Special sandpapers for luthiers

Our tech experts show how different specialty sandpapers and abrasives can be used in lutherie.


Here's how we use these unusual abrasives
in our own instrument shops

Mandolin building
Don MacRostie
StewMac Tool Designer and maker of Red Diamond mandolins

"My sanding paddle has Stikit™ sandpaper on both ends. It's a fast way to remove glue squeeze-out and high spots after gluing binding. I cut it from a piece of 3/8" plywood."
Sanding paddle

Stikit Gold Paper Self-adhesive Abrasives
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Stikit™ Gold Self-adhesive Paper
Cuts cleanly like a file and lasts longer than regular sandpaper. The sharp aluminum oxide grit is much slower to load up with dust, too. This is the paper we prefer in our own shops. Learn more

Build coats on guitar finishes
Todd Sams
StewMac Production Manager and builder of Sams guitars

"After spraying the build coats on my guitar finishes, I sand with 320 grit Fre-Cut™, then spray and sand again. Then I move on to 400, 600, and 800 grit. Don't skip grits! Using all the grits makes the work easier for each sheet, and they last a lot longer."

3M Gold Fre-Cut Sandpaper
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Gold Fre-Cut™ Paper
Non-clogging and extra long-lasting. Most important: unlike regular papers Fre-Cut™ is specially treated, so it doesn't add to finishing problems such as orange peel and fisheyes. Learn more

Polishing pearl and bone nuts
Don MacRostie
StewMac Tool Designer and maker of Red Diamond mandolins

"Here's why these papers are the only way I polish pearl and bone anymore: the old way meant using liquid compound that left a black residue rubbed into the pores of the bone. With Polishing Papers the job is clean and dry, so the bone or pearl stays bright."

3M Flexible Polishing Papers
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Polishing Papers
Strong micro-grit papers so flexible you can use them like cloth, wet or dry. They conform to any shape, so they're great for polishing contoured guitar finishes, frets, plastic pickguards, pearl inlays and more. Learn more

Finish repair with Micro Finishing Paper
Dan Erlewine
Repairman, author, instructor and StewMac Tool Designer

"I'll strip-sand a drop-fill finish repair by pulling ribbons of Micro Finishing Paper over the spot using fingertip pressure. I'll start with 600 grit Fre-Cut™ Gold, then run through all the Micro Paper grits. After that, I'll buff it out using Micro-Mesh™ Soft Touch Pads."

Micro Finishing Papers
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Micro Finishing Papers
Wet-sanding papers with precisely uniform micro-grit abrasives for scratch-free finishes. No oversize grit particles means no scratching. Perfect for modern polyester finishes and traditional lacquer. Learn more

Buff out guitar finish repairs
Dan Erlewine
Repairman, author, instructor and StewMac Tool Designer

"These little Micro-Mesh pads wrap around any shape, so I use them to buff out finish repairs on pegheads. They bend to follow all the curves in the peghead. They're really good for polishing bone nuts, too."

Micro-Mesh Soft Touch Finishing Pads
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Micro-Mesh™ Soft Touch Pads
These fingertip-size foam pads have remarkable Micro-Mesh™ abrasives on both sides. The cushioning allows gentle polishing of finished surfaces to create a mirror gloss. Learn more

Getting into tight grooves with abrasive cord
Erick Coleman
Repairman and StewMac Customer Support Expert

"This cord is the last step in finishing a string slot. It gets rid of chatter marks from files, and leaves the slot glassy smooth. For refinishing, I use it for getting the old finish out of tight spots like the groove in the top of a Gibson peghead, too."

Mitchell Abrasive Cord
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Mitchell Abrasive Cord
Guitar floss! For smoothing string slots to keep strings from binding in bone, plastic or metal. Also great for polishing in tight spots. Available in four thicknesses. Learn more

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