Flattening table top with floor sander?

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Forum topic by Tishman posted 01-14-2017 01:35 AM 2328 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 1315 days

01-14-2017 01:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: flattening sanding tabletop tables sanders

Hello LJs!

I have a large birch (NOT birch ply) table top in final glue ups. Roughly 48” by 106” Used lots of cauls and alternating clamps and all that good stuff but there are still some minor inconsistencies in the top. It’s not all exactly flat. Thinking about the flattening and sanding of it pre-finish. Here are my ideas.

1. Router sled with large straight bit. Issues here are I’m not sure my sled is long enough and not sure my workbench could support it even if it were.

2. Belt sander: Really not wanting to do it this way. Would be tedious and not super successful, I think.

3. Floor sander: I could rent one locally. Is this crazy? Seems like it would be pretty effective for flattening things out pretty well.


10 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


2479 posts in 2304 days

#1 posted 01-14-2017 01:45 AM

Now that’s thinking out if the box.Kinda cartoonish funny and it would make a good video I think.
You say the top has minor inconsistencys.A card scraper should do the trick and should up the sleeve of anyone who calls themselves a woodworker.


-- Aj

View Tishman's profile


16 posts in 1315 days

#2 posted 01-14-2017 01:47 AM

@Aj, good idea. I do love card scrapers! I’d prefer not to rent a monster machine I don’t know how to use or build another jig to then take up space…

View tandg96's profile


3 posts in 2526 days

#3 posted 01-14-2017 01:55 AM

Interesting topic! I have done a workbench with lamented 2×4’s and used my dads floor sander (that’s his business) and figured out that my bench wasn’t big enough to run the sander at all like i thought! Go with the belt sander! By the way Dads was a big belt floor sander>

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


5538 posts in 2857 days

#4 posted 01-14-2017 02:52 AM

Hand planes.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 1992 days

#5 posted 01-14-2017 02:54 AM

Hand planes.

- bondogaposis


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Kirk650's profile


671 posts in 1255 days

#6 posted 01-14-2017 04:07 AM

Depending on how much “correction” is needed, I’d use either a hand plane or a 6 inch ROS. If not much wood removal is needed, a scraper could work. For all but the ROS, sharpening skills are needed.

A belt sander for anything approaching fine work would scare me. I have a couple of belt sanders, and control of wood removal is pretty much impossible.

View JackMoony's profile


35 posts in 2654 days

#7 posted 01-14-2017 07:10 AM

Is there a local door shop nearby?? I bet you could enlist their help. They’ll likely have a Time Saver sander that’ll be wide enough to fit your table.

-- Chris Wilder, Santa Cruz CA

View rhybeka's profile


4693 posts in 3628 days

#8 posted 01-14-2017 08:36 AM

I actually just used a floor sander to flatten the top of my entertainment center. It is wormy red oak 6ft long by 24 in wide. We started with I think 60 or 80 grit pad and went up to the 120. Came out nice! So no you aren’t crazy but I also don’t know how much they are to rent since the shop I intern in owns one :)

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5961 posts in 2227 days

#9 posted 01-14-2017 02:57 PM

Do you have any pictures? That could help in determining the best approach.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View LittleShaver's profile


582 posts in 1126 days

#10 posted 01-14-2017 04:36 PM

I’ve done a couple of floor over the years and have seen a floor sander used to flatten a large slab. From my experience, there are two floor sanders. The first (and scariest) is a drum type sander. Probably a little difficult to use on a top, but it will remove massive amounts of wood in a hurry. Makes your typical belt sander look like a ROS.
The second type was called a jitterbug by the folks who rented it to me. Think giant pad sander. I think the pad was about 12×24, could have been 12×18. Way easier to control, worked up close to edges without a fight, and stock removal rate was fast but controllable.

-- Sawdust Maker

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