Sanding Bow

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Project by RyanGi posted 08-01-2021 09:03 PM 1153 views 16 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since I started turning on a lathe, I’ve noticed a distinct loss of fingerprints when sanding. Mostly at the lower grits, I sure manage to heat up my fingers quick! I went looking for a solution and found the sanding bow. Who knew? Before someone starts with the whole “hold the sand paper with two hands so you don’t press your fingers into the work”….yes, yes, you’re right. But once I saw pics of a sanding bow I just kinda wanted one…you know, so I can sand and eat a sandwich at the same time or something. Anyway, after some study I pushed together some ideas and made this guy. It uses two slotted dowels, one forward and one rear, to friction wrap the paper so it stays in place and an elevating cap piece to apply tension.

The cap has a hex bolt epoxied in the bottom, which runs through a hole to a nut captured in a walnut dial.

Through trial and error I found 20” is the magic length for the 1” wide paper. This lets me get one full 360* rotation easily on each dowel and have just a bit of slack left, which is taken up by the elevation cap.

Built of a chunk of scrap maple I’d laminated together for another project. Finished with spray lacquer because it was easy. This one yields about +/- 8” of sanding area, which I’ve found also works very nicely for finishing round over work as well as on the lathe. I might build a bigger one at some point, but this one seems to be about right for right now!

-- Ryan/// I like chips...and sawdust...but mostly chips...with vinegar

17 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


5368 posts in 3204 days

#1 posted 08-01-2021 09:13 PM

Nicely done…good idea.

View htl's profile


5564 posts in 2375 days

#2 posted 08-01-2021 09:36 PM

It’s so pretty it looks store bought .
Great job!!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


7924 posts in 2037 days

#3 posted 08-01-2021 10:45 PM

Great job R’Gi... love your tensioner. Some “knurling* on the dowels (bigger dowel) may be of assistance for some, though the tensioner would remove most of that need.

I bought a sanding bow at a wood show many years ago and it’s incredible how much use I’ve managed to get out of it. If you don’t have one, you’d probably not miss it (as not aware of their usefulness), however, once have one, they are invaluable.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Eric's profile


1806 posts in 1089 days

#4 posted 08-01-2021 11:22 PM

Really like that idea, great job. Guess it will be a build for me down the road.

-- Eric, building the dream

View RyanGi's profile


81 posts in 253 days

#5 posted 08-01-2021 11:29 PM

Some “knurling* on the dowels (bigger dowel) may be of assistance for some,

That’s a really great idea. Maybe just some scallops on the ends. I may remake them….if for no other reason than it’ll look great! They twist up easily enough for me, but I could imagine someone with a little arthritis would appreciate a little dimension to the ends of those dowels…. Thanks!

-- Ryan/// I like chips...and sawdust...but mostly chips...with vinegar

View BurlyBob's profile


9293 posts in 3481 days

#6 posted 08-01-2021 11:54 PM

Great looking tool. You’ve got quite an innovation there.

View RyanGi's profile


81 posts in 253 days

#7 posted 08-02-2021 12:18 AM

I knocked some quick scallops in the end of the dowels. It’s a nice, functional detail. Good call!

-- Ryan/// I like chips...and sawdust...but mostly chips...with vinegar

View CV3's profile


109 posts in 2396 days

#8 posted 08-02-2021 01:19 AM

Well done! I will have to give that a try. Thanks for sharing!

-- We live in the Land of the Free Because of the brave!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10270 posts in 3625 days

#9 posted 08-02-2021 05:24 AM

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Dutchy's profile


4175 posts in 3384 days

#10 posted 08-02-2021 07:03 AM

Looking good.


View MikeB_UK's profile


683 posts in 2251 days

#11 posted 08-02-2021 10:00 PM

That looks great, by far the nicest looking bow sander I’ve seen.

Another one to add to the to-do list

-- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1463 posts in 2508 days

#12 posted 08-02-2021 10:53 PM

Good design on that one. I was thinking of making a tension bow sander but I like your idea better.

I’ll see if I can make some improvements on it.

-- James E McIntyre

View swirt's profile


6531 posts in 4188 days

#13 posted 08-03-2021 01:59 AM

Very cool design. Nice work.

-- Galootish log blog,

View pottz's profile


20145 posts in 2200 days

#14 posted 08-03-2021 02:36 AM

thats a real cool tool,only problem is id need 5 or 6, one for each grit i use,because changing the sanding strips every 30 seconds would be a pain.then again maybe ill make 5 or 6 ?

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Noel's profile


106 posts in 1023 days

#15 posted 08-03-2021 06:25 PM

Thanks for sharing your well-designed, better-executed, great idea! This one’s definitely going in the favorites folder.

-- Just make the cut

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