Using sandpaper on your wood projects is often described as a labor of love. Why? Well, quite often it seems you spend more time sandpapering than doing anything else, but the result is always well-worth the extra effort.
That’s only true, however, if you choose the best sandpaper for wood you are working on AND use it correctly. Throw in a little “time and patience, ” and your finished piece is one you can proudly display.
Our lineup includes the top 10 sandpaper options for use with wood. If you need a bit more detail, we’ve also got a closer look at the top three on the list.
How Do You Select the Best Sandpaper for the Job?
Start by choosing the right grit! The grit of sandpaper tells you how many abrasive particles are in each square inch of the paper. No need for you to start counting them, however – just remember that the lower the number, the coarser the paper.
Here’s a rough guide:
- Extra Coarse (Under 40 Grit). Meant for the toughest jobs
- Coarse (40-80 Grit). For removing a good bit of material at once
- Medium (100-150 Grit). Good for getting rid of old varnish
- Fine (180-220 Grit). Works well for light sanding in-between coats of paint or to remove scratches left by coarser grit sandpaper
- Very Fine (320-400 Grit). Meant to do a light sanding in-between finishing coats
- Super Fine (up to 600 Grit). A good choice for final sanding
- Ultra-Fine (up to 1000 Grit). Use to give thick finishes a final polish
Top 10 Sandpapers for Wood Comparison Table
Buying Sandpaper for Wood? Keep These Points in Mind
Aside from the grit of the sandpaper (which we discussed above), there are several other factors that make one type of sandpaper very different from the next.
- Grade. You will see some sandpaper referred to as “commercial grade” and others as “industrial grade.” This is usually an indicator of quality and durability, with industrial-grade sandpaper using better quality materials for the abrasive (grit), the backing, and the adhesive that holds the grit to the backing.
- Open-Coat vs. Closed-Coat. Open-coat sandpaper has the abrasive particles more spaced out than the closed-coat variety does. As a result, it is less likely to clog and a good choice when working with wood, especially with a power sander.
- Natural Abrasives. These include garnet (excellent for hand sanding of raw wood but will wear quickly) and emery (good for both power and hand sanding but works best on metals).
- Manmade Abrasives. Aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, zirconia alumina, and ceramic alumina are all in this category. While each one can be used effectively on wood, aluminum oxide is long-lasting; silicon carbide wears quicker but works quicker, too; and both zirconia alumina and ceramic alumina are good for use with power sanders and will last longer than aluminum oxide does.
Top 3 Best Sandpaper for Wood Reviews
The 3M Scotch-Brite General Purpose Hand Pad has pride of place as our top pick for the best sandpaper for wood. They are made of non-woven nylon and polyester fiber with very fine grade aluminum oxide serving as the abrasive material.
You get a total of 20 pads, each measuring 6 by 9 inches. The pads can be used with an in-line sander or, if you prefer, you can do your sandpapering by hand (with or without a hand pad block), and they will work just as well.
Equating to 320-grit, this sandpaper is ideal as your starting choice to denib, defuzz, finish, grain, and clean wood. Although the 3M Scotch-Brite General Purpose Hand Pad works great on wood, reviewers consistently highlight how many different types of surfaces it can be used on.
If your woodworking project calls for sanding in-between the application of coats of paint, varnish, or lacquer, then the superfine, 400-grit 3M Wetordry Sandpaper is what you need. It also works great on other types of finishes, such as enamel and synthetic coating to give materials a smooth, satiny appearance.
The backing is waterproof paper, and the abrasive material is silicon carbide. The “wet or dry” description means you can expect this sandpaper to hold up pretty well if your project calls for the use of a liquid lubricant such as water or cutting oil.
The most positive reviews of the 3M Wetordry Sandpaper focus on how well this sandpaper gets the job done. Some reviewers show appreciation for the fact that the 3M Wetordry Sandpaper can be bought as a pack with assorted grit.
Convenience is the name of the game with the Mirka 23-615-100 Sanding Discs. Not only do they come in 7 grit ratings other than the 100-grit featured here, but you can also buy them as an assorted set.
Adding to the convenience is the fact that these 5-inch 8-hole discs will fit three DEWALT sander models and two models of Ryobi & Bosch sanders. Quite a few reviewers also point out the discs can be used with several other brands and models of the sander, as well.
This open-coat sandpaper uses aluminum oxide as the abrasive material. You get 50 discs in the box and attaching each one to your sander is very easy as they are made with a hook-and-loop (or Velcro) backing.
Sandpaper is often viewed as a labor of love, but it can be even more enjoyable if you choose the right sandpaper for your project and use it correctly. Our list includes 10 of the best sandpaper for wood to consider when purchasing this must-have tool for any woodworker.
We’ve also got three top picks from our list in case you need some extra help choosing which one will work best on your current or future projects.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to get started!