Hand sanding help

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DaM0w

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I’ve been practicing my thinning and hand sanding recently, I was wondering if anyone has any cool tips/ tricks for a more consistent finish, any specific tools or sandpaper that are better then others, or any advice at all! I kinda feel like I’ve just been winging it and I would like some better advice. Thanks a bunch!
 

ian

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Use some sort of hard backing, potentially with a little give like a hard(ish) rubber layer over wood or something. I sometimes use a cork if I don't have something else on hand, but I'm not sure that's FDA approved. It's usually better to have a bigger backing that you can grip with your whole hand.

Finish your blades with straight strokes sort of parallel to the spine. Go all the way from handle to tip with each stroke, and at least on the final passes only go handle to tip (say), not tip to handle.

Someone on here (sorry, @mysteryman, can't remember who you were) rigged up something to make sure their strokes were straight, by making a sandpaper backing that had some sort of extended lip on the side that would go over the edge of the counter, preventing you from moving laterally (or at least, preventing your sandpaper from moving farther into the counter) as you're sandpapering forward. Then if you sand while keeping the lip in contact with counter, your strokes will be straight. I've been meaning to construct one of these. Seemed like a good idea.

Anyway, I'm only an amateur. I'm sure Nick Wheeler has better info.
 

lemeneid

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I've given up on hand sanding in favour of flat bench stones and sandpaper mounted to flat surfaces. Much more consistent and way faster in my opinion.
 

PappaG

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I’m having trouble fashioning a rig to hold my knives for sanding. Any easy how tos? Maybe this should be its own post.
 

The Edge

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Sanding is all about prep work, and knowing when to move on to the next grit. Definitely use a hard backing of some sort, and when moving up to the next grit go perpendicular to what you just did. This will enable you to know when you've removed all the scratches from the lower grit. To get a consistent finish, some makers will go beyond what they intend to finish the blade on, so they can go back down and finish with consistent smooth strokes all in the same direction. Going back and forth will leave fish hooks.

Cheaper sandpaper can be a pain. I've had something almost mirror polished, and had a loose piece of grit gouge a scratch where I've had to start over. I've since moved on to rhynowet, and haven't had any of those problems yet, though time will tell.
 

lemeneid

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Also, one last thing, if you're aiming to mirror polish, removing the handle from the blade is essential!
 

DaM0w

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Sanding is all about prep work, and knowing when to move on to the next grit. Definitely use a hard backing of some sort, and when moving up to the next grit go perpendicular to what you just did. This will enable you to know when you've removed all the scratches from the lower grit. To get a consistent finish, some makers will go beyond what they intend to finish the blade on, so they can go back down and finish with consistent smooth strokes all in the same direction. Going back and forth will leave fish hooks.

Cheaper sandpaper can be a pain. I've had something almost mirror polished, and had a loose piece of grit gouge a scratch where I've had to start over. I've since moved on to rhynowet, and haven't had any of those problems yet, though time will tell.
I heard about rhynowet sandpaper, if I were to buy some which grits should I purchase? I’m not going for a mirror polish or anything like that just as least scratches as I can. I’ve been using 320 400 and sometimes 600 and getting decent results but I’m just not sure what progression/ grits are used most
 

lemeneid

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I heard about rhynowet sandpaper, if I were to buy some which grits should I purchase? I’m not going for a mirror polish or anything like that just as least scratches as I can. I’ve been using 320 400 and sometimes 600 and getting decent results but I’m just not sure what progression/ grits are used most
Are you trying to polish sanmai, wrought iron or honyaki? And what kind of finish are you aiming to achieve?
 

Dendrobatez

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He's also on YouTube.
I didnt know he was on there, ill have to check it out.
Kyle Royer did a sandpaper test recently that was pretty good. Jason Knight does some quick vids on it, and I remember Vachon doing one but that may have been a story update not a video.
Probably not worth getting rhinowet, last I looked into it I wasn't going to be able to use the amount I had to buy, 3m is just fine for a few blades..
For a set up I place a board in my work station thats as thick as the distance between the tang and the outside of the handle, clamp the handle down with as many clamps as I can fit - if the handle can be taken off thats way easier.
 

M1k3

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I've had good luck with Gator brand sandpaper also.
 

DaM0w

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Are you trying to polish sanmai, wrought iron or honyaki? And what kind of finish are you aiming to achieve?
honyaki mostly, and some stainless clad. And the finish I want it just what most stainless clad or out of box knives look like, not a mirror just a consistent (Mostly) scratchless finish
 

The Edge

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I heard about rhynowet sandpaper, if I were to buy some which grits should I purchase? I’m not going for a mirror polish or anything like that just as least scratches as I can. I’ve been using 320 400 and sometimes 600 and getting decent results but I’m just not sure what progression/ grits are used most
Typically you double every time you go to the next grit. 320 to 400 is just wasting time. I'd be more likely to go from 220 to 400, then to 800 and back to 600 if you wanted to leave it there.
 

M1k3

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honyaki mostly, and some stainless clad. And the finish I want it just what most stainless clad or out of box knives look like, not a mirror just a consistent (Mostly) scratchless finish
Matte is around 600-1000.
 

Carl Kotte

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A lot of really good advice here already. With my primitive (almost non-existent) work space and many hours of scratching my head (and blades) I’ve realised that what works best for me is to place the knife on a hard, even, surface and sand - as mentioned - in long strokes from tip to handle trying to leave a consistent scratch pattern. (A vice or the gadget above is most likely much much better though if you have access to it). I use more pressure now than I did when I started out polishing.
I’m also less scared of starting the progression on a low grit. If I want to remove deep thinning marks, I usually start at p150-220 or so. I’ve also noticed that I get a satisfying end result only if I make sure that the knife looks good (and somewhat polished) already at that grit. The knife should shine and have some sort of reflection already at a low grit as it were.
I’ve thought so many times that I can continue to the next grit only to realise that I have to go back two steps. 🤷🏼‍♂️😁
 

DaM0w

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I didnt know he was on there, ill have to check it out.
Kyle Royer did a sandpaper test recently that was pretty good. Jason Knight does some quick vids on it, and I remember Vachon doing one but that may have been a story update not a video.
Probably not worth getting rhinowet, last I looked into it I wasn't going to be able to use the amount I had to buy, 3m is just fine for a few blades..
For a set up I place a board in my work station thats as thick as the distance between the tang and the outside of the handle, clamp the handle down with as many clamps as I can fit - if the handle can be taken off thats way easier.
I’ve been using 3m I’m gona continue to practice with it before I’d invest in something like Rhynowet. Does the edge of the blade hang off the edge of the board or do you keep it on the board
 

Dendrobatez

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On the edge but not over, you don't want to nick yourself - if its not close enough to the edge you'll bump into the board with the paper and miss some spots.
 

milkbaby

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Typically you double every time you go to the next grit. 320 to 400 is just wasting time. I'd be more likely to go from 220 to 400, then to 800 and back to 600 if you wanted to leave it there.
Agreed, I think a horizontal sanding pattern and 400-600 grit with Rhynowet Redline paper is a great looking user finish.
 

DaM0w

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When it comes to the amount of pressure I’m applying, is it similar to how stones work where I should be applying less as I move up in grit? I’m doing a 220-400-800 progression currently. Also what’s a good indicator of when to move up in grit? Is it when I get the best possible finish on the grit I’m Using?
 

ian

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When it comes to the amount of pressure I’m applying, is it similar to how stones work where I should be applying less as I move up in grit? I’m doing a 220-400-800 progression currently. Also what’s a good indicator of when to move up in grit? Is it when I get the best possible finish on the grit I’m Using?
My amount of pressure doesn’t vary with the grit. You should alternate directions with sanding. First go parallel to the edge on one grit, then perpendicular to the edge on the next grit. Don’t move up the grit until all the previous scratches are completely gone. By holding your knife to the light at varying angles, you can see clearly either the horizontal scratches or the vertical scratches, so you can tell when the previous ones are gone.

It takes a while to do this. But you’ll never get a really good finish if you just polish in the same direction all the time and move up in grits when it “kinda looks good”. Invariably, you will move up too soon and there will still be scratches left at the end.
 

DaM0w

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My amount of pressure doesn’t vary with the grit. You should alternate directions with sanding. First go parallel to the edge on one grit, then perpendicular to the edge on the next grit. Don’t move up the grit until all the previous scratches are completely gone. By holding your knife to the light at varying angles, you can see clearly either the horizontal scratches or the vertical scratches, so you can tell when the previous ones are gone.

It takes a while to do this. But you’ll never get a really good finish if you just polish in the same direction all the time and move up in grits when it “kinda looks good”. Invariably, you will move up too soon and there will still be scratches left at the end.
So I’ve been going from heel to tip only and I guess that’s my horizontal passes, which direction should I sand for the perpendicular passes, from the spine to the blade?
 

ian

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So I’ve been going from heel to tip only and I guess that’s my horizontal passes, which direction should I sand for the perpendicular passes, from the spine to the blade?
Yes, from spine to edge. It’s a real pain to sand that way. Much harder than parallel to the spine, because of the short strokes. But I don’t know another way to consistently get an even finish. And it’s much faster than sanding all the way up to 800 grit and then realizing that there are still 300 grit scratches left. (Or more accurately, not realizing that there are 300 grit scratches left, and just being pissed off that your finish looks bad.)

Btw, I don’t do just heel to tip except at the final stage. (See also the comments above about sanding to 800, then dropping to 600 for a uniform scratch pattern.) It’s slow to only go in one direction, vs heel to tip to heel to tip to heel, and it’s not worth it unless you’re at the finishing grit.
 

DaM0w

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Yes, from spine to edge. It’s a real pain to sand that way. Much harder than parallel to the spine, because of the short strokes. But I don’t know another way to consistently get an even finish. And it’s much faster than sanding all the way up to 800 grit and then realizing that there are still 300 grit scratches left. (Or more accurately, not realizing that there are 300 grit scratches left, and just being pissed off that your finish looks bad.)

Btw, I don’t do just heel to tip except at the final stage. (See also the comments above about sanding to 800, then dropping to 600 for a uniform scratch pattern.) It’s slow to only go in one direction, vs heel to tip to heel to tip to heel, and it’s not worth it unless you’re at the finishing grit.
So say I was starting off with an untouched blade I just thinned. I’m starting at 200,am I doing spine to blade first, and then heel to tip on the same grit, and then moving up? Or are you saying reserve sanding from heel to tip until the higher grit
 

ian

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So say I was starting off with an untouched blade I just thinned. I’m starting at 200,am I doing spine to blade first, and then heel to tip on the same grit, and then moving up? Or are you saying reserve sanding from heel to tip until the higher grit
Spine to edge on 200
Heel to tip on 400
Spine to edge on 800
Heel to tip on 1200

or whatever your progression of grits is.
 
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