How To Sand Wood

Woody Jackson | Last modified on October 7th, 2021

Sanding wood is not a simple task and requires careful attention to avoid potential danger. To sand a wood, you should choose the right sandpaper, orbital, or sheet sander and then apply it to the wooden surface. You can achieve different levels of sanding depending on what your desired look is.

How To Sand Wood

There are many different ways to sand wood. However, woodworkers prefer using orbital sanders and sheet sanders because they’re easy to use, quick, and require little effort. Just follow these instructions for beginning with step one, then try out the other methods later on if you’d like to see how they work as well.

What Is Sanding?

Sanding is a process of removing material from something using an abrasive surface of a moving abrasive medium to accomplish some sort of work- whether it be shaping a piece of wood or refinishing furniture. It’s commonly done to remove irregularities or defects, create a smooth finish, or maintain a wood-like appearance.

How To Sand Wood: Step-By-Step Guide

If you’re just getting into sanding wood, you don’t need to look much further than your local hardware store for suitable materials and accessories. The list below includes the most commonly used methods found in woodworking shops around the United States. Use this list to find out what materials you’ll need, and spend some time experimenting with these methods to see what fits your skill level and aesthetic preferences best.

Choosing The Sandpaper

Before you can decide which type of sander to use, you’ll first have to consider a few factors, such as; the level of polish you are trying or want to achieve, the type of sander you have available, and what kind of wood it is.

Types of Sandpaper

Using Orbital Sander

Orbital sanders are used with small sheets of sandpaper either folded into a pad shape or attached to a backing sheet with double-sided tape. Use them for getting into tight spots and for curved work like making bowls or chairs.

How To Sand Wood: Using Orbital Sander

Using Sheet Sander

Sheet sanders are large flat sanders that cover larger areas covered in an instant. They’re used for flattening large surfaces and use wide sandpaper sheets. They work best with wider boards and are commonly used in creating joints between the boards.

How To Sand Wood: Using Sheet Sander

Finishing With Hand Sanding

If you’ve ever tried to sand a thin piece of wood or one with an intricate shape, you know there’s no way to get into all the nooks and crannies without a good combination of hand sanding and hand tools. If you’re going for an even finish on a project that’s not too complicated, hand sanding might be your best bet.

How To Sand Wood: Finishing With Hand Sanding

Remove All Traces Of Sawdust

When you’re done sanding, you’ll likely end up with bits of sawdust, even if everything was removed from the wood. When this happens, you will want to remove all traces of sawdust to avoid creating a new problem altogether. To do this, use an old piece of cardboard or rags and scrub the wood until all dust and debris are gone. 

After doing this, it’s important to wash your hands and thoroughly dry them before continuing with your project. This clears the air in your woodshop and lets everyone know that no chemicals were used for a safe work environment.

How To Sand Wood Without Sandpaper

Sanding wood is the process of taking off wood to make it smoother and easier to work with. It can be done by hand, but a power tool such as a belt sander or orbital sander may be used in some cases. But what to do if you don’t have sandpaper?

There are many ways to sand wood without sandpaper. The easiest thing you can do is take coarse grit paper such as sidewalk paving paper or emery cloth and use that for your rough-cutting stage before using fine-grit paper for refining your work.

How To Sand Wood For Staining

It’s important to sand your wood before you stain it because a rough surface makes the stain uneven.

A few essential tools are necessary for sanding: A good quality power sander, such as an orbital or belt sander with some medium grit paper or 100 grit silicon carbide paper. You’ll also need some dust masks and safety goggles to protect your lungs and eyes from the wood dust generated by power sanders. 

Alternatively, you can use hand tools such as scrapers and coarse sandpaper (approximately 180 grit works well). Be sure to wear gloves while using these tools so that no oil from your hands rubs into the wood, which would make it difficult for staining to absorb. You’ll also want some inexpensive paintbrushes and some rags.

For most projects, sanding is done in several stages: the first stage includes rough sanding by hand or using power sanders with the grain of the wood to create a lightly scratched surface that will suck up stain really well. The second stage includes a medium grit silicon carbide paper, such as 100 grit for most woods (you can increase this number by 10 or 20 for softwoods). 

If you’re working with very softwood, 200 or even 400 grit paper will work. Just make sure you don’t sand through your wood to the other side because this will split the grain and increase the chance of a color run and/or cracking.

The third and final stage includes finishing with 120 or higher grit sandpaper by hand or using power sanders if you prefer. Both power sanders and hand sandpapers come in different grits, from coarse to ultrafine, so be sure to buy what you need for each job. The finer the grit, the longer it will take to remove scratches from your wood.

FAQ

Is It Better To Sand Wood Wet Or Dry?

Wet sanding is the process of removing the wood’s top-most layer of bark in a fine, even manner. Dry sanding is done after the wood has been cleaned and dried. It removes only what’s exposed on top of the surface.

Here are some points to consider when deciding which one to use:
If you want a lot of control over how much you remove, wet sanding is best because there’s time for re-sanding as you go. After all, it takes about 10 minutes for the water to saturate dry wood and start working its way down towards the end grain.

What Is The Fastest Way To Sand Wood By Hand?

Typically, the fastest way to sand wood by hand is to use a 4″ or 6″ palm sander. It can be done using the spindle or disc attachment. However, a spindle would get clogged quickly with debris. Sanding with an orbital sander can work if you are constantly generating fresh dust, which would allow that type of tool to work continuously without becoming too hot.
If you cannot afford a small handheld electric tool and want an alternative method of sanding your wood by hand, try using a power drill fitted with a 3-inch diameter round cut-off disk on its spinning drive head and simply hold it in one hand while rotating it on the surface of your project at about 300 revolutions per minute.

Is It Ok To Sand Wood Without A Mask?

Sanding wood without a mask is not advised due to the potential for inhalation of dust particles that could irritate sensitive areas, like the eyes and throat.

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