Sanding and sandpaper is a big subject – big enough that there are actually entire books devoted to it, as expected, and big enough to get me to turn it into my profession. Knowing how to sand wood is an indispensable skill to all woodworkers since it plays a major role in the quality of the final woodwork.
As a woodworker, it is therefore vital that you understand how best to go about it. The following article is a guide on how to sand wood properly, revealing not only the basics but also some tips and tricks I’ve gathered over the years.
How to Sand Wood in 6 Steps
Let’s get right into it!
1 – Get All the Required Equipment
Before sanding the wood, you should first be aware of the types of sandpaper or sanding disks required for the sanding project. Sandpapers have different grades or grit, based on the number of sand granules per square inch of paper, thus vary on the degree of coarseness. The grit of the sandpaper is indicated at the back of the sandpaper. The lower the grade, the coarser the sandpaper.
2 – Choose the Perfect Machine for the Task
Getting the right tool for the job is a crucial step to achieve the best results. I’ve already written an article on this so be sure to read it by clicking here: best sanders for wood
In any case, here are a few types that are popular due to how fantastic they are:
These are mechanical sanders, which I would use to sand flat surfaces, because of their design. You should use sheet sanders for initial sanding tasks such as removal of paint from flat surfaces.
A random orbit sander is a hand-held power tool, which you use for sanding, where the sanding blade delivers a random orbit action. When used in the right technique, a random-orbital sander is a very efficient and easy to use tool when you are sanding wood. When using a random-orbit sander, you move it slowly and carefully in the direction of the grain, making sure that you have evenly sanded the wood.
This is a must-have tool when you are dealing with curved wood surfaces. In this case, you can work with neither sheet sanders no random-orbit sanders since they only work on flat surfaces. The oscillating spindle sanders polish the curves of the wooden surface making them uniform.
3 – Choose the Most Suitable Grade of Sandpaper
Those under 100 are referred to as coarse grits and are used to remove old finish or scratches on the wood. They are also commonly used in paint removal. They are not used in fine polishing since they damage fine wood. This task is reserved for medium and fine grades of sandpaper, ranging from 150 to 180 when the final additions of fine sanding is applied to the wood.
Sandpapers with grades which are higher than one 180 are at most times unnecessary since their effect is hardly noticeable, and is a waste if the polished wood is to be covered with varnish. However, you will notice its effects when you use a random-orbit sander or an oscillating spindle sander for detailed finishing.
4 – Use the Sandpaper Correctly
First, you need to fold the sandpaper in half, and then you cut the sandpaper into two halves. You then fold one of the halves into two equal parts. You then unfold the sandpaper, so that the sandpaper has two distinct regions. You then sand the wooden item with one-half of the fold until it wears out, then you turn the sandpaper to the other half and continue sanding the wooden surface. We do this in order to save on costs, by reducing the amount of sandpaper purchased.
5 – Sand in the Direction of the Grain
Wood grain is the pattern of fibers that you see on the surface of cut wood. You should always sand in the direction of the grain, not in any other direction. This ensures that your woodwork looks attractive. Sanding in the direction of the grain also ensures that your work is of high quality. However, sanding in the direction of the grain may prove to be very difficult and in some instances, you cannot avoid cross grain sanding. In this case, you will have to make the scratches to be very fine so that the cross grain sanding does not show when the stain is applied to the wood.
6 – Remove the Sawdust and Debris
You should always remove the sawdust after sanding your woodwork. The best tool to use is a vacuum cleaner since it is safer and leaves your environment cleaner. Blowing the sawdust manually is ill-advised since it put you at risk of inhaling the sawdust and reaching your lungs. After all traces of sawdust are removed, you can now apply paint or stain. Finally vacuuming off the sawdust and taking a good look at the beautiful piece you just created marks the last step in your journey of learning how to sand wood the right way.
Sanding wood is an activity that takes a lot of time and requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. You have to know which grain of sandpaper and machinery to use depending on the nature of the surface. Once you learn and master all of these factors and tips on how to sand wood, you should be on your way to becoming a sanding expert and achieve excellent results!
Thanks as always for reading and if you have any questions, be sure to leave them below – I’ll be here to help!