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Raising the grain - cutting board

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Forum topic by TimInIndiana posted 01-29-2018 12:00 PM 1621 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TimInIndiana

114 posts in 345 days


01-29-2018 12:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sanding finishing

I’m working on finishing my very first cutting board, made of walnut, maple, and purple heart. I intend to finish it with mineral oil.

At my disposal I have a ROS with 220 grit H&L sandpaper, a 320 grit sanding sponge, and both 400 and 1000 grit in wet/dry sandpaper to use on a block.

At this point I have sanding with 220, then wet the wood to raise the grain, then sanded smooth again with 220 for a couple of cycles. Each time I wet the grain I’m getting new fibers exposed. Is there a certain number of times that I need to go through wet/let dry/sand cycle? Will it get to the point with 220 grit paper that new fibers aren’t sticking up after wetting? Or am I just cutting new fibers with the sandpaper?

How far up the grit scale do you go before applying the finish? I was planning to 220 only before I put the mineral oil on, then sand in between mineral oil coats with 400. Does this sound reasonable?


12 replies so far

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1241 posts in 2157 days


#1 posted 01-29-2018 12:32 PM

Is this going to be a “user” or a “looker”. Since you are applying mineral oil, I assume you intend to use the board. The 220 should be plenty.

View msinc's profile

msinc

569 posts in 708 days


#2 posted 01-29-2018 12:52 PM

This will make some people mad, but…all my life I have seen and even tried the “wet it and raise the grain” trick. I personally never felt like or seen where it accomplished much if anything. It seemed like it just made the wood fuzz up more. It also seemed like the time I wasted messing around with it was better spent just continuing to sand the surface. The only time it can really be useful that I see is like when you have a highly figured piece of wood and have a hard time seeing if you have all the milling or saw cut lines sanded out.
I generally just sand until I have the milling marks out and call it a day. I will say though that I like the sheen that 320 grit produces on finished wood. 220 is fine for most things, and probably all you need on cutting board end grain. Most of the cutting boards I make are cheese and cracker trays done on my lathe, so a few minutes with 320 just puts that shine on it. If I were doing a square one by hand I really think 220 is enough. I mean, it’s not as if end grain is easy or fun to sand on anyway!!!

View TimInIndiana's profile

TimInIndiana

114 posts in 345 days


#3 posted 01-29-2018 12:59 PM


This will make some people mad, but…all my life I have seen and even tried the “wet it and raise the grain” trick. I personally never felt like or seen where it accomplished much if anything. It seemed like it just made the wood fuzz up more. It also seemed like the time I wasted messing around with it was better spent just continuing to sand the surface. The only time it can really be useful that I see is like when you have a highly figured piece of wood and have a hard time seeing if you have all the milling or saw cut lines sanded out.
I generally just sand until I have the milling marks out and call it a day. I will say though that I like the sheen that 320 grit produces on finished wood. 220 is fine for most things, and probably all you need on cutting board end grain. Most of the cutting boards I make are cheese and cracker trays done on my lathe, so a few minutes with 320 just puts that shine on it. If I were doing a square one by hand I really think 220 is enough. I mean, it s not as if end grain is easy or fun to sand on anyway!!!

- msinc

Thanks for the feedback! Just to be clear – this is an edge grain board, not end grain. The 220 grit feels quote smooth before I’ve applied any finish.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1976 posts in 2194 days


#4 posted 01-29-2018 01:06 PM

Wetting to raise the grain applies if using wb stain or finish, not ob which mineral oil is. It does work, but sanding after is done by hand with a light touch, usually with the next higher grit.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5094 posts in 2556 days


#5 posted 01-29-2018 01:09 PM

Once or twice should be sufficient, sand to 220 and your done.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View msinc's profile

msinc

569 posts in 708 days


#6 posted 01-29-2018 01:12 PM


This will make some people mad, but…all my life I have seen and even tried the “wet it and raise the grain” trick. I personally never felt like or seen where it accomplished much if anything. It seemed like it just made the wood fuzz up more. It also seemed like the time I wasted messing around with it was better spent just continuing to sand the surface. The only time it can really be useful that I see is like when you have a highly figured piece of wood and have a hard time seeing if you have all the milling or saw cut lines sanded out.
I generally just sand until I have the milling marks out and call it a day. I will say though that I like the sheen that 320 grit produces on finished wood. 220 is fine for most things, and probably all you need on cutting board end grain. Most of the cutting boards I make are cheese and cracker trays done on my lathe, so a few minutes with 320 just puts that shine on it. If I were doing a square one by hand I really think 220 is enough. I mean, it s not as if end grain is easy or fun to sand on anyway!!!

- msinc

Thanks for the feedback! Just to be clear – this is an edge grain board, not end grain. The 220 grit feels quote smooth before I ve applied any finish.

- TimInIndiana

Yeah, if it feels good and smooth and you cant see any lower grit sanding marks or milling lines I would go ahead and finish it. As to the “raising the grain” post above…”it does work”? Work to do what exactly? Maybe with some woods, I haven’t used them all yet, but if I sand something and wet it and it fuzzes then I simply didn’t sand it fine enough and need to keep on sanding,

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

3063 posts in 2377 days


#7 posted 01-29-2018 02:31 PM

OSU55×1
Mineral oil will not raise the grain. Apply the mineral oil and while still wet sand lightly with the nest higher grit wipe down and reapply the oil and follow the directions for the finish.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View YesHaveSome's profile

YesHaveSome

128 posts in 463 days


#8 posted 01-29-2018 02:59 PM

I made a bunch of cutting boards around the holidays. I sanded to 220 and then dumped quite a bit of water on it. Let it dry and then hit it very quickly with 320. All the boards were very smooth after applying the oil and wax.

-- But where does the meat go?

View ScottM's profile

ScottM

691 posts in 2351 days


#9 posted 01-29-2018 03:47 PM



Wetting to raise the grain applies if using wb stain or finish, not ob which mineral oil is. It does work, but sanding after is done by hand with a light touch, usually with the next higher grit.

- OSU55

+1. Just a “light” sand after the raising dries. If you sand too hard you’re just undoing what you were trying to accomplish.

View Carloz's profile

Carloz

1147 posts in 796 days


#10 posted 01-29-2018 03:52 PM



I m working on finishing my very first cutting board, made of walnut, maple, and purple heart. I intend to finish it with mineral oil.

At my disposal I have a ROS with 220 grit H&L sandpaper, a 320 grit sanding sponge, and both 400 and 1000 grit in wet/dry sandpaper to use on a block.

At this point I have sanding with 220, then wet the wood to raise the grain, then sanded smooth again with 220 for a couple of cycles. Each time I wet the grain I m getting new fibers exposed. Is there a certain number of times that I need to go through wet/let dry/sand cycle? Will it get to the point with 220 grit paper that new fibers aren t sticking up after wetting? Or am I just cutting new fibers with the sandpaper?

How far up the grit scale do you go before applying the finish? I was planning to 220 only before I put the mineral oil on, then sand in between mineral oil coats with 400. Does this sound reasonable?

- TimInIndiana


So many people try to sand to much higher grits than required. 1000 grid sandpaper is intended to be used on metal or smoothing finishes, never on bare wood.
For wood 150 grid is as high you should go if you intend to finish it, or 220 if not.

View AxkMan's profile

AxkMan

65 posts in 331 days


#11 posted 01-29-2018 07:04 PM

If you are using an orbital sander then you are fairly safe. Even as low as 80 grit is fine with orbitals on some woods. I have gone this low before only once and end with a perfect finish. The only downside to lower grits is that you can leave small cups from excessive sanding.

It also depends on your wood. If you are using softwoods, then you are mostly fine with anything that is orbital. If you use other woods, they may tend to leave slight tear marks. That is when you need higher grits to avoid that.

If you sand by hand, then you need to increment the grits. If you apply stain to hand sanded projects done at a low grit, then the scratch marks will come out visibly (though you did not see them). You start around 80/120/220 depending on the roughness of the surface. Then work up 2-3 steps toward 1000. This is the manual way.

All will reveal itself when you finish. You can test on some small pieces to verify your results if you need to do some homework.

Invest in some small $20.00 led work lights at some point. Even a 1000 lumen flashlight is useful. You will need plenty of lighting to catch any of this before the next step.

Once you apply the final coat (mineral oil) you really shouldn’t be sanding anything. Usually one coat is never efficient and you will need 2 coats at least for adequate coverage. Allow 3 days to cure and about 1-2 weeks before use. I’ve found that I am very satisfied waiting this long and let the dust from other projects act as an alternate cleaner of residue…

Final notes is that when you sand, you are suppose to sand along the grain. Against the grain (cross-grain) is not recommended as this will encourage tears.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

595 posts in 1674 days


#12 posted 01-29-2018 07:21 PM

Sand all your projects to 2500 grit. Then use a brown paper bag to burnish the surface. Bam, no expensive and smelly finish is required!

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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