The Nitty-Gritty on Sanding {Part Two}

In my previous post I went over the reasons why I would or wouldn’t sand a piece before refinishing it. In this post I’m going to go over how exactly to go about sanding.

Three things that will make your life easier while sanding:
#1 An electric hand held sander.
#2 Know your grit, Sherlock.

#3 Always sand in the direction of the grain. (the direction that the lines in the wood are going)

An electric hand held sander is going to cut your time by at least 75%. I have an old Black & Decker “Mouse” sander and I love it. I want a new sander, but just because I love tools. This one works great. Sandpaper is made especially to fit it and is easily put on and off. I like this because I can switch in between sandpapers when I’m working on something. Yes, it is possible to sand using a sanding block, but it is going to take you a lot of time.
Know your grit. Grit refers to the roughness of the sandpaper. The lower the number, the rougher the grit. You always, ALWAYS start with a lower number and work your way up to the higher number. For example, when I am refinishing a table top I will start with 60 grit. The 60 grit will grind down through any varnish and stain to the bare wood. If you use 60 grit too long, it will eventually start to grind away at your wood. 60 grit will leave your surface rough. There will be visible sanding marks and your piece will not be ready to paint or stain.

After removing the paint, varnish, or stain you were aiming to remove, next you will be ready to start creating a smooth surface ready for your finish. I like to move from 60 grit to 120 to 220. Going in this order will leave you with a quality surface that looks professional and neat. Be sure to check the surfaces that you’re sanding from different angles. If you are able to see sanding marks, you will need to re-sand that area to get rid of them, which is why I like the mouse. If I am working with the 220 grit sandpaper and I see marks left from the 60 grit, I can take the 220 off and put some 120 back on, remove the 60 grit marks, and then move back to the 220.

Finally, always sand with the grain of the wood. “Grain of the wood” refers to the direction that the lines in the wood are going. Don’t argue; just do it.

If you’ve sanded properly, when you apply your stain you will be rewarded with a thing of beauty. If you apply your stain and you suddenly see marks from sanding, wait for the stain to dry and begin again.

Sanding is one of those things that when you do it right, it is completely rewarding. You can literally see your hard work pay off. I’ll go over how to stain furniture sometime in the future.
This is my 12 year old sanding a bookshelf for his room. Don’t be afraid to get started. You can do this.
Next up will be: Sanding when you’re…done?




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