Sanding Wheel Brush

I have found that the “Sanding Wheel Brushes” from McMaster-Carr are a good alternative to the “3M Radial Bristle Discs” that I talk about in my “Power Carving Textures” blog entry.

The sanding wheel brushes are cheaper and last longer because they are tougher. They work good on raw wood. They are not as aggressive as wire wheel. They are more aggressive then 3M discs (not as soft). The bristles don’t break off like they do on the 3M discs.

I have all 3 grits available. I like the 180 grit best. The 120 grit is ok. The 320 grit is kind of to soft to be really useful.


You need to order an arbor for each brush. Www.mcmaster.com # 4875A14.

Nylon Mesh Sanding Rolls (aka Synthetic Steel Wool)

I want to document this here in my blog for my students.

The Nylon Mesh Sanding Rolls (aka Synthetic Steel Wool, aka Scotch Brite Pads) that I use are:

Carl Ford Course is

www.McMaster.com #4659A16 – Nylon Mesh Cushioned Sanding Roll for Aluminum, Soft Metal & Nonmetal, 15 Feet x 2″, Blending

Carl Ford Medium is

www.McMaster.com #4659A17 – Nylon Mesh Cushioned Sanding Roll for Aluminum, Soft Metal & Nonmetal, 15 Feet x 2″, All Purpose

Carl Ford Fine is

www.McMaster.com #4659A18 – Nylon Mesh Cushioned Sanding Roll for Aluminum, Soft Metal & Nonmetal, 15 Feet x 2″, Clean / Finish

All of the above are “Silicon Carbide” material. Catalog says they are for metal. I use them on wood.

They are all GRAY in color. To tell them apart, I do the following. I cut off a piece from roll. If fine then do nothing. If medium then clip 1/2″ off of ONE corner at 45 degrees. If course then clip 1/2″ off of TWO corners at 45 degrees.

Note: McMaster-Carr (www.McMaster.com) is an old school company. When you order something the order goes directly to the warehouse. They fill the order. Then the order goes to the office where they add the tax and ACTUAL shipping cost. Thus you DO NOT see the shipping cost until AFTER they ship something. You have to trust them to ship it to you at a reasonable cost, the old school way. I have always found their shipping cost to be reasonable. On 9/2019 it is roughly $10 for anything that fits in a 6″ x 12″ x 18″ box. In my experience, the weight has very little effect on the shipping cost. I live roughly 130 miles from their warehouse in Robbinsville NJ. You can find their closest warehouse at www.McMaster.com/returns.

Green and Maroon Stuff

I no longer use the green and maroon stuff that people may have seen me use in the past. They were “Aluminum Oxide” material (rather than “Silicon Carbide”). I gave up on these because they melt to easy. Hold them up to a piece running fast on the lathe, hit the corner or a sharp edge and they melt. It turns green! Ugg!!! No way to get rid of green.

If you want the old green it was www.McMaster.com #4659A13. I don’t known what the Maroon stuff was. I purchased it a very long time ago.

I Purchase from McMaster-Carr (www.McMaster.com)

Long ago, I gave up on the junk (oh, I mean stuff) from Home Depot, Lowes, etc. The quality varies to much by manufacturer. They are always changing their source. Some times it is good. Often it is junk. McMaster forces it’s suppliers to meet their quality specs or get lost.

I have found that the 2″ wide rolls from www.mcmaster.com are a lot better than the 6″ x 9″ pads from big box stores, etc. I don’t have to spend a lot time cutting the 6×9 pads up into small pieces to avoid wasting a lot of the pad. The stuff is already 2″ wide. Just cut off a 2″ or 3″ long piece and you are ready to go. When it is worn out or dirty you just discard a small piece. In the long run the rolls save money.

Real Steel Wool Sucks

I don’t use real steel wool. It gets caught in wood fiber to easy. Rusts, cuts your fingers off, etc.

Blue Towel


My “Blue Towel” that I use for buffing is a “Surgical Cotton Huck Towel”. You can get them on Amazon.

Beware: I got a big box of blue towels long ago from my father. He got them at an auction. The Amazon ones appear to be the same thing. But, I have never purchased the Amazon ones.

Carl Ford’s Sanding and Buffing in a Nutshell

I ONLY sand to 220 grit. Sand 80, 120, 180, 220 grit. Then I use Carl Ford “Medium” nylon mesh pad. Followed by Carl Ford “Fine” nylon mesh pad. Followed by buffing with “Blue Huck” towel.

Note: I have eliminated 150 grit sandpaper from my world. I use to sand 80, 120, 150, 180, 220 grit. Then, I decided that 150 grit was a waste of time. To close to 120 and/or 180. I no longer use 150 grit sandpaper. I now sand 80, 120, 180, 220 grit.

I use nylon mesh pads and buffing to replace sanding beyond 220 grit. If you catch the end of a nylon mesh pad, nothing happens! It DOES NOT scratch the work like the edge of 400 grit sandpaper will.

I may hold the nylon mesh pad up to the work while the lathe is running.

Often I cut a 2″ by 2″ square chunk of the nylon mesh pad and use it like a sanding disk with the lathe running. The nylon mesh just sticks to the hook part of any Velcro sanding mandrel you mount in a drill or any interface pad. I like to use a soft interface pad (1/4″ or 3/8″ thick foam pad).

After nylon mesh pads, I buff with a blue huck towel. I hold the towel up to rotating work on the lathe. AFTER I have folded up the towel into a square with no corners sticking out that can get caught by the lathe. Yea, its not completely safe. But, not all that dangerous.

Or I use an 8″ buffing wheel. The soft cotton “wax” wheel in the Beall Buffing System. Or 2 of www.McMaster.com #4820A12. I DO NOT use any wax on the wheel for any reason!

My blue towel replaces the old fashion trick of buffing with a handful of wood shavings. In the modern world we sand to much (to far). Buffing with wood shavings is often coarser than a 220 grit sanded surface and thus scratches the surface rather buffing it. My blue towel does not scratch the surface.

For more info see my “Great Polyurethane Finishes” blog entry.

Agar Class at Arrowmont

Photo: group_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I recently took a WOW Factor master class with Nick Agar at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. June 9-16, 2019. Here are some photos of the work I created in the class.

I had a great time at the class. Nick is a great instructor. I loved the environment at Arrowmont. The food was excellent. The turning studio is top notch.

Nick is well known for his Viking Sunset Bowls. This class was something different. It was all about creating turned wall pieces and sculptures from cut up turned forms. I also made some plates on my own to play with some of Nick’s decorating techniques.

I teach woodturning. But, I believe you should never stop learning. It’s time to roll over and die when you stop learning. Thus, I still take classes.

Here is the class description from the Arrowmont catalog.
NICK AGAR, WOW FACTOR, June 9-15 2019, One Week, Course Fee: $800

During this master workshop students explore the potential of the wooden surface and what it offers makers. You will discover form and proportion and will create wall pieces, cut up-reconstructed sculptures, and turned and sculpted solid forms. Participants will utilize power carving, pyrography, airbrushing, and ceramic and metal effects using the instructors signature series paints (all made in the U.S.) and other paints to enhance their work to give it the WOW factor. Open to all skill levels, however basic skills at the lathe are needed.

Nick Agar has over 25 years of experience as a woodturner. He is a registered professional turner, co-author of the book Woodturning Evolution and an elected member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. Specializing in surface enhancement and renowned for his wall sculptures, his award-winning work often incorporates carving, airbrushing, ceramic and metal effects. Agar has inspired many woodturners with his work and has traveled across the world to demonstrate his skills. TURNINGINTOART.COM
This was the first time Nick taught this class in the US. He plans on teaching it again in the US. Nick just moved (immigrated) to Georgia USA (4/2019). His new studio is across the street from Chroma Craft’s US location.
Photo: walls_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I created 2 wall pieces in the class. I really enjoyed making these. I am definitely going to be making more of these in the future.
Photo: awall1_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here is the 1st wall piece I created in Nick’s class. The wood is really nice curly maple. 12″ square by 2″ thick.

The idea here was to turn and decorate square pieces and then cut them up. Nick suggested cutting them up in 1″ wide strips or into quarters. Then we could rearrange or skew the pieces.

After I turned the square piece, I decided to decorate it with airbrush stuff I learned from Nick. I love the way it came out!

I decided it was too nice to cut into strips. Thus, I cut it into quarters. The original piece is on the left in above photo. One of 16 possible arrangements is on the right.

I colored the piece with Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. I used some airbrush stencils from Nick, Amazon and Binh Pho.

Note: 4 pieces * 4 sides = 16 possible arrangements.
Photo: awall2_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here are two alternate arrangements of the 1st wall piece.

The piece is not done yet. I plan on mounting this piece on a black steel background that is roughly 3″ larger than the piece. I will install magnets on the back of each piece. This will allow people to rearrange the pieces to create their own image.

It looks better with a 1/4″ of space between the pieces. I just stacked them up for the photos. So, no space was possible. I am going to add spacers to the finial piece.

Note: Using magnets to mount sculptures on plinths (suspended in space) was one of the ideas Nick discussed in class. I decided to expand that idea to mount my wall pieces.
Photo: cwall1_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here is the 2nd wall piece I created in Nick’s class. The wood is Maple. 10-1/2″ square by 1-1/4″ thick.

Nick suggested that we could remount and turn each quarter individually after cutting the main piece into 4 parts. I wanted to try out that idea. I also wanted to try a piece with out a lot of fancy airbrushing. Just let the beauty of the wood shine thru.

I was finishing this piece on the last day of class and got in to much of a hurry. I accidentally powered sanded the orange center on one of the 4 pieces. Then I had to try to cover it up by sanding all 4 of them. It didn’t really work out.

I colored the piece with Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. The Chroma Craft dyes are fast drying and DO NOT penetrate into the wood. Thus, I got way with, just sanding any dye over spray off the top surface to expose nice clean wood. I masked the junctions in circles with masking tape. That was a pain.
Photo: cwall2_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here are two alternate arrangements of the 2nd wall piece
Photo: slices_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg We started the class by creating sculptures from cut up turned forms. We turned a 9″ round bottomed cereal bowl shape on the outside with a small 2″ shallow bowl on the inside. Then we cut the bowl into slices and experimented with carving, wood burning, coloring and finishing techniques.

The photos show my 2 creations. The above photo on the left is the front view. The photo on right is the back view. I am really happy with the way the pieces turned out.

I cut my bowl into 3 slices. I never got around to using the center slice that contains the small 2″ bowl on the inside. It is NOT shown in the photos.

The green piece in photos is ash wood with power carved and burned textures. It was painted with copper and bronze reactive metallic paint. Some areas were painted with copper, others with bronze. Then it was aged with green patina aging solution.

The red, orange, and yellow piece is ash wood with power carved and burned textures. It was painted with red, orange and yellow Chroma Craft Wood Dyes. Then the back and some areas on the front were highlighted with Chroma Craft Viking Silver Chroma-Gilt.

Nick wanted us to mount our sculptures on a plinth with magnets. The magnets allow the pieces to be moved around and re positioned to create new configurations. I really liked the idea. But, the wimpy magnets I brought with me were not up to the task. My slices of ash were to heavy to be held up at the angle I wanted. I had to use dowels rather than magnets.
Photo: bplates_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I made some 9″ hard maple plates. They were canvases on which I could try some of the techniques demonstrated by Nick in the class.

The plate on the left in the photo is Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. I used some airbrush stencils from Amazon and Binh Pho.

The plate on the right is Chroma Craft Black Web-Fx special effect paint, over Golden brand Iridescent Bright Gold acrylic paint, over Chroma Craft Blood Red Wood Dye.

You can see in the photo that some paint escaped under the masking tape that I used to mask things off. In the future I need to do a better job of masking.
Photo: gplate_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I also made a viking style plate. I wanted to try Nick’s idea of mixing different colors of Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt on the same piece. Some areas are say copper while others are bronze.

I turned a 9″ hard maple plate and decorated it (cut groves in it) with my small and large Sorby Spiraling and Texturing tools.

In the above photos the front of the plate is on the left. The back is on the right. The back is darker than the front in real life. By design.

I kind of forget what I did here. I am not sure about the colors. Here is my best guess. The front is Saxon Gold and Antique Brass Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, over Green Verdigris Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, rubbed into the groves with a tooth brush, over Chroma Craft Black Wood Dye.

The back is Celtic Copper and Nordic Bronze Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, over Chroma Craft Black Wood Dye.
Photo: wrbowls_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg On the last day of class I made a platter (wide rim bowl). I liked a platter with a white and blue rim done by another student. I wanted to try something similar.

I took the piece home to finish at home when I did not have time to finish it in class. I got inspired and made another piece with a red background at home.

The platter in left photo is Blue and Black Chroma Craft Web-Fx special effect paint, over Rustolem flat white spray paint. With Golden brand blue and black acrylic paint, airbrushed on shading. The ugly brown marks in the bowl, showed up when I turned the bowl. They are in the wood. I was not happy.

The platter in right photo is Black Chroma Craft Web-Fx special effect paint, over Blood Red Chroma Craft Wood Dye . With Golden brand black acrylic paint, airbrushed on shading.

The black rim on both platters is black acrylic paint, applied with an airbrush.

Both platters are 9″ diameter, hard maple wood. The bottom of both platters is a roman ogee shape, natural wood color.