Jeff Jewitt Shares Sanding Methods
Tips for tackling big panels and problem parts
Synopsis: Power tools leave their marks on wood, so if you want a dead-flat, smooth surface ready for a finish, you’ll probably turn to sandpaper. Finishing expert Jeff Jewitt shares time-tested methods for using modern abrasives and sanding machines to get flawless results. From using a random-orbit sander followed by hand-sanding to smooth a surface, to using a belt-sander to level a glued-up panel, to working on tricky surfaces such as narrow parts and curved work, these tips will help you get the flawless surface you are looking for.
Even if the wood’s surface appears perfect after you’ve run it through the tablesaw, jointer, or planer, it’s not. All of these machines leave their marks, and the tricky part is that those marks often aren’t visible on bare wood. Unfortunately, they’ll jump out once a stain or clear finish is applied. That’s why all boards coming off a machine need further leveling and smoothing.
The type of preparation you use—hand, machine, or a mix of the two—will be dictated partly by the piece you’re working on. If you’re making a period reproduction where nuanced tool marks are a sign of hand-craftsmanship, all you may need is a final quick sanding with very fine sandpaper after using scrapers and planes. However, most woodworkers want a deadflat and smooth surface, and the way to achieve this is with modern abrasives and sanding machines. Here I’ll give you my time-tested methods for getting the best results with these tools.
I’ve been answering woodworking and finishing questions for more than 20 years and one thing that causes a lot of head-scratching is how to flatten a multi-board panel. It is too wide to go through your planer, your handplane skills may not…