Palm sander in between Poly coats?

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Forum topic by Mclaren880 posted 06-21-2011 11:27 PM 18022 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2766 days

06-21-2011 11:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sander polyurethane

We are re-finished a coffee table, and are about to start applying coats of polyurethane. I was wondering, can we use the palm sander for this part? I’m afraid to try because i don’t want to sand off what we already did. Maybe a really fine grit paper, or just be sure we a really light sanding? But, at the same time, we would like to have it done by this weekend, and the palm sander obviously is much quicker…

I appreciate any insight you guys have! This is our first project like this, so we’re a little lost on how to do it.

16 replies so far

View RONFINCH's profile


143 posts in 3159 days

#1 posted 06-21-2011 11:38 PM

Patience is a virtue…....... and necessary in wood working. Just my opinion, a palm sander could be too agressive, hand sanding with a fine grit is much better. You aren’t trying to remove the polyurethane, just smooth it out.

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3619 days

#2 posted 06-21-2011 11:40 PM

I have used an air-powered random orbit sander on a floor that I was pre-finishing with poly. Since I used no sealer, making the first coat of poly the sealer, it was fairly rough. I sanded with 150 grit, just making a couple of quick passes so it wouldn’t sand through. It smoothed right out with no problems. The next layer went on very smoothly and I couldn’t see any scratches from the 150 grit. After that coat, I only had to very light hand sand with broken down 220 grit before the final layer, just a couple of quick passes over the entire surface.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3295 days

#3 posted 06-21-2011 11:46 PM

You can use a palm sander, but in one condition. Use A Beat UP OR USED 320 grit sandpaper. If you do not have any, get 2 new pieces of sandpaper and rub them together until smooth. A new 320 grit is too aggressive for between coats.

I only use palm sanders when for large surfaces. One pass of the sanding is good enough.

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4 posts in 2766 days

#4 posted 06-22-2011 12:07 AM

Alright, sounds like a palm sander would overkill, from you guys are saying. If it’s as light of a sanding as you guys are saying, i’ll just do it by hand. 200+ or 300 grit a good choice for the in between coats?

Thanks a lot guys, these were some quick responses!

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3697 days

#5 posted 06-22-2011 12:38 AM

0000 steel wool with the grain between coats. Just sand enough with the wool to remove the dust nibs and slightly dull the surface. Wipe it down with a tack cloth and coat it again. I use this with Deft all the time and get great results

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Gary's profile


9386 posts in 3668 days

#6 posted 06-22-2011 12:47 AM

My vote is with Ken….0000 steel wool

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4453 days

#7 posted 06-22-2011 12:47 AM

I’m with MedicKen….. sandpaper is not necessary at all.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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A Slice of Wood Workshop

1080 posts in 3408 days

#8 posted 06-22-2011 05:35 AM

My vote is the steel wool as well. Be very easy though because either way you go, you don’t want to sand through the layers of finish.

-- Follow me on YouTube-

View verdesardog's profile


171 posts in 2846 days

#9 posted 06-22-2011 06:31 AM

Don’t use steel wool if using water based poly! In the cabinet shop I used to work at we used 380 with a 1/2 sheet orbital, still had to have a light touch. A palm sander is much more agressive than a 1/2 sheet sander.

-- .. heyoka ..

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2790 days

#10 posted 06-22-2011 11:26 AM

scotchbrite pads might be the go if using waterbased poly….otherwise i would just take the high spots off with 320 grit…i often do two coats before sanding so that i have a good build then it is just a light sand and the another coat with thined out poly

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3294 days

#11 posted 06-22-2011 12:23 PM

For me, it depends on the finish I am using and the surface left behind on the first coat. Generally for poly that is either brushed or sprayed (especially water based poly), I prefer 400 grit paper on a good sanding block. For wipe on type finishes (could be oil, or poly) I would use steel wool or very fine scotchbrite pad. In this case, I also would sand the raw wood to a finer grit as well. Typically to 320 or 400.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Mclaren880's profile


4 posts in 2766 days

#12 posted 06-22-2011 02:10 PM

How can you tell if its water based? I looked the can over and I couldn’t see anything about that

View chrisstef's profile


17796 posts in 3241 days

#13 posted 06-22-2011 02:31 PM

Mclaren … take a look at the specified clean up for the product you’re using. If the cleaning or thinning agent is water its water based, if its mineral spirits, laquer thinner, or alcohol its an oil based.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3295 days

#14 posted 06-22-2011 04:57 PM

What Chris said^

View Mclaren880's profile


4 posts in 2766 days

#15 posted 06-22-2011 05:35 PM

Thanks folks. I checked the can, it’s a oil based. Good thing, cause we already bought the steel wool. We applied the first layer of poly last night, and it looks great! thanks for all the help!!

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