I have no problem with purchasing this product from Stew Mac, but I don't want to pay the outrageous shipping associated with it:

I'm thinking there has to be something out there like this, something I probably already have in my home that I could use that is like dense or heavy foam for sanding.  Any alternative ideas come to mind?

Tags: cheap, tools

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Any old flat piece of wood or other flat item will do as well.  Me, I'm too cheap to use stickly sandpaper for any purpose whatever, preferring to hold regular sandpaper around whatever flat or otherwise contoured block I might have at hand. . .

hi Frank,

yeah I have pieces of wood lying around and have tried that, but it's just too stiff.  I'm looking for something with some weight, but is somewhat pliable as well.  

Cut up an old flip-flop. I use a few triangular sections of make-up sponges for a softer but still firm backer.

I'm always finding some foam packaging for such a purpose. Going through my pile of "too good to throw out..." I found a couple of blocks of laminated foam that would work. There's stuff used to make floral arrangements that crushes easily enough to take a shape. Dan Erlewine made a mold out of sheet insulation to keep a topless (or maybe backless) body in shape. I'm thinking that the mr clean erasers used for scuffs might be good. They're certainly no good for the scuffs. Maybe the heavy duty 3M pads for scrubbing dishes.

Sounds like time for a trip to Home Depot.

Hi Jim, we have an Auto paint and Finishing Shop adjacent to our place,  30 minutes wandering and looking through these places generally provides an answer to most question about where luthiery suppliers get their inspiration/sanding products.

My personal faves are the black and blue or the softer red and black conformal dense foam blocks use for wet and dry rub out of Auto finishes - when they get a bit worn we use them for Stikit. They don't seem to get too torn up by repeated application and as with our long aluminium sanding cauls and engineering plates a quick pass with the heat gun softens the adhesive for easy removal and naptha cleans up the adhesive they use.  Obviously we don't torch these items, especially the precision cauls  which would distort.  

For U.S residents and others and those who bulk order, Philadelphia Luthiery have an equivalent to Stikit which is cheaper and for our general purposes (use it for everything) is a better bet.  Stikit is still the best and cleanest cutting general purpose dry paper available except we tend to wreck it before it gets to the end of its life.  Philly has very good International rates and also have all manner of JESCAR frets,NS, EVO and SS, preradiused and precut.  We did the sums, it's cheaper for us to buy our Jescar fretwire prepackaged and prerdiused and have it shipped USPS letter post international than buy bulk from the the bigger guys and do all the fiddly stuff ourselves.

Next, for work requiring flexible and conformal sanding we take Stickit or standard paper, cut it to the desired width,  bend it around a drum to pre curve it and back it with gaffa tape.  This stuff last for ever and makes neck making and finishing a dream.   This is not my idea, and I've forgotten where I pinched it from. maybe the old StewMac Trade Secrets books  - but it's gods gift to neck work.



Most home improvement stores carry sanding sponges. After they wear out, you could wrap them with self-sticking sandpaper.

For things that aren'e flat, I have had luck with the brown erasers that are the shape of a shoebox and about 1-1/2" long.  Cheap, and you can use them as erasers.


Erasers - you bet!  My fave is the classic Pink Pearl.  Fact is, I have a big box of sanding blocks of varying hardness from Corian to urethane foam.  They're all useful.

wow, guys thanks for all of that!  Pearl erasers...cant wait to try that.  and i have some of those sanding sponges; i didnt' even think of that.  There's another great thread in this forum that deals with luthiers finding cheap tools to do their work.  I wonder if this threat could be moved over there if that is even necessary?

A couple more suggestions that I use and like are:

1)  LMI sells very dense felt foam in sheets.  Cut them to size and then make excellent, fragile finish, flexible sanding blocks.

2)  Rubber horse stall mats.  Cut to size and then make excellent semi-flexible blocks for leveling.  The more flexible you need the block the more you thin it on a bandsaw.

3)  Quad fold sandpaper for sanding scratches from the sides of frets holding not unlike that playing card clothes pinned to our bike spokes when we were a kid to make a motor sound.

I like the large rubbers, or erasers in the rest of the world, 'for really big mistakes'. They are about 160mm long and 50mm wide. Just the right side to fit into your hand with your sanding medium wrapped around the block. They are cheap and can be easily cut for different sizes or shape. 

I also have a few wooden dowels of various dimensions that I use for hard to reach curves. I've kept a couple of pretty thin foam backed sanding pads that I can use as a soft backer for sand paper wrapped around odd shaped "blocks". I use the worn out sand paper side toward that block and leave the foam toward the new sand paper. This don't slide around too much to hold in place that way. 


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