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Sanding wood is probably one of my least favorite tasks to do in my shop. Although with wanting to improve my craft I am trying to take more pride in sanding. Sanding wood properly will leave your projects with the best quality finish as possible. It just takes the proper know-how and a few rules for sanding wood. Let me explain it all to you below so you can achieve that top quality finish you desire.

Sanding  Raw Wood

You just cut out the pieces for you new rocker and you’re ready to start getting the pieces sanded. Depending on the cut quality that just achieved on cutting your pieces will determine what grit to begin with. Sanding wood that came out with a rougher surface finish you might want to start with a 60 or 80 grit paper. To understand how the grit system works a smaller number of say of 36 grit is very rough or more abrasive to say a more fine finish of a 1200 grit that’s very smooth.
When sanding raw wood as a mentioned above start with a grit that can easily remove any imperfections from the cut quality that you might have achieved. Then move up through those grits, for example, I describe my methods of “going through the grits” below.

My Going Through Grits Process 

For me, I normally start at about 80 grit to remove any imperfections left behind whatever saw I happen to be using. Then I will move to 150 grit that falls into a fine finish. Finally, I will sand to a 220 surface roughness. I find this works great for most of the projects I do in my shop. What type sanding process do you go through? Let us know below!

Methods Of Sanding Wood

When sanding wood you have a few different options at your disposal. I tend to use both on most projects just because its whats needed most of the time. If you hate sanding as much as I do you will defiantly prefer a mechanical advantage over the elbow grease method. Sanding wood by hand as a woodworker is something we all just have to do sometimes unless you think out your processes extremely well and do all your sanding before assembly. I always need to get ahead of myself and forget to think about sanding in the moment.

Sanding By Hand

As much as hand sanding can be a chore and an upper body work out it can be can be almost therapeutic. Maybe?  Make sure to sand with grain, it can yield some great quality surface finishes if you take your time. Using your hand and running it over the workpiece can detect any imperfections you might have missed and need to address.

Tools For Hand Sanding Wood

Hand sanding enjoyment can be elevated h with proper tools. I am sure we all have gripped a small piece of sandpaper for an extended period of time. This is the quickest way to fatigue yourself. Also over a length of time, you can cause damage to your body with things like carpal tunnel. So practice good ergonomics in your shop if you’re doing any activity for extended periods of time.
So for some tools for hand sanding to make life easier are a hook and loop sanding pad. These come with the same kind of pad that your orbital sander more than likely has. This model just happens to not have a motor on it and in exchange has a comfy handle.

Another option is to go with a sanding block. Sanding blocks are normally used to accept sheet sandpaper. Which this is it I normally tend to use in my shop for hand sanding.
When doing any type of sanding always pay attention to your grain and make sure to sand with the grain to get a great smooth surface.
With sanding blocks and you being a master woodworker, you have the ability to make your own sanding block. John Heiz put a great video a while back on how to make your own sanding block. Be sure to check that out below.

Sanding Wood With A Ortibal Sander

Let’s move on to the power portion of sanding wood. Orbital sanders are a basic necessity if you’re a woodworker or a maker. I mentioned them in the guide for beginner woodworkers guide. They make the pain of sanding a much more enjoyable process. There are varying degrees of quality of orbital sanders on the market.
Some will have more vibration than other and better ergonomics or worse. Dust collection is another major aspect of the orbital sander these machines are a HIGH fine dust creating piece of equipment. So take the time to seek out a quality orbital sander if your health and woodworking is something you enjoy both of.
Orbital sander utilizes a hook and loop system that I briefly mentioned above. Its a basically a velcro type system for attaching pads to the bottom sander. The fixed pad attached to the bottom of your sander will wear out over time, so make an effort to monitor its condition regularly. When these pads begin to wear you will slowly stop using utilizing the whole sheet of sandpaper due to low spots in your pad.
Pro Tip:  I got this tip from a Family Handyman article a while back so I will give them credit for this. When changing hook and look discs a lot and working through the grits the numbers on the back side of the sanding disc will become unlegalbe. To combat this use a sharpie and mark what grit it is when grabbing a new disc. The sharpie mark tends to stay a lot longer than what the manufacturer puts on.

Cleaning Your Work Pieces

After the dust has settled in your workshop your going to need to clean the workpieces. Cleaning the workpieces after sanding removes all particles that can have the tendency to ruin that perfect finish we are attempting to achieve.
Some methods to remove dust included vacuuming with soft bristle attachment, dampened rag, a rag with mineral spirits or compressed air as well as a tack cloth.
The method I use most often is mineral spirits and a rag. Be sure to let the piece air for a little while before directly apply any sort of finish to get proper adhesion. My least favorite method of the once I mentioned above is using compressed air. With this method your just blowing the dust around in your shop back into the air and have the possibility of it coming back down on the workpiece.

Sanding Between Coats

Sanding between your coats is absolutely necessary when applying a substance like an oil finish, the grain is raised and it creates a more rougher surface finish. This will have to be sanded back smooth again but takes very little effort. In fact most times I just hand sand this proportion of my finishing process. To me, this helps create less airborne dust to be floating around in my shop. Please note after you have sanded between your coats take the time clean the surface once again. Cleaning the surface makes all difference before any coat of finish is applied.

Sanding Like A PRO Work Flow

  1. Begin working through the grits to remove any imperfections
    1. 80 Grit
    2. 150 Grit
    3. 220 Grit
  2. Remove any grit with preferred method as mentioned above
  3. Apply finish or paint
  4. Sand between coats with a 220 for paint or a 320 for oil finishes
  5. Remove grit
  6. Reapply till manufactures specs or satisfaction is achieved.

Sanding Final Thoughts

Sanding can is a task that can’t be rushed and a great deal of patience is needed because it can be a time-consuming process. Although taking the time and the knowledge I provided above and putting it to use you should be able to get that finished product your after.
I’m considering going deeper in the sanding department of this blog with reviews of orbital sanders and building your own sanding blocks. If this is information that would be of value to you. Please take the time and let us know below in the comments.

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