How to sand in between chair back spindles?

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Forum topic by lukedevilliers posted 03-25-2011 05:42 AM 25315 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2642 days

03-25-2011 05:42 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sanding refinishing oak spindles slats arts and crafts

Hello and thanks all for your time.

Newbie question here.

I’m refinishing an old university surplus wooden chair that looks somewhat like a Mission or “Bellingham” chair, I’ve taken most of the old lacquer off with a palm sander. The chair back is made up of 6 slat-style spindles. It resembles the attached image in form (but it’s bare nicked up wood rather than this beautifully finished piece.)

To get the finish off the spindles I started using the Dremel but quickly realized it would turn the entire chair into sawdust in minutes, so I stopped.

I have no good way to get in between those damn spindles, or for that matter get up snug where two pieces of wood meet at 90 degrees!

What’s the standard reasonably non-destructive method for doing this?

(I wear a respirator and safety glasses btw.)

-- "Can you make ANYTHING? A man should have a talent on his hands."

5 replies so far

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2835 days

#1 posted 03-25-2011 06:03 AM

Last time I done something similar to what you’re describing, I used about a two foot piece of emory cloth. I used inch wide emory cloth, run it between the spindles, then wrapped each end around a piece of dowel and stapled it to the dowels. This made temporary handles so I could easily pull the emory cloth back and forth across the spindles while working it up and down them. This seemed to me to make it go pretty easily.


View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2790 posts in 3431 days

#2 posted 03-25-2011 06:32 AM

when I have something round or curved I tear off strips of my old belts from my 6”x48” belt sander. They are tough and can take a lot of abuse. I use them shoeshine fashion and they work great.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2927 days

#3 posted 03-25-2011 07:05 AM

I would use a sanding sponge:

Cut it in long strips between 1 to 2” wide and use it “shoe polishing” motion.

They are flexible and durable.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View swirt's profile


2729 posts in 2965 days

#4 posted 03-25-2011 07:19 AM

Another thing to consider is that maybe the spindles don’t need much sanding…. they were likely smooth when the chair was made. If youa re doing it just to remove the old finish, a solvent that matches the finish type might be a less destructive choice.

-- Galootish log blog,

View lukedevilliers's profile


5 posts in 2642 days

#5 posted 11-17-2011 02:27 AM

Solvent wound up being the way to go. I’ll post a pic, it ended up looking OK.

-- "Can you make ANYTHING? A man should have a talent on his hands."

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