Suggestions for sanding the end grain of raised panels?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by GregD posted 07-06-2011 12:42 AM 6416 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

07-06-2011 12:42 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question mahogany drill press sander sanding traditional

Any suggestions for sanding the end grain of raised panels?

These panels are to a passage door and have about 5/8” relief. The profile was made with an ogee raised panel bit (amana) and a 3/8” radius cove bit, so the minimum radius of curvature is 3/8” – no corners. The sides running parallel to the grain are easy to sand. But at the top/bottom of the panel, where the profile cuts accross the grain exposing the end grain, sanding with the grain is a real PITA.

I have a system figured out, but it takes over an hour per face (9 panels x 2 faces/panel). It involves using an appropriately shaped backing pad to hold a large sheet of sandpaper against a portion of the profile, and then pulling the sandpaper out from between the profile and the backing pad.

Another idea is to put sandpaper on a 5/8” diameter dowel and spin it in my drill press like this pen turning attachment. A really long spindle sander.

The wood is African Mahogany. I’m planning to sand to 320 grit and finish with Waterlox gloss (no stain).

Thoughts, anyone?

-- Greg D.

12 replies so far

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3078 days

#1 posted 07-06-2011 05:10 AM


I would wrap a piece of sandpaper around a 3/8” dowel and have at it. Start with 80 or 120 grit and move up. There would be little advantage to going to 320. 220 should be enough unless you wanted to apply the waterlox with 320. I do that all the time with oil. I’ve never used waterlox, but I assume it works similarly to oil.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3038 days

#2 posted 07-06-2011 08:16 AM

Steve’s dowel idea is pretty good, and there are also products such as these:

This is a little more work but I thought it’s a neat strategy:

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3569 days

#3 posted 07-06-2011 08:30 AM

works wonders…

-- Childress Woodworks

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

#4 posted 07-06-2011 02:38 PM

The sanding pads look like a good idea for sanding when the profile cuts along grain, but I don’t think they are going to help so much with the profile cutting across grain, live4ever.

That is a nice looking drum sander. I’m sure it would do a great job on most of the profile, but without giving it a try I’m not sure if it can get into a 3/8” radius cove.

The 5/8” wood dowels available at the big box store were not as stiff nor as straight as I would have liked. Instead I picked up some 1/2” diameter steel rod and a bronze sleeve bearing. I chucked a 16” length into my drill press and it seemed to run OK at about 1800 rpm with the free end stabilized in the bearing. Tonight I’ll try wrapping it with cardboard or something to give it a little padding and also get the radius closer to 3/8”. This could work pretty slick if I could find rolls of hook & loop sandpaper and wrapped the rod with velcro. I’ll have a look for that.

Another alternative would be to try these sanding sleeves. I would need to put this on a 3” extension in order to reach the center of the panel, but that could work.

-- Greg D.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2721 days

#5 posted 07-06-2011 02:45 PM

Childress, do you have the model number handy for that sanding rig? You’ve just given me a wonderful idea for my treadle operated/pillowblock sanding station. I’m wondering what the axle diameter is; and how much they want for that flap/brush pad. Thanks!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

#6 posted 07-06-2011 04:41 PM

Al – this is the link that sander.

-- Greg D.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2986 days

#7 posted 07-06-2011 05:36 PM

The best I can add is to use fresh, sharp sanding paper and keep it clean as you sand. The hardest thing to do is not push down on the paper harder to make it work; you need to let the sanding grit cut at its own speed, and the patience for that is hard to find sometimes.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3314 days

#8 posted 07-06-2011 05:57 PM

Sounds like you want to sand with the grain. I wouldn’t worry about that. We sand cross grain on the ends just like we do the sides. If you are sanding to 320, it won’t really matter.


View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

#9 posted 07-06-2011 07:56 PM

Hey Kent – yes, I thought I needed to sand with the end grain. At what point does the direction relative to the grain become unimportant? Is it related to grit or surface orientation relative to the wood fibers or both?

True end grain, where the surface is nearly perpendicular to the wood fibers, there isn’t much of a grain direction anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter so much what direction it is sanded. The part of the profile that is most difficult to sand is close to this orientation.

But some of the profile is nearly parallel to the direction of the wood fibers and has a definite grain direction. At what grit are the scratches from sanding cross-grain not going to show? 220? 320? or higher? I suppose a final pass with the highest grit sanding with-grain would help hide most of the cross-grain scratches.

I really hate applying the first coat of finish only to discover that I’m not happy with the sanding. Even worse if that happens when I’m rubbing out the final coat. So I’m hoping to find a relatively bullet-proof process for these panels.

-- Greg D.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3314 days

#10 posted 07-06-2011 09:11 PM

I have finished more raised panels than I care to remember. Normally I sand to 180 if it is just normal cabinet work. If you really wanted to get picky you will certainly see the sanding marks, but most people would not notice. If I am building furnitue, I usually handsand to 220. I consider myself pretty picky in my woodworking.
I feel that 320 would do a really nice job, although some would take it way further. It would be rare for me to sand finer than that, but there would certainly be instances I would.

If you want to check your sanding before adding finish, simply wet it with solvent. This will show up flaws without having to remove finish. It will dry quickly and you can resand if needed.

It seems whnever I try to do the perfect job, I tend to be more unhappy with the outcome. Having done this for a living, I find I don’t have time to be that anal—and usually most people don’t care.


View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3164 days

#11 posted 07-07-2011 03:52 AM

Kent – good thing I don’t try to do this for a living; I’d starve! 8-) I will try the trick with the solvent – that will be very helpful. Thanks for the perspective from your experience – that will be even more helpful.

Anji12305 – I tried a card scraper. I bought a set of scrapers and a burnisher because I thought I would use them on this project. But the harsh reality is that I while I understand the basic idea, I don’t have any experience with them. Once I take some time to learn how to use them I expect they will be very useful, but I’m hoping to avoid having to do that until sometime after this project is done.

cr1 – this particular profile has no sharp edges, so it is easy enough to sand with the profile simply with a soft foam pad. Between you and Kent I’m beginning to understand that sanding cross grain can work.

BUT, I still haven’t quite given up on sanding with the grain. I’m still working my idea to make a long/skinny drum (spindle?) sander for my drill press. I picked up some 1/2” id / 3/4” od tubing – some rubber, some Tygon. I plan to slit the tubing and put it over the 1/2” rod I got yesterday. This gives me the diameter I want as well as a bit of padding. I can then slip the edge of a sheet of sandpaper through the slit and a bit under the tubing, and I think it will stay when I start spinning the rod in my drill press. Maybe I can give that a go tomorrow. If it works, I’ll post pictures.

Anyway, thanks to you all for your input. This sanding issue was going to send me over the deep end, but I think you’ve saved me from my pointless obsessiveness. If my spindle sander idea doesn’t work out, I’ll sand cross grain to 320 and check with solvent before committing the finish.

-- Greg D.

View Albert's profile


509 posts in 3617 days

#12 posted 07-13-2011 09:20 PM

I like a product called a ‘Sanding Mop’. . You need a drill press at its highest speed and a very light touch with the profile you need to sand, Does a great job at a reasonable price and is very good at getting into profiles.
Here is a video of it in action.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics