Using sandpaper on wood projects is often described as a labor of love. Why? Well, you often 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 the 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 more detail, we’ve also looked 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 – remember that the lower the number, the coarser the paper.
Here’s a rough guide:
- Extra Coarse (Under 40 Grit). It is meant for the toughest jobs.
- Coarse (40-80 Grit). It is used for removing a good bit of material at once.
- Medium (100-150 Grit). It is good for getting rid of old varnish.
- Fine (180-220 Grit). It works well for light sanding between coats of paint or removing scratches left by coarser grit sandpaper.
- Very Fine (320-400 Grit). It is meant to do a light sanding in-between finishing coats.
- Super Fine (up to 600 Grit). It is a good choice for final sanding.
- Ultra-Fine (up to 1000 Grit). Use it 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), several other factors make one type of sandpaper very different from the next.
- Grade. Some sandpaper is called “commercial grade,” and others “industrial grade.” This is usually an indicator of quality and durability. Industrial-grade sandpaper uses 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 abrasive particles more spaced out than the closed-coat variety does. As a result, it is less likely to clog and is a good choice when working with wood, especially with a power sander.
- Natural Abrasives. These include garnet (excellent for hand sanding 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 can be used effectively on wood, aluminum oxide is long-lasting; silicon carbide wears quicker but works quicker. Zirconia alumina and ceramic alumina are good for use with power sanders and 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 as the abrasive material.
You get 20 pads, each measuring 6 by 9 inches. The pads can be used with an in-line sander or, if you prefer, 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 finishes, such as enamel and a 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 uses 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 appreciate 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 that these 5-inch 8-hole discs will fit three DEWALT sander models and two Ryobi & Bosch sanders models. Several reviewers also point out that the discs can be used with other brands and sander models.
This open-coat sandpaper uses aluminum oxide as the abrasive material. You get 50 discs in the box, and attaching each to your sander is 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 extra help choosing which will work best on your current or future projects.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to get started!