No More “Name That Grit”

Here's my sad excuse for sandpaper organization. Amazing it lasted this long!

Here's my sad excuse for sandpaper organization. Amazing it lasted this long!

Aside from being a dull-as-dirt photograph, this empty box is not:

A) Evidence of my secret stash of cookies. I don’t have one, but if I did squirrel away a few boxes in the shop, they’d be Thin Mints. No question.

B) A rough idea of how many boxes of Girl Scouts Cookies® my kids have eaten this spring, although it’s probably pretty close.

C) Some sad prototype for my next Woodworker’s Journal project.

Actually, this Thin Mints carton, circa 2001, has been my poor excuse for sandpaper storage. Tattered, taped up and tossed around the shop, it’s been a dumping ground for the past eight years.

The second photo is only a fraction of what used to be stuffed in said cookie carton. And, what you see is pretty much how I’ve kept it all “organized” over time. Or, more accurately, dis-organized. Full sheets. Partial, unidentifiable sheets. Curled-up disks. Sanding blocks of one kind or another. Belts. Little bits and pieces I’ve used once or twice for sanding turnings. Even a paint can opener that’s been M.I.A. for months. All in all, a mess, and usually spilling over the top.

Hmm, is there any 320-grit in that heap? Beats me.

Hmm, is there any 320-grit in that heap? Beats me.

I can live with some shop clutter, just like any busy woodworker. It’s only sandpaper, right? Everybody has catch-alls. But, over the years I can’t remember ever reaching the bottom of my box. When I finally dumped it all out recently, I half expected to see a few petrified cookies roll out. But here’s the real problem: with everything thrown into the same hopper, I’ve never been sure about what I’ve had on hand at any given time. I’d just buy more to be safe, and pile it on top. So much for inventory control.

Bet you know where this is headed…

Recently I needed a piece of 320-grit to scuff-sand a finish. But, after a few minutes of scrounging through the pile, I couldn’t find a single full sheet. Three opened packs of 220 and thirteen 150-grit disks, but nothing finer. So, I had to play another game of “Name That Grit” with a couple mysterious little scraps that looked about right. Ever done that?

Enough was enough. Time to get organized.

Off to the drawing board I went, and I think the result was pretty successful. My Sandpaper Organizer ran in our August issue as our “Jigs & Fixtures” featured project. If you went ahead and built one, I hope you’re liking it. I sure am. If the project isn’t working out so well, maybe you’ve come up with a better design or a few more cool do-dads, and that information could help folks that are still planning to build this project.

Parting is less than sweet sorrow for you, Thin Mints. Next stop: the bonfire pit.

Parting is less than sweet sorrow for you, Thin Mints. Next stop: the bonfire pit.

Guess in a roundabout sort of way, Option C really was true. That sad sack of a cardboard box was just a project waiting to happen. Now it’s part of my burn pile for the next family bonfire. Good riddance to it. From here on out, I know exactly where my 320 grit is hiding.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall has been writing for Woodworker's Journal as a contributing editor and field editor since 2001. Prior to that, he spent five years developing home improvement and woodworking books. He's written five of them and has served as a contributing writer on many more. A wood and tool junkie since childhood, Chris thoroughly enjoys building projects and reviewing woodworking tools for the Journal. When he's not assembling new machinery, sawing parts, taking photos or crunching text for an upcoming story, he enjoys spending time with his family and a houseful of pets at their home in rural Ohio.

4 thoughts on “No More “Name That Grit”

  1. I built a removable picket fence in my front yard that comes down in minutes so I can get my travel trailer out of the yard. I sunk 4″ square plastic pipe about 30″ into the ground, then just dropped in the treated 4X4 posts, to which I screw the fence rails. I unscrew one section, then lift the others out with posts attached. Fill in the holes temporarily with a short, ground level cutoff 4X4 as needed.
    Dan DeGennaro

  2. Dan,

    Hey, that’s a good idea for creating removable fence posts. I want to make a garden fence that will keep our dog out but still let us get a tiller in from time to time. What is the square plastic pipe actually made to do? I don’t recall seeing it at my local home centers. Is it some kind of gutter or drainage pipe?

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    Chris Marshall

  3. i am a maintenance man in one of the local school systems in montana,, im the closest thing we have to a woodsman of any kind,, i built your sanding center to clear up a looot of clutter off my workbench. With only a couple minor adjustments for my particular tools it works great,, and the other guys that work around there tell me,, why didnt we have that last year? lol, it was worth the couple hours i used to make it ,, thanx

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