What do I need to hand sand custom surfboard?

I searched, but actually found too many different threads, that I couldn’t make heads and tails. So I am making my first board, and want to just sand by hand but all videos and how-to’s show using electric sander. Can someone point me to what type of sanding block, and paper to use to sand before and after hot coat. I only plan on going for sanded and not gloss finish.  Thanks in advance.

…at least one good functional hand…twice as quick with two hands .

egg crate style pads are nice for the flats.I hot glue them on but you can spray 3m glue.hand sand the rails with just sandpaper…I would start at 120 grit then move up to 220 then 320…hope this helps



Why do you want to hand sand a whole board? You can get really inexpensive palm sanders from places like Harbor Freight for very little money. Like, $40  for a random orbital 5".

Thanks for the inputs. And the reason is I need more exercise. :wink:

Hi; all the plastics have 3 steps (stratification; filler and finish). You want 2 steps so the board will have micro infiltration of water. You need a seal coat but you do not want a gloss coat so you can apply an spray coat but is more toxic and more expensive than a gloss; also you need an air compressor, air gun with 1.2 air nozzle and respirators. The cheap and not so good way is to use a rattle can mate clear. 3 coats.

To sand a board to let the hot coat ready for an spray finish or no finish is a bit different than to sand then put a gloss coat over.

You need to be more careful with the sanding and start with finer grit. To start with finer grit you need a very good hot coat…

Start with 120 grit then slight with 180 grit

Finish the hot coat with 220 grit the spray over

No spray, finish with 320 then sponge sanding (Scotch) with equivalent grit.

You also can go with sponge spraid acrylic varnish for finish not as clean as spray but…

I do my first board all by hand, I was 16, 30 years ago… Problem is inexperienced shape with surform and sand paper is like surface of the moon even you don’t see it, maybe easier to touch it. Then you add a none so clean unexperienced lam and hot coat then hand sand hours and hours to a bump and jump sand through finish… Only a real experienced hand shaper can make a food finish board only by hand but an experienced board builder never want to sand one all by hand LOL. 

Once opon a time, I was working at this little surf camp at the edge of a jungle. Doing dings for a little side money. Power sanders? Nope. I know way more about hand sanding boards than I ever really wanted to.

Sanding? Yep.

Sanding blocks? No freakin’ way. 

How come? Well, a sanding block is by its nature flat or close to it. But surfboards are pretty much curved everywhere. But the flat sanding surface sands flat surfaces and if there isn’t one it will most definitely make one. As my predecessor refused to learn.  He was real good at making lovely flat spots, through gloss, hotcoat, cloth and foam. He was also an idiot. 

Probably still is.

So, what do you need for the job? Lots of sandpaper, in varying grits from about 80-100 up to 400-600 wet and dry. Fold over a piece, and with your hand and fingers following the curve of the surface, sand, gently, not a lot of pressure. Let the sandpaper do the work, long strokes so it’s all nice and even. Slap the paper often, to get the dust out of the grit, replace the paper when it starts to lose its edge. With a soft rag, brush the dust off the surface often too.

Also, if you just use your hand, you can feel the temperature. If the paper is getting warm, it’s getting dull and not cutting well, making friction. Change it. 

I’d suggest Silicon Carbide paper, by the way. It’s generally sharp and stays sharp. Cheap paper sucks, it makes more work, does a lousy job. Pay a little more for the good stuff.Not easy to find the carbide paper in the coarser grits, but it’s worth it.

Now, sanding- before you put on the hotcoat you will be dealing with laminating resin. It isn’t totally hardened, it gums up the paper. Be careful you don’t bollox up the thing, you can make a horrible mess of it all., I would just touch/feather the edges of your cloth with a small piece of your coarse paper and almost zero pressure (fingertips only) so the hotcoat goes on over those edges fairly smooth and no more than that. The better a job you do laminating, the easier it will be. If your paper gets even faintly gummed up, and it will, get another piece. Do not try sanding the whole lamination. You will wind up with a gummy mess and an utterly fuc#ed lamination.

Same deal with the hotcoat. Do a really good job brushing it on smooth, you’ll save yourself a lot of work.

Lastly- a sanded finish is a pain in the tail. Picks up crud easy, maybe a little permeable and so on. Glossing isn’t that hard. It will go on over smooth sanded hot coat (200-300 grit) after a really good job of getting rid of the dust and you clean up the gloss if and where you need to with 300-400-600 wet and dry paper and follow with fiberglass polish ( not the kind with red abrasive/rouge, it stains the resin red) also done by hand. Flow it on carefully, maybe slightly thinned, and there you have it.

hope that’s of use


I like hand sanding. Quieter & kicks up less dust. I have built a couple dozen boards mostly all hand sanded start to finish. Epoxy resin. And no hurry.

I recommend a variety of grits, lots of sandpaper, and several sanding blocks in a variety of shapes and sizes. Good lighting. Lots of body English.

I always finish up wet sanding. I’m old but I enjoy the physicality and tactile sensation of hand sanding.

I do have a variety of power sanders I pull out on occasion, but I’m 100% sure I could build & finish a board with just hand sanding.

Two hardwood blocks.  1/2–3/8" thick, 3 1/2–4" wide, 11" long(length of a sheet of sandpaper).  Glue EVA yoga pad to one of the blocks.   Various grits of sandpaper.  Hopefully you can start with nothing heavier than 120 and work your way thru grits until you are able to finish with 180 or 220.  Use the hard block with no pad for flats, fin box etc.  Use the EVA block for shallows and convex.  Hand sand the rails with sand paper and a scrap of EVA pad.  If you have scratches you can’t get rid of,  Wet & Dry with 220 or 320.

I have a 5’0" sitting in the shop now waiting to be sanded.  Other than the lap onto the bottom and the three footballs over the Fusion boxes;  I will most likely hand sand most of the board.  Flats only with the sander and then onto hand sanding.