Stearated Sand Paper

Some experts have concluded that new types of stearated sandpaper no longer cause fisheye with water-based finishes, but not everyone is convinced. January 27, 2008

I use only water based lacquer and I always knew to never use stearated sandpaper with this kind of product because it could cause fisheyes. I recently read in "Understanding Wood Finishing" by Bob Flexner that this isn't true. He said it is okay to use this kind of sandpaper on water based lacquer. Any opinions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
Form contributor K:
He's wrong. He also doesn't see any problem using Pledge - just dump more smoothie in to control the silicone. Check out Target's website for more info on stearated paper. However, 3M's paper is supposed to be okay.

Form contributor P:
Bob is correct. Most, if not all, manufacturers of sandpaper have modified the stearates they use in their no-load sandpapers so that they are no longer incompatible with water-base finishes. I have used thousands of gallons of water-base finish along with different brands of sandpaper and have never had a problem with the sandpaper.

Bob also makes a good argument for the use of Pledge and other polishes that contain silicone. The polish lasts longer than other types that evaporate quickly and it's readily available and easy to use. Refinishers can complain all they want; people are still going to use polishes that do the job well.

In the refinishing end of the business, contamination is so common that it's wise to just expect fisheyes will occur and take steps to prevent them from the start. Using a little Smoothie or an oily woods sealer is a simple solution.

From contributor D:

Technically what's changed is that the manufacturers have moved from Zinc Stearate to Calcium Stearate. The old grey Freecut used Zinc and the newer gold 216U uses Calcium.

From contributor S:
"He's wrong." Exactly what is Bob Flexner wrong about? His essay "In Defense of Pledge" is not opinion-based. It's factual.