6 tips to make you love sanding
(or at least hate it less)

There’s plenty to love about building your own projects, but there’s one part of the process almost nobody likes: sanding. Sanding is tedious and it makes one heck of a mess. But sanding is also a necessary part of building wood projects. We may not be able to make it less tiresome, but we can make it a lot easier by helping you minimize the mess. Here are six ideas to keep sanding dust under control.

1. Maximize your sander’s collecting capability

One of the best ways to minimize the sanding mess is to capture the dust right at your sander. Sanders all come with some sort of built-in dust collection. On inexpensive models, it may just be a plastic canister that needs to be emptied regularly.  Higher-end sanders often have a canister with a built-in filter, or they use a cloth bag that lets air through while still stopping dust. Over time the filter or fabric becomes clogged with dust.

To keep them operating effectively, blow out the filter or fabric with compressed air after you empty the dust. You’ll be surprised by how much trapped dust comes out. Plus, you’ll get a good boost in dust collection efficiency. If you don’t have an air compressor, stick the port end of the canister into a shop vacuum hose, turn on the vacuum, and then tap the canister repeatedly.

2. Connect your sander to a shop vacuum

An even better solution is to connect your shop vacuum hose to your sander in place of the dust canister. But most vac hoses are bulky, and they rarely fit well on the sander’s port.

A great option is to get a hose and adapter kit. Available from woodworking specialty retailers like Rockler.com, these kits come with a smaller-diameter hose and several flexible tips so you’re almost sure to be able to fit one to your sander. Plus, you might be able to attach the hose to other tools, such as a circular saw, to minimize the mess they make, too.

3. Power up your vac automatically

Connecting your sander to a shop vacuum works great—as long as you remember to turn the vacuum on. To make sure you never forget, pick up a tool activated outlet for around $40. It automatically turns on your shop vac anytime your sander is operating.

Just plug your sander into one socket, and your vacuum into the other. Then leave the vacuum power switch on. Every time you turn on your sander, the vacuum will turn on, too. When you shut the sander off, the vacuum will run for a few seconds to pull in the dust, and then shut down.

4. Upgrade your shop vacuum —

FREE Plan!

Make your shop vacuum easier to move with this handy vacuum cart. It’s sized to hold a 16-gallon shop vacuum, and it offers lots of additional storage space.

You can build one easily using a couple of 1×3 boards, a half-sheet of plywood, and this FREE project plan.

5. Make a benchtop dust pickup —

FREE Plan!

Sometimes, you need to sand by hand, or you may have a power sander that doesn’t have dust collection built in. For those times, make yourself this handy dust pickup.

Just clamp it in place on your work surface—or hold it in place with bench dogs if your work center has them—and then connect your vacuum hose. As you work, dust will get sucked in to keep it under control.

You can build this dust pickup from a few scrap pieces of lumber, a piece of hardboard or plywood, and a Kreg® Pocket-Hole Jig. Just follow the simple steps in our FREE project plan.

6. Clear the air with a DIY air filter —

FREE Plan!

No matter how hard you work to keep sanding dust under control, you’ll have dust floating around in your work space. You can help clear the air by building a simple DIY air filter.

It’s made with an inexpensive box fan, and it has a furnace filter that’s held in place behind the fan with a simple wood frame. This one even has casters to make it easy to move around.

You can build yourself an air filter for about $50, including the fan and filter. It goes together easily using a Kreg® Pocket-Hole Jig and our FREE project plan.

You can make your air filter work even harder for you by using a simple light timer. When you’re done working, just plug the fan into the timer and set it to shut off in an hour or two, so it can catch the dust that would settle after you walk away.