Sanding Ceramics

Posted by on Sep 7, 2015 in Ceramics, Pottery Decoration | Comments Off on Sanding Ceramics

Sanding Ceramics

Ceramics are useful for a number of different applications. However, they are also some of the most fragile materials people could possibly work with. A little shake, a little blunt force, and bam, your ceramic object, whatever it may be, has a crack. Or maybe it’s shattered entirely if the disturbance was bad enough. Doing fine work with ceramics can be very frustrating because of this; a little slip, a little too much pressure applied, and you could end up with broken, wasted materials. Fortunately it’s easy enough to sand rough edges on ceramic sections without the fear of breaking your ceramics.

When sanding ceramics, you basically have two choices, just like when sanding any other materials. You can either do the job by hand using manual tools, or you can use a powered tool to do the work for you. While you get a greater deal of control and precision with manual sanding in general, powered sanding is faster by far and provides a more uniform level of sanding than you would get doing the same job by hand, at least in most cases. The choice tends to come down to whether the material being worked will benefit more from one method of sanding or the other.

As long as you brace ceramics well using a clamp of some sort and don’t allow the material to rattle or move much while being worked, it can usually be treated with power tools. A good belt sander will allow you a decent amount of control over the sanding operation while giving you the freedom to work your ceramic sample from multiple angles all at once. It’s quite convenient, and you can see plenty of examples at if you’re thinking of going the automatic route. If you’d rather save the electricity or just want more control over the end product, you might opt to go manual.

Sanding blocks are pretty cheap and come in a variety of materials,  but rubber is a solid choice. Each end will have a flap, sort of like a mouth full of teeth. You feed one end of the sandpaper being used into each side and end up with a nice, hand-held tool with a sanding surface you can scrape against whatever you want. Switching the paper out for coarser or finer grades takes seconds and you don’t need to worry about getting any hair or clothing caught in moving parts. This option is definitely safer and so preferable for amateurs without much experience using tools.

The main thing is to come at your ceramic surfaces from a parallel angle. You don’t want to sand jagged edges into the sides of whatever you’re finishing up, so you want nice, even surfaces that you can only get in this way. If your material does chip, consider buffing it out or giving the entire surface another go to file it down beyond the point of the defect. This could save the whole piece from a minor defect which could otherwise end up destroying it, and it wouldn’t even take much time to apply the fix.