Sanding is not my favorite part of what I do, but it's got to be done. In many cases I opt to use my flex shaft for most of the work. Maybe I'm just not great with the thing, but I can always tell the difference between flex shaft sanding and hand sanding, so I always follow up by hand. One of the many useful tricks I learned from my college jewelry professor (Thanks to Kris Patzlaff!) was to make my own sanding sticks. They really speed up the process and have saved me a lot of hand ache I'm sure! There are many sanding sticks and sponges available on the market but who has time to order a sanding stick when they're in the thick of it? Not me, besides, it's nice to reuse some items that I usually have in the studio anyway.
What you need:
Sand paper (320, 400, 600, 1500)
Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, dowels of various sizes, yard stick, wooden sculpture tools, etc
Sharpie or other writing implement
Step One: Cut (or rip) the sandpaper to size.
Cut the sandpaper a bit shorter than the length of the chosen stick.
Step Two: Attach the paper to the Stick
Fold the sand paper over the stick and tape along the entire edge.
Tightly wrap the sandpaper around the stick. About 6 inches of sand paper should be plenty.
Wrap tape around the outer edges to secure the sandpaper.
Step Four: Label the sticks and sand away
Using a Sharpie label the sticks with the grit so you know what you're working with.
The best part about these sticks it that as the paper begins to wear down one just rips a bit away to reveal
Here's a look at some dowels. Great for sanding inside rings and long enough to have two grits on each stick.
Get creative! If you'd like a larger stick, a yard stick is perfect. Just cut it into 1 foot lengths and wrap as above. If you're looking for something with a sharp edge, wooden sculpture tools work great, although the wrapping is a bit more difficult.