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Electric toothbrush as sander?


I just had an idea. A sanding wheel mounted on a Dremel seems to
have some disadvantages for reaching inaccessible areas, so I thought
of creating a sanding stick to mount on an electric toothbrush for
back and forth polishing and sanding motion. Has anyone ever tried
it, and would this be a worthwhile idea?

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Sounds like an interesting solution. Have never thought of that, nor
seen anyone else showing this. As an engineer, Andrew, I am semi-awed
at the problem solving that you come up with. My mind does not think
as creatively as yours does.


Hi, Andrew–

Sounds like an interesting solution. Have never thought of that,
nor seen anyone else showing this. As an engineer, Andrew, I am
semi-awed at the problem solving that you come up with. My mind
does not think as creatively as yours does. 

Ditto. Repurposing rocks! However, one question that comes to mind
is whether you can actually obtain a toothbrush that moves the way
you want. Most of the inexpensive electric brushes I know of are
rotary; presumably you’re not going to use an $80-plus SoniCare brush
or such for this, right?

Also, I don’t know exactly what you are trying to sand, but I’ve
been wrestling over the past year with the problem of sanding in
small spaces, and have found a couple of tools that work well for me.
The first, which is good for crevices that are only accessible from
one side, is these little things that might be called “abrasive
points” (as labeled at my local jewelry supply store, where I get
them) or “polishing pins,” as in the following listing:

The ones I get look like the pencil-shaped diamond-impregnated ones
that Rio Grande has, but come in different colors and are much
cheaper. And I don’t know how well they would work with a Dremel–the
weight of the tool and the lack of precise speed control (as compared
to a flexshaft tool) could make it challenging to use them–since
they break easily and can create unwanted ripples if you press too
hard or too long in one spot.

The other thing I’m using is a Flexi-File. This one is good for
sanding the insides of saw pierces, where you have access from two
sides. It’s a springy aluminum frame that holds a thin abrasive
strip. You start with the strip attached to one arm of the frame, and
just as you would feed a saw blade through a drill hole to pierce
sheet metal, you feed it through the hole and attach it to the other
arm of the frame. Then you can hold the workpiece firmly with one
hand and sand with the other. I find that when it’s possible to use
this technique, it turns out to be easier than any mechanized
solution I know of.

If you do use a Flexi-File (or something like it that you make
yourself), I’d suggest you not buy the abrasive strips made for it.
In my opinion they’re not suitable for metalsmithing: they break too
easily, and the grit wears out too fast. I have been making my own
strips out of 3M Microfinishing Film. Although gluing the loops at
the ends is a bit of a challenge, when I can get the glue to stick
they work very well, and are a lot cheaper than the Flexi-File
company’s pre-made ones.

Whichever technique(s) you end up with, best of luck!

Matt Gushee
Studio Yanagi | Original Art Jewelry

For $5 or so you can buy a disposable electric toothbrush.
Might be good for polishing wax carvings…

Andrew Please try it and tell us your results. Sounds like a great
idea to me. Lois

I’ve stuck a bit of fine sandpaper to an Oral-B battery operated
toothbrush and used it. Works fine. It’s a slightly rotary motion,
oscillating just a few degrees back and forth.

You have to take all the bristles off the attachment and use the
sticky-back paper. It’s not real secure, but I’m sure that someone
could come up with a better way to hold it together. It worked for
long enough for what I was doing. :slight_smile:


I’ve been doing something similar for a couple of years. I took a
cheap battery operated toothbrush, removed the bristles and glued a
piece of velcro (grip side) to it. I then cut out small ovals of
sandpaper from the kind that have fabric on the back for sticking to
power sanders. Works real well and saves my fingers when I need to do
a lot of sanding.


I have a cheap battery toothbrush in my workshop and have found it
invaluable in the workshop for cleaning. I also use chrome polish
(Solvolautosol) on the bristles to do some intricate polishing. I
will have to try the idea of a sander.


I use an old Sonicare (sp?) unit with silicon carbide grit slurry
from rock tumbling on the bristles like toothpaste to clean up hard
to reach places on rings, etc. If I was a little smarter I’d finish
the bits more thoroughly before final assembly…

I’m glad a number of you came back on this:

I think one person suggested a great toothbrush (Sonicare?) which I
believe just hums rather than brushes. Another person suggested
Velcro-mounted abrasives. Put the two together and I think we can
fake up a rechargeable humming sander.

I also recall seeing my wife’s Waterpik, which technically isn’t a
toothbrush at all. But I think it shouldn’t be too hard to glue the
Waterpik delivery mechanism together with the SonicCare to deliver
moisture just at the spot where it’s needed, and adjust the pump
voltage with a potentiometer so we get anything from a drip to a
rinse, in which case we may have just invented the jeweler’s
equivalent of An Elegant Weapon From A More Civilized Age.

Now I just need used versions of these to take apart. Of course, I’d
have to boil them first.

I had also thought of repurposing something which came from an
adults-only shop, but i wonder if people would start looking at me
strangely if I asked whether it would be possible to cut the head off
of it so that I could mount sandpaper patches (ha ha).


Maybe you can try useing Velcro to attach to the electric


See Ornament Magazine, Volume 34, No. 5. an article about jade
carving by Stephen L Myhre. He dismantles an old sewing machine and
attaches abrasives to the (needle) shaft, turns the machine on its
side and turns it on. Voila’ a back and forth abrasive tool.

M Foliart


They have a couple different types of tooth brush style power
sanders. They have both sanding and mini filing that work with a
reciprocating action. Check them out. Could save you allot of time
and effort reinventing the wheel.

Rick McCann.

Wal-Mart & Target and probably other stores have a cheaper version
of the electric tooth brush, around $10 with 3 brush heads.

Pat Gebes