How to Sand Wood

how to sand wood

How to Sand Wood by Hand, Machine and Without Sandpaper

Whether you have wood furniture, wall paneling or flooring that is soiled, it can be a tough job getting such items clean. Mopping or wiping is not enough; to give them an excellent finish, you’ll have to give your wood some sanding. The sanding process not only smoothens the wood but also makes the surface look fresh and new. Read on to discover how to sand wood by hand, by machine – and even by wet-sanding.

Benefits of Sanding Wood

There are many advantages to sanding a wooden piece, apart from giving it a smooth surface. Here are some of the major benefits of sanding wood:

New wood sometimes comes with a glaze, called a mill glaze, which results from the way the wood is prepared for sale. The presence of this mill glaze makes it difficult for stains and other finishes to penetrate. One of the most effective ways to remove this glaze is by sanding.

Sanding will also help to close the pores in the wood by crushing the wood fibers. It also enhances the bonding of non-penetrating finishes by leaving tiny, invisible scratches on the wood surface.

Types of Sanding

There are 3 main types of sanding: hand sanding, machine sanding and wet sanding.

Hand Sanding

In this process the sanding is done manually, using sandpaper. Sandpaper is simply a sheet of paper with abrasive material on it. You just choose a piece of sandpaper with an appropriate grit and scrape or rub it against the wood surface. For small items and domestic wooden pieces, that is something you can easily do on your own at home. Some people also like the distinguished look that you get with hand-sanded wood floors.

Machine Sanding

How to sand wood with electric sander
Sanding with an electric sander

Also known as power sanding, machine sanding involves the use of special machines and woodworking tools to do the sanding. There are various types of power sander, such as belt sanders, disc sanders, drum sanders, vibratory sanders and palm sanders. You can also find combination belt-and-disc sanders. Power sanders are generally used for larger wood items, such as decks, floors and pressure-treated wood.

Wet Sanding

How to Sand Wood Without Sandpaper

Wet sanding is a good way of avoiding the clean-up that would be required after a dry-sanding job. It is performed with a liquid sandpaper or special sanding sponge.

You might be wondering: “what is liquid sandpaper?”. It’s a chemical solution that does the job of sandpaper but without the dust or hard work. It’s useful for removing a glossy finish (which is difficult to paint over), as it turns it into a matt finish in seconds. It does not smooth the surface, it just removes the gloss. This gives you an ideal surface for a new paint job.

A sanding sponge is useful in an environment where the airborne dust from dry sanding might trigger an allergic reaction. You need to keep the sponge just sufficiently damp to keep the sanding dust from floating in the air. This is a good way to minimize the mess in your workshop.

Preparation for Sanding

Before you begin sanding, decide what type of ultimate look or finish you’d like your wood item to have. Sandpaper comes in a range of grits – from very coarse to very fine texture. Also consider the size and shape of the sanding material you will require to complete your project. If you intend to do machine sanding, start with a coarse grit and graduate to finer ones until you get the look you want.

Sanding wood by hand can be a time-consuming task. Fortunately, using a power sander can save you a lot in time and effort. Whichever method you choose, sanding will always be an essential part of your woodworking experience.

You’ll find some really useful sanding hacks in this video:

How to sand wood

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