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Old 06-17-2006, 11:01 AM
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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
 
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So, just how important is using quality sandpaper?

So just how important is it to use quality sand paper?

Yesterday I sanded a little clothes dresser down for my daughter. I used a roll of poor quality 100 grit da discs that I had been “saving” for such a project. I sanded and sanded and sanded, using the whole roll of discs on this little dresser. I knew I was using more than I would with better paper but though, “What the heck, I’ll finally get rid of it”. Well, I didn’t realize how much time and paper I was wasting until I ran out and switched to a quality paper. I even went to a finer 180 grit and even then, it cut MUCH faster and cleaner than the poor quality 100, maybe three or four to one!

I have experienced this before over the years but have forgotten just how bad it is to use poor quality sand paper. It doesn’t save you a single dime, it costs you time, and it can cost you quality of your end product.

I am not talking brand names here, no product bashing or selling for some multi million dollar company, just plain quality. I wanted to write this without so much as mentioning a name, but I have to. I have to set a standard to judge the others. With soooooo many different brands of paper available, in all colors of the rainbow, we need a standard. I chose the biggest name in the business hands down, 3M. And although 3M makes some of the best paper, it also makes some of the worse. So 3M “Purple” will be one of our standards. Believe it or not, 3M even has the Purple color trademarked! I am sure there are people who will say this isn’t the best paper out there, I certainly can’t argue with that being I haven’t tried all the brands available. But I don’t think there are many that could argue that it isn’t one of the best. The other example I will give is Meguires color sanding paper. Again, it costs more than twice as much as 3M and many times more than some other brands but in my experience it is second to none.

If nothing else, at least with these two standards you can find out if what you are using makes the grade. It doesn’t have to be as good, but is the money you are spending getting you something at least close. There are many brands out there that do, they get very close in fact. So at the very least, get a few sheets of these papers and do a head to head comparison with what you are using now, at least you will know if you are getting your moneys worth.

So, does it really make that big of a difference, you bet your bippy it does.

First and foremost, like any good tool quality sandpaper and grinding discs do the work for you. This is hard work, back breaking work, why not make it as easy as you can on yourself?

Quality sandpaper CUTS. It CUTS plastic filler FLAT, it CUTS old paint off with less effort and heat. Quality grinding discs CUTS metal with less effort and less heat.

Quality sandpaper and grinding discs CUT what you are focusing on. A run in clear for instance, quality paper will cut JUST the run much easier. With poor quality paper you work harder at “rubbing” on the run and end up cutting surrounding areas thin or even THRU, before you CUT the run. Cutting plastic filler is the same idea. If you have a little high spot, you CUT the high spot down instead of surrounding areas that are not high.

Grinding discs, they CUT the weld down flat for instance without heating and thinning the surrounding metal. I have some “off brand” that I use at work that cut SOOOOOO much better than the big boys it isn’t even funny. Again, “quality” isn’t always expensive. These discs aren’t that cheap, but they are MUCH better than others we use for different purposes. They will CUT welds down on big jobs MUCH better and last MANY times longer. They are stiffer and so aggressive they aren’t a replacement for all discs though.

Get a couple of different brands and give them a head to head test. I am NOT saying you need to buy the ones I have given as a “standard” not by a long shot. At the shop where I work, we don’t use the Purple paper, it is pretty expensive and the boss doesn’t see the need. You may, but it is very expensive. Just know what you are using is the best you can get for YOUR money.

The “retail” packs with ten or fifteen sheets in them are in my experience always a LOSER. They are HORRIBLE quality and the worse part, they often cost MORE than the quality paper per sheet or disc! If you see no name on the back, holy cow, you are working with JUNK. You are working your butt off if you are using stuff from a retail pack with no name on the back.

Buy the rolls of quality discs, you know you will be using them in the future, so get the darn roll. I now it costs a lot, but it is WELL worth it.

In the long run, quality paper saves you money and time.



Brian

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Old 06-17-2006, 12:12 PM
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i totally agree. I bought some cheap sandpaper from an online store. When it arrived it was marked made in India. I believe the brand name was "Indac". It was total junk. If you tried folding it over a sanding block the abrasive would crack and fall off. Money spent on quailty abrasives is money well spent IMO.

Vince
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Old 06-17-2006, 01:05 PM
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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
 
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To further express that cost or brand name don’t mean a whole lot, the junk 100 grit and the super high quality 180 grit I used sanding my daughters dresser were both the same brand! One from the high end and one from there low end of offerings.

Brian
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:02 PM
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Good info for the board man. I'd like to add to this. The age of abrasives is also important in some applications, especially in the corse grits. We seldom realize that these products have a shelf life. The glues or binders that keep the grit on the paper get old and brittle depending on how old it is and how it's stored. This can be very critical on high speed uses like cut-off wheels or high speed grinding with a 90deg die grinder or 5" Makita type abrasive wheel. I've had the occasional disc depart from the tool and it's pretty freakin scary. Once again, good post Brian.
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Old 06-17-2006, 09:38 PM
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I agree with Brian totally, 3M's purple line is what I consider the top dog in abrasives and what I use for comparison when trying something else. Unfortunately 3M's purple prices are way out of line for anything but collision work. Doing restoration work and similar where a complete body and all of it's parts are sanded again and again and again and again and again in an effort to achieve total perfection a person ends up using a lot of paper. In an effort to reduce waste I load my sanders with different grits and have numerous blocks and boards loaded with different grits just to eliminate the need to change grit and discard good paper. The hook and loop attaching paper makes it convenient to change grit without wasting but IMO it just doesn't cut as straight as PSA paper and then there's also the added cost so there's no hook and loop in my shop. For the past two years I've been using Carborundum Red DA paper, board paper and wet and dry, it is as good or almost as good as 3M's purple but half the cost leaving me no reason to pay 3M's prices. Just my 2cents. The 3M purple has been in this area for about 6 years but most shops aren't using it for $$$ reasons.
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Old 06-18-2006, 06:52 AM
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Great post, I would like to add one item that goes along with this. No matter what the quality of the paper is, change it out once it stops cutting. With every stroke the paper is getting duller, 100 grit can become a very poor 180 grit pretty quickly cutting hard materials. First instinct is to push harder, so now you are working harder and probably cutting uneven. As soon as you realize the paper isn't cutting as well, or you are pushing harder, change the paper. Yes you will use more paper, but the job will go much faster and come out better.

Lance
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Old 06-18-2006, 10:26 AM
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OMG Lance, I forgot that whole subject! I had it in my head when I was thinking about this at work ( I should have had my head on the job, probably screwed up something). That is one thing I see others do, they will blow off the clogged paper, hit it with their hands, whack it on the floor, all this stupid chit when it should be TORN OFF AND TOSSED for new paper. I mean, we don't even pay for it, so it is REAL stupid to be "rubbing" worn out paper on your work. And I have had the boss see me and my pile of discarded paper around me, he had never said a thing. He KNOWS it saves money in labor to GET THE JOB DONE instead of trying to save paper.

Bob, I have no proof, but I have felt the same way about the hook and loop paper as far as getting the panel flat. I don't like how it "floats" on the tool, the back of the paper seems awful lumpy. Yes, the Carborundum Red is one of the best. I use to represent Carborundum as a paint rep and we did a test in the shops where we sanded a panel down to bare metal (actually we had the shop employee do it) for a set time, two minutes or something like that I don't remember with the paper used by the shop. We would then simply measure the area he was ablel to strip to metal and record it. Then have him do the same with the Carborundum Red and see how much he could do, both were with one disc, no changing. The Carborundum would come VERY close to the 3M Purple. But other brands or 3M Gold it would usually whoop. With a little calculation you could show the shop owner how the cheaper paper was actually costing him money in labor. Sometimes a LOT more. I remember one shop who was using some cheapie $15.00 a roll DA paper. He fought and fought with me over a year or more on this "Sell me yours for $15.00 and I'll buy it" he would say. He finally let me do the test, I showed him how compared to the Carborundum he was loosing $150.00 a roll in loss labor!!! No kidding! This was IF you didn't change out the cheapie paper so it was scewed in regard but if you went with changing the paper, you would use four times as many discs! I watched the painter and he was trying to pull off the disc in about fifteen seconds! He would have EASILY used four or five discs to one of the Carborundum. So much for the "much less money" paper angle.

The fact is, the sand paper accounts for about 6% of your paint and materials bill, while its USE accounts for about 30% of labor billed! It makes a LOT more sense to use high quality paper.

Brian
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Old 08-15-2006, 12:54 PM
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Reviving this thread because this subject just bit me in the butt.

I spent a whole roll of some kind of 80 grit, stick-on DA paper and uncountable hours trying to sand the trunk lid of my '49 Olds to metal. Note that "trying". I never got it sanded with that stuff. I even resorted to trying to rub it down with oil and screened sand.

Recently I bought a 5 pack of 3M 40 grit on E-weight paper. "Production 251U" and "green resin bond" is on the back. Two discs did the entire upper surface of the hood in much less than a day, total time. I didn't fight it; just let the tool do the job. The heavy paper let me do the sanding wet so there was no dust in the air. When the paper loaded up, I just washed it off and kept on sanding. It still felt rough when I changed pads, but it wasn't cutting as well after half the hood. I may have been able to do the whole hood with 1 pad, but the time and effort saved was worth the cost.

I wanted to get more of the same paper, but the only thing I could get locally was "Gator Grit", red resin bond, in a 40 grit, 6" stick-on. This stuff was about as bad as the original attempt with the no-name 80 grit. The paper started disintegrating and the abrasive started coming off within 5 minutes. I'm back to the 3M and hoping the local supplier gets more in before I use up the last 3 discs. The Gator Grit will be tossed in the corner until I need some wood scuffed up.

Life's too short to fight bad tools.
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Old 08-15-2006, 02:59 PM
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O.K. then,
I blew it-I thought I was buying the good stuff and bought a bunch of 3M Gold PSA Discs. I just checked where I buy 3M stuff, and they don't have the "purple". Where is the best place to buy "purple" PSA 5 or 6" Discs and Paper?
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Old 08-15-2006, 03:18 PM
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Grouch,

I, for one, thank you for reviving the thread!

I missed it the first time around and there is some great info here! I am also one of those guilty of buying "Bargain Bin" sandpaper - NEVER AGAIN!

I respect MARTINSR for his desire not to mention more Brand Names, and I don't want to start a "mine-is-better-than-your's" war, but would appreciate any additional specific brand and/or line recommendations that GUYS KNOW FROM FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE seem to work good/better/best for various sanding situations. There is a BIG difference (in my opinion) between EXPENSIVE and OVERPRICED.

texastomeh
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Old 08-15-2006, 11:21 PM
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Texas, 3M green and gold are hard to beat. Carborundum Red is AWSOME, as well as Norton Blue.

I was in Dallas this past month on our annual family road trip (6072 miles). I had to get by the Six floor museum on Dealy plaza, that was more amazing to me than I imagined. I remember the day, I have seen the films a thousand times, it was like I had been there before.

And something else we went to that was very cool was the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in FortWorth. Saw BILLIONS of dollars in front of us, very cool.

Brian

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Old 08-15-2006, 11:54 PM
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ill never forgetthe day i was basicly FORCED to wetsand the acid rain damage off the roof of a $40k car with ONE sheet of cheap 2000 grit

yea, that worked well

i *****ed at the boss, he told me if i dont like it i should take the day off, o i went home early and then called in sick the next day too.

it was the middle of summer, i was MORE then happy to have some time in the sun instead of trying to wetsand a roof with sandpaper that was about as course as silk after a minute of work ...
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Old 08-16-2006, 06:12 AM
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Grouch- Ya beat me to it. I was going to give it CPR this morning, and viole' there it was!

Brian, thanks for posting this information (as well as COUNTLESS other contributions). You rock dude!

I was getting ready to start the body on my Monte Carlo drag car project in the next week or so. And I have been a victim of poor quality sandpaper too many times to count.

We could really use a "Buy/Don't Buy" sticky on top , for tools and supplies. It sure would shorten the learning curve for newbies, and old-bies with little experience. LOL I'd have 4 ratings

A.) Top quality, regardless of price
B.) Great value, not the best, but cheap enough to make it worth it
C.) You'll get the job done, but it will take you a while. Whats your time worth?
D.) Candidate for landfill

Even some sort of poll.
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Old 08-16-2006, 07:17 AM
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The poll sounds like a great idea since simply labeling a product "good" or "bad" would probably start a fight. I have always used 3M products and have been afraid to change but I know there must be some really good stuff out there. This would make for an excellent starting point for those of use who could use some coaching on what makes for the "best"

This same approach could be very useful for buffing products too since there are so many to chose from.
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Old 08-16-2006, 07:54 AM
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I would guess that the answer too this question is How much time do you have to waste?

It all comes down to this little formula

Time or money what do you have the most of , or what do you value the most?

after you answer that question proceed, any project ends up in this category and the one thing that will always apply is that you will not be able to have both equally, there is always a looser.
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