There is nothing wrong with using several sheets of sandpaper to smooth down edges of your metal work, polymer clay or resin pieces, etc. It's fine when you only have a small area to cover or just one piece to deal with.  But it becomes a dreadful chore if you have to sand a lot.  So if you were to only get one power tool, let it be a drill!  Most households already have one so you likely don't have to buy one. It will make sanding less time consuming and will save your sanity.

I have a electric Dremel drill. Tip - don't get the rechargeable ones.  There is nothing more irritating than to run out of power in the middle of sanding. My first drill was a rechargeable one and after a while, the battery conked out!

The problem with the sanding attachments is the lack of finer grit sanding drums.  It's Hobson's choice really. Coarse or coarse?

You could use the coarse sanding drum to do the initial rough polishing. Then finish up with manual polishing with increasing finer sandpaper.  Still a chore.

I had considered gluing strips of sandpaper on those extra sanding drums.  But a better way is to make your own sanding drums by using the split mandrels for drills and flex shafts.

These split mandrels have slots down one end of the rods. I cut strips of different grades of sandpaper. The widths were about the same as the depth of the slots.

Then place a strip through the slot.....

....and roll up the sandpaper strip tightly.

I prefer to glue down the end.  Some people don't bother. They just start the drill and the spinning action keeps the strip in a drum shape - see this tutorial by John Ahr.  This method is fine for sanding large pieces but not small areas where you need some precision.  I am also not at all fond of the flapping sandpaper end which catches one's hand and fingers.

So I add a little glue and use a clip to clamp down the end until the glue sets.

As I bought a pack of split mandrels, I could prepare and label with electrical tape the different sand paper types on each.

You could also dampen the sandpaper part to help control the dust. When the sandpaper gets worn, just tear off the glued down edge and reveal fresh sandpaper. Trim off the old bit and reglue.

Additional Tips
Universal Collet
I use different attachments for my Dremel which are (sigh) all of varying shank sizes.  Fishing around for the right tool and changing collets is a pain in the time consuming. So it is worth getting the Dremel Keyless Chuck or universal collet. Makes changing attachments quick and easy.

All I have to do is depress the release button (left thumb below) and screw on the chuck. By turning the chuck, you can open or close the opening where you insert the attachment until the chuck is tight. When the blue button is released, I am ready to go!  I use my Dremel for drilling, sanding and buffing, all of which are exceedingly tedious if I had to do it manually.

Tapered Split Mandrels
You can also shape the sandpaper so it has a taper as this woodcarver demonstrates. That would be good for tight places to sand. Alternatively, you can purchase tapered split mandrels.(Now on my list!)

Dust Masks
Always use a dust mask when sanding.  I am particularly sensitive to very fine dust particles so I use something better than the usual cheap dust masks. I use N95 dust masks. These can be bought in packs which reduces the cost. The 95 shows its filtering efficiency - 95% of airborne particulates at least 0.3 micron or larger, don't get through. These are the kind of masks used to reduce the spread of flu and other viruses. (see Reference)

I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation.

The tutorial pictures were taken with my iPhone 6S with the ProCamera app and the Modahaus TS400 tabletop studio using artificial lights in my windowless basement studio. Check out my How to Photograph Jewelry Webinar .

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