How to Add Sandpaper to a Sander

A man uses a sander.

You need to add sandpaper to your sander for more effective sanding. There is a variety of different grits or grades of sandpaper which will result in different effects. Changing sandpaper grades during a project is commonplace. You may need a coarse grade paper to smooth rough surfaces at the beginning of a project and a very fine grit paper to finish the chore of smoothing out a varnish cover to give the final coat a high sheen and smooth look. Sandpaper also varies in shape according to the applicator. Some applicators are rectangular while others are circular.

Finishing Sander Paper Replacement

A block finishing sander uses standard size paper sheets for several reasons. First, they are easier to find. Secondly, they are much easier to replace than paper for an orbital sander. Standard size paper normally requires no trimming or other shaping which can save both time and money

Step 1 - Lift Front Clamp

A finishing block sander will have two clamps — one on the front and the other in the rear — and are usually spring operated. Release the front clamp and remove the old paper. Insert the new paper until it hits the spring posts at the back clamp. Make sure it is even with the mounting plate on top of the block.

Step 2 - Fold Paper

Fold the paper under the plate and clamp, holding the back end down tightly to pull the front end as far as you can to eliminate slack. Secure the front clamp.

Step 3 - Release the Back Clamp

With the front clamp secure, release the back clamp. This will create slack once again in the paper.

Step 4 - Secure Back

Now, fold the end of the paper under the plate and clamp, pulling it tightly. Then, press down firmly.

Power Sander

Replacing a ¼ sheet sandpaper for a power sander is similar to the process listed above, except you have a little more flexibility in managing the paper.

Step 1 - Clamp an End

Make sure the sander is not connected to a power source when adding paper. Open one end and insert the sheet evenly into the area between the clamp and sander surface. Clamp it shut.

Step 2 - Bend Paper

Bend the paper so the fed end can be inserted under the arm at the other side of the sander.

Step 3 - Stretch Paper

Stretch the paper as much as you can before inserting it under the "hold-down" arm. Make sure to get it as tight as possible and push the end in as far as possible. Getting the paper tight is the most important part of the process.

The right amount of “play” between the paper and pad is important to allow the power movement back and forth to produce the correct sanding effect. Additionally, the play also affects the binding part of the sandpaper. If the paper is too tight, or too loose, it can cause the fold along the clamp to tear.