Recommended Sanding Equipment Resource PageSanding a wood bowl is essential to complete and prepare for a bowl’s finish. Honestly, I really don’t like sanding that much. Using the right sanding equipment makes the job much easier.

The last thing I want to be doing is spend all day sanding a bowl. I’d much rather be turning on the lathe.

I’ve managed to develop a sanding process that works well at achieving a good looking smooth finish in a relatively short time span. If you’d like to learn more about how I use my bowl sanding equipment and finish techniques, click here.

Here is my list of recommended sanding equipment along with Amazon links to each item.

Electric Sander

At the core of the bowl sanding process is an electric power sander. I use an angled electric drill with variable speed control to get the best sanding results and bowl accessibility. This no-frills, variable speed, affordable drill does the job of sanding very well. The electric bushings last longer if you blow out the vent holes frequently on the sides of the drill. I use my as a dedicated sander at the lathe and I do not use it for any other tasks.

3/8″ Close Quarter, Angled Variable Speed Drill


Foam Sanding Pad Mandrel

The foam padded and velcro surfaced sanding mandrel is needed to attached sanding disks to the electric angled drill listed above. I have both sizes. The 3-inch pad gets used the most for me.

2-inch Foam Hook and Loop Sanding Pad with 1/4″ Shank Drill Attachment

3-inch Foam Hook and Loop Sanding Pad with 1/4″ Shank Drill Attachment

An additional foam soft interface pad can be added between the sanding mandrel and the sanding disk. This pad aids in making a smooth final sanded surface and prevents excessive pressure from removing material in any one spot. When working on a specific area this extra padding reduces the likelihood of a valley being formed accidentally.


Kinetic Powered Manual Sander

I know a few bowl turners that use this kinetically powered manual sander and swear by it. I’ve tried theirs and it works surprisingly well.

What happens is this sander uses the power of the bowl turning on the lathe to rotate the sanding disk. No electricity needed. You just hold the edge of the sander up to the bowl and it begins spinning and sanding. It’s pretty ingenious.

It does take a little time to get the angles right. At first, it seems like it’s not going to work but once you discover the correct angle to hold the sanding disk, it kicks in and goes to town. I’ve seen a few negative reviews online for this sander. My guess is they didn’t take the time to figure out how it works.

Kinetic Hand Sanding Tool with Velcro Sanding Pad


Sanding Disks

As I explained in my bowl sanding tools and finishing techniques post, I use two different types of sanding disks for different purposes. The economical paper sanding disks and the higher quality mesh sanding pads each serve different roles. I use both of these types of sanding pads throughout the bowl sanding process.

Paper Sanding Disks
Two-Inch Sandpaper DisksThree-Inch Sandpaper Disks
80 Grit80 Grit
120 Grit120 Grit
180 Grit180 Grit
220 Grit220 Grit
320 Grit320 Grit
400 Grit400 Grit
600 Grit600 Grit
 Mesh Sanding Disks
Three-Inch Mesh Sanding Disks
80 Grit
120 Grit
180 Grit
220 Grit
320 Grit
400 Grit
600 Grit

Standard Sand Paper

Traditional sandpaper can be used to hand sand wood bowls both with the lathe running and when stopped. Be careful not to tightly grip the sand paper when the lathe is rotating. It’s best to touch the paper to the bottom area of the bowl when the lathe is spinning.


Steel Wool

As a last fine “sanding”, it’s really more of a slight abrasive smoothing, I use 0000 Steel Wool to make a nice surface to apply a final finishing coat or to buff out My Favorite Wood Finish. When I’m using my favorite oil wood finish, and the oil has dried for about 24 hours, I use the 0000 steel wool to buff a light sheen on the finished bowl.

When I apply a lacquer finish, I will spray three or four coats and let them dry. Once the lacquer is dry to the touch, I will hand-smooth the surface with 0000 Steel Wool and apply a final coat of lacquer.

A word of caution about steel wool. If your final finish is a water-based clear product like a poly-varnish, be sure to remove all traces of steel wool residue beforehand. The steel will react to the moisture and create rust stains under the finish if it’s not completely cleaned off first. Rusting is not a factor for oil-based finished.

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