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Old 10-12-2008, 10:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
Daniel's Avatar
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Default Micro Mesh Long

Micro Mesh, What is it and is it really worth the cost?
Often the reaction to a sandpaper that costs 4 bucks for a 3X6 inch sheet is "you have to be kidding" In fact many if not most penturners have discovered that there is in fact no joke about Micro Mesh.
First in my experience I can use that little sheet to sand over 100 pens. My first set of Micro Mesh lasted over 2 years. It is tough stuff, washable, does not clog (just wipe it on a piece of denim). One warning about Micro Mesh, it will melt relatively easily. you do not use it whit the same sort of pressure you would use with normal sandpaper. very light pressure in fact.

Micro Mesh (MM) is also a complicated product that cannot adequately be explained in little snippets in the forums. In the interest of having a post to refer to when discussing Micro Mesh I decided to write this Long post that will completely cover the points about MM. Hopefully members in the future will copy and past from this post liberally.
of special note, any tye of MM sheet will require the use of a Foam Pad with the exception of the Soft Touch Pads.

Mesh vs Grit
They are not the same thing. one of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to MM is that it's abrasiveness is not measured in grit, which is the scale that we are most familiar with when it comes to sandpaper. MM regular is measured on it's own scale. As an example 1500 MM Regular is the equivalent of approx 400 grit while 4000 MM regular is about the same as 1500 grit. MM Regular 6000, 8000, and 12000 do not have comparisons listed.

In addition the abrasive in MM is woven. not just scattered (like sandpaper), producing a much more consistent scratch pattern (read smoother more consistent finish).

finally MM is not bonded to paper like most sandpaper is it not only is bonded to cloth, in many ways it "is" cloth.

AO, Carbon, REG, MX, MXD what the heck?
as we tend to do here in these forums, MM tends to relly on acronyms to confuse those with little knowledge. these same initials are used for sandpaper as well and really do mean something.

AO is Aluminum Oxide. considered to be one of the lower cost as well as lower quality materials to make sandpaper with. It does not have a very long life but how and what it is bonded to can drastically effect how well it works. generally cloth is better than paper giving not only a better finish but longer life.

Carbon is well... carbon. to get a good idea think of carbon tipped tools. in large part you can get carbon tipped sandpaper as well. and as you would expect it lasts longer. This is the stuff that MM Regular is made up of, adding the advantages of being bonded to cloth gives MM an extremely long life expectancy.

REG, MX. and MXD are exclusive to MM
REG. MM is the type most commonly used by members of this group. made with
silicon carbide crystals. It is also important to note that this carbide is bonded to the cloth backing with an ultra flexible resin. everything about sandpaper matters, what abrasive is attached to what backing as well as what it is attached to that backing with.

Reg MM is made in 9 different grades,
1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000*, and 12000 this is comparable to 400 to well over 1500 grit.
for use on everything from soft woods, acrylics to even metal. the basic all purpose MM
MM 8000 and 12000 are made with Aluminum Oxide and do not last as long as the other grades.

MX, Possibly the best kept secret here on this group. Made with the same Silicon Carbide as regular MM, on the same cloth backing. the resin that is used is harder. This allows MX to achieve a higher finish on metals. what caught my eye about MX is that it can expend the range of MM abrasives for penturners all the way down to 240 grit. MM MX is made in 13 grades,
60 MX, 80 MX,100 MX,120 MX, 150 MX, 180 MX, 240 MX, 320 MX, 360 MX, 400 MX, 600 MX, 800 MX*, and 1200 which is comparable to 240 to over 1500 grit. 1200MX is equal to 8000 regular MM. getting complicated enough for you?

Just to simplify this a little. you could add MM MX grades 60,80,120, and 150 to the 9 grades in the Reg MM and have a progression of grits ranging from 240 grit all the way up to 12000 MM Reg. can anyone say no more regular sandpaper? At this time this is only an idea and I have not actually tried it.

MXD, anyone want to take a shot at what the D stands for?... anyone. well some of you might have gotten it. it means diamond. MXD is made with diamond particles rather than Silicon Carbide. I don not know of anyone that has tried to use this type of MM but you could esily imagine and everlasting sand paper. MXD is used for extrememly hard items such as ceramics or even carbide, marble and granite.
not nearly as much info is available about MXD, including price, or sizes of sheets. MXD is made in 14 grades
40 MXD, 60 MXD, 80 MXD, 100 MXD, 120 MXD, 180 MXD, 280 MXD, 400 MXD, 500 MXD, 600 MXD, 800 MXD, 1200 MXD, 1500 MXD,and 1800 MXD with 120MXD being eqivalent to 180 grit sandpaper. it appears the range of grits for penturners could be lowered to well under 180 grit but I fear the cost would be high to do so.

MM AO, as explained above AO means Aluminum Oxide. I actually have MM AO but the range of grades offered in this type of MM is not very well suited to the needs of penturners. at least not nearly as well as MM regular is.
available in 12 grades, from coarse, to fine:300AO, 600 AO, 800 AO, 1500 AO, 1800 AO, 2400 AO, 3200 AO, 3600 AO, 4000 AO, 6000 AO, 8000 AO which is comparable to grits 180grit -12000 MM

Sheets, Rolls, Soft Touch Pads, and what else you could want it on

Although MM is offered in a surprising number of forms from sanding discs, detail swabs (they look like Q-Tips) sheets and even pads. there are only a couple that are of use to penturners.

Sheets or rolls. both are cloth backed products that require the use of a Foam Pad to use.

Soft Touch pads, for me one of the most exciting additions to the MM line is the pad. this is MM that is mounted on a 1/4 inch thick foam pad. the pad is two sided so you basically get twice the MM surface per pad. I have tried to figure out how to glue MM to mouse pad type material since I first started using it. Now Micro Surfaces has finally done it for me. no need for the additional foam pad the only draw back I see to soft touch pads is where do you label them as to grit size?

Polishing Cloth
Micro surfaces has an arrray of polishes and liquids that are compatible with MM. the selection is simply to large and project specific to go into any detail here. but item of interest to penturners is a new Micro Fiber Cleaning cloth. For now I will just say I plan to get one of these and see how it works for polishing pens before I put them on display or take photos of them. I will report more later but thought this would be an item of interest.

ok well that is about as much of a nut shell as Micro Mesh can get put into. So if you have always felt just a little foggy on the issue, maybe now you know why.

I also often see incomplete sets of MM offered from various suppliers or the potential that less than expected grades of MM could be sold to unknowing penturners. hopefully this post will help many of you to not be taken off guard and be far more knowledgable when shopping for MM. All information in this post was gotten from the web site of Micro Surface, the manufacturer of Micro Mesh.

I am planing to conduct a group buy for Micro Mesh and hopefully this post will help many of you make an informed decision as to what you would be interested in.
Thank You
and happy turning

Added 11-3-08
I jsut received samples of both Regular Micro Mesh as well as Micro Mesh MX.
I am really excited about the MX. Keep in mind that it is numbered on a different scale than regular MM and goes from 60 to 1200 (not 12000) but read on so you are not discourged. in abrasivness this really means about 220 grit to 8000 Regualar MM and has 12 sheets.
Since most penturners start there sanding at 220 grit or higher this set would allow them to have MM rather than sand paper for the entire process. Keep in mind you woudl still want regular sandpaper if you do CA sealing or anything that woudl damage the MM.
I have not yet had the chance to use it to finish a pen with yet but will let you all know if there was any problems. Otherwise I think we can assume the quality will be what we have come to expect of their other products.
Reno, NV
I love my computer, my friends live in it.

Last edited by Daniel; 11-03-2008 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 10-12-2008, 10:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for the information on MM. I look forward to your future group buy.
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Old 10-12-2008, 10:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, that's a lot of info. I kind of have a solution for marking the grits on the 2x2 pads. I used a fine tip sharpie and marked the white side of the pad but not with the "grit" but rather a "stroke count" to keep them in order. They are marked like this:

!, !!, !!!, !!!!, !!!!!, !!!!!!, !!!!!!!, !!!!!!!!, !!!!!!!!!

It's easier to count lines than going back to the color chart theat came with them to get them back in order.
West Henrietta, NY
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Old 10-12-2008, 10:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Nice write up, thanks for the info.
"We the People ....."
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah Jim, Thanks for the tip. Good idea on how to keep it readable as well.
Reno, NV
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Old 10-12-2008, 11:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks Daniel.
Hamilton, Ohio
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JimB View Post
It's easier to count lines than going back to the color chart theat came with them to get them back in order.
I keep my color chart on a peg board in front of me when I am at the lathe.
"Grow, grow where you are, anchor your roots underneath. Doubt your doubts, and believe your beliefs"

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Old 10-12-2008, 12:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm definitely interested in a MM group buy. It's getting to be that time of year again.

I'm late, I'm late...
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Old 10-12-2008, 01:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the information on MM. I also look forward to your future group buy.
Bob in Ohio

"if at first you don't succeed, maybe parachuting isn't the sport for you.".
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Old 10-18-2008, 01:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I mark my MM on the white side with a extra fine tip permanent marker. I just use the first 2 numbers such as 15, 18, 32, 36, 40, 60 , 80, 12. I mark on 2 sides so it's easier to identify. Stays, even with washing or cleaning the pads, which I do every couple of weeks and they seem to work better.
You transform all those who are touched by you.~ Rumi
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