Steel Wool, yes or No?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by fritzer1210 posted 02-28-2021 09:35 PM 365 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View fritzer1210's profile


22 posts in 1438 days

02-28-2021 09:35 PM

Just curious as to under what conditions would one use steel wool over very fine sand paper? Is leftover residue better or worse over either one? Which is easier to remove after sanding? What is the best way to detect residue after sanding? Thanks

9 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


11141 posts in 4699 days

#1 posted 02-28-2021 09:39 PM

I use 3M synthetic steel wool. It doesn’t catch and doesn’t leave residue that can be hard to get off. I use it for quickie polishing of finishes but I don’t think it beats 320 grit stearated paper for a really nice feel.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


977 posts in 2513 days

#2 posted 02-28-2021 09:42 PM

About the only time I use steel wool is with some burnishing on my lathe.
I’ll use 0000 steel wool, on dark closed grain wood. about 1200rpm after a sanding seal coat.
You have to be careful with when to use it. Open grain, and lite colored woods will pick up steel splinters in the pours of the wood. those splinters will rust, and show up in the finish.
So left over residue with the steel wool has potential to be very bad when use on the wrong wood.
And I don’t think there is any was to remove it.

These days I more often use a white 3m ultra fine scotch bright pad. But a recent search seems that maybe they have quit making it.

-- John

View bandit571's profile


28242 posts in 3735 days

#3 posted 02-28-2021 10:17 PM

sand or wool….either way, you are supposed to wipe things down with the Tack Cloth….doesn’t everybody.

Usually I use the 0000 steel wool between coats….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2757 posts in 599 days

#4 posted 02-28-2021 10:23 PM

I use 0000 steel wool quite alot on exotics as a last step before finishing. Olive wood, or Ebony, or Eucalyptus, for example, just snicker menacingly at sandpaper, and steel wool easily takes out scratches and sanding marks, and leaves a very smooth almost glass-like surface. Elm can be a pain in the rump to sand, ascending grades of steel wool make it a breeze. One of the reasons I like steel wool so much is that there is almost no dust as one would have with sandpaper. I will even use steel wool on a wood like sycamore to remove that hairy characteristic but am very gentle in this case with pressure. I will use a magnet to pick up steel wool filaments in hard to reach places.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View theoldfart's profile (online now)


12543 posts in 3502 days

#5 posted 02-28-2021 11:17 PM

Give bronze wool a try, no concerns with rust. It come in corse, medium and fine. I’ve been using it for years.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Rich's profile (online now)


6774 posts in 1641 days

#6 posted 02-28-2021 11:48 PM

Steel wool and sandpaper cut completely differently. Steel wool has no grit.

Regarding 3M pads, I find the Mirka Mirlon Total pads to be far superior. They come in four grit levels: Very Fine – 360, Xtra Fine – 800, Ultra Fine – 1500, Micro Fine – 2500. They are flexible for contoured areas, and can be attached to a hook and loop block for better control on flat surfaces.

For the block, I made my own out of 3/4” plywood with some PSA to hook and loops sheets from Velcro. The so-called industrial velcro hook sheets you can find at HD work too.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4330 posts in 2546 days

#7 posted 03-01-2021 02:24 AM

+1 Non-woven sanding/scuff pads are only thing I use in my shop.

Had too many past issues with unwanted steel wool reaction with wood tannin. Last time I used steel wool, was using it with vinegar to make wood dye. :)

Local wood store suppliers sell Norton Brand, it works decent, and is cheaper than 3M. Automotive refinish supply stores sell more than standard 4 grits Rich mentions, if you need finer grit steps dealing with high gloss clear coats.


-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View SMP's profile (online now)


3782 posts in 957 days

#8 posted 03-01-2021 02:50 AM

+1 for the Mirka pads. Got sick of those little metal shavings get all over the place, plus breathing that stuff in can’t be too good for you

View waho6o9's profile


9015 posts in 3628 days

#9 posted 03-01-2021 04:02 AM

I like using bronze wool. Pieces of steel wool may oxidize when left undetected.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics