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How to Sand Wood

Wood Sanding Techniques for a Beautiful Finish

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One of the tasks that novice woodworkers struggle with learning is how to sand wood. Sanding can be a tedious process, but it is absolutely vital to the overall quality of the woodworking project. In the following articles, learn how to sand wood through a variety of methods, from hand sanding to using specific types of power sanders. Once you master these wood sanding techniques, you'll be able to prep your projects for a great finish.

1. Choosing the Correct Sandpaper

Sandpaper Varieties
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

The first thing one needs to know when preparing to sand a project is the types of sandpaper or sanding disks required to do the job. From specific grits to understanding the differences in formulations designed for hand sanding or for high-speed abrasives, having the proper sanding "tool" is absolutely vital to the success of the project.

2. Random Orbital Sanders

Random Orbit Sander
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Nearly every modern woodshop has at least one random orbital sander. The action of this sander helps eliminate scratch marks that can be created by hand sanding or with a repeating-pattern sander (such as a common sheet sander). In this article, learn the features you should look for when selecting a random orbital sander.

3. Sheet Sanders

Sheet Sander
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Sheet sanders are sometimes considered an ugly step-child of the random orbital sander, namely because they use a repeating pattern to move the sanding pad. However, for many initial sanding tasks, a sheet sander is quite adequate. Additionally, a sheet sander can use a 1/4 or 1/2 sheet of regular sandpaper, making it far more economical than a random orbital sander (which requires specific sanding disks). Learn the advantages of a sheet sander and how to use one on your woodworking projects.

4. Oscillating Spindle Sanders

Oscillating Spindle Sander
(c) 2011 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

For sanding curved cuts (such as those made by a band saw or jigsaw), few tools are able to equal the ability of the oscillating spindle sander. This specialty sander is essentially a drum sander whose spindle moves up and down as the drum spins. This oscillating action exposes more of the sanding drum to the wood, lengthening the life of the drum and reducing sanding lines on the wood. Learn the advantages of using an oscillating spindle sander, plus additional techniques for sanding straight cuts with this unique sander.

5. Hand Sanding for a Perfect Final Touch

Hand Sanding
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

After using progressively finer grits through the sanding process with your random orbital sander or sheet sander, the last step before ending the sanding process should always be to give the project a good once-over (at the minimum) hand sanding. Not only will hand sanding the project before the finish allow you to fine-tune some spots that may need a little extra care, but it also can help eliminate any last little sanding marks caused by the power sander. Learn how to give a final hand sanding before moving on to finishing in this woodworking tip.

 

 

6. How Sandpaper is Made

Sanding Disks
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

While it may seem very basic and simple, the process of making sandpaper is actually rather technical and quite fascinating. I recently was able to take a tour of the Ali Industries factory, where I watched them make a variety of Gator Finishing sandpaper and other abrasive products. It was a very enlightening experience. In this article, follow along step-by-step as sandpaper, sanding belts and sanding disks are manufactured.

7. How Sanding Belts are Made

Sanding Belts
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

As with sandpaper, sanding belts have a specific formulation and manufacturing process that allows them to be durable, to stand up to the heat generated by the power of the belt sander. The belts are actually created from long strips of sandpaper designed to handle high temperatures, are then cut to width and taped together to form a loop. Follow along and see how the belts for your belt sander are manufactured.

8. Removing Fine Sawdust Before You Finish

Sanding a Cabinet Door
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

After sanding your woodworking project, you need to remove all traces of sawdust before you're able to apply the paint or stain finish of your choice. In this article, learn a tip for removing the final traces of sawdust from your project before moving on to the finishing step.

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