What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Sandpaper? (8 Alternatives)

Sandpaper is an essential tool for woodworkers, as it smoothes and finishes surfaces after they have been sawn, cut or cracked. Sandpaper can be coarse or fine, depending on whether you want to smooth out a rough edge before painting or varnishing. What happens if you’re out of sandpaper?

You can achieve the same effect without sandpaper by using some other materials. When leather is rubbed over sand or walnut shells, the surface will be smoothed. Pumice also works as a sander if water is added. If sandpaper cannot be used, you can use nail files for small areas. Below is a list with some alternatives to sandpaper:

  • Sanding block
  • Emery cloth
  • Sand leather
  • Walnut shells
  • Pumice
  • Nail files
  • Hand Files
  • Emery boards

This article will discuss some alternatives to sandpaper and how to make it yourself.

How do you sandpaper something without Sandpaper?

Sandpaper can be used to smooth out rough edges when working with wood and metal.

Sandpaper is available in various grits, including, but not limited to,

  • Extra coarse: Used to sand the first time after a cut is made.
  • Medium: Used primarily to sand a surface before varnishing or polishing.
  • Very fine: Used for smoothing a drywall between coats
  • Ultrafine: To finish and polish a surface

Woodworkers select the grit required for the job in hand. They usually start with coarse grit and then move to a finer grit to complete the task.

If you don’t have sandpaper, there are some other options.

What can I use instead of sandpaper on wood?

Sandpaper can be found in hardware stores.

You can buy it in sheet form, as belts to use with power tools or in block form, for jobs that require more effort.

Alternatives to traditional sandpaper may be used for environmental reasons, or when the traditional sandpaper product is unavailable.

1. Sanding blocks

They are also known as sanding spongs. Their construction is similar to that of a kitchen dish sponge, but they have a rougher texture.

These can be bent and manipulated very easily. This makes it easier to access unusual shapes.

These sandpapers are stronger than standard abrasive grits and can be reused multiple times.

Sanding blocks can be used as a substitute for sandpaper.

2. Emery cloth

Emery cloths, which are most commonly used to sand metal, are much more durable than sandpaper.

The cloth backing on these sheets and rolls is designed to prevent them from wearing out as quickly as sandpaper.

It is mainly used for metals but can be applied to wood if used gently.

3. Sand and Leather

To begin, sprinkle dry sand on the area to be sanded.

Use a dry piece of cloth or leather to gently sand away the rough areas.

This method is easy and is ideal for a light sanding of a flat surface.

4. Walnut shells

Sandblasting is often done with walnut shells. They can sand surfaces in the same manner as sand.

Shells should be ground to a coarse powder, then rubbed with a leather cloth.

The disadvantage of this method is that walnut shells can be more expensive and are harder to find than sand.

5. Pumice

It is used to remove dead cells.

The product is sold in many stores and online in different abrasion levels and is much more durable than leather and sand.

This technique requires that the area to be worked on is wet at all times.

Can I use a nail file instead of sandpaper?

Yes, depending on the size and amount of sanding required, a nail-file can be used as an alternative to sandpaper. Emery boards are a nail file that is made of cardboard or wood with sandpaper on the top and bottom. Some have different sections of grit to smooth and file nails.

These can be used instead of sandpaper when working on small sections, since they are made of the same material.

The size of the nail file and its grit, which is typically super-fine, will make it difficult to reach larger areas.

This fine grit is used to smooth out surfaces after they have been cleaned by something coarser.

Some steel nail files are coated with tiny metallic flakes that can be used to smooth the nail surface.

These files can be used to sand smaller areas instead of sandpaper.

It is important to keep in mind that a steel file will heat up if you use it to smooth something for a long time.

Alternately, metal strips can be cut at various angles repeatedly to create an abrasive pattern.

The ridges on this type of nail file are not intended to be used with wood.

This type of grid-patterned tool is typically used on metal.

Wood can splinter if it gets caught in the small gaps between the cuts.

How can you make your own sandpaper?

As its name suggests, used to be manufactured using sand or other abrasive materials, like seashells.

In some cases, these particles are bonded onto a flexible and durable surface.

Over the years, other types have been used.

  • Glass is no longer used as often.
  • Garnet commonly used in woodworking
  • Aluminum Oxide not only is the cheapest but also the most commonly used for wood and metal.
  • Emery can be used to polish or wear surfaces.
  • Diamonds can be used to polish and finish metals as well as ceramics.

You can make your own sandpaper by using thick, coarse paper, and adhering sand, or emery, to one side.

Online, you can buy Emery powder in small bags.

Nature is a great source of sand, which can be used to make homemade sandpaper.

Read Also: How to Paint Outdoor Carpet (With Latex Paint!)

How to Make Homemade Sandpaper

Start by determining how much sandpaper you need for your project.

Sandpaper sheets are sufficient to cover small jobs at surface level.

Consider using wooden blocks to work on larger areas. This will make it easier to grip.

To make your own sandpaper, you will need to follow a few simple steps and allow time for the glue to cure:

  1. Buy a paper with a coarse texture and stiffness that can withstand being rubbed on a rough surface.
  2. Place the paper onto a table, or a piece of extra paper to allow excess glue and sand spillage.
  3. Paint a thick layer of liquid heavy duty glue on the entire surface of your paper.
  4. Spread the sand evenly across the surface of wet glue using a gardening sifter.
  5. Let the glue dry until it no longer sticks to your fingers.
  6. Place another board on top of the sandpaper. Clamp or weight it down.
  7. Let the glue set for at least 24 hours.
  8. Use a utility blade to cut away the sandpaper from the surface.

After you’ve got a sheet of sandpaper, you can divide it into smaller sheets according to the task at hand.

Sandpaper blocks are more comfortable to use for larger flat surfaces.

Create a block of sandpaper:

  1. Follow the above steps until the glue begins to set.
  2. Wrap the paper around the wooden block and glue it to the surface.
  3. Set the sandpaper for 24 hours by clamping it on both sides.

Final Thoughts

You can still get the same results if you do not have access to sandpaper. Your choice of sanding cloths, emery blocks or pumice will depend on the size of the project.

You can also make your own sandpaper. Use heavy-duty paper with a stiff backing and dry your sand thoroughly before you attempt to glue it.

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