Welcome to another tool tutorial. Today I’m going to save you time and effort by teaching you how to use a sander.

How to Use a Sander

How to Use a Sander

If you don’t have a power sander, you’ll likely recognize this contraption below. That’s a manual sanding block. It’s great, but personally I like to move quickly through the sanding phase of a project.

Reclaimed Lumber Farmhouse Table | Pretty Handy Girl

Especially because I feel like I’ve grown out of the hand sanding phase of my life. LOL.

When to Use a Sander:

Using a power sander can speed through the process of smoothing wood and other materials. It’s typically used to either prep a surface or finish a surface before applying paint, stain, or a top coat.

  • A sander can also knock off splinters and round over sharp corners.

  • It’s also great for prepping surfaces to paint (especially pre-finished or raw furniture.)

How to Get a Smooth Paint Finish without a Paint Sprayer | Pretty Handy Girl

  • A sander can also be used to give a beautiful aged finish to any project you are working on.

Chalk Painted Wooden Stool | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Or help eliminate imperfections from a surface.

  • Sanders can also be used to remove rust from metal.

Upcycled Metal Rolling Cart Plant Stand | Pretty Handy Girl

When NOT to Use a Power Sander:

A power sander should never be used when working with materials that would be hazardous when airborne, like asbestos or lead paint. If you suspect these materials in your home, it’s best to consult with a professional abatement specialist. Learn how to test for lead paint in this article. If you have a house built in or before 1978, you might have asbestos. Learn everything you wanted to know about asbestos here.

Need to remove lead paint? You will be much safer if you use a chemical stripper. Learn how to strip paint here.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Personal Protective Equipment for Sanding:

  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • Optional: Gloves

When using a sander, it is essential that you wear a dust mask to protect your lungs. Eye protection needs to be worn to protect your eyes from sawdust or splinters. And finally, wear hearing protection because exposure to the noise of power tools over time can damage your hearing.

Finally, gloves are not essential, but sanding can dry your hands and make them rough.

Different Types of Sanders:

There are several types of sanders, but today we’ll stick with the most common power sanders used by DIY enthusiasts because of their portability.

  • Sheet Sander
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Detail Sander

Sheet Sander:

The first is a sheet sander. This sander is named because you cut a sheet of sandpaper to attach to the sander.

How To Replace Sheet Sander Sandpaper:

When the sandpaper gets torn or shows wear, it’s time to replace it (or if you need to switch the sandpaper grit.) Look for the clamps on each side of the sheet sander base and release them to remove sandpaper.

replacing sheet sander sandpaper

Mark the size of your sander’s base on the sandpaper.

Cut a piece of sandpaper to size (add about a 1/2″ on each end to be able to clamp to.)

Feed one end into one side clamp and depress the lever to hold the sandpaper.

Feed the other side under the clamp and secure.

When sanding a lot, I like to load several sheets into my sheet sander. This way I can quickly tear off a layer when it’s worn or when I need to move to the next grit.

Random Orbital Sander:

The second most common type of sander is a random orbital sander. Named because the base moves around in a random elliptical motion. Personally this is the type of sander I use most for handheld sanding. It’s lightweight and allows me to get the majority of the sanding done quickly.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Replace Sandpaper on a Random Orbital Sander:

The random orbital sander saves you time when it’s time to change the sandpaper. The sandpaper discs are held on with a velcro-like hook and loop system.

To remove, simply pull the sandpaper off the base of the sander. Then replace it with a new sheet being careful to line up the sandpaper with the vent holes on the sander.

removing worn orbital sander paper, replacing hook and loop sandpaper

Easy and quick. Now you can continue sanding.

Detail Sander:

Most sanders lack the size to get into tight corners or grooves. Those tasks are best left for the detail sander.

Rustic Pallet Serving Tray | Pretty Handy Girl

Smaller in size, and usually with a pointed head, detail sanders typically use a hook and loop sandpaper system for quick changes.

How Much Do Sanders Cost?

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

3 sanders

A good power sander shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Prices will range from $20 to over $200 for brand name sanders. But, you can purchase a good sander for $50-$100.

Personally I have a cordless sander and a corded sander. I love the ability to use the cordless sander in the yard without needing to pull a power cord with me. But, I usually prefer the longevity of sanding with a corded sander. My sheet sander is old and gets less use because the vibrations are much stronger leaving me with numb hands after sanding for a while.

About Sandpaper:

Sandpaper comes in a wide variety of colors and grits. The colors do not mean a specific grit across brands, but within a brand they help easily identify the sandpaper grit.

  • Coarse Grit: 40 – 60
  • Medium Grit: 80 – 180
  • Fine Grit: 200-600
  • Super Fine Grit: Over 600 grit

When sanding a raw piece of wood or something that needs aggressive sanding to remove a finish, start with a rough sandpaper with a 40- to 60-grit. For smoothing out imperfections and scratches, you need to move on to a 80- to 180-grit sandpaper. The final finishing of a wood piece requires a fine-grit sandpaper with a 200- to 600-grit. Super fine grit is usually reserved for metal, glass, or other non-wood surfaces.

How to Use a Power Sander:

Sanders are either battery-powered or corded. If using a battery-powered sander make sure you have a charged battery. Plug in your corded sander.

SKIL orbital sander

Attach the appropriate grit sandpaper to the base.

Look for the on/off switch on your sander. Turn the tool on and gently set it on the material you need to sand. Use slow sweeping motions to methodically sand your workpiece.

How to Fill Holes and Knots in Wood | Pretty Handy Girl

Once you have a uniform finish, switch to a finer grit sandpaper. Repeat the process above. Continue sanding until you have a super smooth surface (or desired finish.)

sand all boards

Wipe off sanding dust with a damp rag or tack cloth. Empty the dust collection bag on your sander if you have one.  Now it’s time to finish your project! Add stain, paint, or a top coat to protect your project.

Video Sanding Tutorial:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you want to see a video of using a sander, watch how I finished a branch to use as a towel bar in my sons’ bathroom:

Happy sanding!

Organize Your Sandpaper and Sanders:

Once you find a love for sanding, you’ll probably want to store your sandpaper and sanders neatly. Learn how The Handyman’s Daughter built this simple sanding station.

Get the plans to build this sander and sandpaper storage unit at The Handyman's Daughter!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy GirlHow to Make a Long Clamp with Shorter Clamps

When you are trying to outfit your workshop with equipment it can be tempting to skip purchasing more expensive long clamps. After all, how often do you really need to clamp something longer than 12 – 18″? Luckily, I’m here to justify your decision to purchase two short clamps in place of one long clamp, because here’s How to Make a Long Clamp with two Shorter Clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

When it comes time to clamp that extra long project, grab two of the same brand clamps (this may also work with different brands, but you’ll just have to experiment). I use Irwin Quick Grip clamps. 

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Open the two clamps to the full extension. Set the grip handle side of one clamp on one side of your item to clamp.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Take the second clamp and flip it toward the opposite side, resting the handle side on the opposite side of the item.

Then set the two middle clamp pads against one another to form an “S” shape as shown below.)

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tighten the two clamps and you have one long clamp made from two shorter clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tell me the truth, did you already know about this clamp hack? I debated whether to write this post because the idea is so simple, I figured it may be nothing new.

If you didn’t know how to make one long clamp out of two smaller ones, I hope this tip helps you one day. I know it really helped me this weekend when I was trying to clamp a larger picture frame.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you have any helpful workshop tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

Table Saw Safety Guidelines | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m really excited to introduce this Rockstar DIYer today. Nick is an extremely talented woodworker who is as passionate about his projects as he is his tools. Nick is the lead over at The Sawdust Maker. You will learn a variety of woodworking tips and tricks on his blog, so be sure to check it out and follow along as he builds some amazing things. Nick is here today to talk to you about Table Saw Safety and Guidelines to follow that will keep you and your fingers safe.

Blog1-001

I hear that table saw buzzing away, I think Nick is ready to kick up the sawdust and make some noise! Put your hands together for The Sawdust Maker!

page_break_2

Friends, it’s Nick from over at The Sawdust Maker! A site devoted to helping others take their woodworking skills to the next level. While I am in the middle a joint series on my website, I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about table saw safety.

The table saw is the most used tool in my shop. It also happens to be the most intimidating tool for most beginners to use. So lets get a grasp on these basic safety guidelines to follow.

Before we dive into this, I want to urge you to find your table saw manual and read it. Wait, what? Yes people… actually read these things. It will cover the basic safety rules as well as any safety features specific to your saw.

Now, before you turn your saw on, do the following:

  • Make sure you’re not wearing loose fitting clothes. This doesn’t mean you need to wiggle into your skinny jeans… just make sure nothing is accessible for the blade or work material to catch.
  • If you are wearing long sleeves, roll them up past your elbow’s.
  • Keep shirt pockets free of items.
  • Remove any jewelry.
  • Wear non-skid, well fitting shoes… last thing you want is to slip or trip into the blade!
  • If your hair is long, pull it up into a ponytail.
  • Wear ear and eye protection.
  • Don’t operate while tired or under the influence. Keep those creative juices for your design process!
  • Unplug your machine and do the following:
    • Visually check your saw for damaged components:
      • Check the power cord
      • Check the Blade
        • Look for Gum or Pith on the blade, clean it if it is dirty.
        • Check the carbide and make sure it isn’t chipped or missing teeth.
        • Keep it sharp. It is a lot cheaper than replacing them and will help keep those burn marks down!
      • Check to make sure that the guards, splitter, riving knife are in place and free of damage.
    • Check the alignment of the fence, ensuring it is parallel with the blade. A quick reference is to line it up with the t-slot and visual check to see if it is aligned.
    • Ensure the blade is tight.
    • Check the belts for excessive wear.
    • Check the alignment of the splitter/riving knife.
    • Is there enough room around you for the board you are wanting to cut? There is nothing more annoying than getting part way through a cut and realizing that you don’t have enough room to finish the cut!

First

Now we are almost ready to cut a board! Here are some things to keep in mind when stepping up to the whirling beastly hunk of iron. Read more

I finally finished installing the Flow Wall in the arts & crafts studio. And I had some help from this little guy:

This is the Black & Decker GYRO, it’s a cordless screwdriver, but it has one amazing feature. It is smart enough to sense which direction you want  to turn and will begin to move in  that direction at the slightest tilt of your hand. (I wish I had a tool that could sense the direction my mind is going on this kitchen remodel, but that model might be more complicated than rocket science.) Read more

 

Wheee, it’s another episode of Tool Tutorial Friday! Do y’all miss TTF? I do too, but this handy gal only has so many tools in her toolbox. I added a new one a few weeks ago, a soldering iron.

When I was in college, I took a stained glass elective (one of the benefits of going to art school.) I really enjoyed the course, but once the semester was over I didn’t pick up a soldering iron again. That was 20 years ago. Just this month, someone in our neighborhood posted online that they were selling a soldering iron. I immediately jumped on the chance. But, this time I didn’t have stained glass in mind, I had these DIY farmhouse lights on the brain!

As promised, here is the tutorial on how to solder. Read more

Pallet upcycling is all the rage today. But, if you’ve ever tried to actually remove wood planks from a pallet, you know that it is not an easy task. The nails that are used are typically spiral nails and are designed to really grip that wood. And if that’s not enough, they usually shoot 4-5 nails per joint. Sheesh, you’d think they were building a foundation for a 10 ton elephant. Okay, actually it is the foundation that has to hold tons of product as it is lifted by a fork lift. Which explains why harvesting pallet wood can be a labor intensive task.

I figured you’d appreciate it if I shared with you the quickest and easiest way I’ve found to salvage this beautifully rustic pallet wood. Read more

how to use a kreg jig

Hey, look at this! Tool Tutorial Friday is back! Today I have a great tool for creating strong joints when building with wood and furniture construction. Today I’m going to show you the simple tutorial for How to Use a Kreg Jig. If you don’t have one yet, you need to purchase one ASAP! This little tool is my go to for for building furniture, frames and just about anything that needs a tight joint.

(I’ve included affiliate links in this post for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

I use the K4 Kreg Jig  It didn’t take me long to figure out how to use it, but I know it would have been helpful to have a step-by-step tutorial when I was first learning how to use a Kreg Jig. For your convenience, this is a quick tutorial.

I was first introduced to the Kreg Jig by my friends Ana White and Rayan with The Design Confidential. These two DIY ladies opened my eyes to pocket screw joints. Be sure to check out their blogs for more tips from the masters!

The Basics on How To Use a Kreg Jig Read more

Today we’ll be learning about the Dremel TRIO! This smaller power tool fits comfortably in your hand. The tool is a cross between a  jigsaw, router, and regular dremel. It has a rotating bit that cuts into drywall, wood, plastic, steel and alumimum (with the appropriate bit). With a quick change to a sanding bit, the TRIO can be used as a sander for smoothing fine details and edges. Finally, the TRIO is a router, but only with the small routing bits that come separately. In my opinion, the TRIO is good for small projects that don’t use hard or thick woods. Anything larger than 1/8″ and it is very difficult to control the tool. (Disclosure: I have not tried the TRIO with the hardwood and sheet metal bit sold separately, but I haven’t used it to cut hard woods.)

The Dremel Trio Rotary Tool can be purchased on Amazon (affiliate links.)

The TRIO comes with a cutting bit (I call it a scroll bit) and a sanding mandrel with three grit sanding drums (60, 120 and 240 grit). Plus, a wrench for loosening and tightening the collet.


A regular baseplate and a compact foot baseplate are also included.

Below is the anatomy of the TRIO to help familiarize you with the tool.

There is a speed adjustment on the handle of the tool. Typically you would leave it on 10 – 12 for cutting wood. A lower speed may be necessary when cutting plastic to avoid melting the material.

One of the nice features is that it can be use in a horizontal grip like a jigsaw. Or, simply press the button on both sides to …

raise the handle and use it with a vertical grip.

Changing bits is fairly simple but requires two hands (my photo is not 100% accurate). One finger pushes the button on the front of the TRIO to lock the collet. The other hand uses the wrench to loosen the collet.

Remove the bit. Insert the new bit and tighten the collet. (First by hand and then with the wrench.)

The TRIO does not come with router bits, but a Dremel 5-piece Specialty Router Bit Kit can be purchased for about $40 from Amazon (affiliate link.) There is also a tile cutting bit, piloted point cutting bit, and a hardwood and sheet metal bit (all available for separate purchase.)

Be forewarned that you CANNOT use bits for a regular dremel in the TRIO. The shafts are different sizes.

And here for your viewing pleasure is a video tutorial for using the Dremel TRIO:

 

How to Use a Caulk Gun

You know the old saying, “No question is a dumb question.” Well, I have to say that about this tutorial, “No tutorial is a dumb tutorial.”

I realize that a caulk gun isn’t a big scary power tool, and yet I still think learning how to use a caulk gun is a very valuable skill for any handy person.

So, let’s get right down to some Caulk Talk.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

A caulk gun is a necessary tool for any homeowner. Sealing gaps in siding, replacing the seal around the tub and shower surround when the old caulk gets dry and brittle is a must. Caulking around the trim around windows and doors will improve your homes energy efficiency and get rid of unsightly gaps. You can also use it for spreading construction adhesive and any other substrate that is sold in tube form. A caulk gun saves your hands from cramping, especially if you have a lot of caulking to do.

A basic caulk gun costs about $10 – $20, but you could buy a power version which run up to $200! Sheesh!

Starting a tube of caulk:

Cut off the tip of your tube by inserting it into the hole at an angle.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Poke the stick attached to the gun into the tube to puncture the seal.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

 Loading a caulk gun:

Pull the hooked rod all the way back. Insert your tube base first. Then tilt the nozzle end into the top of the gun.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Rotate the hook so it is facing up and the teeth are facing down.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Pull the trigger and you’re good to go!

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Be prepared to pull the hook rod back when you finish or the caulk will continue to flow out of the nozzle.

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Watch these videos for more details on using a caulk gun (also called a caulking gun) and why it is important to fill any cracks or seams in your siding!

*Thanks to The Real Tim Jones for sharing the secret about how to cut and start your caulk tube! Tim is sooo right, I never knew about this until I saw his video!

And, if you want to find out how to keep your caulk from drying out in between uses, my friend Sandra at Sawdust and Paper Scraps has this tip.

Happy Caulking!

How to Use a Caulk Gun

Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday! Before we begin I want to congratulate Wendy, who won the Tomboy Tools Magnetic Hammer! Wendy said, “Thank you for continuing your education for women on power tools! I learn so much from your posts. I’m also glad to know that my son wasn’t the only one with multiple arm casts! Pink hammer – cool.”  You are very welcome!!!

Now, on to the tutorial. Today I have a very important power tool that is a very neglected tool in my home. In fact, it is so infrequently used that I need some help from a more experienced handy girl. Anyone want to volunteer to write a guest tutorial on using a power vacuum cleaner? I could really use your expertise.

Or this equally valuable tool:

I have forgotten how to use it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Anyone?

Well, I hope you don’t mind that instead of the usual tool tutorial friday, I’m going to give you a Holiday Home Tour instead. Get ready for this amazing tour of my utterly beautiful home! All decked out and ready for the holidays!

Welcome to my mudroom. I spent a lot of time decorating this room. You can see the holiday decor is so abundant it is essentially overflowing!

My dining room is decked out for the season with ribbons, glitter and glue. Even the advent presents are beautifully laid out (in the tote bag.) And I spared no expense when it came to decorating the walls. I used a unique combination of paper bags, boxes and ribbon to adorn them.

Follow me, right this way. Aren’t the garlands of fabric simply beautiful on our stairway? I just love the simplicity of the swags. Pink and silver running shoes add the perfect punch of color.

The kitchen has a child decor theme. Complete with reindeer food and some presents displayed on the counter. Rudolf would be thrilled to eat here.

The living room is decorated from floor to ceiling. I decided to go with a casual and convenient theme this year. When the holidays are over, all I have to do is open the blue bins (which double as a festive ottoman) and drop the decorations inside. Simply genius, don’t you think?!

I saved the best for last! This year I’ve decided to adorn the office with a new color theme. The browns and teals really bring out the holiday spirit! As do the loosely placed papers and items. Careful thought was taken into the placement and juxtaposition of each object on the desk. I think I really nailed this design.

If you haven’t guessed by now, today’s post is a “Keeping It Real” style post.

I’ve been so insanely busy with craft tutorials, Habitat ReStore lectures, broken arms, holiday preparation, gift purchases, and… oh, did I mention that Pretty Handsome Guy is away on business this week? So, you can imagine my life (and home for that matter) are in a state of disarray. So, I hope you’ll excuse me for the next few days as I take a little time to pull my home and life back in order and enjoy the holidays with the people that matter most to me (not that you don’t matter to me!)

In all seriousness, I have accomplished one decorating feat: the tree! I think it looks pretty good if I do say so myself…except…what is that thing lying on the floor to the left of the tree?

Oh, why it is my wreath that has been hung with care!

I’ll be back on Monday with a very important guest. And then check in every day next week for my creative gift wrapping series. You won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime, Happy Holidays! And feel free to see how I decorated last year, aka Rustic Christmas Decor!

Sharing my eclectic decorating style with: Positively Splendid’s Saturday Seven and Funky Junk Interiors SNS

In other news, I have a big announcement to make: The first set of speakers have been announced for the SNAP 2012 conference! I am really excited to be working with such a fabulous group of women bloggers!

If you haven’t heard of it, SNAP is a big creative blog conference from April 19th – 21st near Salt Lake City, UT. I am truly honored to be asked to speak at SNAP and I can’t wait to share some motivational empowerment words with the attendees.

If you would like to enter to win a ticket to SNAP, there is a big ticket giveaway happening right now! From now until Christmas, SNAP will be giving away one ticket a day. So, head over to enter to win your ticket.

Feel free to read a little more about the SNAP conference. It is going to be phenomenal!