What about the bottoms?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by JimRochester posted 01-10-2016 05:40 PM 891 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JimRochester's profile


559 posts in 2219 days

01-10-2016 05:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I did a quick search and didn’t see anything so I’ll ask here.

When you have a flat project ie. cutting board, tray, lazy susan, etc., how much attention do you pay to the bottoms? For a long while I was making the bottoms look almost as good as the tops. Plane then sand to 180. Now I’m having second thoughts. Certainly it looks more professional if you flip it over and it looks smooth as a baby’s behind. But in retrospect, you have to plane and/or sand away more material making it thinner, much thinner in some cases, plus the extra time and material to finish something that really won’t get looked at too often.

I understand you have to put a finish on it to avoid it absorbing moisture. But I was wondering how many people sand and finish the tops and bottoms the same?

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

7 replies so far

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

422 posts in 3672 days

#1 posted 01-10-2016 06:08 PM

Top & bottom get the same almost the same treatment. I sand everything to 220, and then I do end grain & the top to 320.

Customers flip pieces over and touch everything … if they find a rough edge, that’s a negative.

Since I display many of my pieces vertically, the top edge often gets touched more than the face of the board.

Also, since I route finger holds & put non-skid rubber feet on the bottom of the boards, I am inviting people to inspect the board from every angle … because I’ve designed the bottoms just as I have the tops.

Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary, of course.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View sras's profile


5288 posts in 3734 days

#2 posted 01-10-2016 06:40 PM

I focus on both sides, especially if it is a piece that can be turned over by hand.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6789 posts in 3799 days

#3 posted 01-10-2016 07:05 PM

I also do the tops and bottoms just alike, and even underneath, if it’s a coffee table, end table, or whatever piece I’m doing….If you don’t do it all , then it’s done half-assed, in my opinion..!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View JimRochester's profile


559 posts in 2219 days

#4 posted 01-10-2016 08:56 PM

I’m not advocating leaving the bottom with glue drips. Sometimes though, especially on boards where you are flipping every other row, you have a piece a little smaller than the others, or it crept a little during the glue up. Now you have a low spot on both the top and bottom. I just prefer to keep my pieces at least 3/4” thick, preferably 7/8”. If I have plenty of material I’ll absolutely plane and sand away any low spot or blemish. Other times, you have a choice to go thinner or leave the bottom with imperfections.

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

View bonesbr549's profile


1587 posts in 3672 days

#5 posted 01-10-2016 09:34 PM

IMO it depends on the piece. I want balance and I treat the finish carefully. If the piece/part will not be seen and can be secured in place and not an issue then no. I allways seal all faces where possible, but will not go to that level. The example you use like a cutting board etc, then yes. Hope that helps.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View oldnovice's profile


7516 posts in 3972 days

#6 posted 01-10-2016 10:37 PM

I learned a long time ago that every side, and edge, must be treated tell same.
Take a lesson from plywood, there are always an odd number of plys for the exact same reason!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View AandCstyle's profile


3263 posts in 2862 days

#7 posted 01-11-2016 12:08 AM

Jim, if it is likely that someone will see or touch a surface, I finish it just like the top/face. If it is the underside of a table, for example, I only sand to 100 or 120G, but spray 2-3 coats of finish on it. I take my queue from Stickley and they seem to use a similar process of the pieces I have seen.

-- Art

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics