Dealing With Early/Late Wood

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Forum topic by gfadvm posted 03-17-2012 03:20 AM 1204 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14940 posts in 2689 days

03-17-2012 03:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sanding question

In woods where there is a marked difference in density between early and late growth wood, how do you get the piece sanded flat? It seems like the softer early wood always gets scalloped into valleys leaving late growth hills. This is less an issue with the drum sander and a big problem with the ROS.

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

5 replies so far

View patron's profile


13604 posts in 3340 days

#1 posted 03-17-2012 03:47 AM

that is the problem with grainy wood sometimes
what i do is run it through the drum sander
and without changing the setting
run it through again the opposite way
over and over till it quits sanding at all
this takes care of any un-paralell between the drum head
and the moving feed tray too

i have found the problem
is the woods also dry at different rates over time

i have learned to build them and let them sit for a month or two
(after sanding coarse)
so then when i sand them they hopefully are settled

before i got them out as soon as possible
then had to take them back later and sand them again
(through the finish and refinish)
this box is where i learned this
it was flat when i made it
but months later it was all ruddy with ripples
in the different woods

even woods that are ‘dry’ can still be somewhat moist inside
when you split or machine them
so they can still move around some

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3104 days

#2 posted 03-17-2012 05:12 AM

This is one reason I stay away from soft woods or learn to like the ripple effect. I still use redwood sometimes and have this issue. As David said, a drum sander on the same setting a few times is a good solution.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2360 days

#3 posted 03-17-2012 12:34 PM

Sometimes, the difference can be used to interesting effect. I sand blasted this 8×18 piece of cypress to emphasize the grain, tactilely and visually. It’s going to be the lid of a box.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2689 days

#4 posted 03-17-2012 09:48 PM

Thanks guys. Sounds like I should stick with the drum sander and don’t sand it with the ROS? I use the ROS to get rid of the linear sanding marks left by the drum sander. David. That is a way cool box! Robert, The redwood box I posted recently spawned this question. That’s why I’m not a big fan of softwoods either but the curly grain needed to be a box!

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

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2836 days

#5 posted 03-20-2012 05:58 AM

Drum sanders might be the perfect solution to your problem if you have one, but I don’t own that tool. The only drum sander I’m familiar with is a $10,000 machine owned by a professional cabinet maker which is one GREAT machine. I’m sure there are more reasonable priced machines, but my 24 X 24 shop wouldn’t have room for that.

So, I would solve this problem with a cabinet scraper. I used to use sanders to try smoothing out the differences of wood joints until I worked for the cabinet maker I mentioned. He introduced me to cabinet scrapers which can shave off woods by skin depths. The only problem with cabinet scrapers is that you need to learn to sharpen them. My cabinet scrapers have elevated my work from OK to pretty good.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

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