The dumpster find PAIN!!!

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Forum topic by MarkTheFiddler posted 09-21-2012 01:57 AM 1944 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2068 posts in 2427 days

09-21-2012 01:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question brazilian cherry sander

Some of you may recall that I found some flooring at a local lumber liquidator dumpster. Here are 2 pieces. One with original finish and one that has been stripped down.

Yesterday I had a choice – cheapo belt sander or good orbital sander. I opted to by a rigid 5 inch ROS. I have already spent an equal amount on sanding discs. The price of those suckers surprised the heck out of me. Despite my satisfaction with my choice, the ROS doesn’t even come close to knocking the finish off my flooring find. That finish seems to be diamond hard! I was determined to see a piece of it cleaned up so I grabbed a sanding wheel (is that right? Wheel that fits in rotary tool, looks like rope coated with abrasive.) It took me 10 minutes to flay the finish off the piece. After that, I took it down to 320 grit just so I could get an idea of what it will look like.

Even this piece of uninteresting wood has beautiful movement so I am well pleased.

I have a question for you all. How can I get the finish off faster? Do I need to buy a belt sander or a planer? By the way – I tried 40 grit on the ROS and all it did was scratch the finish.

I appreciate any advice you can give me. If the best option is to buy a planer or belt sander, that’s OK. I’ll put this project on Ice until I can afford those better tools.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

30 replies so far

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13641 posts in 3580 days

#1 posted 09-21-2012 02:05 AM

my choice would be a planer
with reversible /disposable knives

that ‘diamond finish’ is just that

you could have several sets of knives for the planer
and use one for this wood alone
and then sand from there

going at it with sandpaper
will use up tons of it
at a high cost for what return you get

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2929 days

#2 posted 09-21-2012 02:06 AM

That finish is aluminum oxide and will KILL planer blades in a big hurry (voice of experience here!). I use a lot of flooring for my boxes and have found a drum sander with 50 grit paper the best tool to remove this finish fast. 80 grit also works well but require a couple more passes. I do use my planer to remove the grooves on the back side. If you can swing a drum sander, DO IT! I have 2 and they get used on every project.

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

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13641 posts in 3580 days

#3 posted 09-21-2012 02:08 AM

another option would be to saw it off first
on edge on the table saw
or the bandsaw
with fixed fence and finger boards

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

View GrandpaLen's profile


1651 posts in 2511 days

#4 posted 09-21-2012 02:33 AM


I wish I had that diamond tough finish on my hardwood floors, but I digress.

...back to your quandary.
When refinishing hardwood floors, often an industrial duty belt sander is used to remove the existing finish(es) and smooth the hardwood. It sounds as though a handheld belt sander may be your quickest, cheapest or only solution to salvaging that wood gloat.

A drum sander would possibly work but IMHO that finish would probably dull several planer blades and compound your frustration.

Have you considered utilizing the wood with the existing color and finish for your projects?
Personally I would shelve it and bring it back out when I come across just the right project for it and be ‘tickled to death’ to have eliminated the finishing steps on a project for once.
...just a thought :-)

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

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Dan'um Style

14179 posts in 4222 days

#5 posted 09-21-2012 02:40 AM

why not try to strip it?

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 3173 days

#6 posted 09-21-2012 03:30 AM

I bet you my kids can scratch that finish in no time :)

It took them less than a year to ruin my hardwood floor ( factory pre-finished).

seriously, last weeking I tried to restore a side door that water had damaged.
I started sanding with a makita ROS with 80 grit. Gave up quickly.
I remembered that I had a rigid belt sander. Boy that thing is good.
I had the door all sanded and flat under an hour.

That will probably be the cheapest solution.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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1562 posts in 2616 days

#7 posted 09-21-2012 03:59 AM

+1 for the belt sander. Hand held or stationary. After several boards with a planer you’d probably start burning with the dull blades.
Besides, sanders are what they use to refinish flooring.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2427 days

#8 posted 09-21-2012 04:06 AM

Wow – fantastic information! It never would have dawned on me that this finish would defeat planer blades. It makes sense that it will take a super aggressive sander to strip the finish off. A drum sander is on my wish list as Is a
good table saw. I have been planning to upgrade the table saw first. Right now I’m going to put the table saw ahead of a good belt sander as well. I wouldn’t trust my current harbor freight table saw to slice the finish off. My cheapo saw has the worst fence imaginable. That leaves me with a bit of a delay before I can use this beautiful wood. That’s ok for now. The wood will wait for me.

A couple of other items. I considered using the wood as is. I had 2 projects in mind for the immediate future. One of them could actually use the current finish. I’ll keep that in mind.

The other thing is – using a chemical stripper did next to nothing except to take a little surface glaze. That is something at least but it takes a lot of expensive stripper for the little bit of finish it takes off.

Lumberjocks, you all are awesome! You quite litterally saved me from a huge disappointment. I can not thank you enough.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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1362 posts in 2617 days



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2068 posts in 2427 days

#10 posted 09-22-2012 04:34 AM

Howdy my friends. Many of you are about to disown me. I hope you’ll understand why I committed my lumber jocks sin. I hope you will find it in your hearts to forgive me. I … I… Oh why does this confession have to be so painful. I (shudder) I bought a harbor freight belt sander for $24. Yeah, they were on sale and I had a 20% coupon. I promise to speak unkindly to it. It won’t have a revered spot in my garage. I will never take it out to the movies with me.

I’ll tell you in secret that it took the finish off one of the boards in 5 minutes. I’ll upgrade at a later date but in the meantime, problem solved. All the votes for aggressive sanding were on the money.

The girl at the counter did not want to take no for an answer as she kept pressuring me to buy an extended service contract. When I told her the sander was a temp. She thought I was saying I was going to buy the more expensive hf model later. I wouldn’t call that too much of an upgrade.

Although it comes with a dust collector, you will need to supliment if you buy one. In my case, my jeans and t shirt did most of the dust collecting. ;)

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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843 posts in 3174 days

#11 posted 09-22-2012 04:53 AM

There’s no need to be ashamed of Harbor Freight. They have a lot of good buys, it look like you found another.

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1362 posts in 2617 days

#12 posted 09-22-2012 05:04 AM

ETERNAMENTE ;-)))))))))


View johndale's profile


9 posts in 2322 days

#13 posted 09-22-2012 05:21 AM

i dont shrug at everything that harbor freight sells—you just have to be careful in what you buy there, and what you are going to use it for.

View KnickKnack's profile


1094 posts in 3805 days

#14 posted 09-22-2012 06:03 AM

Have you tried using a card scraper?

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2440 days

#15 posted 09-22-2012 08:32 AM

Would it be quicker if you resawed it? If you did it right your blade would not get ruined. Table Saw as mentioned before but a little more scary and such short pieces to boot. Or just thrown the belt sander upside down in the wood vise and the dust collector hose on the end close to it and have a sanding party…..

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

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