Sanding, but not circular

I have the need to be able to sand intricate parts of my designs
with something in a back and forth, not circular, manner. Does
anyone have any ideas of a tool that can do this for me?

The specific problem:
I solder wire in a “V” shape, approx. 1/4" x 1/4", onto the top
of my piece. I also have tubing near the “V” shape. This makes
for some very small areas that sometimes need to be sanded due to
firescale, excess solder, whatever.

I know the best way to deal with it is not to have these
problems (firescale, excess solder, whatever) in the first place.
And, although I am MUCH better at preventing these things, they
still sometimes occur.

Files don’t work because they are too harsh and I can’t get
sandpaper in to clean up the areas for tumbling. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance!

Lori Bugaj
(got my windows professionally cleaned today - I can actually see my

Dear Lori, I like to use blunted toothpicks with white diamond
tripoly to get into small spaces. On piercings I use string
with same.


Lori, I have found using a vibratory tumbler with steel shot,
water with a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid both
burnishes and polishes. It really cuts way back the amount of
filing necessary. Teresa

You might try “scotch stones”, a pencil shaped (only square)
stone material, which comes in varied grades of abrasiveness.
Grind a 45 degree angle on the tip and use as a file. Check Rio
Grande or Gesswein tool catalogs… you can actually do a
fairly good job of restoring flat surfaces in close quarters with
them. Start with a course stone and work down to a fine grade as
you would sandpaper.


lori - being entirely self-taught, pragmatism is my byword, (i
use my band saw for cutting metals, & other shortcuts), so if
someone offers a traditional method, ignore me. when i need
sanding in the same right areas as you described, there’re
strips of different materials about 1 1/2 to 2 ft long, anywhere
from 1 to 3 inches wide tied onto my bench vise. the material is
tee shirt cotton (which rolls up), woven cloth, flannel and some
netting. i keep chunks of fabulustre and tripoli handy & rub one
along the fabric, then thread it through whatever part i need
sanded or polished a little more. tripoli is what you would want
on some netting (another name: tulle) the abrasiveness of the
tulle works with the tripoli & does a fair job of light sanding
after 1. i carefully use the scraper on the tough parts, then 2.
use a pointed wood skewer in your flexshaft with some tripoli to
even off scrape marks, and 3. then the material strips. replace
the material when it gets disgusting, but you can extend their
life a little by rubbing each strip with a paper towel. hope
this helps. good luck - ive

Lori, Two possible solutions to your problem. 1. take a sheet of
thin plastic like the kind used in those blister packages (I save
all of mine). Coat the plastic with contact cement and then a
piece of sadpaper (wet dry). When both are dry put them together.
You now have a sanding media that can be cut in very narrow
strips and is very durable. 2. Use a piece of heavy cotton string
coated with polishing compound. I buy heavy cord and unwind it
for the size of string I need. Use progressive compounds just
like at the wheel. Frank

Lori, thrumming still works. It’s low tech and cheap, gives the
back and forth motion. Attach some strings to your bench,
impregnate the strings with polishing compounds, wrap the strings
around the item, pull back and forth along the string. If the
compound is too dry, drag the string through a little oil of
wintergreen before picking up the compound.

If you need more aggressive action, go to a good woodworkers
supply and get some sanding cord. This comes in various grits, in
round and flat ribbons. Again, tack it to your bench and wrap it
around the area that needs to be sanded.

Hope this solves your dilemma.

I have been unable to find “Scotch Stones”. A few years ago, I
heard that the Quary where Scotch Stone is mined had flooded and
they were no longer producing.

Is this true?

Can anyone tell me where I can get it? In particular I like the
1/8" square sticks. I have only seen it in one grit.

I have had to substitute with a different abrasive stone, I
think it’s aluminum oxide (Falcon brand). This is a product that
is available from machine shop suppliers. It is available in
different grits 200, 400, 600, 900 and others. It comes in
various sizes like 1/4" square x 6" long sticks. It is harder
than scotch stone. So it does not conform to the shape that you
are working on as easily as the Scotch Stone.


Timothy A. Hansen


Dear Tim, Many people don’t know this but Gesswein has another
large catalog for Mold & Diemakers. They have LOTS of stones in
various sizes. I’m sure you’ll find exactly what you are looking


TR teh Teacher & Student

Lori, There is a company called E.C. Mitchell in Middletown, Ma.,
that manufactures abraisive cords and tapes. They are available
in Crocus, Aluminum Oxide and Silicon Carbide in numerous
dimensions. The tapes could be cut into short pieces and glued to
an appropriate support and used to reach those difficult areas.

I have the need to be able to sand intricate parts of my designs
with something in a back and forth, not circular, manner. Does
anyone have any ideas of a tool that can do this for me?

Dear Lori,

Rio Grande, and others, have available 3-M’s Imperial finishing
film. This product consists of the conventional range of sanding
grits bonded to a thin, but stiff mylar film. You can cut it with
scissors and create just the right shapes to get into tight
spots. The film can be used alone or made into custom shaped
“wafer files” with double stick tape and a piece of thin metal
cut to the right shape for the task at hand.

Ken Weston

Lori, I’ve found that there are snap-on discs for the foredom
that run everywhere from very coarse to polishing grade
(basically felt on plastic). The finer ones (on plastic) bend
and can insert themselves into really thin areas, and do an
excellent job of removing excess solder (I use them for that in
all cases of excess solder). The snap on mandrels are a bit
more expensive than regular ones, but well worth the expense.
BTW, snap-on is a description of the mechanism for attaching disc
to mandrel; I’m not talking about Snap_On Tools, the manufacturer
of tools to work on cars, etc.