Final word on sanding

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Forum topic by gdiddy13 posted 05-14-2020 04:47 PM 505 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View gdiddy13's profile


62 posts in 1990 days

05-14-2020 04:47 PM

Ok, so I’ve seen so many different answers.

I’m looking for the final say in sanding, specifically what grit to use on different projects.

Those items are:

Cutting boards and

Live edge tables

I’m not staining either, I use Odie’s Oil on all the live edge, and use mineral oil on the boards.

How do you know if you’re “closing” the pores on an item?

At what grit do you hand sand to finish, if at all? ( I have always hand sanded lightly with the last few grits I use)


13 replies so far

View LesB's profile


3100 posts in 4690 days

#1 posted 05-14-2020 04:59 PM

That is an wide question with as you will see many answers you may get. Lots of variables.

I normally use 220 to 400 for my final sanding depending on the nature of the wood. ie: Red Oak is good with 220 grit but I often go to 320 but Myrtle (Calif. Bay Laurel) needs 400. Sometimes I buff with 0000 steel wool.

-- Les B, Oregon

View JackDuren's profile


1722 posts in 2206 days

#2 posted 05-14-2020 05:08 PM

I don’t go any further than 150 on most everything with an ROS. I try not to hand sand anything. After a clear coat I’ll use 220 inbetween. But I’m usually using pre-cat and poly….

Every ones different…

View EarlS's profile


4754 posts in 3595 days

#3 posted 05-14-2020 05:23 PM

The final word?? It depends. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer. Search for sanding techniques and you will have plenty to read.

I use everything from 80 grit to 8000 grit depending on what I’m doing. I also use steel wool or scotch-brite in a variety of grades. Alternately, I might also use a scraper and no sanding.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Phil32's profile


1587 posts in 1150 days

#4 posted 05-14-2020 05:25 PM

You get the “final word” on the sanding of your projects. There will be no conclusive answers here.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View gdiddy13's profile


62 posts in 1990 days

#5 posted 05-14-2020 05:45 PM

Yea, what I keep seeing over and over is that it’s really up to each individual.

Which I get, was hoping there was a general consensus, (which seems to be, it’s up to you). But man, I went down the rabbit hole and it got overwhelming.

View CharlesA's profile


3468 posts in 3044 days

#6 posted 05-14-2020 05:55 PM

For film finishes, most of that high grit sanding is wasted. I go to 180 or so.

For oil finishes, I’ve been using Tried and True recently and I go up to 400.

For a cutting board, I wouldn’t go past 120. What’s the point?

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View LeeRoyMan's profile


2159 posts in 974 days

#7 posted 05-14-2020 05:56 PM

Typically, 220g is all you need to go to for most projects.
When I want the project to take on more stain or if I’m doing a natural clear finish, I may just go to 180g

It’s quit a different story if you’re finishing a small jewelry box compared to a 10’ wall unit.
You can rub a box down to >4000g if you want, you would be crazy to do it on a 10’ wall unit.

So in summary, everything you do has choices that depend on what you want for a final outcome.
It’s a learning process that you develop for yourself as you gain experience.

Final Word!

View tywalt's profile


107 posts in 1411 days

#8 posted 05-14-2020 06:46 PM

Lots of great answers here and not much to add regarding what grits to use. I will however say that when people say to test your finish on a piece of scrap, they are not kidding.

I will also point out that testing finish doesn’t mean just wiping finish on but also your sanding technique. If you’re new to a particular brand of shellac/poly/oil/whatever you can take an early off cut sand it to 150-180, apply a coat of your finish and let it dry while you continue to work on the piece. While your waiting on a panel glue up or need a break from chopping mortises, sand again to 220 and reapply. Carry on while your working on your project so when it is time to apply final finish, you already know what grits and what sanders/scrapers/planes/rasps/whatever to grab. If you don’t like what you did, find another off cut and start over. Take notes on the back of the piece you are using to test finish so you remember all the steps.

This sounded like too much work to me and I avoided it for a long time. Doing it while I’m working on a project has significantly increased my success rate though.

-- Tyler - Central TX

View pottz's profile


20718 posts in 2231 days

#9 posted 05-14-2020 06:56 PM

most of my projects are finished with a wipe on oil poly blend so i will sand down too 220g but rarely anymore than that.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View LittleShaver's profile


777 posts in 1866 days

#10 posted 05-14-2020 08:33 PM

I think tywalt gave you the best advice. After you’ve done a couple dozen tests over different woods using different finishes and different sanding techniques, you’ll get the feel of WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. That is what you’re really after.
I’ve seen some pretty crappy (in my opinion) finishes come out of “professional” shops. Finishes I wouldn’t put on firewood. You need to find WHAT WORKS FOR YOU and meets your needs and standards. As mentioned, it depends, a fence doesn’t need much attention to detail, but a presentation piece should meet your highest standards.

If I seem to be on a rant against the best anything, it’s true. Your best and my best may have no relationship to each other but each of us does our best.

-- Sawdust Maker

View JackDuren's profile


1722 posts in 2206 days

#11 posted 05-14-2020 09:36 PM

Finish is about prep work. Start bad, end bad.

I worked Iin those professional shops. Most times it’s because they decide to finish cabinets when there so called painter says he use to be a painter. This happens as I’ve seen it.It happens in all the trades.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2843 posts in 794 days

#12 posted 05-14-2020 11:35 PM

Finish is about prep work. Start bad, end bad.

- JackDuren


-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View SMP's profile


4841 posts in 1152 days

#13 posted 05-14-2020 11:49 PM

Depends on the look you are going for as well. For rustic look or handmade look is gonna be different than the store bought look.

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