Sanding progression

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Forum topic by REDOAK075 posted 06-13-2010 08:41 PM 10463 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 4024 days

06-13-2010 08:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

What is the usual sand paper grit progression. Ex: 120, 180 & 220. Thanks


11 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


118155 posts in 4554 days

#1 posted 06-13-2010 08:59 PM

It depends on how rough the wood is but you can start as low as 12 grit basically rocks on paper LOL
but more typically I start at 60 and then 80,100 120, 150, some folks go higher depending on their project
but the finer you sand the less stain can penetrate the wood. If you want to sand further they go from there
180, 220. 320. on up to 3000 if you want to go beyond


View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4798 days

#2 posted 06-13-2010 09:33 PM

I generally start at 100 and progress through 120, 150 and 180. If I am staining the piece I will stop at 150 since sanding to a higher grit will inhibit stain penetration, as Jim points out. If I am going with a natural finish I will end the raw wood sanding sequence with 180 grit. To get a smooth finish I will “finish the finish” rather than spending time sanding the raw wood higher than 180.

It is easy to “over sand” a piece and end up burnishing the wood rather than sanding out the mill marks. One technique that I happen to like is to lightly crosshatch the wood with a #2 pencil and sand with the current grit. When the crosshatches are gone it is time to remove the dust and move on to the next higher grit.

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

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4262 days

#3 posted 06-13-2010 10:39 PM

Just remember, the coarser the grit that you start with, the deeper the sanding marks are and the more sanding you have to do just to get rid of those. Example, if you are using a RO sander with 80 grit paper to start with, you may be spending more time trying to get rid of the sanding marks then actually getting the wood smooth or joints level. I usually start with 100 grit if sanding solid wood, such as faceframes, doors, drawers, etc. If I’m working with sheet goods, or a small projects, I will usually start with 120 grit. Very seldom do I ever go finer than 150 grit if I’m staining and depends on the project and the wood if I plan to finish without staining. I’m with Scott when it comes to “finish the finish”. You can really use the higher grits between coates of finish.

-- John @

View thatwoodworkingguy's profile


375 posts in 3906 days

#4 posted 06-13-2010 11:05 PM

It really depends on what Im sanding and what the wood is.
On table tops Ill start coarse and go to an incredibly fine grit and with woods like cherry I usualy sand to 320. I have also found myself doing this with walnut lately as well.
It really depends on the situation

-- ~Eagle America~ ~Woodcraft~

View Dano46's profile


86 posts in 4146 days

#5 posted 06-14-2010 11:05 PM

100, then 150. If I am doing end grain, like the edge of a drawer front, I go to a 280. This keeps the edge from turning darker than the rest of the wood.

-- You can't trust a dog to guard your food.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4798 days

#6 posted 06-15-2010 02:26 AM

Dano has a good point, that I forgot to mention. Since end grain absorbs stain and finish more readily than side or face grain it is a good idea to sand it to a higher grit in order to even out the appearance of the stain/finish. I normally will go 2 grits higher when dealing with end grain.

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

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4051 days

#7 posted 06-15-2010 04:01 AM

As a relevant FYI – There is a rule of thumb that says you should never go up more than 50% in any one step. For example 80 to 120 is 50% more and 120 to 180 is 50% more. In theory, you could go from 180 to 270 but I have never seen 270 so one would go 180 to 220.

With most normal woods, 150 or 220 is enough. I usually start at 60 or 80.

Of course, there are exceptions. One very unusual wood I have, Kauri, I sand to 1200.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View lobro4's profile


215 posts in 4189 days

#8 posted 06-15-2010 05:15 AM

First, use a random orbital sander. It is the best bang for you effort. A couple of techniques that can guide you on you sanding. Marking a series of pencil lines on your wood will let you know when you have done enough with the current grit. Secondly, if you have the option to hook up your sander to good dust collection, do it! Your sandpaper will work more efficiently and last longer.

-- Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4869 days

#9 posted 06-15-2010 07:11 AM

I generally run through my drum sander at 120 and move to 150, 220 with a ROS. I never sand bare wood higher than 220. However, I lightly sand between clear coats with 600 wet/dry paper by hand.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 4081 days

#10 posted 06-15-2010 05:39 PM

I have been thinking of this post as I finished some cutting boards. I have usually been machine sanding to 180 and then hand sanding to 220, but today i stopped after using my speed block to 150 and did the last hand sanding at 180. I will see if I can tell a difference in how the wood accepts a finish of mineral oil and wax, and how it feels to my hand. But I think I will continue to sand my boxes to 400. I do the last 3 grits (220, 320, and 400) by hand. I like the feel of the wood and how it looks when I put on the Watco. I see other people handle the boxes and remark on how they feel. On turned pieces, I usually sand to 400 and between coats of Salad Bowl finish with 600. I don’t use stain very often, usually on oak or pine, but I stop sanding there at 180. Then do more finer grits when finishing.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 3022 days

#11 posted 09-10-2014 08:25 PM

Reviving an old thread, but I was wondering about this today. For a long time I only had 60, 80, 120, and 220 grit sandpaper for my ROS cause that was what the big box stores sell.

I am curious if the only downsides of jumping from 120 straight to 220 is that sanding with 220 grit will take more time and use more paper, or if there is a detriment to surface finish. I’m asking more because I want to use up my significant over-supply of cheap (Gator and Ace Hardware) brand sandpaper that I stockpiled in years past, and I was hoping to finish off.

-- paxorion

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