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Forum topic by MsDebbieP posted 01-30-2007 01:35 PM 1867 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18615 posts in 4154 days

01-30-2007 01:35 PM

I’ve done some designing, some cutting, some gluing, and some sanding… but one thing I’ve learned from the LumberJocks is that the difference between a piece of wood and a piece of art is the sanding.

So, my question is “what is your advice on how to sand?” (remember that I am completely new to woodworking)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

13 replies so far

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4230 days

#1 posted 01-30-2007 01:36 PM

Sanding makes not Art. (Or is that Sanding does not Art Make)? You can have a Chainsaw piece that has not sanding

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18615 posts in 4154 days

#2 posted 01-30-2007 02:22 PM

true; point taken

So, I’ll change the scenario: I want to create a box that when you run your hand over it you think that you are stroking butter…. any tips on sanding to achieve this goal?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4170 days

#3 posted 01-30-2007 02:47 PM

Yes, get a Festool Random Orbital sander. Ask anyone who owns one (like me) and they will tell you that it’s their secret weapon. In my experience, and I’ve owned a lot of powered sanders, nothing compares and it will achieve what you are looking for.

However, regardless the sander that you use, I strongly recommend good inhalation protection. Wood dust is a killer. I have a recommendation here, too. Look at my shop in my LumberJocks profile for Triton Air Respirator.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#4 posted 01-30-2007 02:53 PM

orbital sander…. got it

wood dust: I almost always use a little mask when sanding. I’m pretty bad at taking care of my body at the best of times—don’t need to be clogging the ol’ lungs up unnecessarily.

We are looking into a dust collection unit but I’m assuming that it doesn’t stop the fine dust from heading to the nostrils.

I’ll check out your shop.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4393 days

#5 posted 01-30-2007 02:58 PM

Don: I’ve an older version of the Festool sander that is a finishing mode sander, does the newer ones convert from more agressive sanding and finish sanding?

Debbie: sand with an penetrating oil based finish like tung oil or danish oil. Your paper gets clogged up but man can you get a smooth surface.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View cabinetman's profile


144 posts in 4137 days

#6 posted 01-30-2007 03:49 PM

There are different types of finishes depending on the specie of wood and what you do to it. Just for starters, the general idea is that the finer the grit (higher the number) the smoother the abrasion will be. For some woods there is a threshold that if made too smooth, some finishes will not penetrate as desired. So, to take most woods past 320 is really useless.

Other than a random orbit sander, or a finishing sander, any hand/block sanding should be done with the grain. With using scrapers, the same rule applies. Scrapers will produce a beautifully smooth finish, that if done correctly will need no or little sanding. Having a dressed edge on a scraper is paramount to be effective.

Generally speaking, the more of anything you put on the wood, the more finish you will wind up with. For oil finishes, it’s a multiple application and rubbing procedure that will build a sheen. For film finishes (like lacquer, varnish, shellac, or polyurethane), the same holds true as for steps to the last coat. This entails sanding with progressively smoother grits for a final finish.

For an absolute glass like feel, a “paste wood filler” or also called “grain filler”, not to be confused with wood putty is applied to the wood which will fill the pores and provide an excellent medium for a finish. Check this out:

This is just a short version of an overview of sanding and finishing. To just discuss sanding without an idea of a further finish is like an incomplete sentence. IMO, the preparation of the wood is geared in the direction of what the final finish will be.

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Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4167 days

#7 posted 01-30-2007 05:04 PM


My first piece of advice would be to start looking for books at the library and search on-line for articles and read up on sanding yourself. As proven by previous discussions on this site, you could ask 10 woodworkers how to sand and you are going to get 10 different methods, possibly 15.

Cabinetman offers some sound advice. I’ve always had a mental block when it comes to using a grain filler, however. The way I look at it, if I want a silky smooth finish, I’m going to use a wood with tight, closed pores, such as a rosewood or maple or some such thing, instead of an open-pore wood, like mahogany or oak or hickory.

But wood selection has always been a very important step to my creative process. They type of wood I use in a project is rarely determined by what species I have in surplus or by randomly grabbing a piece and starting to cut. I spend a significant amount of “design time” determining the kind of wood I use and the layout of that wood in the project (grain orientation, location of figured vs. non-figured boards, layout when bookmatching, etc.). For this reason, I will probably never be a really good “production” woodworker.

-- Ethan,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#8 posted 01-30-2007 05:35 PM

thank you everyone for all of these pieces of wisdom. This is definitely making me feel more confident with the whole process.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4170 days

#9 posted 01-31-2007 12:09 AM

Quote Karson: ”I’ve an older version of the Festool sander that is a finishing mode sander, does the newer ones convert from more aggressive sanding and finish sanding?”

Karson, I own a five year old Festool Rotex 150 ROS. This has a 6” sanding head that can be set to one of two modes, eccentric or rotary. I tend to use the eccentric mode and seldom use sanding disks courser than 240 grit to start. Courser grades just eat through the wood.

I’ve discussed this with the local Festool people, and they agree that the Rotex 150 (5”) was an aggressive sanding tool. They claim the current Rotex 125 is less aggressive and better for finishing. But at AU$750.00, it’s hard to justify a second sander. Anyhow, I’ve learned how to get the kind of finished surface I’m after with the 150.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

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Philip Edwards

245 posts in 4432 days

#10 posted 01-31-2007 12:37 AM

When sanding the important thing is the grade of paper you are using. Always start with the coarsest paper necessary to remove the worst of the machine marks. When the surface is a uniform scratch pattern move up to the next grit of paper. Sand until the whole surface is a uniform texture again and then move to a finer grade, etc.
I recommend starting with 120 grit, through 180, 240 and 320 grit for a smooth and flawless look. Don’t “cheat” and jump to the finer grades as you will spend all day trying to remove coarse scratches with fine paper! Don’t ask me how I know this…...;)
And when you apply your finish you will find that it raises the grain a little and can feel rough when the finish dries. Take fine steel wool and buff the piece and then apply a coat of wax and buff off when dry. You then have a piece that feels like silk and has a deep shine.

Don / Karson
Do you Guys have Metabo sanders in your area? I have the SXE450 ( a six inch ROS) and it has two modes, an agressive 6mm orbit and a finer 3mm. It is half the price of the Festool (not that the Festool isnt a great machine!) but works just as well.

Hope this helps

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#11 posted 01-31-2007 01:56 AM

crossing my fingers for the sanding stage—thanks to everyone for their support

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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3648 posts in 4320 days

#12 posted 01-31-2007 04:41 AM

I took my pub table to 320 or 400, then applied several coats of varnish sanding and wet sanding in between up to 2000 grit (I was following a finishing article in FWW) The next step up from 2000 is probably a grocerybag or an old t-shirt :)

I’m sure I didn’t need to go that far, but the top is as smooth as glass, wet sanding with mineral spirits before applying the finish did a great job at filling in any voids. I could have continued on to rub out with rottenstone or automotive finishing compound (as the article suggested) but I think I’d gone far enough. 320 is certainly supersmooth if you don’t skip grits and do a good job with each step.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#13 posted 01-31-2007 02:39 PM

the top looks like a mirror!!

again that word “patience” pops up—this will be my challenge.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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