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Best way to sand a chair: will flap sander work?

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Forum topic by Sark posted 11-13-2019 02:56 PM 396 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sark

223 posts in 922 days


11-13-2019 02:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sanding flap sander refinish

I have 6 library or school house chairs that need to be refinished. The shape of the chair does not lend itself to power sanding. Hand sanding all the curved surfaces and slats seems like a real pain in the neck/shoulder. And the stains on the chair suggest that simply over coating without a good sanding would not product good results.

Can I use a drill mounted flap sander to speed things along? Any other technology to the rescue? What’s the quickest/best way to get this job done?


13 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

599 posts in 1181 days


#1 posted 11-13-2019 04:03 PM

I’m partial to scrapers. Card, curved, paint, single edge razor blades, even broken glass. I’ve used them all.

-- Sawdust Maker

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

539 posts in 109 days


#2 posted 11-13-2019 04:03 PM

The best way to sand all that is to get someone else to do it. Second best way is sand-blasting. Sorry, couldnt help myself:)))

Seriously, I have found that focusing on one small area at a time, rather than the whole, eases the mind, and you plod on until youre done.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: It is wiser to find out, than to suppose (S. Clemens)

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1489 posts in 3411 days


#3 posted 11-13-2019 04:26 PM

Perhaps start with a strip to remove the old finish and gunk then go to the sanding?

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

421 posts in 289 days


#4 posted 11-13-2019 06:42 PM

I wouldn’t make a suggestion without seeing the chairs and the condition they are in.
Also, what finish is on them now?

Flap sander in a drill could work, also sandblasting (with the right medium) card scrapers all good choices depending on what the chairs need.

I wouldn’t strip them until the last resort.

May be able to wash them down with acetone depending on the finish.

Can you post any pictures of them?

View Sark's profile

Sark

223 posts in 922 days


#5 posted 11-13-2019 09:04 PM

The finsh is an oil finish applied 20 years ago. The chairs have been used at the dining table continuously and have held up pretty well considering. They are very sturdy, but need some cleanup.


I’d rather not go to bare wood, just looking for the quickest way to do a nice refinish. Thanks for your ides.

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

1362 posts in 1470 days


#6 posted 11-13-2019 11:53 PM

Ugh! For me, the thought of sanding and re-finishing six of those chairs would compel me to purchase several cans of Rustoleum, spray them white and call it a day.

Having said that, could be one of those finger belt sanders could save you some time and effort.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View becikeja's profile

becikeja

1028 posts in 3375 days


#7 posted 11-14-2019 01:41 AM

I use a flap sander all the time, but not in a drill. Not sure how that will work. I would take the chair apart, sand it. and then put it back together. https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-Drum-Flap-Sander/G8749

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View Sark's profile

Sark

223 posts in 922 days


#8 posted 11-14-2019 03:44 AM

I really like the scraper idea, so will spend some time upgrading my scraper collection.
The finger belt sander looks useful, and I want to buy one, but I’m not going to sand to bare wood unless there are some spots where there is no other way.

The oil finish doesn’t lend itself to stripping, I don’t think. But I could rub the whole chair out with lacquer thinner or something like that…

Really, if I can get the dirt off, maybe I’ll just put down another layer of oil finish, and say that the chairs were refinished. I’ve done refinish projects where I felt I was being punished for my sins, it took so long to prep the piece. Don’t think I can get the stains out without going below the surface, but clean topcoated furniture would look vastly better even with some stains here and there. Too much sanding invites blotching and a few stains are better than an uneven finish.

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

421 posts in 289 days


#9 posted 11-14-2019 03:49 AM

I think I would try washing them all down with the acetone, or lacquer thinner, but I think the acetone would cut a little better.
Then hand sand with 220 grit, or you could try a sanding sponge.
A coat of light stain would help even out the color if you could stand a little color.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

4318 posts in 1136 days


#10 posted 11-14-2019 07:53 AM

What’s in the pic just looks grungy to me. I would use some kind of solvent to try to clean that up. After that reappraise. I’d start weak, and go up the chain. Soapy water being the lowest denominator I think that could do any good. Murphy’s Oil Soap is perfect for this. A Scotch brite on the softer end of the scale will take most of that accumulation off.

-- Think safe, be safe

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

2041 posts in 2056 days


#11 posted 11-14-2019 09:59 AM



What s in the pic just looks grungy to me. I would use some kind of solvent to try to clean that up. After that reappraise. I d start weak, and go up the chain. Soapy water being the lowest denominator I think that could do any good. Murphy s Oil Soap is perfect for this. A Scotch brite on the softer end of the scale will take most of that accumulation off.

- therealSteveN

+1 Clean grunge first.
- Dish soap and water to remove dirt and light food stains.
- Odorless minerial spirits to remove grease/oil
- Trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution will remove severe oily human grunge like hand prints, as well as stuff from pores of wood. Is very alkaline, and might bleach bare wood – test first.

Due light color of old chair, might have varnish on them? Many oil finishes are actually oil/varnish blend.
Suggest testing the chair for film finish.
- Alcohol to test for shellac
- Lacquer thinner to check for melting lacquer, or softening varnish

If you really have ONLY a bare drying oil finish, and don’t need serious repairs: 220 wet sanding with Pure Tung Oil or BLO will clean up and refinish the surface. Need 2 costs: Wipe down after sanding, and let 1st coat dry. Second coat: wipe, wait 30 min, wipe dry, let cure. Test on bottom for even color change. If not even color, then you probably have varnish interfering with oil absorption. If color is different, try the other oil.

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1489 posts in 3411 days


#12 posted 11-14-2019 01:34 PM



The oil finish doesn t lend itself to stripping, I don t think. But I could rub the whole chair out with lacquer thinner or something like that…

Really, if I can get the dirt off, maybe I ll just put down another layer of oil finish, and say that the chairs were refinished. I ve done refinish projects where I felt I was being punished for my sins, it took so long to prep the piece.
- Sark

Crown makes a product called Handi-Strip that I’ve used many times and it’s no where near as painful as dealing with the paste strippers. I guess it’s really more of a solvent, but it’s a thin liquid, that I use a quart container and a scotchbrite pad to to lightly scrub with and then wipe away the loosened finish. You have to move kind of fast to wipe off the old before it gets sticky, but once you get the rhythm down it moves pretty fast and kind of goes ‘wax on—- wax off’.

I get the dislike for stripping, but I’ve found on several projects that especially with a set of 6 chairs you’ll get more consistent results across the set with much less sanding.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

910 posts in 1664 days


#13 posted 11-14-2019 03:53 PM


I d rather not go to bare wood, just looking for the quickest way to do a nice refinish. Thanks for your ides.

- Sark


If this is really what you want then do a thorough cleaning and then coat with a durable paint. This would be the quickest and easiest.

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