Review: Mirka sanding block

Mirka makes the best sand paper I’ve used so far – the Abranet. A mesh-type paper that has excellent dust removal properties. And they also has made this sanding block – with built-in dust collection! Let’s review it!

As a hybrid woodworker – that means that I use both hand tools and power tools – I do have an excellent dust collector. When I use my hand planes, card scrapers, cabinet scraper and so on, dust creation is minimal. Even when I use a file, the dust settles down on the bench, where I can sweep it on the floor and then into the floor dust port I made.

But until now, sanding has been a nightmare. Not when I use my random orbit sander or belt sander, but when I use elbow grease. Sanding by hand. Whenever I have done that, rest assured that I have wood-colored boogers to contend with afterwards…

I have used several different brands of sand paper. The absolute worst are the cheap, often yellow paper where the grit breaks off in flakes when you bend it – a horrible and useless product that should’ve never been made. What good is a cheap price tag if you end up using a ton of it to get the job done? I have tried regular sand paper from Mirka before, and that is a completely different experience. But when I tried Abranet for the first time, it was a eureka moment! The biggest problem with sand paper is when it is clogging up on you. When that happens with Abranet, just slap it about and it clears right up.

The Finnish company Mirka Ltd is a world leader in surface finishing technology. Mirka offers a wide range of solutions for surface finishing and precision sanding. They specialize in total solutions in which the abrasives are supplemented by their own machines and polishing compounds.

The biggest problem, regardless of sand paper type or brand, is the dust created by sanding. It gets everywhere! I have considered making a downdraft table, but that is only good for smaller stuff and it is costly if I want something that actually works. Takes up a lot of space too. Then, one glorious day, I noticed the Mirka sanding block – and why does it come with a hose? Could it…. YES! Built-in dust collection!!!

Not soon after the initial attack of the “I need this tool” virus hit me, a box arrived. Apart from the Abranet packages (I ordered those at the same time), this is what’s inside:

A 20mm hose, 4 meters long (about 13 feet), the sanding block (this one is 70x198mm, or 23/4 x 713/16”), a thick, soft “padsaver” that protects the velcro pad on the block (easier to swap the padsaver than replace the velcro), two sheets of sand paper and a hose adaptor (there is also a 27mm hose available).

The other end of the hose has a conical adapter that fits any dust ports on shop vac’s or similar. It fits neatly into the central vacuum system dust ports I have in my dust collection duct system (that was a mouthful of a sentence, whoa!). Good design choice!

The sanding block has a small cuff you can rotate to let false air in, so that you can adjust the suction. I personally don’t see why, really. I am applying 2000W of vacuum power, and the sanding block does not stick to the surface – which my random orbital sander is prone to do at times… But I guess there are applications where it comes in handy. I find that the placement is just right so that I accidentally opens it from time to time, but it has not affected the dust collection effectiveness as far as I know.

The sanding block is very nice to use – the soft-ish rubber grip is comfortable to hold, and I have good control over the sanding action. The hose stays out of the way, although I have found that it is a good idea to wrap it one turn around my arm to keep it from snagging the edge of my work bench. Some sort of gizmo to hang the hose down from the ceiling would be neat – perhaps a project for another time?

The low profile gives great control, and this is absolutely the best sanding block I have ever experienced! Comfortable to hold, NO DUST and a nice grip that does not fatigue my hand.

The sand paper is fastened with velcro. Without the soft pad it is firm enough to do some detail sanding – for example, rounding the edges a bit on the dovetails here:

And that is pretty much all there is to say about it. A simple tool, no bells or whistles – it just does what it is intended for. And does it WELL!

Final verdict

The Mirka Abranet sand paper is the best sand paper I have ever used. It last a LONG time and it does not clog up easily. If it does, just slap it about on the corner of the bench, and it clears right up. Even after extensive use it still retains the “bite” quite well, though the effectiveness naturally goes down.

The long lasting properties offset the cost – Abranet is not the cheapest sand paper, not by a long shot – but since it lasts so long compared to many other brands I have used, it ends up being one of the cheapest options.

EARL!!! EEEAAAAARLL! That crazy Norwegian is in the shop again, sanding away! Go talk to him!

As for the sanding block: I am in love! Gone are the days of standing in a cloud of fine dust while doing detail sanding. The ergonomic grip reduces fatigue and increases control. To my mind, this thing belongs in every woodworking shop alongside power sanders! There are lots of times where a power sander is not the answer, because we loose fine control. It’s just like using the shooting board – it is that single, last shaving that gets us to 100%. One shaving too many, and we are past the marks. This is true for sanding too – you need that fine control that only hand sanding can give.

The final sanding of a panel or a table top should be done along the grain to avoid any “sanding roses”, so hand sanding is the best option (remember, I am looking at this from a hobbyist perspective). It is usually a fast task, too – if we glue sand paper to a long board, we can cover quite a lot of real-estate in a short amount of time. Mirka makes different sanding blocks, including some really long ones.

Even the cabinet scraper needs a helping hand at times, and sand paper is probably the only real choice.

I rate the Mirka Abranet sand paper and sanding block a solid 5/5. I cannot find anything I would want done differently. The paper lasts for a long time, which makes it cost-effective. The sanding block is very nice to use and gives great control while sanding. I highly recommend these products for any woodworking shop!

I find it amusing that a Finnish company is one of – if not the – leading companies in surface finish product. Niin hyvä!

This is an independent review. I bought the items with my own money, and I am not sponsored in any way, shape or form.

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