How to sand resin smooth: get an even surface on resin art and jewelry

How to sand resin smooth - Resin ObsessionSometimes when you are making resin jewelry or painting with resin, you may find you have an uneven surface, scratches or ‘gaps’ in your resin surface (otherwise known as ‘fish eyes’). The good news is that resin can be sanded to get a smooth surface.

Here are my tips on how to sand resin smooth.

resin sanding supplies

Gather the appropriate supplies. You will need an assortment of wet/dry sandpaper ranging from 400 grit to 1000 grit, a hard, flat surface to rest the sandpaper upon, water, and a dust mask.

Before you begin, put on the dust mask.  You do not want to inhale resin dust.

Sanding resin jewelry and crafts

sanding a resin bracelet

Place the sandpaper, grit side up, on a hard surface. Grab your resin charm, craft, or piece of resin jewelry and dip it in the water. Hold it firmly and sand in a back and forth motion on the sandpaper. Change directions several times. For example, if you are sanding a bracelet, go ‘north to south’ then ‘east to west’ along with going in a figure-eight motion. This is important to make sure you don’t accidentally sand off more from one side than another.

sanding resin charms on wet dry sandpaper

If you are sanding a curved surface, move the charm according to its curve.

Once everything is smooth and even with your sanding surface, pick the next finer grit of sandpaper and continue sanding as you did in the previous step. You need to gradually decrease the sanding grit of the papers you are using, otherwise, you won’t get all the scratches out from the previous paper. Continue sanding until the charms have the smoothness you desire.

Pro tip: If you want to recoat with another layer of resin, end with a 1000 grit or higher sandpaper. Otherwise, you will see sanding marks underneath a new layer of clear resin.

Why do you need the water? It keeps the dust wet because you don’t want to inhale it. It also keeps your piece cooler so that the friction of sanding does not melt it or distort the shape.

Sanding resin art

sanding a resin painting with wet dry sandpaper

Cover a block with your coarse sanding paper or buy sanding blocks. Wet the paper or block. Use the same concepts as above when sanding your art; go back and forth and in circles to make sure you sand evenly. Artwork resin generally self-levels to a depth of 1/8 inch. With that in mind, pay attention to the depth you are sanding. You may not need to take much off, but at least enough that a new layer of resin will completely cover the area and does not have to fill in more than 1/8 inch. Continue sanding with finer grits of paper until you are happy with the surface. Recoat with resin as necessary.

So, what about using a Dremel to sand resin?

sanding a resin charm with a dremel tool

The quick answer is that yes, you can use a Dremel tool to sand resin. Here’s the problem though: a Dremel doesn’t sand straight, it sands in half-moons.

resin charm with divots from a dremel tool

You will get a bunch of ‘scoops’ that you will have to sand by hand to make flat. The other problem is that a Dremel tool can take off resin very quickly. If you aren’t careful, you will have divots in your resin that you will have to repair or fill in with more resin.

Note: If you are going to use a Dremel tool to sand resin, please wear safety glasses.

Here’s how I use a rotary or Dremel tool for sanding resin: I take off large amounts of overspill and get it close to where I want the finished edge to be. Then, I use hand-sanding methods to get it perfectly smooth and even.

Now, because I dislike sanding resin, here are a few of my tips to help you avoid sanding resin to get a smooth surface (or at least not sanding any more than you have to):

For the times that a hair or fleck of dirt has gotten on a painting surface, I’ve been able to notice it not because I could see the hair, but because I could see the disruption in the surface texture. i.e. the light catches the imperfection. In my experience, another layer of resin without sanding takes care of that easily.

If the surface is even, but a little frosty (like from a matte mold surface), more than likely, another layer of resin or gloss sealer spray will make your resin jewelry and crafts shiny without having to sand.

If you want to learn more about how to sand resin smooth, here are a few more resin sanding techniques explained:

How do you like to sand resin smooth?

Struggling to get the results you want with resin?  It’s not your fault!  There is so much information out there about creating with resin, how can you possibly learn it all?  That’s why I wrote the book, Resin Fundamentals.  It has the essential details beginners need to know to be successful with resin.

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2020 Resin Obsession, LLC

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58 thoughts on “How to sand resin smooth: get an even surface on resin art and jewelry

  1. I put resin on a very large oil on canvas painting and it has brush stroke streaks because it wasn’t moving enough so I used a brush. Yipes! Would sanding it work? Would a second coat cover the streaks? Any advice is appreciated.

  2. So I’ve been pouring into molds
    Recently rings
    Any suggestions in sanding these?
    Specifically the part where you put your finger in
    Some edges need defining?
    Sand paper?
    I’ve used both maybe just need more practice.

      1. When I Resin a canvas piece of art, I keep getting spots where the resin doesn’t stick. Maybe they’re called fish-eyes? Whatever they are it can ruin the piece.

  3. That’s some really cool tips!
    What about an orbital sander, do you think that could be helpful for sanding relatively large objects?

  4. Your information is so helpful. Thanks so much! I’m new to resin art, so I need all the help I can’t get ha!

    1. Help plz! 1st off, thank you for your wonderful instructions. I followed your advice and sanded my resin piece starting with 400 and ended 1000 grit. My piece is extremely cloudy now! What do I do?! Thanks in advance!

          1. As long as you end with a 1000 grit or higher sandpaper, layering with resin or the gloss sealer spray will take away the cloudiness.

          2. You are the BEST!!!!! Yes, I ended with 1000 grit. Would Mod Podge work or do I stick to the spray?

  5. I’ve got some very minor imperfections in my top coat so I was going to lightly sand them down, finish with a 1500 grit and then use Novus to polish. Will this still give it the shine that I would get with just a top coat? I’ve already done 3 layers and would rather be able to just polish it after than doing another coat.

    1. Hi Megan, it will look good, but it’s not going to be that ‘wet’ look. If you want that, you will need to apply another layer of resin. On a side note, it will likely look good enough that I don’t think anyone except you will know the difference. 😉

    1. Hi Janet, I hate when that happens! In cases like this, I use a jeweler’s saw and treat the resin like metal. I saw close to the shape of the charm, then finish it up with sandpaper.

    2. Hi I want to have resin connecting two sides of a ceramic bowl I made. ( picture a bowl broken in two pieces) . It is a curved surface so I am not sure how to do it. I am thinking of using damp clay on the back of the bowl covered in a wax resist ( this would give it support as well as the back wall of the mold). Then using tape on the top of bowl. This would leave a space between the two bowl pieces that I would pour the resin into. Do you think this would work? Or are there other ways to do a curved surface.

  6. So I’m having some issues. I’m casting clear with some things in the resin. They come out beautiful. The edges are rough so I want to
    Sand them down and sometimes I will
    Sand the whole thing level and nice. I’ve started at 400-1200 grit sandpaper and finish with Flitz polish. After sanding am
    I not able to get that clear again? I’m so bummed. What am I missing? So so cloudy and dull now.

    1. Hi Sam, it sounds like you could use a little one-on-one help. I offer consulting calls where you and I talk back and forth about what’s going on. A 15 minute consultation call is $20. I do them by video so I can have a chance to see what you are working on. If you are interested, please send a message through the ‘contact us’ page and I can get this going for you.

  7. Should I wait until the resin is fully cured before sanding? I can’t seem to get it smooth enough but I didn’t wait till it was fully cured before I started.

      1. I just made some dice with different it’s in them but now epoxy resin is dry but there cloudy what should I try first? Will it be clear eventually?

  8. Hey katherine!
    If I took some xylene to it and wiped it after sanding, would that shine it up. I’m an expert sander (used to be a painter) so the standing would be as smooth as can be. Or…. is the spray the only way to go. What does the spray look like compared to doing another layer?

    1. Hi Jordan, I haven’t tried xylene to wipe off sanded resin, but I wouldn’t expect that to work. Recoating with another layer of resin will give you the smoothest, glossiest finish, but the spray can be easier to use, especially on an irregular surface.

  9. Hi Katherine, just finished reading this, watching the You Tube vid, and sanded down some screw ups I had laying around. You are so right … sanding sucks! I was trying to reduce the thickness of some charms I made … while I kinda like the frosted edge look, it was taking too long to take off the additional thickness (abt 1/4”).

    Any ideas on a quicker way to remove that much resin? Also, just kinda playing around, I brushed on some clear nail polish over the frosted edges and this made the frosting go away, nice and clear. Is this a huge no-no, will my charms spontaneously combust & create a toxic cloud? 😆

  10. I’ve been having a hard time with my resin making. I’m using spheres, and every time,the surface touching the silicon mold is cloudy. Should I sand it or just re-resin it? I’m kinda bummed I wasted a bee lol

      1. Hi Katherine! I’m new to resin art but wanted to preserve some flowers for my mother on law, so I figured I’d give it a go. I used a pretty big mold (10″x10″). I did do it in 2 separate pours. The first layer cured great, while the second…not so much. Seemed to pull away from the edges of the mold and pooled more on one side. Is it possible to sand out these imperfections? If so, what is the best way of doing so on such a large resin piece? Thank you in advance! So glad I found this site, you have some great info on here!

  11. Greetings!

    Thank you for all of this helpful information! I have recently started working with resin and I’m starting small with letter key chains. While doing this, I have noticed some of the backs are a little sharp but not too bad. In your opinion, is this something worth sanding to make a little more smooth? Or would that be a waste of time in this instance?

    Thanks for your feedback!

  12. Hi. I’m new with resin. I made some glass coasters but sometimes my finish product has sticky portions on it. Is there any way I can remove it? Sanding sticky portions might be hard cuz it’s not as solid/hard. Thanks

  13. Hi, do you ALWAYS have to sand down resin and then pour a topcoat? I just tried sanding by hand for 30 minutes and it’s so tiring, I can’t imagine doing it multiple times as I move up grades and doing it for every single item! Is it a must if there are no apparent defects?

    Also, on defects – here are 2 scenarios I’d love your advise on please =)

    I made a set of round coasters that has tiny little holes/pores on the sides of the coasters. Do I need to sand the sides down and THEN pour a top coat and let the resin flow over the sides OR can I paint resin into those holes to ‘fill it up’, let it dry and then pour the topcoat?

    Second set of costers, a tiny bit of gold foil is sticking up the top so I poured a topcoat (badly, it’s my first time) and when the resin dried, it had moved. So now there’s a small empty pool on the surface of my geode coaster! Do I have to sand down the entire surface and start again OR can I pour a little resin in to fill that hole?

    Thank you SO much. I appreciate you taking the time to help me.

  14. This is such a great site. It is so appreciated. I have a question.I make a lot of bracelets and my Dremelingl-ing is a disaster.
    Can I use doming resin and not need to sand them?

  15. I have struggled a lot with how to get my resin jewelry smooth and shiny.
    With a lot of trial and error I have finally come to the perfect solution that I can now apply on all of my resin projects, big or small, round, straight or even intricate.

    The dremel tool can be useful but I choose to get up a notch higher and have bought myself a small handy sanding/polishing tool. When using discs one is able to sand straight and the discs come in grits to as high as 8000!
    Because I like to have the smoothest touch ever, I make do discs from 10000 paper and attach velcro to the back and continue until glossy shine.

    Then I polish it with polishing paste and finally a waxing paste.

    A long process though, therefore I always make molds of the shiny items with high quality silicone so that the next couple of pours of the same items hardly need any work and that will safe time, big time!

  16. Just a little tip I have discovered: to trim over pour from curved things like jewelry pieces and small castings, use a sturdy pair of nail clippers. I have a large pair and a small pair and sometimes a couple of tiny snips saves me from a ton of sanding.

  17. What’s the best way to get my river rock table to come clear it’s like a inch and half pour?

  18. Hi! I used a clear sealer on my resin to make it more glossy and scratch resistant, however the sealer when dried is very patchy and has a lot of texture. How would you fix this?

      1. Would painting it on there or pouring it over be my best bet? It’s bear keychains and bookmarks

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