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When do you stop sanding ?

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Forum topic by Dick, & Barb Cain posted 01-03-2007 06:06 PM 3555 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4139 days


01-03-2007 06:06 PM

I recently received my first issue of Fine Woodworking, after resubscribing after a lapse of a few years.
There was an article that caught my eye titled, When to stop sanding ? http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/fw_189_043.asp

By the Way, you can’t read the whole article unless your an internet subscriber. otherwise you just get a review.

I have never been a huge fan of sanding, so I usually don’t go beyond 400 grit. Which has always been satifactory for me. The article follows along with my way of thinking.

What thoughts have the rest of you Jocks have on this subject ?

Dick

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1


27 replies so far

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Obi

2213 posts in 4076 days


#1 posted 01-03-2007 06:51 PM

I hate sanding also, which is a bad thing, because I’ve “undersanded” because I hate it. And because of it, I need to do more. I keep hearing David Marks form D.I.Y.network.com say that he sands usually to 320 grit.

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Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4139 days


#2 posted 01-03-2007 07:43 PM

When sanding Pine I plan on staining, I don’t usually go beyond 120 grit. I think going farther, the stain doesn’t seem to penetrate as well. The heat created from fine sanding brings the resin to the surface, which prevents stain penetration.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

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Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4013 days


#3 posted 01-03-2007 07:44 PM

Wow. Here we go… I’ve tried keeping this hidden, but Dick had to go and ask the sanding question.

The shamed woodworker in me says, “No, don’t answer his post!” and the writer in me says, “Ahhh… a chance to write on something with which I have an intimate familiarity!”

I hate to admit it, guys, but I’m a sanding geek. I enjoy sanding. It relaxes me. It satisfies my OCD. One of the things I do, as a way of repaying my mentor for allowing me shop time and for teaching me so much, is to call him up and find out if he has any projects in the sanding phase he might want some assistance with.

He makes a living with his woodworking, so he’s pretty particular about who helps him with his projects. I’m proud to say I’m one of two people he allows to help him work on his projects.

So, more often than not, he has several pieces waiting around to be sanded. Where I start and stop with the grits usually depends upon what kind of wood he’s used for the box. Most of the time it is maple or rosewood, and since his box lids are usually contoured with a belt sander, I have some major scratches to remove. I’ll start with 120, or even 100, and work my way up through 320 on a ROS. Before I go up to the next grit, I check every surface with a raking light, looking for scratches. I lightly pencil mark any areas I see and work on them until they’re gone and then recheck with the raking light. Anything above 320 tends to start affecting how easily we can get a finish applied, so that’s usually where we stop.

The goal is to get the kind of smoothness people want to feel again and again. He noticed any time he was at a show, the first thing people did with his boxes was to pick them up and run their fingers over the surface and comment on how smooth they were. That is our goal with every box.

Getting that kind of a surface involves additional steps during the finishing process, however. We rub out each coat of finish with Abralon abrasive pads. They are a bit pricey, but they last a really long time. In fact, I think the pads we use are from the only box he’s ever purchased. They can be ordered at www.beavertools.com if anyone is interested in checking them out…

On my own personal pieces, I will usually take my open-pored woods (e.g. oak, walnut, and mahogany) to 220 and my close-pored woods (e.g. maple, cherry, and most exotics) to 320 minimum. Some of the projects I do (I’ll try to post something on keys…) involve sanding up to 2500 grit wet/dry automotive paper.

Once I get started a few projects with the Kauri wood, I’ll be glad for that experience, because they say to sand up through the highest grit of automotive wet/dry paper you can find. From my initial impression of working with it, that is probably necessary; it easily fuzzes up. Haven’t tried using a hand plane on it; not sure what kind of finish that would leave and if it would require the additional sanding or not. I might give it a try, though, just to see…

I think I got started on trying to enjoy sanding after a weekend seminar with Marc Adams… he really called for a focus on FINISHING your piece and how most people will spend 3/4 of their time on the construction and 1/4 of their time on the finish, when it should really be more like 50/50.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

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Don

2603 posts in 4016 days


#4 posted 01-04-2007 12:52 AM

I have a different take on this matter.

For my small boxes, I tend to use burnishing oil and my Festool ROS. I start with 320 grit and move up to 800 with my dust extractor attached to the sander. I then disconnect the dust extractor, apply a burnishing oil and move up through the grades to 1500, sometimes even up to 2400. The oil creates a ‘slurry’ which fills the any open grain, and minor joint gaps. The surface becomes as smooth as glass. If I want a gloss finish, I apply a couple of coats of shellac cutting between coats with tripoli powder.

If not burnishing, I start with 240, using my ROS and dust extractor moving up through to 600. However, before the last grit, I cover the piece with a sanding sealer of highly diluted shellac (1 part shellac to 5 parts metho). This evaporates quickly but leaves the long end fibers in the wood standing up and very brittle. When I sand with the final grit, I do so with very light pressure because the objective here is to knock of the brittle fibers that were raised by the sanding sealer. I would then normally apply a shellac finish.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen nice woodwork ruined by this fiber that leaves a finish feeling like there is sand on the surface.

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with finishing using only a scraper. This method eliminates the fiber problem and cuts rather than crushes the fiber which sand tends to do. I’m fairly happy with this method, but I’ll need more practice to get to the quality of finish I can achieve with my ROS.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4154 days


#5 posted 01-04-2007 02:30 AM

Sandings is for sissies. I just wack everything with a old dull chisel!

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Don

2603 posts in 4016 days


#6 posted 01-04-2007 03:45 AM

Yeh, sure you do Denis.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

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Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4139 days


#7 posted 01-04-2007 04:13 AM

Don, this article was only talking about before applying the finish. I understand your approach. I guess there’s no stopping when it comes to the final finish, the sky’s the limit.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

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Don

2603 posts in 4016 days


#8 posted 01-04-2007 04:32 AM

Dick, I believe the two matters go hand-in-hand and are almost inseparable. In the case of burnishing they occur simultaneously.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

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Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4013 days


#9 posted 01-04-2007 04:09 PM

Don, do you perform any initial sanding before you start at it with the 320 and the burnishing oil? I dare say that process would do a poor job of removing a significant number of scratches on the pieces I normally sand…

It might go back to how each person initially learned their woodworking techniques. I’ve always considered sanding and finishing to be separate processes. I do rub out my finishes between coats, but I’m no longer sanding wood at that point – I’m knocking down the top layer of finish to remove nibs and nobs in preparation for the next layer of finish.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

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Karson

35093 posts in 4240 days


#10 posted 01-04-2007 04:39 PM

When I French Polish a piece. I normlly sand up to 320 with a ROS. Then I start with the shellac and I’ll use 400 between sessions with baby oil (Mineral oil) as the lubicrant. and then go to 600 on the following sessions again with mineral oil. The mineral oil is used during the french polish step so after I sand I just wipe off the surface with paper towels and then go bach to French polishing, leavins some of the oil on the surface. I then might go to 1000 before I use Automotive polish to bring out the final shine. The polish is done after finish curing – a couple of weeks or so.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia karsonwm@gmail.com †

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Don

2603 posts in 4016 days


#11 posted 01-05-2007 12:32 AM

Red, this is my understanding of the sanding/finishing process.

The courser the grit you start with, the more difficult it is to remove the scouring lines the course grit has created. When you think about it, sanding is a way of smoothing a surface by making scratches on the surface. 80 and 100 grit have the largest particles and leave the deepest scratches. These scratches are almost impossible to remove with a finer grit paper, because the finer grit does not reach down into the deeper grooves. So you are faced with using the finer grit to remove all the wood from the surface until, in effect, the finer grit reaches the bottom of what were previously deeper grooves. It’s one of the reasons I like burnishing. The burnishing slurry fills the grooves left by the sanding grit.

When you move up through the grades, the grit gets smaller and are closer together. It’s a way of fooling the eye. The finest grits leave minute scratches invisible to the naked eye, so we call this smooth. But looking at the surface with a telescope reveals thousands of small scratches.

If the surface that one starts with has deep scratches, I don’t think that course sanding paper is the best way to remove these. I would use my hand plane, or a scraper until the surface was, for all intents and purposes, smooth, i.e. no visible scratches.

It’s hard to believe that a tool can make a difference in this process, but I have never had any reasonable success with any other ROS, than the Festool. This manufacturer has created the secret weapon of sanding. It’s an expensive tool, and the sanding disks are not cheap either. But considering the finish and ease with which professional results are achieved – worth every penny.

I commented on using scrapers instead of sanding. Sanding crushes wood fiber, scraping cuts it. If I can cut the surface of the wood using a well hooked scraper, it stands to reason that the surface will be smoother. And doing so will eliminate the need to remove the fur or nibs.

Red, you speak of the need to remove these between coats of finish. My suggestion is that you get rid of them before you start applying the finish. Read my previous comment on the use of a sanding sealer. This should eliminate “nibs and nobs”.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4013 days


#12 posted 01-05-2007 06:28 AM

Don, I actually have quite a good understanding of the processes and mechanics of sanding and finishing. I even have some knowledge of the concepts of burnishing and scraping, believe it or not.

I thought that evident with my first post on this thread.

I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call me Red.

Thanks.

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

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Don

2603 posts in 4016 days


#13 posted 01-05-2007 07:25 AM

Sorry, Ethan, I was neither impugning your knowledge, nor correcting anything you said. If you inferred that there was a condescending tone to my post, I apologize. It was the last thing that I intended.

As for addressing you as “Red”, I picked that up from your moniker. In Australia, it’s normal to use nicknames, particularly with mates. At least I didn’t make the mistake of calling you ‘Ducky’ from the second part of your moniker. If you are sensitive about this, it’s rather strange that you use it in your LumberJocks nickname.

The information contained in my comment was addressed to you because you had previously asked me a direct question. This response was, in part, my attempt to give you my rational for my approach to the subject. Additionally, however, it was for the information of all readers of this thread who may not have the years of experience and depth of knowledge that is yours. I was trying to be helpful.

This was not intended to come across as, nor written in, a prescriptive tone. As I stated at the outset, this is my understanding of the sanding/finishing process.

Again, accept my genuine apology as no offense was intended.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

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Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4013 days


#14 posted 01-05-2007 07:31 AM

No worries, Don…

I guess the “red” thing goes back to bad high school memories… not a particular fun time for me, to be honest with you.

Sorry, too, on this end. Not having the best week, but I shouldn’t take it out on others. My apologies, as well.

Cheers,

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

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Don

2603 posts in 4016 days


#15 posted 01-05-2007 07:42 AM

Goodonya, Mate. No offense intended, and no offense taken.

Blessings!

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

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