Tips for Sanding Basics
Combine power and hand-sanding for good results with no wasted time.
Synopsis: Proper sanding is a crucial part of woodworking, whether the goal is to remove marks left by the planer and jointer, eliminate tiny imperfections after handplaning, or get rid of glue squeeze-out. For best results, David Sorg recommends starting with a power sander such as a random-orbit sander, palm sander, or detail sander, then moving on to hand-sanding. The author gives tips on choosing the right grit for the job, sanding in the proper sequence, sanding details and molding, and final sanding for a flawless finish.
The course of true love never did run smooth, according to Shakespeare, and smoothing wood true rarely causes love to course, it would seem. Boredom and fear are more common feelings among woodworkers when sanding their projects. But proper sanding is a crucial part of woodworking, so please read on for some tips and techniques that will turn your boredom into serenity, and your fear into fun.
I’ll stick my neck out and state that no project should be finished without first being sanded. Even if you are a hero with the handplane or skilled with the scraper, you won’t be able to get a surface that is uniformly smooth and with an even sheen. Inevitably, there will be tiny depth changes from adjoining passes of the blade, while the sole of the plane can burnish strips of wood that may show up after a stain or a clear finish has been applied.
Those who rely solely on power tools will inevitably be left with planer- and jointer- knife marks and fibers crushed by the feed rollers. Router tables can leave gouges and scratches, and assembly often produces some errant glue splotches. All of these blemishes should be removed before a finish is applied, and sanding is the best way to achieve this. The most efficient way to sand a surface is with a combination of power-sanding and hand-sanding.
Power-sanding comes first
Of course, you could do all of your sanding by hand, but why? Even if you use power sanders wherever practical, there will be enough hand-sanding on almost any project to give you plenty of hand-done satisfaction. Power sanders deliver results with much greater speed, and with minimal practice they’ll also deliver a flatter surface than sanding by hand alone. The good news is that unlike much of your other shop equipment, quality sanding tools will not cost you much. I strongly suggest you get a random-orbit sander. A pad sander also is useful, and I’ll explain why a detail sander is optional. Don’t forget a dust mask and hearing protection.
From Fine Woodworking #173
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