"Fuzziness" due to not enough sanding?

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Forum topic by Labow posted 01-25-2020 11:37 PM 339 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Labow's profile


4 posts in 34 days

01-25-2020 11:37 PM

First time posting to this forum. I’m fairly new to working with slabs, and had a question about a project I’m working on right now. I am working on a slab of cypress. A little background: the slab is approx 2’x3’x5”. I sanded it through the grits (80,100,120,150,180,220,320,400,600) because I wanted a glossy finish. I am using an oil based finish, and it will work even sanding to 600. I am using a ROS.

Referring to the pictures (which make it look a bit worse then it actually looks to me)...I don’t see swirl marks, but what I am describing as a “fuzziness” for lack of a better word. If you look at the piece from the side, it looks like a piece of glass. Glossy and reflective. But when you look at it from above you see this fuzziness. I’m wondering if this is the wood, or from a lack of sanding enough? Since it’s glossy from the side, if it is from lack of sanding I’m guessing that I didnt sand enough on a lower grit, and then kept going, so I’m seeing marks from the lower grit, but still getting the glossiness from the higher grits?


6 replies so far

View Phil32's profile


940 posts in 544 days

#1 posted 01-26-2020 12:02 AM

Even if you sand it to a higher grit (2000?), it is still grit – meaning the surface has ultra fine scratches which scatter light. To your eyes that may appear fuzzy. If you have a sample piece of the cypress, try applying a sanding sealer or actual finish coat. Or even simpler, what happens when you wet the surface with water?

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View Rich's profile


5259 posts in 1230 days

#2 posted 01-26-2020 12:09 AM

You’ll get that effect on end grain. Think if the wood as a bundle of straws. When it’s cross cut like that, you’re looking at the ends of those straws. It varies with the species, but it’s always there.

It also will take finish differently. You’ll have more soak in with the first few coats. You can also get some bubbles in the finish if you the early coats too thickly. If they appear, it’s no big deal. Sand them down and keep going until the surface is completely sealed.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3811 posts in 3750 days

#3 posted 01-26-2020 04:26 AM

I can’t really tell from the pictures, but don’t take that as a criticism. I’ve made a ton of projects that I haven’t posted, because of my lack of skill with a camera. That said- if it looks nice and glossy and flat at an angle, it isn’t the sanding that is the problem. I suspect that what you are seeing is the chatoyance of the end grain. I’d recommend having some experienced wood workers look at it and whistle at the nice finish.


-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2471 posts in 2135 days

#4 posted 01-26-2020 05:27 AM

Differences in the density of early wood and late wood in tree are responsible for the fuzziness on end grain.
Only way to stop making more strands with every sanding, is by sealing the wood with a resin. Shellac, lacquer, poly, varnish, etc; can all be used. Once the end grain fibers are locked into position, it will be easier to cut the ends off .vs. tearing that happens when the fiber bundles are loose.

With some practice, you can usually remove the fuzziness with sharp card scraper. Many times, card scraper will completely remove the need to sand at all.

Best Luck.

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

View Madmark2's profile


852 posts in 1229 days

#5 posted 01-26-2020 04:02 PM

You can skip most of those grits.

You can’t sand softwoods or soft hardwoods to a mirror finish. The sandpaper keeps cutting the wood fibers so the more you sand the fuzzier it gets. Try a card scraper along, not across, the grain.

I just made some pipes out of liginum vitae and the wood is so hard it polished out like marble at 1000 grit.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Labow's profile


4 posts in 34 days

#6 posted 01-27-2020 09:30 PM

Thanks for the replies. Lots of good info. Yes, I don’t think i said before, but this is endgrain. The finish I’ll be using is a oil based finish that will soak into the wood, not sit on top. So no sanding of the finish.

It could be chatoyance, but I dont think so because it’s not that pronounced.
Someone else I was chatting about this with also suggested a card scraper. I’ve never used one before, and actually just bought my first one. Isn’t even sharpened yet. So I’m a little nervous about using it for the first time on this piece, but it sounds like there’s fairly little risk to damaging the piece (apparently you don’t get tearout with a sharp card scraper) as long as you keep moving it around. So I may give that a go.

Or seal it with a resin as suggested. Thanks!

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