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Blog entry by tex27 posted 03-26-2009 05:26 PM 858 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi LumberJocks,
I am finishing a piece and doing the sanding all by hand. Usually I use a sander for this and have had a nice finish when all said and done. But after watching and reading some, I am being told that hand sanding gets the best results. I have finished about half the project by hand sanding (boy does my arm feel like it’s going to fall off) and am not seeing any difference. I was looking for your input on how you guys and gals go about deciding whether to hand sand or machine.

13 comments so far

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3695 days

#1 posted 03-26-2009 05:51 PM

most people probably use a ROS for all the grits, then hand sand with the grain using the last grit again. I think it just makes sure that all the scratches run along the grain. This is what I do a lot of the time at least.

Sometimes I also just do hand sanding. One bit of advice is to change sandpaper often. Someone else on here said to “change paper as if someone else is paying for it”. I wish I could remember who said it because it is some of the best advice I’ve gotten. This applies to machine sanding too. I hope this helps.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3924 days

#2 posted 03-26-2009 07:22 PM

I use a RAS and then usually do one pass by hand with the finest grit I am using. Depends on the project also..if it’s paint grade I skip the hand sanding and usually stop at 180 or 200 with the RAS. As far as changing the paper thats the best advice you can heed! Don’t be cheap and sand till it visibly looks worn..if you wait that long you aren’t sanding anymore you are actually polishing the surface and if you plan on staining you might have a bit of a blotch problem as a result. Kind of the same idea as not sanding to a real high grit if you are going to actually close the wood pores up and polish the ends so it makes it difficult to impossible for the stain/finish to penetrate into the wood.


View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3789 days

#3 posted 03-26-2009 08:27 PM

I hand sand raw wood only when I absolutely have to (for instance when my ros dies and I have got to finish a piece. Which happened last week). I will hand sand between finish coats since a power sander will easily sand through the topcoat. This is just a light scuff sanding with 320 grit that simply roughs up the surface and removes any dust nibs.

A method that I use to gauge when I have sanded wood enough is to lightly crosshatch it with a #2 pencil and sand until the pencil marks are gone.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18248 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 03-26-2009 09:07 PM

Scott, What do the pencil marks tell you? When it is smooth, the pencil marks will go away quickly like sanding between finish coats?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3640 days

#5 posted 03-26-2009 10:08 PM

The pencil marks tell you you have sanded to approximately the same level everywhere.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4281 days

#6 posted 03-26-2009 11:29 PM

The real question might be are you unhappy with the results you were getting from your electric sander?

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3728 days

#7 posted 03-26-2009 11:55 PM

I do most of my sanding with a hand held orbital sander. One is an expensive Festool 400, and the other is a very inexpensive B&D FS500. Both have holes in the sanding pad and with a vac attached they suck up virtually 100% of the dust.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View tex27's profile


4 posts in 3315 days

#8 posted 03-27-2009 12:43 AM

I am happy with the results that my electric sander is giving me, but I just thought lets try this method and see if there is any difference.
From the response that I have been getting it seems that I am just building muscle if nothing else.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3525 days

#9 posted 03-27-2009 12:50 AM

I too do all my sanding with my dynabrade ROS air sander. So much easier on us old folks and I get better results. I have several electric sanders but only us them once in a great while.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18248 posts in 3643 days

#10 posted 03-27-2009 01:02 AM

Tex, one thing abut buildig muscle, you are wearing out your joints and causing arthritis too ;~))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View louie's profile


15 posts in 3316 days

#11 posted 03-27-2009 01:22 AM

Try not sanding and just use a scraper filed and sharpened at 45 after you use the smoothing plane, if your looking for glass that is the way to go. forget the sanding

View Garys's profile


16 posts in 3358 days

#12 posted 03-27-2009 06:29 PM

I hand Sand Everything.just run through the basic grits.120,150,180,220, and sometimes 240 and finish with a 320 or 400. It all Depends on what kind of look you want. Like Louie said if you want glass go with the planes.Always get an awesome result with those.

View Tony's profile


983 posts in 3997 days

#13 posted 04-06-2009 08:24 PM

After the dry fit, remove the pieces and use a smoothing plane to remove the marks and leave you with a glass like finish, if you still want to sand you can start at p240, it is faster, more satisfying, healthier (you get a cardiovascular workout and no dust) and quieter.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

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