Is there a way to replicate the smoothness of wood that has been touched by hand multiple times?

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Forum topic by EricWrights posted 04-15-2011 10:26 AM 1159 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View EricWrights's profile


94 posts in 2341 days

04-15-2011 10:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood working

You know how park trees have areas that every kid who has climbed it uses and become super super smooth due to the thousands of hands touching them over the years, or on really old wooden handrails, wooden playground equipment etc?
Is there a practical way of replicating the intense smoothness of that wood?

-- Sawing, sanding, scraping, cutting? Let Rockwell Sonicrafter do the job. & A more general blog at

7 replies so far

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 1758 days

#1 posted 04-15-2011 11:08 AM

Or you could rub it with rocks or dirt

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View rhett's profile


713 posts in 2757 days

#2 posted 04-15-2011 01:10 PM

I think it is a combination of fine smoothness and the natural oils from human hands.

Therefore, my suggestion is to raw sand up to around 400 grit and then wet sand a grit higher with automotive sandpaper soaked in linseed or danish oil.

-- Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.

View DaleM's profile


952 posts in 2474 days

#3 posted 04-15-2011 05:54 PM

You could do what the others suggested, but if you finish off with burnishing it by rubbing another piece of wood against it, it will be even smoother. You do have to apply some pressure, not just rub lightly with the wood.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Loren's profile


7967 posts in 2738 days

#4 posted 04-15-2011 07:04 PM

There’s an abrasive quality to your skin, like a leather strop. In fact
you can strop a knife on the palm of your hand.

In the old days they used to polish and smooth wood and finishes
with abrasive leaves from plants.

Sand it until you can only make out fine scratches, then you could
buff with a wheel – with or without compound. You can try automotive
buffing compounds and see what happens.

A light-colored oil may work well. “salad bowl” oil would probably work
well. I think linseed oil might be a little too dark.


View gfadvm's profile


13944 posts in 1780 days

#5 posted 04-16-2011 04:24 AM

Start with a dense wood [Brazilian Cherry is my favorite],sand to 180 or 220,apply blo,rubbing in well,then wax with Renissance Wax.This produces the most touchable finish I have found.Sanding through finer grits does not produce any improvement in touchability that I can perceive.IMHO.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View rance's profile


4197 posts in 2250 days

#6 posted 04-16-2011 07:38 AM

Its called a hand rubbed oil finish. :D Oh, and the oil is free.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

553 posts in 2146 days

#7 posted 04-16-2011 07:01 PM

I once met a fellow who makes wooden spoons and utensils. He doesn’t use sandpaper. After carving and shaping he puts them in water and then scrapes them smooth. I don’t remember what he used for scraping, but he would repeat this soaking and scraping process numerous times and get an incredibly smooth feeling result, like old driftwood.

-- Glen

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