I believe the folks at 3M are pretty darn ingenious. From their sticky pads that came about because of a glue ‘mistake’, to their invisible tape for wrapping presents, to their line of Micron sandpapers, to these little radial bristle discs, and TONS more. I’m definitely a fan of 3M products!
For this segment of Talkin’ Tools, I thought I would discuss my affection for using these discs in my metalwork. Lexi introduced them to me and she likes to refer to them as ‘spiders‘ because of their appearance.
Initially I had a small subset of 3 different grits. Yes, just like sandpaper, these gems come in different types (grits) for the work to be done. 3M has color coded them according to their grit, which is very convenient. I like to keep a cheat sheet on my peg board to reference which size grit I need, but after a while, you get used to the color coding and I don’t refer to the cheat sheet as much. I find I just use some more than I do others; I gravitate toward the ones that achieve the affect I want in my metalwork.
Sometimes I find buying a kit makes a lot of sense. It gives me a chance to see what is in a given product line and helps me to find which ones I tend to use the most. Otto Frei offers this particular kit (pictured above). Of course, once I have narrowed it down to the ones I frequently use, I routinely order those to have a stock pile on hand.
I consider these the speed version of sanding by hand. Let’s face it, there are times I need to economize my time and these beauties will cut to the chase for any given metalworking task. They can do things in seconds that will take several minutes or longer if I hand sand the metal.
They attach to a mandrel and are used with my Foredom flex shaft. Generally I use a minimum of 3 of the same grit on the mandrel (see the picture below), but you can go up to 6. The white ones (not included in this kit) are my favorite.
In this picture I’m showing the size difference between the two types I use. The white one pictured is 1″ in diameter, while the yellow one is 3/4″ in diameter. They are great for getting into small places that can be hard to reach with sandpaper. I don’t try to achieve a high polish with these, I just take them up in size to the smallest micron level depending on the finish I want. The white one gives a nice texture, tooth to the metal finish that will take oxidation well. There are times when I just like the texture the white one leaves on the metal surface and consider that as the finish for a piece. I find them to be very versatile in helping to achieve different finishes. It’s fun to experiment with them.
As with any work involving power tools, wear your safety glasses when you use these. The little ‘fingers’ or ‘spider legs‘ do come flying off and I have had them hit me in the face, thus the importance of wearing your safety glasses.
They are a great thing to have in your tool box and I use them frequently as I’m finishing my pieces. Oh I still do a lot of hand finishing, but when I need to make quick work of taking off a bit of a solder blob ….well, they are just plain handy. Definitely a plus for my time management in the studio.
Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.