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Mirka CEROS sander or Abranet hand sander for lacquer?

Listed under abranet, Blog, Mirka Posted Mar 14 2012

80 grade Abranet on a hand sander rubs down lacquer faster than a Mirka CEROS sander with 40 or 60 grade HD abranet! I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating. The hand sander for small areas is phenomenal and on walls and wood outperforms even the super nice Mirka CEROS review. The mechanical CEROS however opens new possibilities for sanding in bulk.

This worktop is being refinished. It was clear lacquered over stained mahogany and the surface was in a bad way, scratched and ring marked.

Default option is to take a CEROS sander, 80 grade abranet and rip the living daylights out of the lacquer before nicely sanding the timber finish. Knife through butter job, in many past cases. In this case, that proved a wrong option.

Ceros and 40 grade Abranet. After some trial and error, the best approach was to start with 40 grade abranet HD to break down the lacquer. (HD is not a sophisticated net abrasive, it is vicious rigid and super coarse!)

Ceros and 80 grade Abranet wasn’t really tough enough. The lacquer clogged the net, and the heat melted the lacquered dust. On a trial metre-long section, I used 3 discs. It was relatively easy work with the 80 grade on a CEROS, and almost no dust created, but it wasn’t cutting like a knife through butter.

80 grade abranet on a hand sander block. The section in the next photo was sanded by hand. 80 grade abranet on a sander block attached to a vacuum. It works like a vacuum extraction rasp. It cuts like a knife through butter.

Faster than a CEROS with 40 / 60 grade abrasive!

This is the whole section, (minus edges) – started with 60 grade HD abranet, struggling on a CEROS, then “mid sanded” relatively easily by hand with 80 grade abranet.

The worktop is super smooth already, but the edging needs sorting and some TLC is required with stains, before being finished off with 2 coats of clear Patina wood care finish.

When sanding off the edges, even though the CEROS struggled somewhat, it was still in a different league to a Feins tool using cloth backed 80 grade Aluminium Oxide. The Al oxide lasted a couple of inches before becoming completely clogged with melted lacquer. The Abranet did clog but went on and on.


Hand sanding the whole worktop with 80 grade abranet, some 8 metres in all, is pound for pound the most efficient and effective approach. Faster than a CEROS and less abrasive used because less heat is created, less clogging. But in practical terms, hand sanding such a large area was a workout too far. So a combination of the two tools it was.

On small sections of painted woodwork, or wall area, you should consider ripping surfaces down by hand with abranet on a vacuum sanding block. On large areas, however, it is CEROS all the way, producing mountains of work and minimal dust, as you literally mechanical sand all day without too much hassle and fatigue.

There has been talk that the Festools sander with the new Granat abrasive outperforms the Mirka CEROS with abranet. Maybe this hard lacquer surface is that scenario? What is your experience?

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5 comments to “Mirka CEROS sander or Abranet hand sander for lacquer?”

  1. Colin

    Nice post!
    I do like the Abranet abrasives for sanding between coats of paint and lacquer, and of course when you are painting in a customer’s home, dust reduction is a big plus. But I’m not convinced when it comes to sanding wood. I think regular sandpaper can mete out more punishment, and is cheap enough to throw away if it gets clogged or wears out. Abranet is too expensive to toss in the bin!

  2. Traditional Painter

    Spot on with all that, although I think I would still be sanding / changing with normal paper, because where I did use the conventional aluminium oxide paper it was unusable in seconds.

    Once through the problematic lacquer, I found the mahogany sanded out as expected.

    I don’t throw much of Abranet away in normal use, especially the 180 which smooths down and is re-usable as 240 and beyond. Abranet is cheap for at least 3 chippies I have worked with in recent times – it didnt take them long to gravitate towards my “used Abranet” box. When they saw how it works on bare timber they soon ask if they could help themselves.

  3. Decorating Direct Ltd

    This is an interesting article which I stumbled across. I wonder what the time difference would be, and how much effort you would have expended, had you applied and left a paint stripper to break down the coating film, and removed the coatings with a wet strip and scraper, before abrading?

    I also wonder if you had considered using 150mm Mirka Autonet discs in the coarser grits, in preference to Abranet? Autonet is quite a bit cheaper, whilst also being a tougher grade of Abranet for the bodyshop industry. It’s a little less flexible than Abranet, but most clued up users in the USA seem to prefer using the Autonet coarse grades, swapping back to Abranet for the finer grades.

  4. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

    Good points. Time ways, I suppose if I knew the right stripper to budge the coating from the outset, it could have been quicker, as you say. And I hear what you are saying about Autonet, I didn’t have any then.

    On balance, it wasn’t the perfect experience however, the Abranet worked cleanly, maybe not as efficient as Autonet. The coating was pretty resistant to sanding, but it did let go and although not like cutting hit knife through butter, it wasn’t excessively time consuming and demoralising, and the end result was a beautiful undamaged surface. One to remember though.

  5. Decorating Direct Ltd

    These old varnishes turn to thick treacle under heat, and are therefore difficult to remove either using a heat gun, or a power sander, as you have pointed out.

    I always suggest that customers slap an Alkyd paint stripper on, and let it break down the coating film, whilst they get on with something more interesting.

    Btw.. I don’t think there would have been any difference between using Abranet and Autonet on this project, it’s just that Autonet is cheaper, but more robustly constructed.

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