Category Archives: Tools

Nylon Mesh Sanding Rolls (aka Synthetic Steel Wool)

I want to document this here in my blog for my students.

The Nylon Mesh Sanding Rolls (aka Synthetic Steel Wool, aka Scotch Brite Pads) that I use are:

Carl Ford Course is #4659A16 – Nylon Mesh Cushioned Sanding Roll for Aluminum, Soft Metal & Nonmetal, 15 Feet x 2″, Blending

Carl Ford Medium is #4659A17 – Nylon Mesh Cushioned Sanding Roll for Aluminum, Soft Metal & Nonmetal, 15 Feet x 2″, All Purpose

Carl Ford Fine is #4659A18 – Nylon Mesh Cushioned Sanding Roll for Aluminum, Soft Metal & Nonmetal, 15 Feet x 2″, Clean / Finish

All of the above are “Silicon Carbide” material. Catalog says they are for metal. I use them on wood.

They are all GRAY in color. To tell them apart, I do the following. I cut off a piece from roll. If fine then do nothing. If medium then clip 1/2″ off of ONE corner at 45 degrees. If course then clip 1/2″ off of TWO corners at 45 degrees.

Green and Maroon Stuff

I no longer use the green and maroon stuff that people may have seen me use int he past. They were “Aluminum Oxide” material (rather than Silicon Carbide). I gave up on these because they melt to easy. Hold them up to a piece running fast on the lathe, hit the corner or a sharp edge and it turns green! Ugg!!! No way to get rid of green.

If you want the old green it was #4659A13. I don’t known what the Maroon stuff was. I purchased it a very long time ago.

I Purchase from McMaster-Carr (

Long ago, I gave up on the junk (oh, I mean stuff) from Home Depot, Lowes, etc. The quality varies to much by manufacturer. They are always changing there source. Some times it is good. Often it is junk. McMaster forces it’s suppliers to meet there quality specs or get lost.

I have found that the 2″ wide rolls from are a lot better than the 6″ x 9″ pads from big box stores, etc. I don’t have to spend a lot time cutting the 6×9 pads up into small pieces to avoid wasting a lot of the pad. The stuff is already 2″ wide. Just cut off a 2″ or 3″ long piece and you are ready to go. When it is worn out or dirty you just discard a small piece. In the long run the rolls save money.

Real Steel Wool Sucks

I don’t use real steel wool. It gets caught in wood fiber to easy. Rusts, cuts your fingers off, etc.

Blue Towel

My “Blue Towel” that I use for buffing is a “Surgical Cotton Huck Towel”. You can get them on Amazon.

Beware: I got a big box of blue towels long ago from my father. He got them at an auction. The Amazon ones appear to be the same thing. But, I have never purchased the Amazon ones.

Carl Ford’s Sanding and Buffing in a Nutshell

I ONLY sand to 220 grit. Sand 80, 120, 180, 220 grit. Then I use Carl Ford “Medium” nylon mesh pad. Followed by Carl Ford “Fine” nylon mesh pad. Followed by buffing with “Blue Huck” towel.

I use nylon mesh pads and buffing to replace sanding beyond 220 grit. If you catch the end of a nylon mesh pad, nothing happens! It DOES NOT scratch the work like the edge of 400 grit sandpaper will.

I may hold the nylon mesh pad up to the work while the lathe is running.

Often I cut a 2″ by 2″ square chunk of the nylon mesh pad and use it like a sanding disk with the lathe running. The nylon mesh just sticks to the hook part of any Velcro sanding mandrel you mount in a drill or any interface pad. I like to use a soft interface pad (1/4″ or 3/8″ thick foam pad).

After nylon mesh pads I buff with a blue huck towel. I hold the towel up to rotating work on the lathe. AFTER I have folded up the towel into a square with no corners sticking out that can get caught by the lathe. Yea, its not completely safe. But, not all that dangerous.

Or I use 8″ buffing wheel. The soft cotton “wax” wheel in the Beall Buffing System. Or 2 of #4820A12. I DO NOT use any wax on the wheel for any reason!

My blue towel replaces the old fashion trick of buffing with a handful of wood shavings. In the modern world we sand to much (to far). Buffing with wood shavings is often coarser than a 220 grit sanded surface and thus scratches the surface rather buffing it. My blue towel does not scratch the surface.

Note: I have eliminated 150 sandpaper from my world. I use sand 80, 120, 150, 180, 220 grit. I decided that 150 was a waste of time. To close to 120 and/or 180. I no longer use 150 grit sandpaper. I sand 80, 120, 180, 220 grit.

For more info see my “Great Polyurethane Finishes” blog entry.

Face Shields

Photo: faceshields.jpg

People are always asking me about face shields.

In A Nut Shell

I have found that face shields are HIGHLY PERSONAL. What one person likes, others will hate!

Therefore you should try before you buy. Try at a class, school, club or a friends house.

I have several different models of face shields in my studio. I can never predict in advance what people will like.

What I Like

Photo: msa_defender.jpg

I started out with a simple “MSA Defender +” face shield from a local store. Around $15. I still like this face shield and use it when other people are around. I have several of these in my Studio and most people like them or can live with them.

I primarily like this face shield because it is tough and there is lots of space between the inside of the clear plastic and my face. Thus it does not fog up easily and it does not fog up my glasses.

Unfortunately this face shield is no longer available. It was discontinued. MSA does not make anything similar in a low price range. Photo: hd_faceshield.jpg

If I wanted something similar today I would try the “Heavy Duty Faceshield” #199210 from for $22 on 4/2019. I like that Packard says ” The shield allows room for people who wear glasses”. I hope this means the face shield will not come to close to my face. I also hope it is not to heavy. I DO NOT own one of these and have never seen one up close and personal.

The Sellstrom S32010 on Amazon for $30 on 4/2019 also looks good. I DO NOT own one of these and have never seen one up close and personal.

The Safety Works Faceshield for $17 on 4/2019 on Amazon may be similar to my MSA Defender + face shield. Is it ANSI rated? I DO NOT own one of these and have never seen one up close and personal.

What My Students Like (The Rolls Royce of Face Shields)

Photo: uvex_s9500_s9555.jpg

Several of my students have and really like the “UVEX by Honeywell S9500 Uvex Turboshield Face Shield Headgear with Black Frame” $22 with a “UVEX by Honeywell S9555 Uvex Turboshield Clear Polycarbonate Replacement Visor and Clear Lens with Dual Anti-Scratch/Anti-Fog Lens Coating” $28.

You have to order the headgear and clear lens separately. They snap together.

You can get a cheaper lens with out all of the anti… crap for $13. That is what I would go with. I don’t like anti… crap on my glasses, etc. However, my students say the cheaper lens is not as good. The cheaper lens is a “UVEX by Honeywell S9550 Uvex Turboshield Clear Polycarbonate Replacement Visor and Clear Lens, Uncoated”.

All of the above prices are on 4/2019.

This is not the face shield for me. I like my cheap and dirty ones. I have been wearing glasses for 50+ years. A little dirt is normal and does not bother me. If you like to keep things clean and insist on a really clean face shield then this UVEX face shield may be for you!

What I Don’t Like

Photo: 3m_and_bubble.jpg

Beware! I already told you face shields are HIGHLY PERSONAL. You may like, what I don’t like. I known people who have and like all of the following.

  1. I don’t like the yellow Apprentice Face Shield from Craft Supplies USA. To flimsy. To close to my face.

  2. I don’t like the blue 3M Face Shield from Craft Supplies USA, Amazon, etc. Way to close to my face. I have these in my studio. Only like 1 in 10 people like these. It’s built like a tank on the plus side. But, I still really don’t like it.

  3. I don’t like the Bubble Face Shield from Craft Supplies USA. Fogs up to easy due to closure at bottom of face shield. I need a face shield that has a big open space at the bottom to allow my hot breath out. I have these in my studio. Most people are not thrilled with these but can live with them.

  4. I don’t like any face shield with plastic below the clear part. i.e. near my chin. Chin guards, etc. Like, I already said. I need a face shield that has a big open space at the bottom to allow my hot breath out. Thus I don’t like any of the Uvex Bionic shields.

Powered vs Non Powered Face Shields (Open vs Helmet Face Shields)

All of the above are Non Powered face shields. There is no fan that forces air over your face while wearing the face shield. Thus you have to put up with any heat build up or fogging. Thus the face shields need to be open at the bottom and/or top to allow air circulation. They are good for beginners and/or light duty use.

Face shields that are part of a helmet (hard hat) are generally to much trouble for beginners. But, after a few close calls, experienced turners often favor them. When things come off the lathe, all hell can break loose. Things (wood, etc) can bounce off the ceiling and come down on top of your head, etc.

The helmet systems incorporate a small fan with a rechargeable battery. This often adds way to much to the cost for beginners. The fan forces a stream of air over your face. The air is normally filtered. I am NOT saying “fresh” air. It is just filter air.

Powered Face Shields

Photo: trend_airshield2.jpg

The “Trend Airshield Pro” for $380 on 4/2019 currently is the only game in town for less than $1000. I I DO NOT own one of these. I don’t known what to say about these. Recently, Mark Baker gave it a positive (but not glowing) review in the UK Woodturning magazine.

This style of unit has the batteries and filter up on the helmet rather than down on a belt around your waist. The current model moved the battery and filters to the back (rather than up front) for better balance.

I have (but have not used in a long time) a similar “3M Airlite” with the battery and filter on the helmet up front. I had a love hate relationship with this unit. I always forgot to charge the battery. Even when I had a spare battery. The fan did not blow enough air to satisfy me. I personally like lots (tons) of air! Your mileage may vary! This unit was long ago discounted. The new 3M models start at over $1000.

Note: I don’t known if the new “Trend Airshield Pro” would move enough air for me. I have never really tried it. Photo: triton_faceshield.jpg

Eventually, I replaced the 3M Airlite with a “Triton Powered Respirator”. It was a hard hat style helmet with the battery and fan on a belt around your waste. This one supplied a little more air. But, still not enough. Donning it was a pain. This unit has also been discounted.

Then I decided that all of these battery units were never going to supply enough fresh air to satisfy me. I replace the battery box and fan on the Triton unit with a 20′ long 1.5″ diameter light duty hose that was driven by a 6″ in line duck fan. The fans they use for boosting air flow in AC systems. This worked reasonably well. But, I got tried of that 1.5″ hose. It was hard to coil up and store. If I stepped on it, then I was screwed.

I decided to bite the bullet, when I became a full time Woodturner. I got an Allegro fresh air system. See next section.

What I Really Use

Photo: allegro_9245.jpg

When I work in the studio by myself I use my Allegro fresh air system. It brings in fresh air from outside via a small 3/8″ ID (5/8″ OD) BREATHING air hose. Being restricted by an air line is not for everyone!

I like the fresh air! I wish the air line was a little more flexible. But, it is tough. If I step on it, it’s not the end of the world.

This is the kind of system they use in auto body shops for painting, sand blasting and welding.

I don’t like the Trend Airshield, etc systems. The fans are to wimpy for me. I like lots (tons) of COOL air!

Anything that involves “breathing air” is not cheap. 50 feet of 3/8″ air hose for tools, etc, is like $15. You don’t want to breath thru some cheap plastic air hose that may still be out gasing toxic chemicals, etc. 50 feet of certified 3/8″ breathing are hose starts at $100+. The Allegro 9245 system in photo starts at around $1000. Its a low pressure system.

I actually have over $2000 in my system. I have the bigger A-1500 pump rather than the A-300 pump in photo. I also have a low pressure air cooler that I modified to fit in a chest freezer so I don’t have to supply fresh ice daily. The air that comes out of my big pump is to hot for my liking. I like to have my face bathed with a cool breeze. I have, an external intake hose connected to the pump that bring in fresh air from outside. Plus 100′ of hose, fittings, etc. It all adds up.

I am not interested in USED systems on Ebay, etc. I don’t want to breath thru the same system that someone else has already used. I don’t known if they kept it clean. I don’t know what they were using it for. Toxic chemicals? Fine sand blasting dust? Etc.

If I had to do again I would get the A-750 pump. I got A-1500 pump because I like lots (tons) of air! I decided the A-300 pump would probably be to small for me. The A-1500 pump is to much! It runs hot because it supplies lots of air. I have to vent almost 1/2 of the air at the pump. It costs to much to run. The pump is hard to deal with because it is really heavy.

Some day I may upgrade to the 3M M-107 Versaflo Helmet or the full hard helmet from Allegro rather than the half helmet that I have.

An added bonus of this system is that it works great while sanding or spraying paint. When I finish my work the rattle spray cans, etc of nasty stuff, I don’t breath it and I can’t smell it!

I strongly recommend you try something like a “Trend Airshield Pro” and decide you RALLY can’t live with it. Before you go with one of these EXPENSIVE systems!

Note: Low pressure systems use a little pump like shown in above photo. High pressure systems bleed the air off of a big gas powered air compressor. The kind they use on construction sites to power jack hammers, etc. You can only use a venturi effect air cooler on high pressure systems.

Foam Cole Jaws

Here is my “Craft Foam Projects Bowl Rim” tip that appeared in the “Tips” section on page 15 of the AAW February 2019 “American Woodturner” Journal.

Note: Click here to view PDF with Photos 1, 2, 3 referenced below.

I recently discovered sticky-back craft foam at my local craft store. It is 1/8″ (3mm) thick with a self-adhesive back. I purchased a couple of sheets for future use and have now found a good use for it. I’ve installed it on the face of my jumbo jaws to protect a bowl’s rim when reverse-chucked.

Simply remove the buttons from the jumbo jaws, cut the foam to shape with scissors, stick it on, and reinstall the buttons (Photos 1, 2). You can poke holes through the foam for various button placement as needed. I no longer need to fumble with trying to stick a paper towel between the jaws and my work when I’m concerned about damaging a finished surface (Photo 3).

The foam sticks very well but could be peeled off if necessary. I plan to leave the foam on the jaws indefinitely and replace it when it wears out.

Long ago, I also made my own buttons for my jumbo jaws out of some rubber corks that I purchased at the local hardware store. I drilled a hole through the corks and attached them with longer machine screws (also from the hardware store). I really like this solution. The deep dovetail shape of the corks holds the work securely.

Additional Information

You can purchase the rubber corks with a hole already thru them from item # 9545K116 $8.33 per pack of 25 on 4/4/2019. The matching 30mm long 8mm screws are #92000A438 $8.15 per pack of 25 on 4/4/2019.