Applying a beautiful finish to wood is all about how well you prepare the surface before the oil or varnish goes on, and careful sanding is the key (hand-planing can be amazing too, but that has a steeper learning curve).
The key to successful sanding is backing the paper up with a flat block. That means you’ll be tearing a lot of sandpaper sheets down to block-size. This simple cutting jig is the fastest way to do that.
All you need is a couple pieces of wood and a hacksaw blade. New ones cost only a couple bucks each. Or you can repurpose an old one that has gone dull. Sharpness doesn’t really matter here.
The next question is how big your sanding block is. I use the world’s most badass block, the little-known “Preppin’ Weapon,” which uses a 1/4 sheet of sandpaper that you make by ripping a big sheet across its width. One big sheet makes four perfect strips, but only if you use this handy DIY cutter.
To make the jig, you use one piece of plywood (or whatever) as the base and a narrower piece as the fence. Then you just screw down the hacksaw blade, with the edge facing outward, the right distance away from the fence. There are little holes in the ends of the blade to make it easy to screw down.
Then whenever you need a new piece of paper, you slip it under the blade, bump it against the fence and tear. Perfect, every time.
You’ll hear a lot of makers and woodworkers fuss about the cool “jig” they just built. Now you can join the club.