Hand Sanding or Orbital Sander

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Forum topic by Walt33 posted 06-13-2009 01:14 AM 7484 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Walt33's profile


16 posts in 3381 days

06-13-2009 01:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question sander finishing sanding

Hello everyone,

I wanted to get some opinions and experienced advice on sanding. I am working on a project and have finished the first round of sanding with 120 grit and I am ready to go for the second round of sanding with 220 grit before I apply the first layer of poly. My question is should I hand sand it using the 220 grit or would it be OK to use the Random Orbital Sander with 220 grit sandpaper? I don’t mind hand sanding, but the orbital sander seems to make things move a bit faster.

Thanks in advance for any help.

-- Favorite saying to work by "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!"

14 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4154 days

#1 posted 06-13-2009 01:37 AM

There is no single answer.

What kind of project are sanding sanding?
What kind(s) of wood are you using?
What type of finish are you trying to achieve?
What finishing product(s) will you be using?

-- 温故知新

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3965 days

#2 posted 06-13-2009 02:01 AM

Depending on the size of the piece, I’ll sand to 150 with an ROS, then spray on a coat of shellac, then hand sand with 220. Then I start putting on the poly and sanding between coats.

-- Working at Woodworking

View FrankLad's profile


273 posts in 3336 days

#3 posted 06-13-2009 02:38 AM

The only frustration I’ve run into with orbital sanders would be the swirl marks. One instance comes to mind where a sanded pine surface looked smooth and nice but the swirl marks really jumped out when a dark stain was applied.

You may not run into this, but I wanted to mention it.

-- Frank, Mississippi, Original Bentwood Rings -

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 4079 days

#4 posted 06-13-2009 02:52 AM

Walt, in my experience when sanding hardwood with a ROS you will get swirl marks, the best way for me to find these before the finish is applied is to wipe down with mineral spirts then the marks will really show, if there are any.So now I will either hand sand to remove the swirls or use a sheet sander. I usually only use my ROS for the lower grits say 120, when I move above that I will switch to my sheet sander. As Russel said you will always hand sand while applying the finish. Hope this helps, no means an expert, but thought I would share my thoughts.

-- F.Little

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3552 days

#5 posted 06-13-2009 02:58 AM

I always hand sand before applying any sealer or finish. If I do use a ros, I’ll sand to 150 then hand sand with 150, then 220.

My preferred method is to use a card scraper followed by a light hand sanding with 220 on a sanding block.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3617 days

#6 posted 06-13-2009 03:24 AM

I use ROS initially then hand sand before applying sealer/finish.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Walt33's profile


16 posts in 3381 days

#7 posted 06-13-2009 03:59 AM

I guess that info. would have helped. It is a stool for the workshop, the wood is pine and the finish I am probably going to use is minwax polystain.

-- Favorite saying to work by "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!"

View Ben Kahmann's profile

Ben Kahmann

231 posts in 3298 days

#8 posted 06-13-2009 04:35 AM

I like to use a ROS with an 80 to 150 grit to start depending on the wood being used, sometimes even a hand held belt sander on larger peices. Just be careful though not to press the tool into the wood, let the tool do its job. Pressing down hard is not only less effective, you can lay track marks into the surface and have to start with a scaper again. 220 grit and above I always do it by hand. Don’t rush it. Take the time and don’t skip grits, the finished piece will speak for itself when done. Hope this helps…..

-- Ben Kahmann Dayton, OH

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3603 days

#9 posted 06-13-2009 04:56 AM

Hey Walt
It seems that your skipping to many grits to get a good finish . Usually I would suggest going through the grits in order . Use a Roa start with as course of sand paper as you feel necessary to get ride of the defects. Lets say your starting at 80 then 100,120,150,180,220. Depending on the wood I usually don’t sand beyond 150 before putting on a stain because the finner you go the more you seal of the wood. On pine It is advisable to give it a 1lb cut of shellac coat first to help prevent blotching(pines notorious for blotching)then sand with 220 and then use your finish. as far as using Roa I find it works well on most woods except woods like cherry were you will see swirls unless you sand the last there grits by hand or with a pad sander sanding with the grain. some of the swirl problem can be the type of Roa you use ,some are much more aggressive than others.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3702 days

#10 posted 06-13-2009 05:44 AM

Walt, If you want to see some walnut stain on pine, take a look at my treasure chest , it didn’t stain very well as Jim says.

woodnut, What do yoiu mean by “sheet sander”?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 4079 days

#11 posted 06-13-2009 01:49 PM

sheet sanderTopamax this is what I was talking about when I said sheet sander.

-- F.Little

View Steelmum's profile


355 posts in 3989 days

#12 posted 06-13-2009 02:09 PM

Pine + stain = hand sand, check it and sand some more, apply wood conditioner before stain, lots of prayers.

-- Berta in NC

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4032 days

#13 posted 06-13-2009 02:51 PM

I don’t think i’d sand a stool for the workshop past 100 grit wit a ROS. In my experience, semi worn 220 paper on raw wood and you’re actually burnishing more than sanding. Which affects how it will take stain.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3361 days

#14 posted 06-13-2009 07:57 PM

Got to get my two cents worth in. I think it is always a good idea to hand sand with the grain after using an orbital sander to remove any swirls. Not everybody does it and most get away with it, but a quick hand sanding with the same grit as your last orbital pass doesn’t take much time and it insures a good outcome.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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