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Favorite Drywall Tools & Accessories - Continued

Sanding Tools

Sanding is an unpleasant but important part of a quality taping job. A number of tools make the task go a little faster, but keep in mind that a quality hanging and taping job greatly reduces the amount of sanding necessary. Sanding may not be fun, but it sure is good exercise.

Pole sander. I use a pole sander on most areas that require sanding. The pole sander has a rectangular or triangular pivoting head and a 4-foot handle that gives you plenty of reach and leverage. Heads are available for hand use, too. I like Warner’s triangle-shaped hand sander for touch-ups. I can point it right into a corner or glide it along an inside edge without marking up the adjacent side.

The abrasives used on pole and hand sanders are available in a variety of grits. The best choice for finish sanding is 150 grit. You can use a sanding screen or sandpaper, but I prefer the screen because it doesn't plug up with dust. And when the abrasive gets worn, you can flip the screen over to expose a fresh surface (Figure 14). However, as far as I know, pre-cut sanding screens aren't available for the triangular sanding pad yet.

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A sanding screen or 150-grit sandpaper is the best choice for finish sanding (top). Screens can be flipped over when the abrasive is worn. The author uses a variety of pole-mounted and hand-held sanders (above). Triangular sanding heads are particularly useful in corners.The dry sanding sponge (from Warner Tool or Trim-Tex) is made of a dense, flexible material that is covered with grit. Sizes vary from 3x4 inches to 4x8 inches. Sponges are available in different grits; some have beveled edges for getting into tight corners. A fine-grit sanding sponge is great for small touch-ups after you've treated the field with a pole or hand sander.

Dust Control

The dust-free sanding tools that I have tried work quite well. Sand&Kleen makes a sanding attachment for a shop vacuum that draws the dust into a water reservoir (Figure 15). The kit costs about $40 and includes the reservoir bucket, 20 feet of hose, and a hand sander (available from Amerashop). I use a Wilco dust-free pole sander — with a sealed pivoting head, an extendable handle, and a vacuum hose — that costs about $250. Some sanders have an oscillating sanding head, others are manual, but all involve a vacuum and hose to draw the dust directly from the sanding head into a filter.

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Figure 15. This dustless attachment (top) for a shop vacuum captures nearly all of the sanding dust in a water filter (above). A temporary dust curtain is useful on remodeling sites. A certain amount of touch-up sanding will always be necessary, so you’ll have to take other precautions when there’s a strict emphasis on dust control. To seal off the work area, I use plastic sheeting and Curtain Wall’s adjustable aluminum poles and clamps to put up an effective temporary dust barrier.

Dust mask. Speaking of dust, to prevent joint compound from reconstituting inside your nose, don't forget to use a disposable mask with a good seal that's approved for protection against nontoxic dust and mist.