Wood sanding prepares your wood for the ultimate finish. Sanding the wood makes the surface smoother and ready to be painted or stained.
Wood projects take time and effort to finish properly and wood sanding plays an important part. Without it, you’ll have rough edges and surfaces, scratches, and most importantly imperfections. You can use power tools like orbit sanders or you can hand sand the whole job.
In most cases, it is best to use both. Power tools to smoothen the surface faster and then using sandpapers by hands for a perfect finish. Sanding with your hands allows you to reach those tricky spots normally your machines would not.
Here are 12 tips to help you sand wood projects like a pro.
1. Choose the right sandpaper for the job
Sanding your wooden projects can get very addictive and choosing the right sanding tool will certainly help. You will have to choose the right sandpaper to get the smoothest finish without putting any scratch marks on it.
You will have to check for numbers like 80, 100, 120, 150. These numbers are called grit numbers and these indicate how coarse the sandpaper is.
The lower number means it can remove more material quickly but will not smoothen the surface much. The higher numbered papers help smooth out the surface, but it’s unable to remove materials quickly.
To help understand better let’s hop on to the next point.
2. Start with lower grits and move to the higher ones
Lower numbered papers means they are to be used more aggressively and these are to be used first to remove more material easily. For instance, start out with the 80 grit sandpaper. Then choose another higher grit paper.
But do not skip a grit. If you start out with 80, then move to 100, after that use 120. The reason you should not skip a grit is that they are designed to be used progressively. By following the serial number properly you will be able to get smoother finishes without scratch marks. You mustn’t get impatient and skip grits.
3. Use sand blocks for flat surface
Sanding takes a lot of effort. Especially when you are doing it with just your hands and sandpapers. Sanding blocks can help ease the entire process. Sand blocks also distribute your pressure. That way you can get your work done without being physically drained.
Remember the block helps ease things down for you but your paper still takes a hefty beating. So always remember to change the papers accordingly as we discussed above.
4. Use a putty knife for tight corners
Here’s a neat trick to help you sand faster. To get to those hard to reach areas you can attach your sandpaper to a putty knife. In this case, you will need a flexible putty knife and an adhesive-backed sandpaper.
Wrap the adhesive-backed sandpaper to the attached blade in the putty knife. You can spray adhesive spray in the back of your regular sandpaper and attach it to the putty knife.
5. Use an electric sander to speed up the process
Let’s face it, we all at some point get a little tired of sanding wood. Well, if you have large surfaces to finish then using an electric sander will give you better results than sand blocks. Electric ones are easy to use and work fast as well.
The most common ones are orbit sanders and palm sanders. While using electric sanders make sure not to put extra pressure on it. The weight of the tool is enough pressure. If you put more strength to it, it will only make the surface uneven.
Now while electric sanders help fasten the process, it is always best to give your project a hand sand finish.
6. Smooth out large areas first
The large areas are easy to sand. Whether you use a sand block or a power tool it is easy to clear out large areas with relatively less effort. That is why it is advisable to start out with large areas first and then move on to the smaller bits.
7. Shoot a light to detect scratches
Your beloved wood project may look perfect in the naked eye but might still have some scratches after painting or staining. . To avoid this hefty loss you have to use a utility light.
Put the utility light in a position so it’s light can shoot across the surface of the wood. The ray of light will help you identify any scratch marks on your work and you can easily undo your mistakes. This also helps you remind which part needs more work.
8. Sand all pieces separately before putting them back together
Start sanding all the separate pieces first. It may seem like more work but it is the right way to do so. After you attach all the parts together there may be some areas that you can’t reach with your tools or by hand.
So it’s best to sand it all separately. If you want, give it a final sand finish once you put everything together.
9. Make sure the wooden piece holds still
Use anti-slip mats under your wooden pieces so it does not slip away. This happens a lot when you are using power tools. By keeping an anti-slip pad or mat underneath the piece, you will be able to work better
10. Remove dust and check
Remember to clear away all the dust or bits of sandpapers after every turn. You will be using higher grit papers as you move on with the process. But before using be sure to clean up or the leftover bits will create scratches.
11. Blunt out the edges
If you are creating furniture then you should blunt out the edges and even bevel the legs of the furniture. By blunting out the edges you can prevent your work from chipping. By beveling the legs of the furniture you can prevent them from being chipped or damaged when they are dragged across the surface.
12. Ensure your safety first
As always safety comes first. If you are using an electric sander then use hearing protections like noise-canceling earphones.
Even when you are using just your hands, maintain proper safety measures. Use a dust mask so you are protected against sawdusts or other residues. Use gloves and safety goggles as well. Safety tools don’t just keep you safe they also help you work faster.
Woodworking is amazing and sanding can get pretty addictive. You might just spend hours on getting that perfect finish. By following the above tips you can certainly get that perfect non-scratch finish you want for all of your projects.