How To Sand Polymer Clay Beads Using Drywall Sandpaper

Sanding Polymer Clay

Vid #044: Drywall sandpaper works best for aggressive bead sanding jobs:

You may not have thought to look in the drywall and painting section of your local home improvement store for polymer clay bead sanding supplies. But now you will…

Drywall sandpaper has an open weave that can be used as the first stage in sanding beads that need something a little more aggressive than a 320 or 400 grit sandpaper.

Sometimes you need to remove more surface of your bead or pendant but don’t want the deep scratches that a regular coarse sandpaper would give you.

For example, you may need to ‘square up’ the edges of a pendant. Or you might want to smooth out the deep groove lines that often show up in between cane slices added to a bead surface. Or perhaps you made some mica shift or hidden magic beads and want to sand off the raised edges instead of slicing them off with a blade.

If you use regular coarse grit sandpaper (i.e.120 grit) to remove the top layer of clay, you’ll be creating some deep scratches that you will also have to remove.

With drywall sandpaper (sometimes called mesh), the weave is flat and open which allows for efficient clay removal without the deep scratches… resulting in a lot less sanding for you!

After you’re finished using the drywall mesh to do the aggressive sanding, you can continue on with wet/dry sandpaper ranging from 320 grit to 400/600/800/1200. Then finish up with a final buff and sealer coat if desired.

So go on, head off to the home improvement store and pick up some drywall supplies to add to your sanding kit… you’ll be glad you did!

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The full version of the “Drywall Sandpaper” preview video shown above, is part of a free bonus package that I give away as a special promotion with the purchase of my Polymer Clay Bead Making Fundamentals Course. In this video Idemonstrate some aggressive sanding techniques using drywall mesh on polymer clay beads and pendants.

  1. Cindy Lietz, 19 May, 2008

    When you go to pick up some drywall sandpaper at the home improvement store, be sure to get the right stuff. I say this because drywall mesh can also refer to the mesh tape that builders use to cover the joints between sheets of drywall before the drywall mud is applied. Ask for help and/or read the directions on the packaging. You want the stuff that looks and feels like black, mesh sand paper… not the roll of white meshed tape.

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Making Polymer Clay Molds – Inspiration From the Sea

  2. Kim C., 19 July, 2008

    Cindy, YOU ARE MY HERO!!!!! I am forever needing to get out those deep grooves you decribe between canes.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 19 July, 2008

    Thanks Kim! It’s nice to be loved!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..Making Handmade Jewelry from Polymer Clay

  4. Cindy Erickson, 25 September, 2008

    And loved you are!!! Thanks so much for this video demonstration! I think this method will really be of help to me…now I can go back and fix some of my earliest mistakes…fingerprints, gouges and all.

    I’m not completely clear…should we just use the 120 grit in this drywall sandpaper? Or should we get different grits, or strengths in it, like we do the regular wet/dry sandpaper?

    Thanks again, Cindy

  5. Cindy Lietz, 25 September, 2008

    The 120 is fine Cindy in the drywall paper and then switching to the 320 wet/dry paper and up like you normally do. If you really want to you can go from 120 drywall to 320 drywall then to 320 wet/dry, but you don’t have to.

  6. Cindy Erickson, 25 September, 2008

    Thanks, that clears it up for me!

    Hugs to you! Cindy E.

  7. Andrea, 26 September, 2008

    Thanks Cindy for the bonus videos.

  8. Cindy Lietz, 27 September, 2008

    You’re welcome Girls!!

  9. Rose, 22 January, 2010

    Thanks very much for the bonus videos. This site has turned out to be like a friend who shares my interests.

  10. Sandra, 10 December, 2010

    Have a question re the sanding process. if at the end of going thru all the grits you have the white powder on the beads, does this mean you need to keep sanding?

  11. Cindy Lietz, 10 December, 2010

    @Sandra: Yes, that white powder is polymer dust sitting in tiny grooves on the surface of your bead. Make sure your paper is new and that you are sanding to a fine enough grit like 1000 or 1200 grit. Now that I am using Micro-Mesh Pads I almost never get that powder anymore since the pads just ‘plane’ the surface rather than scratch it. If you need to learn more about the Micro-Mesh Pads click the link by my name.

  12. Sandra, 10 December, 2010

    Thanks Cindy, will have another look and keep sanding!

  13. Brenda R, 06 February, 2012

    After sanding the polymer item and it is wet…do you need to let the item thoroughly dry before buffing? I go directly from wet/dry sanding to buffing and always wonder if I should be letting the item dry well first.
    I am new to polymer clay and really enjoy your videos!
    Thank you

  14. Cindy Lietz, 09 February, 2012

    It is not necessary to dry your beads before buffing Brenda. You will find the bead dries pretty quick when buffing and so does the fast spinning buffing wheel!

  15. Eugene Carsey, 01 March, 2012

    When buying sandpaper there are different standards of grit designations. This page is refers to ISO/FEPA Grit designation which will be marked with a “P” such as #P600 grit. We bought #1500 at the auto parts store and it was really equal to P500 or the #600 grit we bought at the hobby store was equal to P1100. It can be confusing and will effect your results. Look at the grit number posted on the back of your sandpaper and there should be a “P” before the grit number.

  16. Patricia N, 10 March, 2015

    I am wondering since we should not have polymer clay near where we eat and you said even the spoons and things that we cover should not come into contact with food what do we do with the water that we sand in? How do we safely dispose of it?

  17. Cindy Lietz, 10 March, 2015

    Hi Patricia, it is not that the clay is toxic or anything… it is actually rated to be non-toxic. It is more a case of the clay being porous and capable of trapping bacteria. So you don’t want it to be in contact with food and then going in your mouth. As far as disposing of the sanding water, there really isn’t that much material in the water to be concerned with especially since it is non-toxic. But if you were worried about putting it in the water, you could just pour off the top water after it had settled, and put the solids in the garbage instead.

  18. Beth M, 05 May, 2020

    Hello! I am struggling with nail scratch marks on the surfaces of baked polymer clay jewelry pieces. I use fimo, souffle and premo.

    After the clay has been baked, some baked clay will be prone to nail scratches when i do nail scratch test, while other clay will leave no mark. It’s been a frustrating experience that’s been holding me back form starting my shop :(

    After thinking about it, i guess there can be several factors that could possibly contribute to the clay being prone to nail scratch marks (me using cornstarch to prevent fingerprints, using pieces of paper to sandwich the clay) but these would honestly all be guesses.

    does anyone have any advice?

    also, i am curious does the dremel sand to 400/600/800/1200 grit? Im looking to invest in one if it could answer my needs.

    Thank you!

  19. Cindy Lietz, 07 May, 2020

    Hi Beth, I just did a scratch test on one of my baked Premo pieces and I didn’t see any scratch marks, which lead me to believe that perhaps you are not baking your pieces quite hot enough and they are as cured as they should be. Are you using an oven thermometer? Most ovens are liars and can be several degrees off of what it says on the dial. In regards to using a dremel for sanding polymer clay, they aren’t the best for sand because they spin so fast that they tend to melt the surface rather than sand it. If you want a cheap power sanding tool, just get an inexpensive palm sander and attach some sheets of of the 400/600/800/1200 grit sandpapers to it. You can find the sanders for as cheap as $40 and the surface is much larger, and way more workable for sanding polymer clay pieces than a dremel is. Dremels are great for drilling and stuff or working with other materials but not the best for sanding polymer clay.

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