Black Beast

Sanding, .... gahhh! Every time I've had an employee, I think sanding is what has driven them out the door. Of course, my gentle personality could have some effect. ( I have been told that I have a certain intensity, that might be intimidating to some. )

Above, cutting sandpaper to size. I use a cheap paper cutter, with marks for the division of the sandpaper as to my needs. The marks are to make it a no-think operation, and also because the cutter is not well aligned to the back fence.

In the can at the left are some of the rubber sanding blocks of various shapes; the combination of concave and convex means any element of a molding may be efficiently sanded. The can in the rear has a collection of "flats" for sanding flat areas, as well as some "pads" that can be bent to conform to large coves, etc. At right, my sandpaper of choice, 100 grit, the short side conforming to the length of my sanding blocks. 100 is my main grit; occasionally progressing to 150 or 220. For water gilding, I'll go to 220 on the burnished areas. For metal leaf work 100 is fine enough, as there will be at least three coats of shellac after sanding, with the first shellac coat being pigmented. Covers a multitude of sins.

Sanding is the Black Beast, BĂȘte Noire, Bugaboo, Bane, Bogeyman, ... well, you get the drift; the combination of the back and forth, gesso dust sucking moisture from your skin; I've had fingers split in summer, though winter is the worst. Frustrating, too, as you think that spot is done, then vacuum off the dust, pfui. Good music helps; sometimes really loud, good music. Sanding is the mind numbing, repetitive evil of frame making; seldom creative, though an essential part of the process. It's where the messy gets cleaned up enough to go out in public. And that gesso dust, floating through the air, everything with a fine dusting of powdered .... gesso. In your nose, eyes, hair, and that is with a good dust extraction set-up. Above my main bench is an enormous filtration unit, and there are various exhaust fans, but dust  ....  is just in the air.

The sanding blocks only go so far, too. At some point the sandpaper gets folded, and the fingers are the block, as one tries to make that pigs ear of botched molding, recalcitrant lumber, and errant carving into the princess it was meant to be ......