|How often do you hear someone say,
"You did a great job sanding that project"? That's the problem with
sanding. For something that takes so much time and creates so much dust, it
goes unnoticed (if you do it right).
Of course, if you did a poor job sanding, it would get noticed. That's because
there isn't any finish that will hide a poor sanding job (except maybe paint).
Instead, a finish will emphasize and irregularities or blemishes on the surface
of the workpiece (like scratches and glue).
With all the power sanders and hand sanding products available these days, you
might be tempted to think another tool will solve your sanding headaches.
While these tools can help with the elbow grease, the process is still the
same. And understanding this process will save you time whether you're using a
power sander or just a plain old sanding block.
Here is the first of a three-part series on sanding -- some ideas and tips
collected from the editors and project builders at Woodsmith magazine.
These tips describe how to get the sanding job done in the least amount of time
-- and with the best results.
GETTING STARTED. Many woodworkers will put off sanding for as long as
possible. But after a project has been assembled, the sanding becomes much more
difficult. So we always try to get started as soon as possible.
For example, it's much easier to sand a large panel when it can be laid flat.
So we often sand a panel before it's assembled in a project, and sometimes even
before it's cut to final size.
We also like to sand raised panels before they're assembled into their frames.
But since we don't ever want to alter the fit of a joint, we'll wait to sand
the rails and stiles until after assembly.
There's something else you should think about before starting: the lighting.
You may take this part of sanding for granted. But if you aren't able to see
the surface of the wood really well, you may discover a scratch, dent, or spot
of glue when it's too late -- after the finish is dry. So make sure your
sanding area has plenty of light.
And not just overhead light. The light should come across the workpiece at a
low angle. This type of light will create shadows so that any ridges, dips, and
deep scratches will stand out. One easy way to do this is to hold an auto
mechanic's trouble light down near one end of the surface you're sanding. Most
problem areas will become much easier to see.
Go to Tip #53