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 1225 days ago 956 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 1877 days

1225 days ago

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 1294 days

#1 posted 1225 days ago

Or you could rub it with rocks or dirt

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

View rhett's profile


697 posts in 2293 days

#2 posted 1225 days ago

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.


View DaleM's profile


910 posts in 2010 days

#3 posted 1225 days ago

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


7393 posts in 2274 days

#4 posted 1225 days ago

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


10721 posts in 1316 days

#5 posted 1224 days ago

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


4128 posts in 1787 days

#6 posted 1224 days ago

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

508 posts in 1682 days

#7 posted 1224 days ago

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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