard that adds to the overall look.
If you need to change the shape of any of these metal pieces, 80 grit sandpaper is a good choice, and makes it easy. You definitely want to use a sanding belt for this purpose, because the belt is a lot stronger and it will hold together better against the metal.
Also, use a backer of some type. This can be a temporary block that you cut for the purpose, or it can be a permanent glued sanding stick with 80 grit on the surface. The backer will help distribute pressure, and also apply pressure when needed.
Metal is not like wood. It does sand in a similar fashion, however it’s a longer process than sanding wood. The material itself is just so much harder, even the softer types. It will take longer to sand, so use a backer and a sanding belt for the most effectiveness.
Your Go To Grit for Your Belt Sander
The most common use for 80 grit sandpaper is on the belt sander. In most cases, 80 grit is the bread and butter grit that most woodworkers have on their belt sanders are there belt/disc sanders. It’s for good reason too.
80 grit sandpaper has the most versatility, and will allow your belt sander to do it’s job without being too aggressive. The point of a belt sander is to remove material quickly, but you also don’t want to end up in a position where you have to sand by hand to repair the damage.
80 grit sandpaper allows the belt sander to do it’s job, and you’ll be very happy with the speed at which the material is removed. You will also be glad that it’s not quite as aggressive, because a mistake doesn’t remove as much material as it could with a more aggressive grit.
This means you have a little extra time to react, without destroying your peace. It also means that once you come off the belt sander, your next hand sanding operations won’t be as difficult because the scratches on the surface won’t be as bad.
If you’re using anything besides an 80 grit belt right now, I recommend that you go get a fresh belt and install it on your machine. Give it a try, and you will be surprised at how versatile your belt/disc sander now is.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know quite a bit about 80 grit sandpaper, it’s time to take action. Go online and order a new set of sanding belts for your power sander. Also order a couple extra 80 grit belts in order to make sanding sticks and sanding blocks.
Get yourself a little bit of a five-minute two-part epoxy, and start milling up some blocks and sticks of different sizes so that way you can get started. When the belt comes, cut pieces for your blocks and create a series of sandpaper sticks.
The next time you have to glue two surfaces together, especially if they’re not on wood, make sure to use one of these sticks to rough up the faces before gluing. Also, grab a small piece of soft metal in the shop and test sand the surface.
The more you work with the product, the more comfortable you will be. You’re going to end up finding a lot of uses for 80 grit sandpaper, especially now that you have the tools and knowledge in place to actually be able to use it.
Take action on everything that you’ve read, and don’t let it just go to waste. The difference between knowing something and doing something is huge, and when you start to do this in your shop you will discover your own ideas as well. Happy building.
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