Sandpaper is the name given to a type of stiff paper that is covered with abrasive material. Despite its name, in modern-day manufacturing the material used on the surface of the paper consists of glass particles, aluminium oxide, silicon carbide, garnet or other specialist grit, rather than sand.
The purpose of sandpaper is to smooth down the surface area of a workpiece, either as a finishing touch or in preparation for further work.
Sandpaper is available in many different sizes, and can be purchased in squares, rolls or pre-cut pieces. Make sure you buy sandpaper that is large enough to fit the entire base of your manual sander, with enough leftover to bend over either end and clamp down.
Pre-cut pieces of sandpaper can often be referred to as sanding sheets or sanding screen. These are cut to the correct shape of a particular manual sander and are ready to be attached to the tool’s base. Pre-cut sheets are convenient for users who wish to save time during sanding jobs, and can be purchased at many DIY stores and online retailers.
These sheets are also cost-effective as they are double sided, meaning once one side has been worn down, they can be turned over and used again. Once the sanding sheet has been completely worn down, it can be removed from the sander and replaced with a new one.
Some sandpapers are designed to be used wet, as well as dry, meaning the sandpaper can be soaked in water before sanding begins. As a result of the lubrication provided by the water, dust can be kept to a minimum and any debris can be washed away, in order to increase the surface finish quality. This type of sandpaper is commonly used when rubbing down vehicle bodies during repairs, to prepare for re-spraying.
There are different grades of sandpaper available, which are measured in terms of grit size.