When to Stop Sanding?
Depending on the finish, probably earlier than you think.
Synopsis: Ever consider that you may be sanding too much? Ari Tuckman has. Like many woodworkers, he dislikes sanding. So he set out to do a semi-scientific study to find out how much is too much. He tested six standard grits on cherry, white oak, and tiger maple, using a random-orbit sander and progressing through the grits to a final hand-sanding at the end, then finishing them with oil, shellac and wax, and polyurethane. His goal was to see if moving to a finer grit always makes an appreciable improvement in the finished surface. What he found might surprise you.
Sanding is most woodworkers’ least favorite activity. It’s dusty, boring, and time-consuming—the sooner done, the better. But what is the right stopping point? When does moving to a finer grit no longer yield appreciable improvements in the finished surface? To find out, I did a semi-scientific study. I took boards…