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How To Use An Electric Sander To Wet Felt A 3D Flower

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.

Detail of large 3F Wet Felted Flower

Detail of large 3F Wet Felted Flower

Take The Necessary Safety Precautions!

Please stay safe and always ensure that you use a 'Ground Fault Adapter' whenever you use any electrical appliance near water. I wear rubber soled shoes as an additional precaution!

The sander I use one which is the palm type which does not have any spinning or rotating parts to it. It also has no dust bag. No sandpaper is used at all during the whole felt making process. I insert the sander into a strong plastic bag and always keep the bag open at the top as I work. This is to prevent it from overheating! I make sure not to cover the air vents. I never allow it to run for long periods at a time! I insert the sander into a strong plastic bag to prevent any water from entering the workings of the appliance. I make sure to cover the project completely, first with bubble wrap and then an additional layer of heavy plastic sheeting, I soak up any excess water, before and during the whole process of the felt making process. I use only sufficient water to wet the fibers and no more! Working with too much water is unnecessary and will sometimes displace the carefully laid out design.

Always make sure to work with a barrier of plastic between the sander and the Project. Use Bubble wrap and a thicker sheet of plastic to cover it. Kitchen wrap can be very useful to keep the 3D layers separate but it is not strong enough to be used on its own!

Using your Sander for Felting

Switch on the sander. Place it down gently on the covering of plastic. Press and lift the sander. Don’t press it down hard and glide it over the plastic, just as if it were a piece of wood! Press down and lift it up. Doing it this way, will ensure that your carefully placed fibers are not displaced! Once you have gone over the whole flower once, turn it over and repeat the process again. The thicker sections of fiber may need a little more attention - such as the area in the middle of the flower. When you have gone over each side once, you can now begin sanding you were 'sanding wood'. You will now be able to glide over the plastic. This should not you no more than ten to fifteen minutes in total. Large projects may take a little longer!

Before removing the plastic, check for stability in the middle area of the flower. If you are completely satisfied that it has fused together, you can remove the bubble wrap and the kitchen wrap from the petals.

Palm Sander

Electric Sander placed in a strong open plastic bag

Electric Sander placed in a strong open plastic bag

Ryobi Operated Sanders

A Ryobi Corner Cat sander which can be battery operated can be substituted for an electric sander! This sander uses a 18v battery. It can be purchased separately if you don't already use Ryobi tools which use the same battery. If you don’t already have one, you will need their additional charger. This may well be the safest way to approach felting. I cannot vouch for the result as I have not used one myself. It would certainly avoid any unnecessary ‘shock hazards’ whilst using electricity.

Things needed for felting with an electric sander

Things needed for felting with an electric sander

The 1st Layer of Sepals

Sepals with the hole in the center of the plastic wrap

Sepals with the hole in the center of the plastic wrap

Cut a Hole in the 1st Layer of Plastic

Layers showing hold in the center of the plastic wrap

Layers showing hold in the center of the plastic wrap

How to Wet Felt a Large 3D Flower Using an Electric Sander

  • Method
  • Onto a waterproof surface, lay down a mat or towel
  • Lay down one piece of kitchen wrap onto the mat or towel
  • Lay down down five green sepals onto the kitchen wrap
  • Add a little color for contrast
  • Cut a small hole into a center of the kitchen wrap and cover the sepals with the hole centered directly over the center of the sepals.
  • Lay down as many petals as you like. Use one or two contrasting colors for effect. Allow as much wool as you would like to have in your finished flower.
  • Pace another layer of plastic down with a hole cut in the middle and repeat this process once more.
  • You may wish to repeat this process - as many times as you like. Remember that the more layers you add, the more sanding you will have to do!
  • Cover with a piece of curtain netting
  • Pour hot soapy water down into the center of the flower
  • Press the water down and outwards until all the fibers below are saturated with water but not sodden
  • Dab any excess water with a towel and remove the net curtaining
  • Cover with a piece of bubble wrap and a thicker piece of plastic sheeting
  • Use the sander as described above to 'sand' the flower
  • Remove the plastic layers once the central core of the flower has been felted properly
  • Place the Project in a bowl and pour boiling water over it
  • Leave to stand for a few minutes
  • Shock with cold water
  • Repeat this once more and rinse until the water runs clear of soap
  • Throw onto the counter top or table to 'full'
  • Squeeze water out of the flower with a towel
  • Arrange the petals and put a few stitches through the sepal area to keep the petals firmly in place.
  • Leave to dry
3D Flower drying in a vase

3D Flower drying in a vase

What Does Fulling Mean?

Fulling or to 'full' is the process by which felt is made. It is the shrinking, cleansing and thickening of cloth by means of hot soapy water (heat) with applied pressure.

How ToWet Felt A Large 3D Flower Using an Electric Sander

Felting with an Electric Sander

© 2013 Sally Gulbrandsen


Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on November 30, 2016:

Lift the sander up and down and leave it for only a few seconds at first. Once the whole item has been sanded once and the fibres are h3lp in place you can hold it down for much longer.

For small projects such as this one I have found of late that I prefer using a heavy duty bamboo curtain blind as the wool felts very quickly. Try using both methods and see which one works best for you.

Scroll to Continue

Pam k on November 30, 2016:

How long do you leave the sander in each spot?

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 10, 2014:

DJ Anderson - thank you very much. I very much appreciate your valued comments and your visit.


DJ Anderson on February 10, 2014:

I am not much for arts and crafts projects, these day.

I have never heard of Wet Felt, but you have done a wonderful job in explaining and showing how the process is done to create a most

beautiful 'flower'.

Excellent Hub!


Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on October 25, 2013:

DDE = how lovely to have you stop by one of my felting tutorials. Hope you will be tempted to try it out.


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 25, 2013:

How to Wet Felt a Large 3D Felt Flower using an Electric Sander, so beautifully finished and what a great idea

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 05, 2013:

moonlake, thank you for your visit. Glad I was able to show you a different aspect of felting. Thanks for the vote up.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 05, 2013:

Natashalh, Thanks for the complement. It is a great tool and used carefully takes away some of the neck ache I associate with rolling felt.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 05, 2013:

Nell Rose, thank you for your visit and thank you for sharing. I am so glad you enjoyed the Hub.

moonlake from America on April 04, 2013:

This is very interesting and so pretty. I have never heard of this. Voted up.

Natasha from Hawaii on April 04, 2013:

So cool!! I love your felting projects and these flowers are beautiful. I never, ever would have through to turn an electric sander into a felting tool! Too bad all I have right now is sander pads, but no operational sander. Pinning!

Nell Rose from England on April 04, 2013:

This is so awesome, and something I would never even have thought of, love the instructions and the photos really make it come alive, nice one! voted up and shared, nell

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 20, 2013:

Hi Katherine, Glad you enjoyed the finished product. Yes, care is definitely needed which is why the Hub comes with a Health and Safety warning! Black and Decker make a base cover specifically for one of their sanders for felting, so perhaps it is not as uncommon as one may think! The results definitely speak for themselves and if in doubt, a battery operated one would definitely be the safest option. Thanks for stopping by and for taking time to comment.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on March 19, 2013:

This looks awesome, and the end result is beautiful. But I think it would freak me out to use an electric appliance near water. But then again, you gave safety precautions, so I suppose I would be okay with it if I was very careful.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 17, 2013:

Hi mjkearn, I really appreciate your comments, especially the ones about the safety tips. It is so necessary to be extra careful when working with electricity and water. The sander does such a great job and I can't wait to show off a few more ideas I have.

Thank you for stopping by and for voting up.

mjkearn on March 17, 2013:

Hi Sally

You've done a fabulous job on this hub. I use power tools nearly every day and many not for their intended purpose so I especially love the use of the hand sander. You're safety tips are spot on.

Voted up.


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