Using Power Sanders

In the chapter on tools, we discussed power sanders, and pointed out that the best kind to own is an oscillating sander— one with a front-to-back sanding motion. In these sanders, the shoe on which the paper is fitted moves back and forth, traveling only a fraction of an inch but doing it quickly. The right way to use one of these is to let the sander do the work. Your job is to guide it in a straight line with the grain of the wood, to move it slowly over the surface, and to apply light pressure. In other words, don't try to use it like a hand sander, and move it back and forth by hand. Start at one end of the area to be sanded and slowly move it toward the other end. Then go back to the beginning and am the course again, Do this until the sanding is finished.

Because orbital sanders leave circular marks on the surface, we don't recommend them. Sanding disks mounted in electric drills are worse than orbital sanders because you cannot apply even pressure to the pad as it spins, and are likely to get uneven results. The pad used in the drill, however, is good for sanding rungs and other round work because only a small part of the spinning disk touches the wood at any one moment.

When using a hand sander, also sand with the grain Apply even pressure If sanding is too slow use a coarser grade; then change to a fine grade to finish the job

Clogged sandpaper won't cut. Use an old toothbrush to clean it out occasionally so thai it continues to be abrasive

HOW TO SAND Sanding is easy WOOD SURFACES to do if you are

FOR FINISHES aware of the basic techniques. Follow these instructions with care.

  1. Always sand with the grain of the wood, not across the grain.
  2. Use a straight back and forth movement of the sanding block. Don't use a circular or irregular motion.
  3. Apply even pressure to the top of the sanding block. Don't lean more heavily on the front or back of it. The pressure-should be light, not forced.
  4. When sanding a Hat surface, be especially careful as you approach the edge. There is a tendency to lean on the block at this time, which results in heavier pressure near the edge of the work. Keep the sanding surface level and the pressure even to avoid tapering the work surface downward.
  5. Tap the sawdust out of the sandpaper at regular intervals. The sawdust clogs the paper and prevents the paper from cutting properly. You can use a small brush (an old toothbrush will do).

Using a Tack Cloth

When you finish the sanding, wipe the sawdust from the surface of the work with a tack cloth. (You can buy tack cloths already made at your home center, or you can make one by moistening a cloth with a mixture of one pail turpentine and three parts varnish.) The advantage of a tack cloth over a regular dust rag is that the sawdust clings to the tack cloth and doesn't fly into the air, only to settle on the work again in a few minutes.

After sanding, wipe the surface with a tack cloth to remove all the fine sanding dust You can either buy inexpensive tack cloths or make your own

When using a hand sander, also sand with the grain Apply even pressure If sanding is too slow use a coarser grade; then change to a fine grade to finish the job

Clogged sandpaper won't cut. Use an old toothbrush to clean it out occasionally so thai it continues to be abrasive


Furniture sanding is a little different from ordinary sandins»; in furni ture sanding the objective is a polished finish. To get this polished finish, you follow a step-down procedure. You begin with a coarse paper, then step down to finer and finer papers until the surface is as smooth as you can make it.

Work Sequence

In most cases, the coarse paper to start with is rated as fine on the sandpaper chart. It would have a grit rating of anywhere from about 200 to 100, or a number rating of from 5/0 to 2/0. After sanding the entire surface with this grade of paper, move down to a very fine grade, and then to a fine grade. For the last sanding before applying the finishing material, add one more step and go over the surface with a superfine grade of paper.

The Finishing Process Let each coat of finish materia} dry completely <and we mean completely). Then lightly sand the surface before applying the next coat. A very fine grade works best here. Go easy on this sanding. You don't want to take off any of the finish you just applied. You only want to eliminate the tiny bumps in the surface and at the same lime to roughen the surface slightly to give the next coat a "tooth" on which to cling. The liny bumps are caused by dust particles on the surface, dust in the brush, and impurities in the finishing material itself. They come off easily. You should be able to feel them with your fingertips before sanding. After sanding, they should be gone but the new surface should still be intact.

Hand-rubbing The final hand-rubbed finish is achieved after all coats of finishing material have been applied, and they have dried hard. Then you use a superfine paper (400-600 grit) to go over the entire finish. The aim is to knock off the

One type of hand-rubbed finish is achieved by a final sanding with superfine paper and water Begin by sprinkling a lew drops of water on the surface after the varnish has dried for several days. We use a clothes sprinkler boitie.

Next we load superfine wet-or-dry sandpaper into a hand sander and carefully sand with the grain Do not oversand or you may remove the new finish

After sanding, wipe the surface dry wilh a clean soft cloth Complete the job by applying either a lemon oil polish or a good carnauba furniture wax

Mount a thin felt or cloth paa in a hand sander to rub the pumice and oil. Work back and forth with the grain. Do not remove the i-msh, but palish it; remove the gloss and tiny imperfections

Some say the very best hand-rubbed finish is done with oil and a superfine waterproof paper First sprinkle a little pumice powder (we keep ours in a salt shaker) on the surface

Next, apply a few drops of very light oil (bicycle oil, lor example, or lemon oil) Use enough to make a light abrasive paste of the pumice. If necessary, add more pumice to achieve a good consistency glossy look that always comes with a new finish and to get rid of any last dust bumps. This hand-rubbed finish can be achieved with normal dry paper, or with waterproof paper.

Using waterproof paper, you sprinkle a little water on the surface and then sand it. You also can use a very light machine oil (racing bicycle oil is best) in place of the water, When the sanding is done, wipe the surface thoroughly with a clean dry cloth.

The last step after this final sanding is to apply a thin coat of top-quality paste carnauba wax.

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