Sanding Unfinished Outdoor Furniture

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Forum topic by endgrainy posted 02-06-2014 12:28 AM 1493 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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251 posts in 2807 days

02-06-2014 12:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sanding outdoor unfinished

Hi all,

First time starting a thread, long time reader of threads. I am building a set of Adirondack chairs for use outside if spring ever comes. They are made from white oak and I’m choosing to go with no finish and allow the chairs to weather to that silver-grey appearance that I’ve read about. I’m kinda excited to watch the process of wood aging naturally outdoors.

I’ve applied finish to all the projects I’ve completed so far in my short woodworking life. I usually sand to 220 grit, and sand in between finish coats with 400 grit. I milled the lumber for the chairs and the current surface is pretty clean out of the planer already.

My question is, should I sand the chairs, and to what degree? I’m almost thinking that any sanding I do will quickly be overcome by the elements and look the same regardless of what grit I would sand to (if any sanding at all.)

Any advice from the community is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

8 replies so far

View BHolcombe's profile


180 posts in 2995 days

#1 posted 02-22-2014 10:55 PM

If you have a set of hand planes you may be able to get a good finish right off the hand plane, but if not I would expect 220 would be fine.

View firefighterontheside's profile


21280 posts in 2776 days

#2 posted 02-22-2014 10:57 PM

If you have a nice smooth surface out of the planer I think I would only knock down the edges and leave the flat surfaces alone.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View TheGermanJoiner's profile


847 posts in 2557 days

#3 posted 02-22-2014 10:59 PM

Sanding would quickly be negated by the weather. Water will swell the fibers that are roughed up by sandpaper. Planing might work cuz it severs the grain rather then scratching it. But I would just leave it IMHO

-- Greg - Ferdinand and Son Construction: Do it right the first time. Like us on Facebook

View madts's profile


1946 posts in 3259 days

#4 posted 02-23-2014 12:12 AM

As far as I remember, white oak turns black because of the tannic acid it contains. You might want to think about another wood to use unfinished. I have used cypress with good luck.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 3281 days

#5 posted 02-23-2014 12:55 AM

220 if they’re gonna be in a “clothing optional” environment; 100 otherwise.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1419 posts in 2553 days

#6 posted 02-23-2014 02:05 AM

My white oak has turned both gray and black dots. Mostly gray.

-- Jeff NJ

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2807 days

#7 posted 02-23-2014 07:06 AM

Thanks for the responses! I’m into the assembly phase of the project at this point, and I decided to sand to 180 grit to smooth out the planer marks after rounding over the the edges with a router. Hand planing is a good idea, but my hand plane technique confidence is low, especially with smoothing large surfaces. I did use a newly acquired spokeshave on many of the curved edges.

I will take some pictures when complete, and then try to take some pictures as the wood weathers. Based on madts’ and woodchuckerNJ’s comments I’m interested to see how the white oak will age.

If I follow Clint Searl’s formula, based on the grit I chose, I guess it’ll have to be topless only.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2807 days

#8 posted 03-28-2014 11:31 PM

Hi all. I finally got the chairs completed, I posted it as a project:

Thanks for your help!

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

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