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I know I am not the only one to wonder this!..I can't be! I have been using sandpaper all my life and have yet to know when to throw away a piece of sandpaper. When does it "Officially" give up the ghost??? From my perspective, it only changes grit. Only when it rips apart in my hand, will I send it to the great sandpaper bin in the sky. When do you depart from a dear friend that has served you so well…!!
 

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I have often reached for the slightly worn piece (read ready to fall apart used beyond used) piece of 220 when I should have got out the 400 etc. Hay it's right there on the bench just waiting for me. lol
 

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Every once in a while, I try a new piece, comparing it to what I'm currently using. If it's an obvious difference, I'll pitch my current piece and use the new one. If not, I'll keep going with the original. I've spent too much of my life pounding away with sandpaper that's too worn or too fine. Things go SOOOOO much faster when you work your way through the grits using good fresh sandpaper.

I will keep scraps around, but usually because my sanding block doesn't use the ends so they're still good for details, etc.
 

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sorry to tell you cozmo but the grits don't change the more you use it. sanding is a real hassle and everyone wants to get it done fast, using old sandpaper takes longer, so getting out a new piece just makes sense to me. i go through tons of sand paper, it is one of my biggest expenses , but i need to get stuff done fast as this is what i do.
 

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sandpaper changing grits is an old myth. when the sandpaper is used, the jagged edges used to "cut" the wood's surface get rounded over. You go from scratching the surface to burnishing the surface. You are only wasting time by continuing to use the same piece.

The best advice I ever heard on sandpaper is to switch it out as if someone else is paying for it.
 

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I hate to admit it but I use sandpaper way to long. Really tears me up to throw anything away. You should see my off-cut wood bin. LOL. Tiny, tiny pieces of wood. Hey, you never know.
 

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I have noticed that if I use a piece too many times, especially when I make pens, all I end up doing is burn the wood because the paper is all clogged up. So I change it and toss it all the time.
 

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Hokie is 100% correct.
I tell the guys in the shop, if your stopping to ask yourself if the sandpaper is 'done'.....it was 'done' ten minutes ago.
Sandpaper isn't cheap, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than labor. Using worn out(rounded over) sandpaper is also a great way to make difficult to stain woods….even MORE difficult to stain.
 

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Same response as Tony_S above - but to add my $0.02 worth, I feel the sandpaper with my fingers to feel if it has any "grab" - meaning sharp edges that can cut. If it doesn't, away it goes.

My personal choice is the Mirka brand - which changes color slightly from yellow-ish to orange-ish as the cutting layer gets worn away - that way I don't even have to feel it, just the color will tell me.
 

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I always use sandpaper as if my brother-in-law is paying for it. In virtually every aspect of woodworking, sharp tools is the key to success. With sandpaper the concept of "sharp" means fresh. I try to get value from every portion of the sheet of sandpaper but as soon as the entire sheet shows signs of wear, I throw it away. On my ROS and my finishing sander I am also quick to change paper.

On my belt sanders, I use one of those clean up sticks (like a soft pencil eraser) to get a little more life out of a belt but I am still pretty quick to replace it.

Final thought - When I can I use a flat scrapper instead of sandpaper. Of course, I use a sharp flat scrapper.
 

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To me, it is obvious when the sandpaper is no longer sanding, or is becoming more work because it is worn out. Usually the backing is destoyed before the grit is. However, I find in most of my sanding, it becomes worn out in the middle but not around the edges. That is true in my hand or machine sanding. I will then use those pieces for smaller areas or mouldings until they no longer function. I keep folding, tearing and using until there is nothing left. I can be frugal with supplies, but wasting time is not a viable option either.

If you are becoming that attached to your sandpaper friends, you might want to take a good long look at your personal relationships. LOL
 

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I change frequently, but what I'm really conscious of is grit progression. Almost always I have two sanders set up with two consecutive grits - the final and one coarser. Most of our stuff comes out of the wide-belt sander at 120 grit so I usually start to orbital at 120 and then go up from there. The time saved started at a coarser grit and working my way up is significant - not to mention some savings in sandpaper I believe. Grit progression is definitely something I preach to my guys. That and setting up good raking light. And changing paper when needed. And not sanding divots into a flat surface. And not taking too heavy a pass and ruining a fifty dollar sanding belt. It's a hundred - nay, a thousand - little things that all add up.

Meliora, baby.
JP
 

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I usually use Norton 3X sandpaper with one of the rubber sanding pads. When I suspect that it is time for a new piece, I'll take a look at it and generally can see that most of the abrasive particles are gonzo. Then I tear the two ends off that have been inside the rubber pad (where the spikes hold it) for later use on smaller sanding chores and install a new piece. Those two little pieces that I salvage often come in very handy and I hate to waste them.

Jim
 

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I use the 3x also, I like it better, on the ros if it gums up i toss it, if it looses the white color and the paper shows to much i usually toss it. On 1/4 sheets same, but I always thought it just changed grits and kept it too long also, I have allot of used disks that I probably should through out. Its like my scrap pile, I will need it later.
 
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