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Is it better to finish sanding alabaster wet or dry?

In answering this question, NWSSA member Meredith Earls had this response:

“It is definitely better to finish it wet. With dry you might never get a scratch-free surface. One of the most important reasons is that you are able to constantly wash off the surface, especially between grades of paper, so you are not using the old grit to re-scratch the surface. You are also constantly “cleaning off” the sandpaper as you go, for the same reasons.  Dusting off dry particles does not work.

Remind members that water masks some scratches so they need to let the piece dry between grades. Look for larger marks on the stone that will need to be removed. It helps to mark them with some non-porous but removable material (i.e., graphite) and then sand with water again. You can coat the whole piece with graphite or some spray-on primer between coats and know you are not ready to go on to the next grade until it is all  removed.”

Ed: This is Sid’s last column in “Sculpture Northwest”. We thank him for his time and participation.