Woodworking Tips 101: Sanding

sandpaper close upSanding pretty much seems like a no-brainer. And it’s pretty much a thankless part of your work, because really, who ever notices that part? For something that requires so much time, it’s the least likely job to get noticed.

But if you don’t do it well, it definitely makes a difference on the finished product. So let’s talk about some simple tips you can use to make¬†your woodworking project job easier and better.

One very simple tip that will save you some serious time is to sand pieces¬†before you assemble them. This way you get to do it with everything lying flat. It’s going to save your back, knees and neck, and you will have a better chance of seeing blemishes and sand marks.

But, you aren’t going to see those blemishes without good light. Because if you don’t get them sanded out under good light, guess what? They are going to show up even better with finish. Invest in a good mechanic’s light and really get some light on those surfaces.

Of course we all know to start with the coarsest paper you plan to use and work up from there. Burns, nicks and dents need to be worked out completely with coarse paper before moving on. Change to finer grits slowly, and change paper often. It will mean less sanding overall for you I guarantee.

Sometimes it really is okay to go against the grain. If you have major amounts of sanding to do on an area, go against the grain to save some time. Yes, you will have to go back and sand out the cross scratches, but that is much easier in the long run.

If you plan on using a stain over keeping it natural, remember that less fine scratches and pores mean a lighter finish as stain sits in the scratches and pores. Make sure to always use the same grit over all before you are completely done sanding for an even finish. Keep your strokes long and even.

Once you have switched to finer grit sandpaper, if you find a deep scratch, don’t keep “beating a dead horse” so to speak. Grab some coarser paper, work it out, then move back up into finer grit.

And one final tip to make your project easier. Find a small tool around your workshop, wrap it in sandpaper and use it for corners and hard-to-reach areas.