Just for Fun... #7: A word or two about sanding...

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Blog entry by littlecope posted 12-12-2009 01:29 AM 1693 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Here We Go Again... Part 7 of Just for Fun... series Part 8: Of Pattern Making and Raised Panels »

Those who read Part #6 will recall that two days ago I left off here…Four sides ready for panels...
I went into the shop yesterday set to begin making the panels for this, the latest small box. But it was one of those days, and we’ve all had them, where my ambition level was at a low ebb… I didn’t have unlimited time to work either, other things to do, you know? But I did see something within my reach, with the time I had, namely, Sanding... There, I’ve gone and said it!! After reading numerous Forum questions and seeing the joyous greetings that every shop-built sanding machine receives, I’ve come to the conclusion that the sanding part of projects doesn’t have many ardent fans!!
Well, I can’t sit here and write of all the glitter and glamor of this particular chore, and I can’t talk of others experiences, but I thought I might share some of my own…
It has seemed to me that my problems with sanding invariably rise from not doing it when I’m supposed to. I did it on this very project already and was about to do it again when I stopped and said to myself “Self, if I’m going to discuss this subject of sanding discipline, I should try to observe some!” When I began the box, I should have sanded the wood before I even used it. I did rough sand one side, the side that would be riding the tables, but neglected the upper side, which was foolish… my marks would have been easier to see, I would have had a clearer picture of the grain of the Wood…but no, I just wanted to get to cutting!! Then again yesterday, I was about to make the panels without yet sanding the sides! Do you get where I’m going with this? I end up with a “completed” project’s worth of parts, completed that is, except for the sanding! Then I usually have a complete day’s worth of drudgery on my hands!
I’m writing this for my own benefit as well, I’m one of the worst offenders! It’s funny even, because I don’t mind Sanding! I just don’t like doing it all day… So what I keep on trying to tell myself to do is to sand when it’s time to sand, and not put it off until later. As I finish each piece, sand it right then. It breaks up the whole monotony of the chore… Yep, I keep telling myself. Now if I would only listen…
So that’s what I did yesterday for about 2 1/2 hours, brought the sanding up to date. I started by marking the ends of the piecesMarking Piece Ends before Sanding
After I get into the spirit of it and see the results, I begin to remember that it’s really not that bad!! Why do I always put it off?!Sanding Results (Middle Piece)
With the first piece done, it’s off to the next… It’s actually fun! God Bless you people who have machines to do this, but I’m a hand-sander from way back. At no time do I ever feel as intimately involved with the process as when I’m sanding. I feel it, I smell it, I even wear it!! It’s also just about the only time I can work sitting down too! I sit in my shop chair, put the piece over my knee, and work it, until it reaches that silky smoothness we all know and love…Sanding Station
With the sides all done, and still in “Sanding Mode”, I went ahead and sanded the piece I’ll be cutting the panels out of…While I'm at it...
Yeah, I know, not very interesting and not very fun, but we all know how important sanding is to the finished quality of a piece…
I can breath a sigh of relief now! I’ll sand again, of course, when the box is constructed, but the “heavy” work is done. I even had a little time left and felt so great about the world that I cut the templates for the panels…First Pattern- correct in width
But that’s another day’s fun… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

15 comments so far

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3335 days

#1 posted 12-12-2009 02:12 AM

hey mike ,
this is so much fun ,
that i think i’ll go and sand my table .

the reason it isn’t done yet ,
something new ( that i had not learned well ) ,
the woods that i used for it ,
all changed differently as they sat with a finish on them .
they have developed minor contraction changes ,
this is a problem i don’t generally have using the same woods ,
( usually pine or alder ) ,
but with these exotics , after they are cut and sit for a while ,
they expand/contract differently .
it’s not allot , but enough to see and feel slightly .
in the future i will let these projects sit for a month or two ,
to get over that , and then do the finish .
so ,
hi-ho , hi-ho ,
it’s of to sand i go !
thanks for showing the way ,
and have a great day !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3571 days

#2 posted 12-12-2009 02:21 AM

Hey Mike I guess I’m not alone I don’t like sanding either. But once I get going I still don’t like it :-))

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3933 days

#3 posted 12-12-2009 02:44 AM

I don’t mind sanding and actually kinda like it. I don’t like my hand cramping up, or my arm getting tired though. Still, sanding is good therapy. But, as you say, it is a discipline.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 3439 days

#4 posted 12-12-2009 02:50 AM

I’m with Jim I don’t like it but I love the results.

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3141 days

#5 posted 12-12-2009 04:07 AM

Mike I’m with you, sanding takes a lot of work but without it all your fine work can’t shine as it should. To see imperfections in a finished piece is a heartbreak. Not many will even see them, but you will. Early in my wood working days I would use tung oil, teak oil or profin like a super teak oil. Everything sanded to as fine as #400 and up as the oil would penetrate the wood to a beautiful depth like the wood was an inch deep. Every coat got better, so when do you stop? Now I like wipe on poly as a good coat = many of the oils & after 4 coats can be buffed with automotive {white } compounds for a finish as fine as anything I’ve seen. Not to glossy but all dust & other imperfections are gone. Im now, with weather permitting using Magnamax Pre cat Lacquer drys in 30 min, sand with 180 then as many coats as you want usually 3 to 4 coats & then buff if you want. #400 or better for between the final coats. I don’t think it will have the depth of a fine oil finish but it has it’s place in productive work, read FAST! See my sanding table & for cheap you can make one to hook up to a shop vac or DC. Then the shop will be a lot cleaner when you go to finish. Try using a random orbit to about #180 to speed things up & get any imperfections out then hand sand with again with#180 with the grain. Depending on if you use stain or not this may be as fine as you go. I will wet sand stain in with #320 to knock down any grains that pop up & finish from there, not sanding the first coat of finish as that may sand into the stain coat. As many more coats of finish as you can do sanding finer & finer will be up to you. A finished piece is always stunning with a super fine finish. Sorry for the long wind here but I learn so much from others here that I want to tell my method to all too. I want to start using dyes now instead of oil stains as I see they can really make wood POP in color & grain. Another post altogether.

-- $tudie

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3303 days

#6 posted 12-12-2009 07:43 AM

I add my vote for the don’t like sanding list but know that without doing a top notch sanding job my work would only be mediocre. Any shortcut of sanding is the weak link in the chain and will more noticable and amplified when the finish is applied. I use a drum sander, random orbit sander and find that a lot of hand sanding is always necessary, like it or not it is part of the process.

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3185 days

#7 posted 12-12-2009 08:42 AM

I hate sanding, I hate sanding standing, I hate sanding sitting, I hate sanding when I’m happy, I hate sanding when I am sad, sanding never made me glad. I always put my Grinch on when I’m sanding. Bob

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3426 days

#8 posted 12-12-2009 08:50 AM

Sanding is something I have to be “in the mood” to do. Usually, I’ll just grab a palm sander, put on a mask and sand for 20 minutes… times up,,, had enough. But… when I want a relaxing, quiet activity that puts me in contact with the wood, nothing beats hand sanding!
That box came out great… must be all that “contact with the wood”!!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3349 days

#9 posted 12-12-2009 09:05 AM

i have a heap of projects on the go at the moment and I reckon on about two full days sanding… and I mean two full days… just sanding… pre-assemble and then some more after and during finishing… I just love sanding…NOT>

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3193 days

#10 posted 12-12-2009 04:30 PM

Thanks for putting this out there, I am working on a dresser for my daughter, and need to spend some time sanding….
before gluing up all the drawers, it will be easier, I guess I don’t need to just rush right into assembly.
Thanks Bud.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4241 days

#11 posted 12-12-2009 06:57 PM

I’m with you buddy, even on a lathe, when the lathe is doing all the work, I just stand there like a doof. I hate it. It is the mostest drugyest part of any project. It has no redeeming value for me. I’m glad you have found some. Mike in Michigan. PS Great liooking project.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3496 days

#12 posted 12-13-2009 03:05 AM

Not a lotta love for sanding around here…
Except, of course David, but I think he’s been secretly trying to get arms like Popeye’s for many years… :)
You’ve got that Great Hate going on, Bob K.!! Why not turn it into Anger?! Get Mad at it!! You’ll be one of the fastest sanders in the world!! LOL
Thanks, Everybody, for your Time and Comments!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View nmkidd's profile


758 posts in 3167 days

#13 posted 12-17-2009 09:36 AM

I guess I’ve been doing my sanding backasswards for many moons…..what you say makes sense and you don’t spend hours sanding all before assembly… it as you go along. I voice the same opinion as all the others…..sanding is not on my most favorite to do list…...however, you can always take a little coffee and Twinkie break whilst sanding…gives you that extra boost to git ‘er done!!!

-- Doug, New Mexico.......the only stupid question is one that is never asked!........don't fix it, if it ain't broke!

View Thomas12's profile


5 posts in 3267 days

#14 posted 01-06-2010 04:01 PM

I have come to point where I can not sand at all! I have sanders elbow or something. Every time a pick up a sander my arm aches for several days.


View Recut's profile


27 posts in 3171 days

#15 posted 01-06-2010 05:37 PM

When you have unwanted company in the garage, start sanding – they WILL leave. This also works on dishes when you want to be alone in the evening. Gosh I am beginning to sound like I want to be a hermit….

-- Jim, Richmond Virginia - Plan your work - Work your plan.

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