Sanding SPF

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Forum topic by ChicagoJacket posted 10-06-2012 04:39 AM 2188 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ChicagoJacket's profile


4 posts in 2022 days

10-06-2012 04:39 AM

Hi all,

I build furniture out of SPF lumber. The beds I make take about 10 hours from start to finish and at least half of that time is spent sanding the wood. My current method is using a random orbital sander, 80 grit then 120. What I am looking for is a faster method to smooth the boards. Each bed takes about 200 linear bf of 6 inch wide stock to build. Is it worth buying a drum sander or a wide belt sander? Will SPF clog up the belts too much to make it economical and time efficient.
I get a great finish with my ros, but it sure takes a long time. If I stick with a random orbital sander, can anyone recommend one that is very aggressive removing material? 6 inch?

Thanks for any help.


10 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


11475 posts in 2343 days

#1 posted 10-06-2012 05:10 AM

Sounds to me like you’re dying to have a drum sander.

-- Rick M,

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3014 days

#2 posted 10-06-2012 06:24 AM


Why are you starting at 80 grit and is 120 as far as you go? What kind of finish do you use and what are you buying; rough from the mill? Do you use a planer and jointer? Answers to these questions, at least, will help us help you. Post a picture of what you’re doing, too.


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

View Woodknack's profile


11475 posts in 2343 days

#3 posted 10-06-2012 07:15 AM

SPF = spruce/pine/fir, it’s a generic term for construction lumber… 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, etc.

-- Rick M,

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 2796 days

#4 posted 10-06-2012 09:09 AM

when i normally sand something i have five grits to go through, 60, 80, 120, 220, 320.
maybe you need to add some lower grits, and use one of those big rubber erasers.
maybe a half sheet sander would work well too

-- Ben L

View Cgwendling's profile


12 posts in 2403 days

#5 posted 10-06-2012 11:24 AM

There are several options that I see.
Drum or wide belt sander
Thickness planer
Hand planes
Use any one or combination of these, finish sand and you are ready to go.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2886 days

#6 posted 10-06-2012 11:33 AM

I would buy a drum sander(already own two) start with 100(80 if rough) and go to 180. Over that seems like overkill for spruce/pine etc.

-- Life is good.

View ChicagoJacket's profile


4 posts in 2022 days

#7 posted 10-06-2012 01:01 PM

Ok, thanks for all the help.

I only sand to 120 grit and my only finish is Minwax stain, no clear coat after that.

My concern with a drum sander is do the abrasive strips get gummed up easily with SPF? I will probably be sanding 150-200 8’ 2×6’s each month.

The beds are some what rustic looking, so I am not looking for smooth as glass.

I’ll get some pics up Monday….getting new home Internet tomorrow.

I buy the SPF right off the truck just like framing crew would do if they were building a house.

I can order the stock pre sanded from my supplier for about 4 bucks more per 8’ board. I am trying to determine if an investment in a drum sander or even a wide belt is worth it due to the costs of replacement abrasives.

If I buy a dual drum sander with 80 on the front drum and 120 on the back, about how many linear feet of 2×6 SPF can I sand before I need to change the abrasive on the drum?

I currently use a 5 inch Bosch ros with each grit and it takes me about 5 hours to sand 1 bed.

Thanks for all your help!

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2073 days

#8 posted 10-06-2012 01:40 PM

A normal drum sander pinches the wood between the conveyer belt and the sanding drum. An alternative is the V-Drum sander from Stockroom Supply . They claim that their version will not clog the sandpaper.

I own both the Proformax 16-32 and the 30” V-Drum sanders. I find that the sandpaper on the Proformax will clog with dust and can start to burn the wood. The V-Drum sander is not as aggressive but the paper does not clog.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View MNgary's profile


298 posts in 2380 days

#9 posted 10-06-2012 03:19 PM

Noting that you only need a 120 grit finish, I have a few thoughts. First, are you using open-coat paper for the 80 grit – it will not clog as fast as a closed-coat paper? Also, stearate-coated or non-coated? And, of coarse, hopefully not garnet.

Second, for dimension lumber (construction grade 2×6’s) I would probably start with 100 grit so I wouldn’t spend as much time sanding out the rougher surface an 80 grit paper leaves behind.

Have you considered a hand-held belt sander for the coarser paper and then switching to a ROS for the finish (120 grit) sanding.

Finally, if only sanding to 120 grit, I ponder if a planer might be a less expensive alternative than a belt sander. Or even, quite frankly, if there would be a need for you to do sanding on planed boards unless the sanding would be needed to create the rustic look.

But, of coarse, there is a great pride of ownership for having a drum sander in one’s shop and they do their job very, very well.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2653 days

#10 posted 10-07-2012 02:50 AM

I agree that a planer might be your best option and eliminate the need for sanding. Grits finer than 120 on a drum sander do tend to load up when sanding high moisture pine/fir/cedar. Taking very light passes on the drum sander does help.

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

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