Is There Any Reason To Sand To 10,000 Grit?

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Forum topic by lobro4 posted 05-11-2010 07:43 AM 1941 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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211 posts in 3823 days

05-11-2010 07:43 AM

Obviously I exaggerate but it seems to me that way too much time is spent on sanding. (And my random orbit sander is one of my favorite tools.) If you have a project that is going to be stained an then a topcoat applied what is the advantage of a super high grit? Once the milling marks have been removed and the surface is smooth, I do not see how more sanding will make a topcoat more smooth. That comes from properly applying the finish, doesn’t it? In fact, as the grit gets higher it actually makes the wood less stainable! I bring all this up as a fellow woodworker was aghast that I rarely (if ever) go above 150 grit—like I was breaking some unwritten law.
Now as far as something that is only being oiled or waxed… that does need a lot higher grit and I understand that.
Oh… and why would you sand an end grain cutting board to 220 and higher? That’s another discussion he and I had. It’s meant to get cut on after all.
What say you fellow LJers?

-- Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

20 replies so far

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3642 days

#1 posted 05-11-2010 10:50 AM

I never go above 150 either. Stained or Natural Wood, then usually three coats of poly. First is a sealer, quick rub with 000 Steel Wool, Second Coat and 000 Steel Wool, Third Coat of Poly and that’s usually it. Sometimes rub down the Third with 0000 and Fourth Coat of Poly.

However! I don’t, as of yet use any “Exotic Woods”. That might make a difference?

I have NO compaints about that Finish on Tables, Benches, Cabinets etc. Agree on the Oil or Wax Finish. I don’t “Do” Cutting Boards, end grain or otherwise.


-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 3952 days

#2 posted 05-11-2010 11:30 AM

I hate sanding and do as little as possible. I use hand planes because I can get to a desired finish after a couple passes with a #4 or 4 1/2. That is normally where I stop unless the wood is figured, then I take a couple light passes with 150 grit with the grain to open the pores a little accentuating the figure. I basically follow Rick’s method for poly except I stop after 3 coats if poly is used.

-- Marc

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3631 days

#3 posted 05-11-2010 12:40 PM

typically, I’ll go to 220 on bare wood just to avoid having too much loose fiber at the first stage of finishing. Particularly with open pore species like oak, anything higher seems pointless. I’ll sand 300 and higher on topcoats depending on the finish I’m trying to achieve. If you’re looking for the glass smooth piano finish, some kind of fine grit abrasive (whether it’s wet sanding to 1000 or above, pumice or rottenstone) will be necessary before polishing.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3770 days

#4 posted 05-11-2010 01:08 PM


Actually, after I turn an acrylic pen or use a CA finish on wood, I wet sand from 1500 up to 12,000. Yeah, it’s a different range, but you get the point. I don’t see anything wrong with what you are doing with the prep. for your poly finish.


-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3669 days

#5 posted 05-11-2010 01:30 PM

Personally, I hate sanding any more than is absolutely necessary. I use my planes and scrapers as much as possible to smooth the wood. I can often go from that to just a little bit of hand sanding to be ready for finish. The only time that I use anything finer than 220 grit is when scuff sanding between coats or in some cases when I want a highly polished surface and I intend to use primarily a wax finish.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4432 days

#6 posted 05-11-2010 01:46 PM

I will sand to 150, if I am going to apply stain, or 180 when going for a natural finish. You are correct in pointing out that the final smoothness comes from the finishing the finish and not the wood.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View KnickKnack's profile


1099 posts in 4176 days

#7 posted 05-11-2010 02:10 PM

Accepting the caveat that “I know nothing” and am a pretty inexperienced woodworker…

I actually quite like sanding, which, reading the comments above and elsewhere, makes me a bit weird.
My (limited) experience is that the wood I work with (oak, ash, and beech – all that’s available here where the provenance is known) hasn’t “coloured up” until 300 or 500. I love the way the oak changes, quite suddenly, from “pretty dull” at 150 to “wow that’s beautiful” as the grit gets finer.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 4432 days

#8 posted 05-11-2010 03:09 PM

I bought a set of high grit sanding discs at peachtree woodworking, just to see what finishing the finish would look like. Hand sanding or wet sanding produced a glass like finish. It was time consuming but now I have big muscles in my knuckles. :)

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 3643 days

#9 posted 05-11-2010 04:12 PM

It depends on what I am going for.
I sanded to 800 on the Headboard and Nightstands I made because I was going to put Gloss Poly on them and wanted them to be as smooth as glass. And they are.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View PurpLev's profile


8554 posts in 4258 days

#10 posted 05-11-2010 04:16 PM

sanding the wood is really prepping it for the finish – you are trying to make a flat surface bump free. but not glass smooth. you do want to leave the pores somewhat open for the finish to soak in. as mentioned – 150-220 should be as far as you sand bare wood.

Mogebier- when you put finish on the wood, what you eventually feel smooth as glass – is actually the finish, not the wood. if you sand the wood to 800, you are making it hard for the finish to soak in, and do it’s job protecting the wood – you’ll see it easier if you try to stain that wood as the stain will not seem to work very well. where you want to use 400+ sanding is on the last coat of finish.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4615 days

#11 posted 05-11-2010 04:22 PM

At some point you’re polishing wood instead of sanding it. Which can have adverse effects on how a piece takes stain and finish. I never sand raw wood past 120/150. High lustre finishes are achieved by saving high grit sanding for the finish itself.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 3842 days

#12 posted 05-11-2010 04:23 PM

I go to 320. Mind you I came out of an auto repair / refinishing background, so sanding to super fine grits is normal and natural for me. 320 seems kind of coarse to me, but I cut it off there as I realize going any further is kind of silly…

For my power sanders, the highest grit I even own is 220, I typically “buff” with 320 on a rubber block.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View TheMechanic007's profile


41 posts in 3611 days

#13 posted 05-11-2010 04:34 PM


I like most here usually sand to 150-180 tops, There are times I go a lil finer depending on the project…

As far as the end grain, I read somewhere a long time ago to go to the next finest (ie: sanded face with 150-then sand end grain to 180) for end grain to help the end grain and the face match well if staining-and i now do this with nearly all my projects and feel i get a nice even finish…maybe thats what your fellow LJ meant?

I also sand softwoods such as pine to 220….

-- Chris From Maryland, If it aint broke, You havent tried fixin it yet...

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4615 days

#14 posted 05-11-2010 05:16 PM

””I actually quite like sanding, which, reading the comments above and elsewhere, makes me a bit weird.””

Nahhh. You’re normal. A woodworker who hates sanding is like a surgeon who hates the sight of blood :)

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 4323 days

#15 posted 05-11-2010 05:46 PM

depends on what i am working on, most of my turned pieces are sanded to 400 grit, but my pens are sanded to 2000 grit.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

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