Why use abrasive pads for sanding instead of sandpaper or steel wool

[box]Abrasive pads don’t stuff up like sandpaper or leavy bits behind like steel wool.[/box]

If you want to get the smoothest finish on your project, you should polish in between coats. This eliminates any imperfections that can be caused by air bubbles or dust.

In the past, I used steel wool or sandpaper in between coats. Recently, my buddy brought me some abrasive pads. Turns out they work really well.

They don’t clog up like sandpaper all the time, so they last longer. They don’t leave tiny particles behind like steel wool, so I don’t have to clean after them. They are flexible and can fit in tight spaces really well.

These are the best abrasive pads for sanding:

VSM 401255 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6' x 9', Ultra Fine, Gray (Pack of 10)
VSM 401255 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Ultra Fine, Gray (Pack of 10)
Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.; Application Types: cleaning, buffing and finishing/polishing
Sale −21%
VSM 400728 Abrasive Hand Pad Hand Pad, 6' x 9', Tan, Coarse Grade, (Pack of 10)
VSM 400728 Abrasive Hand Pad Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Tan, Coarse Grade, (Pack of 10)
Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.; Application Types: Heavy-duty removal of rust and oxidation and heavy deburring.
Sale −24%
VSM 402395 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6' x 9', Fine Grade, Maroon (Pack of 10)
VSM 402395 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Fine Grade, Maroon (Pack of 10)
Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.; Application Types: Cleaning, blending, deburring
VSM 402391 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6' x 9', General Use, Fine Grade, Green (Pack of 10)
VSM 402391 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", General Use, Fine Grade, Green (Pack of 10)
Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.; Application Types: General Purpose and deburring
VSM 401246 Abrasive Hand Pad, White, 6' x 9' (Pack of 10)
VSM 401246 Abrasive Hand Pad, White, 6" x 9" (Pack of 10)
Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.; Application Types: Cleaning and buffing
Sale −21%
VSM 401769 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6' x 9', Medium Grade, Black (Pack of 10)
VSM 401769 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Medium Grade, Black (Pack of 10)
Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.; Application Types: Residue removal and heavy deburring.

Structure

The pads consist of a web of strong fibers. Because they have a web structure, they are flexible enough to change shape and strong enough to sustain hours of rubbing.

No clogging

Because of their web structure, abrasive pads don’t clog. There is a lot of “empty space” that can take in unwanted particles. After each rub, the particles move up through the “empty space” so that you’re always rubbing with the abrasive material.

Grits

They come in several grits. You will find a pad for all your needs, from very coarse, to very fine. The heaviest grit can be used for hardcore jobs like paint stripping or even slight derusting when combined with a rust dissolver.

The finer grits can be used as a polishing pad or in between your coats.

Synthetic-based

Because of their synthetic structure, they are perfect for working with water-based finishes. Even if they will leave some particles, they will not rust like steel wool.

Brands

I’ve been always using VSM abrasive pads. I think they last a bit longer than 3M.

They come in 6 colors and grits.

VSM 401255 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Ultra Fine, Gray (Pack of 10)
  • Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.
  • Application Types: cleaning, buffing and finishing/polishing
  • Item Package Dimension: 10.0" L x 8.0" W x 6.0" H
  • Item Package Weight: 2.0 lb
  • Material: Non-woven fibers and Silicon Carbide grains
Sale −21%
VSM 400728 Abrasive Hand Pad Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Tan, Coarse Grade, (Pack of 10)
  • Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.
  • Application Types: Heavy-duty removal of rust and oxidation and heavy deburring.
  • Origin: Made in Wales
  • Package Dimensions : 10.0 L x 6.0 H x 8.0 W (inches)
  • Material: Non-woven fibers and Aluminum Oxide grains
Sale −24%
VSM 402395 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Fine Grade, Maroon (Pack of 10)
  • Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.
  • Application Types: Cleaning, blending, deburring
  • Package Dimensions : 10.0 L x 6.0 H x 8.0 W (inches)
  • Material: Non-woven fibers and Aluminum Oxide grains
  • Finish: Very Fine
VSM 402391 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", General Use, Fine Grade, Green (Pack of 10)
  • Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.
  • Application Types: General Purpose and deburring
  • Origin: Made in Wales
  • Package Dimensions : 10.0 L x 6.0 H x 8.0 W (inches)
  • Material: Non-woven fibers and Aluminum Oxide grains
VSM 401246 Abrasive Hand Pad, White, 6" x 9" (Pack of 10)
  • Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.
  • Application Types: Cleaning and buffing
  • Item Package Dimension: 10.0" L x 8.0" W x 6.0" H
  • Material: Non-woven
  • Finish: Super Fine
Sale −21%
VSM 401769 Abrasive Hand Pad, 6" x 9", Medium Grade, Black (Pack of 10)
  • Ideal for a wide range of woodworking and metalworking applications.
  • Application Types: Residue removal and heavy deburring.
  • Package Dimensions : 10.0 L x 6.0 H x 8.0 W (inches)
  • Material: Non-woven fibers and Silicon Carbide grains
  • Finish: Medium

About the author

All my life, I enjoyed doing things with my hands and interacting with nature. I'm a self-taught carpenter, an angler, a hunter, an outdoorsman, an engineer, and an avid hiker. Not as agile as I was in my former years, I've decided to spend more time putting my experiences on paper.

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2 thoughts on “Why use abrasive pads for sanding instead of sandpaper or steel wool”

  1. Useful information. Fortunate me I found your website by chance, and I am stunned why this twist of fate did not came about earlier! I bookmarked it!

    Reply
  2. Do you know the grit or steel wool rating equivalent for the VSM pad colors? I have tried to find them and cannot. I have the grey, white, and maroon. The grey was the only one that came labeled (Ultra Fine S XS). White feels very close to the grey. The maroon feels much coarser, but it is described as both “Fine” and “Very Fine” on Amazon.

    And where do the green, tan, and black fit in? SIA-Abrasives say that their tan is 80, green 100, and black 110, but I don’t know if that transfers to VSM. 3M’s grits do not seem to be the same. Thanks!

    Reply

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