Super Simple Sanding Center

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This article is from Issue 84 of Woodcraft Magazine.

These two storage units will keep you organized for hand and power sanding.

A few months ago, I took on a project that called for built-in cabinetry and custom trim details as part of a major home renovation. Early on, it became clear that my partner and I needed a better way to keep our sanding supplies organized—so we could spend time getting our work finished instead of rooting around in a drawer stuffed with sheets, discs, and sanding blocks. Borrowing freely from other sanding storage projects I had seen, I came up with a couple of compact cases. Filled with slide-out shelves, this sanding center makes it easy to find exactly what’s needed to sand by hand or with our random orbit sander. The cases are sized to accommodate a full range of grits, which is important. The sheet storage unit has a bottom shelf that I use for sanding blocks and sticks. On the disc storage case, this bottom shelf holds a random orbit sander. The nice thing about this design is that it’s easy to build. By cutting all your dadoes in a single larger panel, you can save time and ensure perfect alignment of your dadoes when each case is assembled. 

Designed for sheets and discs

The sandpaper case is sized to hold full-size (9 × 11") sheets. The disc case will hold 5"-dia. discs (two stacks of discs on each pull-out shelf) and most 5" random-orbit sanders. You may need to widen this case if you’ve got a larger sander. Case sides are identical for both units, but other parts will have different dimensions*.

Order of Work

  • Cut the dado panel to size: 1⁄2 × 143⁄4 × 48"
  • Cut all 1⁄4"-wide dadoes, then cut the panel into 4 identical sides: 1⁄2 × 113⁄4 × 143⁄4".
  • Rabbet the sides for back, top, and bottom panels.
  • Cut top, bottom, and back panels to finished size, then assemble both cases.
  • Cut the shelves to finished size, then install labeled pulls.
  • Cut and install French cleats on cases and on the wall.
  • Cut 1⁄2"-thick MDF flattening panels to size.
  • Load ‘em up—put your sanding center to work.

Dado a large panel,then make four identical sides

Spacing the dadoes in your cases every 1/2" gives you plenty of options for sizing different storage compartments for sanding sheets and discs. When your cases are complete, attach a French cleat and spacer to the back of each case, as shown in the drawing. Then mount a mating cleat on the wall where you want to hang your sanding center. I made my shelves from 3/16"-thick  hardboard with a slick, dry-erase coating on one side that slides easily through the dadoes. If you can't find this material, nominal 1/4" hardboard will also work fine for your shelves. 

Cut 18 dadoes, spaced 1⁄2" apart. I mounted the two outside blades of my stack dado set to prepare for dadoing a 143⁄4 × 48" panel. Guide the panel against the rip fence to make each 1⁄4" deep cut. Instead of relying on the saw’s rip fence scale to space the dadoes, I used a story stick marked up with the dado and rabbet layout. 

Rabbet for tops, bottoms, and backs.
The large dadoed panel yields 4 identical sides that require rabbets on top, bottom, and back edges. I set up the dado cutter to make 1⁄4"-deep, 1⁄2"-wide rabbets, and clamped a wood auxiliary fence in place to prevent the cutter from damaging the saw’s rip fence.

Easy assembly. After cutting top, bottom, and back pieces to size, I assemble the two cases with glue and my finish nailer. Gluing and nailing the backs in place keeps the cases square. Once each case is assembled, cut your shelves to slide smoothly in their dadoes, and install French cleats and spacers. Then mark your spring clip pulls to designate different grits, clip them to the shelves, and load up your sanding center.


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