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Thread: Sanding technique for those who suffer carpal tunnel syndrome

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Sanding technique for those who suffer carpal tunnel syndrome

    Like some of you I was diagnosed carpal syndrome about two years ago.
    Since then out of sheer necessity and professional deformation I have been investigating new ways of holding tools and new ways of making things so that my wrists do not get strained.

    Sanding by hand is one of the things that put more stress in your wrist than anything, because one has to lock the wrist and fingers to make pressure.

    With my carved tool panel I have to sand a lot to make surfaces look hard, and it has to be with the grain to avoid marks. As the usual back and fro movement is a no-no thing because of the short strokes needed I started to really put some brains into it.

    So after some time I came up with this technique that has proved to be very fast, efective and really easy on my hands, and I thought I'd share it here. Maybe it is not new, don't know, but it has changed radically the way I sand.

    Basically it consists on pulling strap of sand belt under my finger that is pressing against the area I want to sand, no need to press hard as the sand paper needs to slide under it.
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    For those areas where one can't pull upwards, a piece of wood or a cork like in this case can be used instead of the finger.
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    If the area is so unnaccesible that your finger doesn't fit in it you can use a piece of wood like in here. That is a scrap of masonite that I rounded the edge prior to using it.
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    This techique can be used even for flat surfaces, a wider strap and your palm or a sanding block do the job much faster than with sanding blocks and the back and forth movement.

    I can see this technique being used in those pieces that have round joints like in Maloof's ones.

    Hope it helps some of you that have the same problem I have.
    Last edited by Toni Ciuraneta; 04-03-2011 at 08:03 PM.
    Best regards,

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    Toni, that is amazing! I don't have carpal syndrome, but sure do hate sanding and would not have thought of that technique. Thank you so much for sharing that set of tips!

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Great idea Toni. Sanding has always been a problem for my carpel tunnel. What's worse for me though is edge jointing.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    Absolutely brilliant! And thanks for a little behind the scenes look at your artistry!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Oceanside, So. Calif. 5 mi. to the ocean
    Hi Toni,

    I'm still enjoying the wooden plane. Glenn was here yesterday and earlier today helping me re-design my shop. We had to sweep shavings aside in order to roll my tool tables. Had to move tables to get them out of the way to put up shelf, move DC duct, etc.

    Anyway, all I really posted this for was to say your sanding technique should be a tutorial and have a name that would draw in a total stranger---say someone ten years from now who has CTS.

    Thanks and Enjoy,

    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Decatur, Alabama
    I know how you feel with the carpal tunnel, I had surgery on both wrists last year. It's amazing how you end up re-learning how to do so many simple tasks to keep from bending your wrists.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    That is a great idea Toni!

    It is like you have a very slow speed custom belt sander!

    I guess sandpaper does not work for this, you have to use the woven emery cloth.

    Great thinking outside the box for sure!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Spitting distance north of Detroit Michigan
    Good info Toni, Thanks
    The perception of perfection is perfectly clear to everyone else

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    thanx toni, useful info at precisely the right time for me.
    I had my EMG test today, miserable test, and was told I have carpal tunnel syndrome.
    Seems my myasthenia is not the cause of my weak hand strength. Myasthenia attacks the nerve transmissions, not the nerves themselves,or something like that it was explained to me.
    Surgery was recommended since at this point its not severe, but I cant handle anymore surgery, so Ill follow along pointers and any other brackes or help I can find.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Northern Lower Michigan/Troll
    My dad is a carver and has some of the same issues. I got him hooked on Stick-It paper from 3M. He makes all kinds of funny shaped sanders and cuts paper to fit the shapes.

    Not a lot of use to him because he carves animals, but I made him a detail sander out of an electric toothbrush. He uses it roughing in the form but his stuff is so full of tiny detail after that it is of no help. I cut the bristles off and cast a new head out of West System epoxy. Again, Stick-it paper cut to fit.

    Ii recently switched to air sanders because of problems with my hands getting numb, and although they are just as bad for vibration, they work a lot faster, so less overall agony.

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