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What is Grit Paper?

Belt sanders smooth wooden surfaces by spinning a roll of sandpaper in a continuous loop.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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Grit paper is a type of rough paper used for woodworking, metal working, or other work on different materials. More commonly known as sandpaper, grit paper comes in several gradations known as grits; a fine grit sandpaper will remove less material from a piece of wood, metal, plastic, and so on, while a coarse grit sandpaper will remove more material. The grit of grit paper is often measured numerically, and the specific numbers that define a grit will vary by region. The U.S. and Europe, for example, both have different measuring standards. Some less expensive sandpapers are measured simply as fine, medium, and coarse.

Sheets of grit paper are often sold in bundles, and the measurements of the papers will vary by manufacturer. Often a user will rip the sheets in half or into quarters to make the piece of grit paper more manageable for use. Some people choose to use a sanding block, or a piece of wood or metal with a flat face over which the sandpaper can be stretched; the sanding block is used to apply even pressure onto the material being sanded.

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Some sanding machines also use special sizes and types of grit paper. A palm sander, for example, often uses a small piece of grit paper that is adhesive on one side so it can be affixed to the broad, flat surface of the palm sander. The sander will move the paper in an orbital motion, thereby reducing the scratches that will appear on the material being sanded. A belt sander uses a continuous belt of sandpaper that is affixed to spinning rollers. This type of machine will remove a significant amount of material at a high speed and is generally reserved for larger, heavier duty jobs.

Emery cloth is another type of sanding paper that can be coarse or extremely fine. It is often used in metalworking, and a very fine grit of emery cloth will remove just a small amount of material without scratching the material too much. It is often used in the finishing process after coarser grits have been used to sand or shape the piece. Emery cloth and sandpaper are often used as part of a process: coarser grain paper is used first to remove material and shape the piece being worked, then medium grit is used to remove smaller amounts of material, then a fine grit is used to buff out scratches and provide a smooth finish.

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