Which method works best when preparing wood for a finish -- handplane or sandpaper? To find out, we set up a friendly competition between two FWW staffers. Each contestant was given the parts for a Shaker table with tapered legs. Milled to final dimension and with the joinery already fitted, the parts were ready to be sanded or planed. Art director Michael Pekovich demonstrated handplanes and scrapers. Editor Asa Christiana used sandpaper, with a random-orbit sander and by hand with sanding blocks. Afterward, each contestant applied a coat of Waterlox, a wiping varnish. Who completed the job first? Whose finish looked the best? And will this result change the way either of them works?

From Fine Woodworking #212

Make sure you watch the video event for this Surface Prep Shootout.