What grit to stop at before an oil finish?

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Forum topic by BalsaWood posted 07-17-2018 06:49 AM 1212 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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179 posts in 1929 days

07-17-2018 06:49 AM

I have generally gone up to 220 and sometimes 320 before applying a tung oil finish. Is there any benefit in going to higher grits before applying the tung oil? Was wondering how it would come out if I went to 1000 grit.

9 replies so far

View WyattCo's profile


93 posts in 875 days

#1 posted 07-17-2018 10:48 AM

220 is as far as you need to go. 1000 will burnish the wood and prohibit absorbtion.

View OSU55's profile


2646 posts in 2760 days

#2 posted 07-17-2018 12:12 PM

220, then do some wet sanding with higher grits with ms after a few coats. Helps fill and smooth. You might try poly thinned 1:1 applied the same way – dries faster, tougher and harder finish.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12174 posts in 4199 days

#3 posted 07-17-2018 01:05 PM

Using Charles Neil’s trace coating process, 180 might be sufficient. Depends on the wood and how you plan to finish. I work primarily with mesquite and 180 is good. 220 and, higher, is used between finish coats. My finish starts with a 50/50 oil (I use Watco) and poly mixture, increasing the poly with each successive coat. All but the final sprayed coat of undiluted poly, is wiped on. Lastly, J&J is applied with Liberon 0000 wool. The results are as smooth as the proverbial baby’s butt.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Robert's profile


3738 posts in 2251 days

#4 posted 07-17-2018 02:33 PM

180. You don’t want to go past that with oil depending on wood it will interfere with penetration.

You can sand with 220 while oil is wet.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View jonah's profile


2119 posts in 4069 days

#5 posted 07-17-2018 02:53 PM

I never sand past 180 grit. I’ll use 220 or 320 grit paper to sand in between coats, but I’ve not seen the need to go higher than 180. I’ll mostly start with 80-100, then 120-150, then 180, depending on what I have on hand. If I start with 100, sometimes I’ll jump right to 180 grit.

I’ve never seen the need to spend time progressing through seven different sandpaper grits. It takes forever.

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3804 days

#6 posted 07-22-2018 04:23 AM

A quick 180 then a light 220. Just feel the surface yourself! After cleaning it off You should be able to tell if it’s ready for finish.

Forget the 300 to 10000 Grit stuff.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View bondogaposis's profile


5786 posts in 3122 days

#7 posted 07-22-2018 01:25 PM

180 for open grain woods like oak and 220 for close grained woods like maple. After the first coat I will use 400 very lightly between coats to knock down the dust nibs.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View splintergroup's profile


3777 posts in 1993 days

#8 posted 07-22-2018 02:30 PM

The latest FWW (August 2018) has an article on oil finishing. This guy goes for “perfection”, basically dead flat and even gloss. He machine sands to 400 then hand sands with 1000, then 2000. Oil is the final finish. Results look fantastic, but way more than I’d ever feel is warranted unless it was some really special project.

Personally I go to 220.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3180 days

#9 posted 07-23-2018 01:39 AM

A quick 180 then a light 220. Just feel the surface yourself! After cleaning it off You should be able to tell if it s ready for finish.

Forget the 300 to 10000 Grit stuff.

- Rick

Same I keep a good stock of 150 – 180. , I only use the 220 and 400 for between coats and only as needed. Very lightly, as in not a ROS. Now making a pen on the lathe whole different ball game.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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