Sanding, either to remove excess bits of resin, or just to soften cured edges, will create a nice, finished piece.
Cured resin can be sanded much like wood, and you can use the same type of sandpapers in a range of grits, depending on what you need to accomplish.
Also similar to sanding wood, sanding resin creates a fair amount of dust, so it would be prudent to wear a dust mask while working to avoid breathing in any of those particles.
If you have large pieces of excess resin to remove, or want to actually re-shape the piece, start with a larger grit sandpaper - around 80 - 120. Individual sandpapers can usually be found at hardware stores sold by the piece, and are less then $1 a piece, so you can pick up one each in a wide range of grits.
For finer finish work, you can use automotive or wet/dry sandpaper with grits of 600, 800, 1000, and sometimes higher. These can be found at an auto parts store. Using wet/dry paper and sanding your piece under water will keep dust down and will also prevent resin particles from re-distributing on the finished piece.
I have tried various papers of various grits, and for my purposes, my favorite sanding tool to use is the simple emery board (you can usually get a 5 or 10 pack for $1 at the drugstore). The sturdy form and thin shape provides great control and ease of use.
Being only two-handed, I couldn't take a picture of the actual process - but give it a quick try and you'll figure it out in no time. Hold your resin piece in one hand, and sand with the other!
To sand using papers instead, I find it easiest to lay the paper flat on a table and then rub the resin piece on top of that - moving and changing position of your resin piece (not the paper) to shape and define the various angles.
Until you get a feel for the motions, I would recommend practicing with a few of your less-than-favorite pieces, just so there are no tragedies. If you happen to scrape or nick the edge of the resin (where you didn't intend to sand) it will scratch the surface!
It does take a bit of practice to fall into the right rhythm, and also determine what sort of angle to use and how much pressure to apply. But with a little experimenting, you'll find your groove in no time at all and soon be a sanding pro.
You will also have noticed the down-side of sanding; that it removes that sparkling shiny finish, and leaves a dull edge. This effect is more or less noticeable depending on the color of your resin piece, and may or may not be an issue for you.
Continuing to sand in increasingly finer grits of sandpaper will create a smoother, finer finish. And polishing with a wax will help even further. However, the only way to restore that beautiful, glossy shine is to re-coat in resin. Don't worry, it's not too hard...and will be discussed in an upcoming post...
A final shot of a sanded vs. an un-sanded piece.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it easy to understand and informative. I have complied all my tutorials, refined them, added new information and pictures, and added 2 complete step-by-step project instructions in this 32-page digital booklet, "Getting Started With Resin Jewelry". For more information, click here.