Abrasives & Sanding Woodworking Tips


Abrasives and Sanding

Here I list out 16 very helpful tips for sanding techniques. Using abrasives can actually be tricky at times when it comes to woodworking and wood projects.

Abrasives - A rough substance used for polishing, sanding, or grinding various hard surfaces.

  1. Prior to staining, sand end grain with 600 grit sandpaper.  This will burnish the end grain and help achieve a more even color with the rest of the project.

  2. Typically the surfaces of plywood with decorative veneer are not as smooth as planed lumber, and will need additional sanding and preparation prior to applying a finish in order to get a superior result.

  3. When sanding veneers use caution, because it is easy to sand through the thin veneer layer.

  4. Always sand with the wood grain.  Sanding cross grain will create undesirable scratches in the wood.

  5. Be sure to sand out all the scratches in the wood.  When a finish is applied, any scratch marks that remain will be magnified.

  6. Use an orbital sander for finish sanding where possible.  It doesn’t leave scratches like some other methods.

  7. Most hardwoods require sanding with progressively finer grits for best results.  Typically starting with 80 grit sandpaper and then progress to 120 grit, and then finishing with 220 grit.

  8. In order to save time and avoid laborious sanding of a project, do the rough and intermediate sanding of individual parts prior to the assembly.

  9. Be sure to sand the whole project with the same grit so the stain will be absorbed evenly throughout.  The exception to this rule is the end grain, which will require a finer grit.

  10. When sanding, use long, even strokes, in a straight line.  This will prevent scratches and give a more uniform appearance.

  11. When using a power hand sander, do not sand to the end of a board in order to prevent rounding the edge.  A hand sanding block can be used to finish the end.

  12. Another way to prevent rounding the end of a board when using a power sander is to fix another board the same thickness to the end, and complete the sanding stroke onto the second board.

  13. There are two different grades of sandpaper sold on the market today; commercial grade and industrial grade.  Commercial grade is the most common, and is used typically for home use, small cabinet making facilities, and educational woodshops.  The industrial grade is made of higher quality materials and is suitable for more rigorous production work.

  14. For most wood species, the finest grit sandpaper needed is 220 grit.  This will eliminate scratches sufficiently so that even water based stains, that tend to magnify scratches, will not show up.

  15. Care must be taken when sanding most hardwoods with super fine grit sizes, such as 400 grit.  These very fine grit sizes may tend to burnish and seal off the grain, thus preventing finishes from penetrating.

  16. One way to sand irregular shapes or small, hard to reach areas, is to tape sandpaper around a dowel or some other small cylindrical object.