Skipping Grits?

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Forum topic by jasoncarpentry posted 10-28-2013 05:55 PM 5704 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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148 posts in 3167 days

10-28-2013 05:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sandpaper ros

I just got a 5” hook-and-loop ROS, and am trying to stock up on the sandpaper discs. I’ve found 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, and 220 grit, but no 180! Neither Ace nor Home Depot has the 180. I was always taught never to skip a grit, so what’s the deal? I can always get around this problem by using my 1/4 sheet pad sander for the 180-grit step.

-- Jim in Tennessee

22 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5987 posts in 3326 days

#1 posted 10-28-2013 06:20 PM

I only use 120 and 150 for stain grade furniture. I guess it depends on what your workpieces look like coming off the planer.
Try Klingspor sanding discs. Their VD900 series is tops in my book. They are cheaper than the big box discs, and work much better.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Sanding2day's profile


1015 posts in 2359 days

#2 posted 10-28-2013 08:00 PM

Was looking forward to reading some of the expert advice on here as I have not alway been religious about going through all the grits. Became impatient, and found the below article which in my mind reaffirms that this isn’t necessarily a requirement as long as you are attaining the desired goal.

-- Dan

View bigblockyeti's profile


5980 posts in 2233 days

#3 posted 10-28-2013 08:10 PM

If you’re worried about skipping only 180 grit out of 6 other, your stuff must be like glass when you get done! I usually only use four different grits, five if I’m starting with 36 grit on something really nasty. It’s not always the same four grits either depending on what I have on hand. I usually do end up with a final sanding of 220 or 240 though.

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

View hansman1982's profile


23 posts in 2440 days

#4 posted 10-28-2013 08:20 PM

Wow, posts like this make me feel terrible about my work. I typically go 60, 100, 220. Although my most recent woodworking did feature a table base that was 1/2 inch too wide for the top I had (although I kinda like the look now I have gotten used to it) so you probably shouldn’t listen to me.

-- I'm New! I'm New! I Don't Know What To Do!

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1628 posts in 2645 days

#5 posted 10-28-2013 08:53 PM

Dan’s comment might refer to “Flexnor on Finishing”s article in the November Poplar Woodworking where he is satisfied with using only two or three grits and has pictures comparing those woodworkers that go the extra mile of finishing with 400 or 600 compared to starting with 80 grit to remove machine marks and 150 or 180 for final before stain or finish. He goes into not even having trouble with grain rising when using water based products. He’s satisfied with his study and results. Give it a read if you can get a copy. Very in-depth.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5758 posts in 3006 days

#6 posted 10-28-2013 09:32 PM

Someone else mentioned it, but Klingspor has the 180, and their paper is almost certainly better than what you’re getting at Ace. I have some 220 and some finer grits on hand, but they don’t get used much. Most stuff just gets hit with 150, if I have to drop down I have 120. Depending on the finish I’m planning, and the wood used, I go to 180.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Texcaster's profile


1286 posts in 2187 days

#7 posted 10-28-2013 09:54 PM

Skip grits?? I never skip grits! I love grits!

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3197 days

#8 posted 10-28-2013 09:56 PM

My personal experience with grit progression is that it preceded the ROS. For most of my work I do 80 grit with the ROS and finish with 220 on a 1/4 sheet sander. Rarely a problem and the surface is usually as smooth as a baby’s behind (an expression that will probably be banned soon).

I will say that I am just finishing a side table from primitive cut cherry and only when I hit it with the stain yesterday did I notice the flaws that told me I should have started with 60 grit and progressed to 100 grit before I finished with the 220. Luckily it was supposed to be a “country rustic” piece and had it been perfect I would have had to ruin it with the distressing methods.

View jonah's profile


2080 posts in 3811 days

#9 posted 10-28-2013 11:54 PM

I never use every grit. If I start with 80, I’ll pick one or two out of my box of 120-220 grits and end on 220. If I have something I need particularly smooth, I end with 320. Going 80>something>220 is perfectly fine, as long as “something” equals something in between 100 and 180 grit.

Using every grit of paper seems like a good way to waste money.

View GOOD LUCK TO ALL's profile


418 posts in 2240 days

#10 posted 10-29-2013 12:33 AM

I use 3M. 100 grit to 220, never a problem. Sometimes I go 100 to 150 when it’s just painted.
I’m sure sandpaper made by different manufactures differ, and (same grits) don’t all give the same results.
I NEVER use the cheap brown paper backed sandpaper. You can watch the grit fall off just by looking at it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3203 days

#11 posted 10-29-2013 01:25 AM

Honestly, I can’t really appreciate any difference between the finish imparted by 150 vs 180. My Abranet set of discs does not include 180 and I have never missed it.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2606 days

#12 posted 10-29-2013 08:39 AM

My abranet set includes 180 grit. Odd.

My progression is usually 60-100-150-220. If you’re only going up to 150 you could probably 120. If going up to 180 I’d skip it as well. I usually skip 80 as well.

View CalgaryGeoff's profile


937 posts in 2994 days

#13 posted 10-29-2013 09:49 AM

I follow 60, 80, 120, 150, 180, 220, 320 finished. So I’ve bought boxes of each grit of 100 sheets or more. Should be up fore sale at my estate sale in 30 years. It’s likely the 220 grit would clean up the 150 grit marks just a little more time spent on sanding. Good luck on getting the results you are looking for.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View Woodbum's profile


891 posts in 3578 days

#14 posted 10-29-2013 12:21 PM

150 or 180? The difference in the results are so negligible that to me it makes no difference. How I normally work is: after coming out of the performax with 100, then to the ROS and/or the speedbloc following this progression 120, 150/180, 220 and lastly, 320 if it will be a no stain lacquer/wax finish. Stain finish I stop at 220. Very rarely do I start with 60, 80 or 100 in the ROS if I can use a belt or drum sander first. I may go to 400 and then higher with Micro Mesh if it a heavily handled project like knife scales or a small pen or knife case Find your own path as to what works best for you, the project that you are completing, and tools/supplies at hand. Work safely and have fun!

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View jasoncarpentry's profile


148 posts in 3167 days

#15 posted 10-29-2013 12:44 PM

Thanks to all for your input. TexTexter, speaking as a born-and-bred Southerner, I like my grits too!

I just checked the section on sanding in “Understanding Wood Finishing” by Bob Flexner (which I shoulda done before making my original post). He says you shouldn’t skip a grit when HAND sanding (and that includes 180 in the sequence), but it’s OK to skip a grit when using sanding machines. So I guess that’s the answer.

BTW, most of my work these days is on cutting boards; i.e., maple and cherry. I don’t think the sanding guidelines would be any different here, even though we’re talking about a mineral-oil finish rather than stain & varnish, etc. Please let me know if I’m wrong, and thanks again for your help!

-- Jim in Tennessee

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