Sanding on the lathe ... does fast or slow speed work best for you?

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Forum topic by JoeinGa posted 05-26-2015 08:36 PM 2085 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1975 days

05-26-2015 08:36 PM

I’m REALLY diggin’ this new lathe. Who ever came up with the idea for electronic variable speed and REVERSIBLE is a HERO in my book! :-)

On my old lathe (HF clone) I kept it at one speed (the slowest) all the time. Changing that belt was always such a pain! Sanding bowls was always a chore to me and the lathe made it easier but I STILL always had a bunch of hand-sanding to do in order to get the desired finish I wanted.

So I’ve been turning pretty much everyday and I’m finding that for me, sanding works good at about 300rpms. I start with 40 grit and work my way thru 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, and I usually finish with 220. I find that changing directions often is the key to getting a nice finish. I probably change directions 4 or 5 times for each grit.

I’m just curious how others do sanding on the lathe?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

15 replies so far

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2472 days

#1 posted 05-26-2015 08:38 PM


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View Dutchy's profile


2850 posts in 2136 days

#2 posted 05-26-2015 09:03 PM

I,m only use 80 or 120 grit on the l”athe disk (20) sander. Sanding on this disk is extremly fast. I also have smaller disks (12”) with higher grit. But normally don,t use them.


View Wildwood's profile


2300 posts in 2103 days

#3 posted 05-26-2015 09:32 PM

I like sanding at slower speeds you don’t wear out sand paper that fast and accomplish more. Use sandpaer & power sanding discs. Sanding at higher RPM just burnishes the wood & dulls sandpaper faster.

If have some bad or trouble spots will turn power off and power sand with disc until remove damage! Set up with 2 3/8” blue flex disc, back-up & interface pads. Get my discs supplies from Vince, and thinking about ordering 3” discs soon. You definitely don’t want your lathe going high speed when power sanding keep it slow.

Have the orange version of this drill for couple years now.

Watched a You-Tube video on power sanding which help me a lot.

-- Bill

View TheDane's profile


5404 posts in 3631 days

#4 posted 05-26-2015 10:58 PM

Slow speed (let the sandpaper do the work), and reverse between grits.

I use an Arbortech Contour Random Sander on an angle grinder … does a great job. I do make my own disks … Click for details

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View JollyGreen67's profile


1663 posts in 2731 days

#5 posted 05-27-2015 02:52 AM

Slow speed – your 300 is just fine. Reason to sand slow is if the item turned is slightly out of shape – which it can do, even if dry – the sandpaper will bounce over the “low” spots. Also, at high speeds the sandpaper will get hot and form a glaze on the wood.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View moke's profile


1154 posts in 2744 days

#6 posted 05-27-2015 05:13 PM

I sand slow…I have found the paper lasts longer. I use the HF right angle drill with Klingspor scalloped discs on a 2 inch Soft arbor/holder.

The dust is very hard on the drill, I have had a number of them over the years, and thus the reason I violate my policy of no HF tools with a cord. It works great. A friend has a air powered drill, it is a compact and has had it a long time, but it is not varible speed. I have not tried it yet. Try the HF set up… speeds the sanding up TREMENDOUSLY!!! I do finish with a small hand held 220 sheet….
Just my .02

-- Mike

View JollyGreen67's profile


1663 posts in 2731 days

#7 posted 05-28-2015 02:37 AM

Ditto for Mike. Can’t go wrong with a $29.99 HF right angle every two years.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1975 days

#8 posted 05-28-2015 04:51 PM

Thanks folks. I find that I’m varying the speed a bit more while I sand. It “Seems” that sanding in reverse is more aggressive so I go a bit slower there.
And as I approach the finest grit ( 220 ) I tend to push the speed up a bit for a smoother finish.

This is STILL a learning experience for me.

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View doubleDD's profile


7321 posts in 2011 days

#9 posted 05-28-2015 07:08 PM

Looks like your finding out like everyone else. Different woods different speeds, forward or reverse. I have had a reverse for a couple years and still find it difficult to get the right sanding finish at times on certain woods. I would add that I find the dryer wood is easier to finish. At least it’s all fun as long as it’s on the lathe.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3928 days

#10 posted 05-28-2015 07:32 PM

Cut fast, sand slow.


View Ron Ford's profile

Ron Ford

208 posts in 1700 days

#11 posted 06-07-2015 09:01 PM

Another vote for slow speed. Biggest reason for me is what Jimbo4 said about high speeds causing you to skip over sections that are too low to begin with. I get way better results at low (250 – 350 rpms) and sanding with the lathe in reverse.


-- Once in awhile I make something really great. Most days I just make sawdust.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3928 days

#12 posted 06-07-2015 09:15 PM

As an add onto my earlier post, I often dampen the surfaces a time or two while sanding. Raises the grain a bit, and sure does make for a finish ready object.


View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1975 days

#13 posted 06-07-2015 09:35 PM

Thanks again for the input. I’ll hafta try that dampening trick Ron.

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View REO's profile


928 posts in 2042 days

#14 posted 06-08-2015 02:36 AM

A question for several of those who answered. Why would there be a variation from round(high and low spots) on a turning? I can think of several reasons that this happens but can be easily avoided.

Turning with dull tools. with higher tool pressures required to make the cuts the tool pushes into the soft grain and bounces over the hard grain. Even in a more consistent grain the need to start with a very coarse sand paper wil in effect cause the same problem it chew’s away at the soft grain and doesn’t cut the hard grain. work to achieve a better off the tool finish and spend les time sanding.

Running the part too slow or not having good tool control will afford the same result as above. There is more time to sink and rise with the difference in the soft grain and the hard grain. Again creating a rough finish begging one to start with coarse grits to get it smooth.

same answer as above. work for better tool control. keep the tool support closer to the workpiece. use a tool with a longer heavier handle to dampen the in and out effect of the reaction between tool and work piece. better off the tool finish.

the reason you get faster results reversing direction is that you break of the wood fiber that has been broken in the opposite direction with the preceding sanding operation. learn to “cut” the wood fibers, Dont “rub” them off. many people ride the bevel to hard they get a strangle hold on the tool and actually deform and damage the wood fibers enough to cut something with the tools edge. In order to get a good surface they have to sand all the damaged wood fibers away. In the mean time they heat the wood up and get burn marks or lift the fibers again with the sand paper. Light pressure as someone said let the sandpaper do its job. keep the sand paper moving all the time don’t park on a rough spot. if you press hard the same thing happens on a finer scale to the fibers instead of being cut they get torn off. I get a good finish on dry ash with 120 grit running a five inch bowl at 2400 to 2600 rpm. For stained and finished columns and newel posts I will go to 180. 320 for a buffed lacquer finish I think faster is better with a light touch keeping the contact point moving so the paper gets a chance to unload. Some may not think the following vid is expropriate. It shows sharp cutting tools on a lathe turning wood and use of sandpaper for finish so I am going to post it anyway.LOL!
turning a bowl

View Gixxerjoe04's profile


850 posts in 1545 days

#15 posted 06-08-2015 02:49 AM

I sand slow unless I have to “fix” tool marks then it’s high to fix then slow again. Question for everyone, sanding bowls, the inside is such a pain and there’s always sanding marks and I can’t figure out how to get rid of them. I’ve used sanding disks on my drill, by hand, both leave some type of marks and driving me nuts.

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