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The Evolution of Dry and Wet Sanding as Science-Based Finishing Techniques

Sanding is an ancient process of smoothing surfaces, believed to have originated in 13th century China using mainly crushed seashells as abrasive materials. While seemingly a simple technology, the development of sandpaper involved scientific studies that proved sanding as a technique that is vital to achieving the standards of professionally done wood or metal finishes.

3M for one did not stop at developing sandpaper for dry-sanding surface materials but went on to develop sandpaper for wet sanding. Through scientific study on how sanding can achieve not only smoothness of surface but also enable wood and metal attain a mirror-like glossy finish.

As the wet sanding process became popular among guitar makers and automobile manufacturers, 3M made further improvements. In as early as 1916, 3M produced waterproof, Wet-Dry sandpapers that allow alternate use for dry and wet sanding processes.

Wet sanding as a process also received support from makers of power tools, to which the latest technological innovation are the random orbital sanders. Aside from making dry and wet sanding processes easier to accomplish, random orbital sanders for both dry and wet sanding perfected the science of achieving ultra-smooth finish that further enhanced the glass-like quality produced by clear coating.

Random orbital sanders for both dry and wet sanding also come with wet-dry sanding discs, while having an inlet for water to flow by wa of a plastic tubing. Alternating from dry to wet sanding therefore has never been easier, whilst achieving impeccable smoothness that only a random orbital sander can achieve.

The Science Behind Random Orbital Sanders

While wet and dry sanding can be performed manually or by using a sanding block, a random orbital sander works scientifically by avoiding repetitive rubbing of abrasive materials on deep scratches and hardened paint materials. This power tool will instead change the direction of its circular sanding motion and work around the affected area to avoid deepening the scratch or to prevent the hardened paint particle from creating additional scratches.

Wet sanding after dry sanding creates an even smoother finish because the after a thick coating of sealant and paint, wet sanding can further remove blemishes and other imperfections without damaging the paint coating itself. That way the clear coat used as protection against UV rays will be applied on a super smooth surface, which will come out satiny-looking, whilst achieving a glass-like effect.

At the Bob Smith Tools website, readers will find a comprehensive review of different brands of random orbital sanders specifically designed for wet and dry sanding; along with related information about compatible wet and dry sanding discs.