This month’s tip involves the use of Emery paper. A very good product it is too as it can save you time and money over other techniques! I saw this idea when visiting Hokitika recently and appreciated its genius, and simplicity. Why hadn’t I thought of it myself? Don’t answer that!
Emery paper is a very tough cloth-backed “sandpaper” and comes in long rolls or sheets. Apart from normal use, it is designed to be used on belt sanding machines, so has a direction arrow on the backing, but for hand sanding that isn’t a concern.
I bought it in four grades – 60, 120, 240 and 600 grit. You can also buy it in much finer grades but they are of diminishing use to us. It is a perfect product to use to open up or smooth the edges of holes from around 10 mm diameter in a piece of work which would otherwise be tricky to clean up, a concave embayment in your design, or edges in general. You can also make a round hole oval if want. All you need is clearance to be able to draw the paper across the face.
As you can see from the picture below, you can tear off thin strips in whatever length you want and use them to sand down your work.
Below is a piece I’ve recently been working on. I gripped it loosely in the aluminium-lined jaws of my engineers vice, held each end of the paper and pulled it backwards and forwards across the work until the grit was worn off. The centre section of the Emery will usually wear our first so after that you can use the less worn sections at each end.
The paper becomes clogged with rock flour after a short time, so you can use a file card or even a stiff hand brush to clean it to extend the life of the paper. I guess rinsing it under a tap could also help but I haven’t tried that yet.
Because of the downward pressure you exert on the work you will produce a slightly convex surface, and bevel the sharp edges as well, which can be an advantage.
I tried two methods of cleaning up the edges of similar pieces of work from the 120 to 600 grit stages. On the first I used 100 and 220 diamond files, followed by 240 and then 600 grinding sticks. On the second piece I used the 100 and 220 diamond files, followed by 240 and then 600 Emery paper. In both cases I also used 600 grit Wet & Dry paper to clean up small areas where tool marks stubbornly refused to wear away. If stone can be stubborn?!
I found the second method was quicker, and cheaper on materials as well.
So I hope you’ll give this technique a try – it’s well worth the small investment, and can be an effective way to get some “grunt” on a rough edge which is hard to otherwise reach.
On this page I intend to add monthly updates on aspects of jade carving. I also plan to invite more experienced carvers to offer a "master-class" on a particular subject of their choice. With this I hope to enthuse both the novice and the expert in this ancient and beautiful art-form/craft. And comments are welcome!