> Abrasive FAQ

Abrasive Belt
A closed loop of coated abrasive cloth, paper or film that ranges in size from a tiny 1/4" wide all the way up to 60" wide and of any length needed to fit on a sander. Also is referred to as a sanding belt.

Abrasive Planing
Rough sanding of glued-up wood panels to remove wood and even out the surface to prepare it for intermediate sanding.

Alumina Zirconia

Alumina Zirconia mineral is a mixture of zirconium oxide dissolved in aluminum oxide at molten temperatures. Coated abrasives use a micro-crystalline structure form of this mineral that is characterized as sharp, hard an extremely tough. Because of the structure and extreme toughness, smaller particles of grain break off in use and at a much slower rate than standard aluminum oxide. It produces superior performance on a wide variety of materials of both high and low tensile strength under grinding pressures.

~ Typical applications include grinding of carbon steel, stainless steel, tough bronzes, exotic alloys, cast iron, aluminum and titanium.

~ Often dyed blue or green to differentiate it from other minerals.

A special treatment added to coated abrasives for woodworking which reduce static electricity buildup and allows efficient dust collection. This facilitates dust-free workpieces, cleaner machines and longer belt life.

Cloth Backing

Cloth is the most popular backing for abrasive sanding belts.

~ J weight cloth (jeans) is a lighter weight cotton material used for polishing and finishing operations or where flexible products are required.

~ X weight cloth (drills) is a heavier, stronger and less flexible cotton or cotton/poly blend material that is used in standard/medium duty sanding operations.

~ Y weight (satin) is an extra heavy polyester backing for heavy duty grinding.

Combination Backing
A backing used on coated abrasives that is the result of laminating E weight paper and light cloth. Primarily used on discs or sheets used in floor sanding.

Man-made emery is a regular aluminum oxide containing a small amount of ferric oxide. This addition was to give high durability, but with improvements in the manufacture of aluminum oxide rolls and sheets, emery cloth is not as popular today as it once was.

~ Traditionally, Emery was recommended for hand polishing on ferrous and nonferrous metals.

Fiber backings consist of multiple bonded layers of resin impregnated paper. They are tough and strong for use on resin fiber discs.

Glazed Abrasive Belt
Glazing on a sanding belt is when the abrasive grain is dulled after excessive heat buildup causes metal particles to "weld" themselves to the tips of the grain when sanding ferrous metals. It is identified by a smooth, glossy surface on the face of the belt. Glazing then creates even more heat and your rate of cut decreases as there is now only minimal grain breakdown. Potential remedies include using a more flexible abrasive belt, incorporating a harder or more aggressive contact wheel, reducing the belt speed and using a lubricant or coolant.

Paper Backings
Different weight papers are used for backings on sandpaper sheets, rolls, discs and some sanding belts. A, B, C, D, E and F are the common weights used, with A & B being the lightest and most flexible (typically used on sheets), C & D weights are stronger and less flexible so are typically used on discs and E & F weights are the strongest paper backing and typically used for discs and belts where high resistance to tearing is required.

Filling of the spaces between abrasive grains on a coated abrasive with the product you are grinding (i.e. soft woods or metals). This results in a decrease in stock removal and rate of cut. Potential remedies include using an open coat abrasive where the grains are spaced farther apart to allow material particles room to fall back out, selecting an abrasive with a lubricant or stearate additive or top coat, adding a lubricant to your sanding process, incorporating a less aggressive contact wheel or increasing your sander speed.

Silicon Carbide
Synthetic abrasive mineral that is produced in electric furnaces to achieve a high degree of hardness and it's glossy black color. Due to it's brittle characteristics, it fractures into sharp sliver-like wedges having cutting edges that permit rapid stock removal.

~ Recommended for finishing nonferrous metals such as brass, bronze, copper and aluminum as well as other materials such as leather, glass, rubber and plastic. Also used to finish sand on wood and in general on paint, lacquers and sealers.