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Thread: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

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    Member The Lizard Wife's Avatar
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    Default How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    (I apologize if this is a duplicate, because I'm sure it must be, but I just never have any luck trying to search or google the forum.)

    I recently purchased some wooden hair sticks that are of pretty nice quality (very smooth, finished, no cracks or splinters), but because they were pretty cheap the points on most of the hair sticks are not as professionally done as I'd like. Not all of them are completely rounded smooth into either a blunt rounded end or a pointy rounded end. It's more like they're squared off or even chiseled? There are edges, which are not exactly sharp--they are somewhat rounded edges--but there's still edges that catch on hair because it's not perfectly rounded and smooth and aerodynamic like my expensive sticks.

    As someone who doesn't know how basic things work and hates learning by mistakes...can anyone advise how I should go about sanding the points down by hand without accidentally ruining the sticks? I hear there are different kinds of sandpaper and that wood has a grain, which I understand the concept of but not as it pertains to my hair sticks, so maybe I'm only supposed to rub a certain kind sandpaper in a very certain kind of motion? Whatever those might be? That's the kind of seemingly-obvious really basic stuff I'm looking to learn.

    Thanks!

    "A green glass-tipped hairpin dropped onto her shoulder and then the floor. Drat. She had never been good at putting up her own hair." Provenance, Ann Leckie

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    Learn more. Know less. foreveryours's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    I would suggest setting aside a stick (maybe even a chopstick!) just for practice, and if you ruin it sharpening one end, learn from that experience. You can cut off your mistake giving a new end to reshape and sharpen. A single stick will provide a lot of ends for practice.

    Wood has a grain. If you look at a piece of bare wood, you'll see 'stripes" which come from the annual rings of the tree as it grows - that's the grain. If your's are typical hairsticks, most likely the grain is along the principal axis (iow parallel to the length). You want to sand the wood parallel to the grain. Sanding wood across it will tear it up, leaving a very rough finish.

    Before buying sandpaper, you might first try something you probably already have: an emory board (nails).

    The emory board has a coarse side and a fine side. The coarse side will remove material more quickly but will leave a scratchy finish. It's best used for rough initial shaping. The fine side will remove much less material per stroke but leave a finer less scratchy finish.

    If your final finish is too scratchy, either still catching hair or looking too rough for your eyes, you might try coating your work with some clear nail polish for a glass-smooth finish. Oil, wax or lacquer are other possiblities.

    For sandpaper, you don't need wet/dry paper (used for autobody repair and knife sharpening) nor emory paper. Just plain ordinary common sandpaper for wood probably no coarser than 100 grit nor finer than 800 grit.

    HTH

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    Last edited by foreveryours; January 23rd, 2022 at 03:37 PM.
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    Member sapphire-o's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    If you have a nail buffing block those are great for fixing hairsticks. Use the rough side to sand down to a pointy shape, going along the grains, then use the buffing and polishing side to smooth the surface and make the tip more rounded. I'm very picky about hairstick tips, too and do these to many hairtoys I received, even those by famous makers. Be gentle and sand a little bit at a time and it shouldn't get ruined.

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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    Same here. My little parrot has bitten the ends off of two of my sticks (While I was wearing them! I wasn't paying enough attention) and I fixed them easily with an emery board and some clear nail polish. One was a blue MapleBurl, and we had a little bit of blue hobby paint that we used on it. It's a little shorter now, but otherwise you can't tell the difference.

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    Long tea-time for hair neko_kawaii's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    If you go with sandpaper, start with smaller numbers and work your way up.

    An emery board is equivalent to 180 grit on the rough side and 240 grit on the fine side and will work just fine as others have suggested. If the wood is not smooth enough for you after using the fine side, try burnishing it with the back of a spoon.


    Quote Originally Posted by foreveryours View Post
    Wood has a grain. If you look at a piece of bare wood, you'll see 'stripes" which come from the annual rings of the tree as it grows - that's the grain. If your's are typical hairsticks, most likely the grain is along the principal axis (iow parallel to the length). You want to sand the wood parallel to the grain. Sanding wood across it will tear it up, leaving a very rough finish.
    In my experience, this is only true of extremely soft woods like pine. Pine makes lousy hair sticks, and I'd be very surprised if even cheap sticks were made from pine, it is simply too likely to break during the production process.

    58.5 in, 2a, F, ii (3 in)
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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    Quote Originally Posted by neko_kawaii View Post
    If you go with sandpaper, start with smaller numbers and work your way up.

    An emery board is equivalent to 180 grit on the rough side and 240 grit on the fine side and will work just fine as others have suggested. If the wood is not smooth enough for you after using the fine side, try burnishing it with the back of a spoon.




    In my experience, this is only true of extremely soft woods like pine. Pine makes lousy hair sticks, and I'd be very surprised if even cheap sticks were made from pine, it is simply too likely to break during the production process.
    Pine would be plenty strong for a hairstick as long as its "contour" aligned with the wood's natural grain. Cedar is actually used in pencils, is a soft wood (you can dent it with your fingernail), and is plenty strong for a hair stick. Here's some stripes in Brazilian walnut


    https://www.wood-database.com/ipe/
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    Long tea-time for hair neko_kawaii's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    Quote Originally Posted by foreveryours View Post
    Pine would be plenty strong for a hairstick as long as its "contour" aligned with the wood's natural grain. Cedar is actually used in pencils, is a soft wood (you can dent it with your fingernail), and is plenty strong for a hair stick.
    https://www.wood-database.com/ipe/
    Denting easily isn't that desirable in a hair stick. I don't bother with any of the softwoods because of that, plus finding a piece with perfectly straight grain can be challenging and turning blanks which are selected for those qualities are much more expensive. I had a random piece of cedar once, made something like four hair sticks from it, only one didn't break.

    Certainly, for any wood you want the grain to run the length of the hair stick or it will sheer off along the grain. Knots and burls while pretty become a major problem for anything longer than a decorative end.

    58.5 in, 2a, F, ii (3 in)
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    Member enting's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    It sounds like you've got good advice.
    I'm a total beginner with wood, having only smoothed some disposable chopsticks to my liking. I used an emory board, 1000 grit sandpaper that I had lying around, and a nail buffer to get the shape and finish I wanted. I admit to having held the tip with 1000 grit and rotated the stick to smooth the point, though it sounds like maybe I shouldn't have since that was across the grain?

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    Long tea-time for hair neko_kawaii's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    Quote Originally Posted by enting View Post
    It sounds like you've got good advice.
    I'm a total beginner with wood, having only smoothed some disposable chopsticks to my liking. I used an emory board, 1000 grit sandpaper that I had lying around, and a nail buffer to get the shape and finish I wanted. I admit to having held the tip with 1000 grit and rotated the stick to smooth the point, though it sounds like maybe I shouldn't have since that was across the grain?
    1000 grit will NOT leave scratches regardless of which direction you sand. The grit is too fine. The technique you used is quite effective.

    Here is an article that explains how to sand: https://www.wood-database.com/wood-a...to-avoid-them/

    All sandpaper leaves scratches, that is it's function. You start with a course grit and each time you move to a finer grit you remove the scratches left by the last grit but replace them with smaller scratches. An emery board which is 180 grit on the rough side is not going to leave the deep gouges of 60 or 80 grit. Using 240 grit on the fine side of the emery board then smooths out the small scratches left by the 180 grit. General advice for a smooth finish is to sand wood to 320 or 400. The 240 on the smooth side of the emery board falls a little short of that and will not create a reflectively smooth finish, but it will be smooth enough to use as a hair stick.

    58.5 in, 2a, F, ii (3 in)
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    Mod hat off. Mod hat on. Don't make me wear the mod hat, it messes up my hair. *grin*

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    Default Re: How to sand down a point on a wooden hair stick?

    I had a long pair of bamboo cooking chopsticks that I sawed into thirds.

    I did the same as the others with nail files and buffing blocks. I've used those for woodworking projects before, so they were clean, and very, very fine from wear. I didn't pay attention to the grain direction until the end. After that, I went with the grain to make sure it was smooth and that the entire length of the stick was uniform. I polished them up with plain paper after all that, and rubbed them with a bit of solid, colorless wood conditioner until they were smooth and non-sticky. This was also to run my fingers over them so I could feel any imperfections in the finish. I was especially careful with mine because I know bamboo splinters.

    By the way, I found that this method also works to smooth out feline puncture marks.

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