We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality. It is a rough sanding machine. I used sugar pine because it is very light in weight. Sanding finer than #180 or #220 is wasted effort in most cases, as explained in the text. Otherwise you need to start with a coarser grit so that you can get it sanded off quickly. First, don’t press down on the sander when sanding. Only if you are staining or using a vibrator (“pad”) or random-orbit sander does sanding above #180 grit make a difference. These grits are used for sanding off of old wax or varnish. We finish in the fine to extra fine range depending on the job and the look that is desired. I really find them to be very helpful for my new projects. Other than using a stationary sanding machine or a belt sander, which will take a good deal of practice to learn to control, there are three methods of sanding wood: with just your hand backing the sandpaper, with a flat block backing the sandpaper and with a vibrator or random-orbit sander. Bob Flexner is the author of "Flexner on Finishing," "Wood Finishing 101," and "Understanding Wood Finishing. If it isn’t, there’s no point going past #180 grit. A small random orbital sander, such as the Festool RO 125 Rotex, is usually used around the edges to clean up any sander marks left by the edger. If you can’t avoid cross-grain sanding, you will have to find a compromise between creating scratches fine enough so they don’t show and coarse enough so the stain still darkens the wood adequately. Sometimes with vibrator and random-orbit sanders, sanding up to #220 grit makes the squiggly marks left by these sanders small enough so they aren’t seen under a clear finish. First, let me explain a little about different grits of sandpaper, then the different types of machines that are used and finish with a sanding scenario. A brush kicks the dust up in the air to dirty your shop and possibly land back on your work during finishing. Denatured alcohol will raise the grain a little, so you’ll have to sand it smooth again. When you first start sanding, you should be using a rough or medium grit, either 36, 40, 50 or 60. First, after removing the dust, look at the wood in a low-angle reflected light – for example, from a window or a light fixture on a stand. So you shouldn’t use your hand to back the sandpaper on flat surfaces such as tops and drawer fronts because the hollowing will stand out in reflected light after a finish is applied. But these finishes can be made ultimately smooth simply by sanding between cured coats or sanding each additional coat while it is still wet on the surface using #400- or #600-grit sandpaper. The most efficient method of doing this is to begin sanding with a coarse enough grit of sandpaper to cut through and remove the problems quickly, then sand out the coarse-grit scratches with finer and finer grits until you reach the smoothness you want – usually up to #150, #180 or #220 grit. The finer you sand, the less stain color will be retained on the wood when you wipe off the excess. A “multi-disc” sander, we use one called a Trio, is used for fine sanding of the floor. The appearance and feel of the finish is all its own and has nothing any longer to do with how fine you sand the wood. If this is what you want, then sand to a finer grit. Sanding is very personal. Wonderful well-research work. Skip 80 grit and finish sanding with a 100 grit. It’s rarely beneficial to sand finer than #180 grit. It would be a total waste of time and effort to begin with #80 grit on the pre-sanded veneered wood (and you would risk sanding through). “Fine” is 80 and 100. NOW HIRING FUTURE HARDWOOD FLOORING CRAFTSMAN, NOW HIRING EXPERIENCED HARDWOOD FLOORING CRAFTSMAN. Of course, doing this is seldom possible on turnings and decorative veneer patterns such as sunbursts and marquetry. No matter which of the three sanding methods you use, always remove the sanding dust before advancing to the next-finer grit sandpaper. Unquestionably, the most efficient progression is to sand through every grit – #80, #100, #120, #150, #180 – sanding just enough with each to remove the scratches of the previous grit. Cross-grain sanding scratches aren’t very visible under a clear finish, but they show up very clearly under a stain. Squigglies. Sanding by hand in the direction of the grain to remove these squigglies then becomes unnecessary. If the block is hard (wood, for example), it’s best to have some sort of softer material such as cork glued to the bottom to improve the performance of the sandpaper. A lot of knowing when you have sanded enough is learned by experience. Doing this is especially important if you are staining. (See “What Is Oil?” in issue #154, April 2006, for a more thorough explanation of both processes.). It’s a lot easier doing this than sanding the wood through all the grits to #400 or #600. Conditions vary. Using your hand to back the sandpaper can lead to hollowing out the softer early-wood grain on most woods. Unquestionably, the most efficient progression is to sand through every grit – #80, #100, #120, #150, #180 – sanding just enough with each to remove the scratches of the previous grit. The “edger” sands the edges of the floor along the walls, places where the big machine can’t get to. Let me give you a scenario: take a red oak floor about 20 years old, 3 kids raised on it, couple dogs and cats, water spills, average life happens and the floor hasn’t had anything done to it in that time frame. On most jobs, the sequence is 24-36-60-80 for coarse-grain wood like oak. This is an excellent entry level sanding article! But there are two methods you can use as an aid. “Coarse” paper comes in 30, 36, and 40 grit, these grits are mainly used for flattening of poorly milled flooring or flooring that has experienced a lot of movement, also good for floors that have a lot of scratches or UV damage. We would start with a 40 grit, skip 50 grit and sand with a 60 grit. The 13 steps to sanding your floors: Determine your grit sequence. Skip 80 grit and finish sanding with a 100 grit. Sand with the folded sandpaper until it dulls, flip the folded sandpaper over to use the second third, then refold to use the third third. Most woodworkers use random-orbit sanders because they are very efficient, easy to use, and they leave a less-visible scratch pattern than vibrator sanders due to the randomness of their movement. Sand all main field areas with the drum sander on the first grit of your determined sequence. Its only possible to start with 60 if you have a very flat floor that’s in good condition and very clean. We would start with a 40 grit, skip 50 grit and sand with a 60 grit. In all cases when sanding by hand, it’s best to sand in the direction of the wood grain when possible. If you are sanding critical flat surfaces by hand, you should always use a flat block to back the sandpaper. Avoid mineral spirits if you are going to apply a water-based finish because any oily residue from the thinner might cause the finish to bead up.
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