PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

detail sander (ex-toothbrush)

I made a polymer clay egg out of leftover clay of various colours marbled together, and needed a way to sand it smooth after baking. Previously, I hand-sanded the ballon in my pig ornament but it took sooo long and I didn’t really want to repeat the process for my scrap clay egg. I heard that you can make an electric sander from an electric toothbrush, so I thought I’d give it a go. Here are the instructions:

  1. I started with a cheap battery-powered toothbrush (reduced to $1 at WalMart).
  2. Use pliers to remove all the bristles from the brush head. Grab a section of bristles firmly with the pliers and wiggle them from side to side until they pull out.
  3. Repeat until the brush head is bristle-free.
  4. Cut a small square of sandpaper just large enough to cover the face of the brush head.Tips for cutting the sandpaper to size:
    • I wasn’t sure what sandpaper would do to my scissors, so I folded the sandpaper back and forward along the line I wanted to cut, and then it tore easily along that line.
    • Make sure you label the back of every little piece of sandpaper you cut, or you will get into a muddle!

  5. Stick a square of double sided tape to the back of the sandpaper square and attach it to the brush head.
  6. Turn on the toothbrush and get sanding!
  7. If your brush comes with extra heads (mine came with 2 heads), you can attach a different grade of sandpaper to each head. If you do this, remember to mark up each head differently, so you know which is which! Otherwise, you can just pull off each square when you’ve finished with it, and tape a finer grit in its place. I’ve been doing this and it works very well. I have sandpaper in 220, 320, 400 and 600 grits.
  8. When your piece is sanded nicely, you can also make buffing heads by attaching a square of sturdy fabric to the brush head in the same way. I used a piece of thick corduroy.

Here’s my finished egg. It’s really smooth and softly shiny, although I couldn’t capture that well in my photo.

polymer clay egg

25 Comments »

  1. [...] cynthia tinapple sent along a link to a tutorial for making a sander out of an electric toothbrush. she asked if i had ever seen an electric toothbrush adapted for sanding polymer clay. while i have seen it done before, and so have many of you, i realized that if it is new to cynthia, then there are probably many others who also don’t know about this nifty idea. don’t have time to make your own? you can buy one already adapted here. [...]

  2. Hadad said

    what agreat idea!!!

  3. Rebecca said

    This is a wonderful idea!!! I have large hands and have trouble sanding smaller items. Thanks so much.

  4. beth said

    What a brilliant idea! You don’t even have to dedicate the toothbrush handle to crafts — just recycle the old heads by adapting them to sander and buffer heads. I had been thinking of converting my son’s neglected rock tumbler for polymer clay sanding, but this idea is much more instant gratification. thank you!

  5. Dedee said

    idée géniale!! au moins cela me laissera un peu d’ongles sur les doigts!! faut que j’essaie cela rapidement!!! merci pour ce petit truc bien pratique!!!

  6. Squirrel said

    Hi June, this is a great idea! I’d never thought of that, but I’ll try as soon as possible. I was looking for an electric buffer that I could use to sand beads as well, so I needed it to be submergible. I couldn’t come up with an idea, but here it is!

    Thank you soo much for sharing. Wish I’d read this back in January.
    I hope you don’t mind if I blogged about this here: http://squirrelart.blogspot.com/2007/09/sanding-and-buffing-2.html

  7. Miriam said

    Wow! E’ un’idea magnifica!!! BRAVA, BRAVISSIMA!!!

  8. Sandra said

    I love that pig! It is adorable! You do wonderful work.

  9. milo said

    pure genius! thanks a zillion :o)

  10. vickie said

    I have found this very useful I couldn’t afford the sander I found on the web but had an old rechargable toothbrush which I adapted and it works like a dream. Thank you. :o) plus the rechargable saves on batteries too.

    My aching wrists thank you too.

  11. Mary Lou said

    wow! wow ! wow ! thank you thank you thank you !!!!!!

  12. Lisa said

    Awesome! Just what my aching hands needed!

  13. Lunes said

    Wow what an excellent invention! I can’t wait to try it!

  14. Stephanie said

    omigosh!! that’s perfect!!! I have eczema & my hands don’t like water too much – this will be perfect!!! btw, scissors on the sandpaper will work fine – it actually helps to sharpen the scissors . . .

    LOVE that pig!!!!!
    Thanks millions!!!
    Steph

  15. [...] Anleitung Ähnliche Artikel, die dich vielleicht interessieren: Cane im Tiffany-LookPerlen-Laden [...]

  16. Jenny said

    Thanks for such a great, useful tutorial! Do you mind if I share it on my blog??? I really like yours and would like to share it!-Jenny at http://www.CraftTestDummies.com

  17. [...] beads that need sanding, and I’m thinking that this is just the ticket. Surf on over to see her step-by-step directions, and while you’re there, check out her cool crochet [...]

  18. Catherine said

    If you are one of the truly lazy (like me) you could even use your own toothbrush- just dedicate a head to this, not the whole brush! And you don’t need batteries!

  19. [...] e lento il procedimento è possibile utilizzare uno spazzolino elettrico come spiegato sul blog PlanetJune, in inglese, ma con le foto di tutti i passaggi [...]

  20. Irina said

    oh, thnx, thank u very much, i’m so happy :)
    i’ll be do that, yeah, yahooo^^
    _
    aww, sorry, i’m russian, and so crazy.) yay!)

  21. I think it is a great idea, wow!! Well done! I used to varnish my beads, but sanding them before couldnt relly hurt.
    the egg looks awesome too.

  22. I love this tutorial! I make polymer clay beads in my spare time and was sick of hand sanding… I’d end up with my fingerprints completely sanded off! I followed your instructions and made my own toothbrush sander and I love it!! And my finger tips thank you for it! :)

    Oh and I save time with the toothbrush sander… which is also important! :)

  23. [...] are a couple of tutorials on making similar toothbrush detail sanders, this one using double sided tape and this one using sanding [...]

  24. [...] is a short tutorial where the author opted to remove the bristles from the brush head and use velcro to attach [...]

  25. Diana said

    Great idea. I need something a bit larger, so I think I can adapt your idea to a cheap facial cleaning electric brush.

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    June Gilbank
    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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