Low Tech Help for Weary Sanders

Elizabeth Kedaakde

 I do not enjoy sanding my polymer clay work because I find sanding a tedious and exhausting activity. I always make sure that I sand late at night, when I'm able to go to bed and rest immediately after doing it. I also save sanding for when I have insomnia. It has proven to be an excellent cure.

Even though sanding is a burden, I have continued to sand my work because of the finesse and the wonderful transformation imparted to my humble projects. With each successive grit of sandpaper I use, colors that have been dulled and darken by the baking process are brightened and revived. Bumps, scratches, fingerprints and little imperfections are removed or lessened. Corners can be squared and imperfect circles rounded with the help of sandpaper. Sanding enhances the translucency of projects that use translucent techniques. It is also much easier and quicker to buff to a shine when the piece is well sanded.

In early September, I saw a post on one of the newsgroups about using the ScumBuster to lighten the burden of sanding clay. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the person who first thought up this ingenious adaptation. They certainly deserve credit.

The ScumBuster is a hand held, submersible, cordless scrubber and polisher made by Black & Decker. It is battery operated, and the basic kit includes a versapac battery and charger, pads, detail brush and disk attachment for wet cleaning. The basic kit is designed to scrub bathroom tiles, scour counter tops and perform a variety of other household tasks. Other accessories include pads to polish the automobile and hard plastic surfaces, pads to tackle greasy grill grates and pads for other outdoor jobs.

It takes about five minutes to adapt the ScumBuster to sand polymer clay. You will need the following supplies:

After reading the safety and operation instructions that come with the kit, charge the battery and attach the blue scrub pad to the white rotary disk.

Set the ScumBuster on top of a sheet of sandpaper to estimate how much paper you will need to fully cover the blue pad and two thirds of the white disk. Since you need enough contact with the white rotary disk to be able to attach Velcro hook and loop tape, a rectangular shape pattern works well.

Cut your paper pattern. Cut two pieces of Velcro loop tape about one and one quarter inches long. Attach one piece of tape to the front and the other piece to the back of the white disk.

Place your sandpaper pattern over the blue pad and adjust the position so that the extending ends of the paper line up with the Velcro on the white disk.

Cut several small pieces of the Velcro hook tape and place them on the sandpaper, then fasten the Velcro.

Turn on the ScumBuster. It will start to rotate.

For large polymer clay pieces, lay them down and run the ScumBuster over the surface. The ScumBuster can be used upside-down, sideways, etc., which is useful for beads and small items, because you can target specific areas for sanding.

I found that the outside edge of the pad gives you more abrasive strength. As you move your work toward the center of the pad, there is less abrasion.

It takes a few minutes to get used to sanding with this tool. You need to experiment by holding your work at different angles and using different areas of the pad to help you to refine and shape your work. After several uses, you will discover what works best for you.

You will appreciate the fact this tool does not rotate at the manic speed of the buffer or bench grinder. You have more control over your work.

If your artwork has a lot of raised surfaces, holes or crevices, you may want to consider getting the automotive cleaning kit. It contains a pointed spiral brush, which can be covered with sandpaper and used to get into hard to reach places.

I am sure that many of you have discovered other innovative low-tech methods for wet sanding. Let us begin a dialogue on this topic. It will benefit everyone. I will be doing a follow-up article on tips and techniques complied from various users on how to get the best results sanding with the ScumBuster. If you have any good tips and ideas, please contact me!

 

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