Sand, Scrape, or Plane?
In search of the best way to prepare wood for finishing
Synopsis: Few woodworkers enjoy the noise and dust of power sanding, but most recognize it as an easy way to get boards uniformly smooth. Others swear by the card scraper, which with practice will produce thin curls of wood and a flawless board. Conventional wisdom says hand-planing is the best method of surface preparation, though it’s difficult to achieve perfection that way. When all is said and done, does it really matter how a board was prepared after the surface has been finished? Woodworker Ari Tuckman wanted to find out, so he devised a test. Using two different types of wood, he sanded, scraped, or planed identical boards and sent them to be judged by Fine Woodworking editors before and after finishing. The results may surprise you.
Perhaps more than most woodworking topics, debates on surface preparation elicit strong opinions. No doubt handplaning takes more finesse and practice than…