How To Handle hand sanding

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
Hi All -

I am looking for a little technique advice on handle hand sanding. I am struggling to keep my pins and the tang from crowining ever so slightly while hand sanding. I am using a hard backer for my sand paper, but am not sure what else I am missing. It's an almost imperceptible amount of crown but enough to bother me.

Is it possible to keep things totally flush like when they come off the grinder and if so what are some techniques that can steer me in the correct direction?

Thanks in advance!
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2011
Messages
4,683
What material are you using for your backer? If you are using a wood for the backer it can allow some give resulting in a slight crown. Use a metal backer if possible or a scrap piece of Micarta/G10 and keep the paper wrapped tightly around the support. Does your grinder have variable speed? If your grinder can be slowed way down and you have clear access to the area with the pin you can do it on the grinder. A delicate touch is recommended.
 
Last edited:

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
What material are you using for your backer? If you are using a wood for the backer it can allow some give resulting in a slight crown. Use a metal backer if possible or a scrap piece of Micarta/G10 and keep the paper wrapped tightly around the support. Does your grinder have variable speed? If your grinder can be slowed way down and you have clear access to the area with the pin you can do it on the grinder. A delicate touch is recommended.
Thanks Marc. I have been using G10 to avoid any give from wood. For radiused areas on the tang I wrap the sand paper around a small wheel.

Are you saying that I should go back to the machine and do a final touch to the metal surfaces? I do have VFD so I can slow it way down. On this particular handle it's all pretty accessible. The bottom side of the tang is my biggest trouble spot. All my higher grit belts are j flex and I am getting pretty bad belt bump on my small wheels. I stopped machine work on the bottom of the tang at 120 which is my finest heavy backed belt which has minimal belt bump. All this to say is I had to do more hand sanding on this area which is where the "worst" crowning has occurred.
 
Joined
May 1, 2019
Messages
207
what are the pins and handle made of?
my untested intuition is that the backer you are using needs to be significantly harder and stiffer than the material you are sanding otherwise it will flex a bit
maybe also try reducing the pressure you use and sanding lightly?
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
4,126
Was just about to ask the same as A Alex Topfer , what is the handle material specifically?

i use psa backed abrasive so there’s no slack from trying to wrap the sandpaper around your backer. You can also cut strips and use 3m 777 adhesive
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2012
Messages
750
I shape and sand to 400 grit on slack belt. I then knock down the pins on platen or contact wheel depending on handle shape. 800 grit and up it becomes less of a problem.

Stay away from stainless pins. G10, micarta, brass, nickel silver pins are easier to work in this aspect.
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2011
Messages
666
Nick wheelers finishing (well all his videos) videos are a great rabbit hole to go down. Loads of excellent info on handle finishing.
 

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
what are the pins and handle made of?
my untested intuition is that the backer you are using needs to be significantly harder and stiffer than the material you are sanding otherwise it will flex a bit
maybe also try reducing the pressure you use and sanding lightly?
The pins are brass and the handle is wenge with a g10 liner. Maybe I need to go to steel for a backer? I have a theory that when sanding the tang I should use slight cross strokes instead of inline with the tang. I am thinking the grit gets ground down by the steel leaving a little indentation that let's the paper put more pressure on the wood parts due to "void" left over the tang from the missing grit. I'll also use less pressure.
 

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
Was just about to ask the same as A Alex Topfer , what is the handle material specifically?

i use psa backed abrasive so there’s no slack from trying to wrap the sandpaper around your backer. You can also cut strips and use 3m 777 adhesive
I have some spray adhesive so I'll try fixing my paper to my sanding stick that way. Perhaps not wrapping tight enough is causing some issues. Thanks for the suggestion!
 

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
Nick wheelers finishing (well all his videos) videos are a great rabbit hole to go down. Loads of excellent info on handle finishing.
Good call. I've watched his hand sanding blades videos multiple times but haven't dove into his handle ones.
 

weo

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Sep 21, 2014
Messages
2,227
Hi Colby. What part of WA do you live in? Wood handles (even stabilized) will swell and shrink depending on ambient humidity and if you're on the wet side of the Cascades, you might notice this more and someone living on the east side of the state.
Also, this is more difficult with softer woods than harder materials. I've never worked with wenge, but if it's on the softer side, then this will be more difficult.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
4,126
The pins are brass and the handle is wenge with a g10 liner. Maybe I need to go to steel for a backer? I have a theory that when sanding the tang I should use slight cross strokes instead of inline with the tang. I am thinking the grit gets ground down by the steel leaving a little indentation that let's the paper put more pressure on the wood parts due to "void" left over the tang from the missing grit. I'll also use less pressure.
You could also try a stainless rod about 3/8” diameter on the tang. Wrap the rod with abrasive and it give you a tangent point of contact
 

Horsewright

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 4, 2011
Messages
8,408
All good stuff here for ya. I’ve also found this to be the case more with the more sanding ya do. Moo at hand sanding on wood I start @ 320 grit. Then a quick 400 and finally 600. I don’t much go above 600 except on Ironwood. If we’re wt sanding back to 320 and 600
 

john april

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
4,855
if you are using a hard backer like g10, there must be something else going on. is the sandpaper tight around the backer or is it floppy at the edges and loose? it should be tight. also do not wrap the sandpaper in several layers around the backer. that makes it into a soft backer again. use your eyes. when you are sanding the pins, and going back and forth, or criss cross to eliminate all the previous grits scratches, the direction or pattern you sand doesnt matter. but if you "see" the pin while you are sanding over it, that means you are coming off the pin, and the softer material around the pin is getting sanded lower than the pin itself. you should not see the pin or bolt or whatever. so - finish the whole handle in whatever grit you are using at the moment, and do the over the pins again last, make sure you dont see them, and keep your paper tight.
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
Messages
58
I had this issue on my last handle. I decided to put paper on my flat reference surface and lay the handle on there and do lengthwise sanding strokes, rocking side to side as needed for the contour of the handle. I think i went back a grit to coarser paper. Fixed it right up, flat enough for my fingers not to feel any raised pins. This was black palm with 1/4 inch nickel silver pins.
 

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
if you are using a hard backer like g10, there must be something else going on. is the sandpaper tight around the backer or is it floppy at the edges and loose? it should be tight. also do not wrap the sandpaper in several layers around the backer. that makes it into a soft backer again. use your eyes. when you are sanding the pins, and going back and forth, or criss cross to eliminate all the previous grits scratches, the direction or pattern you sand doesnt matter. but if you "see" the pin while you are sanding over it, that means you are coming off the pin, and the softer material around the pin is getting sanded lower than the pin itself. you should not see the pin or bolt or whatever. so - finish the whole handle in whatever grit you are using at the moment, and do the over the pins again last, make sure you dont see them, and keep your paper tight.
I think this will definitely help. I'd imagine I am not consistent in making sure I don't come off the pins with my sanding stick.
 

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
I had this issue on my last handle. I decided to put paper on my flat reference surface and lay the handle on there and do lengthwise sanding strokes, rocking side to side as needed for the contour of the handle. I think i went back a grit to coarser paper. Fixed it right up, flat enough for my fingers not to feel any raised pins. This was black palm with 1/4 inch nickel silver pins.
I have done the same to fix the issue!
 

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
Thanks all. Tons of good advice and plenty of things for me to incorporate.
 

Colby L.

Basic Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2020
Messages
60
Hi Colby. What part of WA do you live in? Wood handles (even stabilized) will swell and shrink depending on ambient humidity and if you're on the wet side of the Cascades, you might notice this more and someone living on the east side of the state.
Also, this is more difficult with softer woods than harder materials. I've never worked with wenge, but if it's on the softer side, then this will be more difficult.
I am on the east side of the State (Spokane), so much drier than the other side of the mountains. Even so I have experienced what you are talking about with a handle I put on a knife last year for my brother. The issue from this thread happened as soon as I hand sanded. I know it's a risk using unstabilized wood but am hoping to start with things flush!
 
Top