Find the Right Sandpaper for the Job
A rundown on what types there are and what to use them for
Can you explain the different types of sandpaper to me? I don’t know which kinds to use for which purposes.
—Pam Nagel, Tempe, AZ
Most sandpapers, sanding sponges, and belts use aluminum oxide, the man-made version of the stuff that sapphires and rubies are made of. You can sand most surfaces with this type of grit. But if the abrasive is black, like the sanding sponge at left, then the grit is probably silicon carbide, a synthetic mineral that wears out quickly on bare wood. It’s best used to hand-smooth finishes while lubricated with water.