For years I used adhesive-backed sandpaper on a plywood or cork block. I eventually realized that the expense of the sticky-back sandpaper caused me to use each piece well past its prime. A few months ago, out of curiosity, I grabbed a set of Diablo SandNET hand sanding sheets and a sanding block. The kit included a sanding pad and a few 80-, 120-, and 220-grit sanding sheets.
The SandNET sheets, made of abrasive mesh, remain clear much longer than traditional sandpaper, and in turn last far longer. Since the mesh keeps from clogging, I was able to use one 120-grit piece of mesh far longer than I expected—right up until the adhesive on the grit eventually broke down. I would love to see the SandNET paper made in 180-grit. The jump from 120-grit to 220 is too drastic for my tastes.
The sanding pad is made of two densities of foam with hook-and-loop on both sides. One side is more dense, with just enough give to it for 98% of my sanding tasks. It feels very similar to sanding with a cork block. If you find yourself sanding contoured pieces, such as cove molding, the other side is much softer, letting it shape to a piece.
—Ben Strano is the editor of FineWoodworking.com.