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April 19, 2014

Punch your way to better dust collection

Punch your way to better dust collection

Palm sander manufacturers often include a plastic punch plate for making dust-collection holes in replacement sandpaper. But the jagged holes mine produced didn’t allow for much air to move through. To improve dust collection, I made a simple jig for punching perfectly round holes.

First, make a base and template from 3⁄4″ plywood the same width as your palm sander’s pad. Crosscut the template to the same length as the sander’s pad. Add 1″ quarter-round molding to both edges of the base to hold the template in place during use. Now transfer the hole locations from the factory punch plate (or a sheet of sandpaper with holes already punched) to the template. Drill through the template at each marked location.

To make the punch, chuck a 1⁄8×2″ electrical nipple into your drill press, and sharpen one end using a file. Screw on a 1⁄8″ flat lamp finial (found at home centers) to the unsharpened end. Slip a piece (or pieces) of sandpaper between the template and base, insert the punch in a hole, strike it with a hammer, and repeat for the other holes.
—Alan Hoffman, North Hills, N.Y.

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