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  1. #1
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    Sand less ... or not at all

    I have a personal goal to stop sanding. I hate to sand. I have dust collection and the best sanders so why do I want to stop.

    I do not care what you have, if you sand wood you are going to kick up some dust. Why do it. There is a better way, just cut the wood fibers smooth with a smoothing plane.

    I ran a test on some mahogany that is flat sawn. I sanded one side to 220 grit and then sprayed it with two quick coats of Mohawk pre-cat lacquer.

    The other side of the same piece I planed smooth with a low angle smoother (cutting edge set at 37 degrees).

    Sure seems the planing worked better and was much faster

    The first photo is the sanded piece and hopefully shows the lack of a consistent sheen.

    The second photo of the planed only piece shows a more even sheen.


    Above sample sanded with 220 grit


    Above sample planed smooth
    Attached Images Attached Images


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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    James Krenov taught that a cleanly cut piece of wood reflected light in a different and better way than wood that had been sanded, no matter how finely. This is why he taught his students to make small smoothing planes and to use carving tools and knives to shape the wood.
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Something I've been doing for years. My shop doesn't get as dusty as it use too. I really like that because my shop is in my home.
    Nothing beats a try but a failure, failure is an opportunity to learn.
    http://graywolfwoodworks.wordpress.com/

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  6. #4
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Every pass with sandpaper, irrespective of the smallness of the grit, cuts grooves in the wood. Planes, scrapers, knives, chisels, etc., create smooth surfaces as they SLICE away the wood, leaving a properly prepared surface to accept the finishing material you apply to protect and enhance the wood, IMHO!

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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    In the book Wood Finishing by Bob Flexner he states that sanding is used to get rid of tool marks and when those marks disappear "STOP SANDING"!
    He also states in the old days people planed and scraped their wood since sand paper was not as common s it is now.

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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    I used to assign 'problems' (aka challenges) to ECU Furniture Design students to create pieces that were not sanded. Some resorted to traditional approaches with scrapers and planes, but I was often intrigued by those that got out of the box and found ways to work with texture and finishes to achieve beautiful tactile results. One of the most interesting approaches was to intentionally create overlapping machine marks and then build thick layers of dark tinted finish (I think he used shellac and hand made waxes) in such a way that the surface was smooth to the touch but richly textured.
    Stuart Kent
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  12. #7
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Phil,

    How many look forward to and like sanding?



    Or, who likes to collect, fettle and restore vintage and used sandpapers?


    Planes are a joy to have and use!

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  14. #8
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Interesting thoughts so far. In general, we probably oversand to the fifth degree in the mistaken notion that it's necessary for getting a smoother finish when perhaps 120g-150g is adequate before finishing (whatever happened to our wood prep and finishing guru, Howard Acheson?).



    I ran a test on some mahogany that is flat sawn. I sanded one side to 220 grit and then sprayed it with two quick coats of Mohawk pre-cat lacquer.

    The other side of the same piece I planed smooth with a low angle smoother (cutting edge set at 37 degrees).
    Did the hand planed side also get lacquer (2x) before the pics?

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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    Interesting thoughts so far. In general, we probably oversand to the fifth degree in the mistaken notion that it's necessary for getting a smoother finish when perhaps 120g-150g is adequate before finishing (whatever happened to our wood prep and finishing guru, Howard Acheson?).





    Did the hand planed side also get lacquer (2x) before the pics?
    Yes, both sides got the exact same finish. I should have stated that

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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil S View Post
    Yes, both sides got the exact same finish. I should have stated that
    Thanks, I thought so and appreciate your point as well.

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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    I made a leap when I decided to chart and buy every sandpaper grit, mesh, and abrasive pad imaginable based on the US and P scales, such as from this Omniwax Sandpaper Grit Comparison Chart particle sizes. (Or Wikipedia's Sandpaper article, with slight variations.)

    Then I tried them all in varying increments: 80-120-180, 100-180-220-400, etc.

    Then according to myth and legend:
    • Don't sand past 180 if you are applying a finish
    • Sand to 800 if you want the finish to be really smooth
    • Wet sanding is the key to great finishing
    • Raise the grain even with non-water based finishes
    • Raise the grain twice
    • You have to fill
    • You have to condition
    • Read Bob Flexner's books
    • Don't read Bob Flexner's books (nobody actually says that)
    • Sand feverishly between every finish coat
    • Only sand feverishly before the last coat
    • You haven't tried French Polishing?!
    • etc.

    Then I tried sanding bare wood all the way up to P2000 (automotive sandpaper). It was impressively smooth I have to say.

    But the day I set up my jack plane with an extremely sharp iron barely out of the plane mouth and smoothed a desktop was the day I realized I might not need to use sandpaper again. Cutting the wood fibers certainly produces a better finish for me than any kind of abrasion.

    Well, except during finishing. I'm certainly committed to scraping and/or planing every final wood surface before finishing from now on. (Except plywood, although that's not really woodworking, is it?) But I've not yet found a way to minimize sanding during finishing because I like thin finishes, no polyurethane or high build products. And I typically like water-based, non-flammable, and near zero-VOC products which usually produces some grain raising.

    Do they make a plane or scraper for finishes?

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  19. #12
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveHall View Post
    I made a leap when I decided to chart and buy every sandpaper grit, mesh, and abrasive pad imaginable based on the US and P scales, such as from this Omniwax Sandpaper Grit Comparison Chart particle sizes. (Or Wikipedia's Sandpaper article, with slight variations.)

    Then I tried them all in varying increments: 80-120-180, 100-180-220-400, etc.

    Then according to myth and legend:
    • Don't sand past 180 if you are applying a finish
    • Sand to 800 if you want the finish to be really smooth
    • Wet sanding is the key to great finishing
    • Raise the grain even with non-water based finishes
    • Raise the grain twice
    • You have to fill
    • You have to condition
    • Read Bob Flexner's books
    • Don't read Bob Flexner's books (nobody actually says that)
    • Sand feverishly between every finish coat
    • Only sand feverishly before the last coat
    • You haven't tried French Polishing?!
    • etc.

    Then I tried sanding bare wood all the way up to P2000 (automotive sandpaper). It was impressively smooth I have to say.

    But the day I set up my jack plane with an extremely sharp iron barely out of the plane mouth and smoothed a desktop was the day I realized I might not need to use sandpaper again. Cutting the wood fibers certainly produces a better finish for me than any kind of abrasion.

    Well, except during finishing. I'm certainly committed to scraping and/or planing every final wood surface before finishing from now on. (Except plywood, although that's not really woodworking, is it?) But I've not yet found a way to minimize sanding during finishing because I like thin finishes, no polyurethane or high build products. And I typically like water-based, non-flammable, and near zero-VOC products which usually produces some grain raising.

    Do they make a plane or scraper for finishes?
    wow Steve!
    Stuart Kent
    Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School
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    503 Second St, Ayden, NC 28513
    252-916-8226
    http://ncfurnitureschool.com/
    https://twitter.com/@tweetncfs
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  20. #13
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Steve, I have two suggestions for you. First is try Tried and True. Available at Klingspor and others. Second, try steel wool in stead of sandpaper or other abrasives for taking off raised grain. The theory is that the fibers of the steel wool act like tiny knives and cut the fibers off. For this to work you have to keep unraveling the roll of steel wool to expose a fresh surface as you work. Scotchbrite is abrasive held in a non-woven fabric matrix and is about the same as sandpaper. There are wax preparations like Briwax that have polishing compounds (abrasives) suspended in the wax that may work better for you than sandpaper.
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    My most recent project was painted (a bathroom cabinet) which I sprayed. Resisthane. I sanded to 220, both the wood and plywood. I don't like sanding either but I was surprised how much less time it took with my Bosch DEVS1250. I tried just using 220 grit in the turbo mode to remove saw marks followed by a few passes of random orbit. Worked very well. I didn't think the new sander would make as much difference as it did. I used my 5 inch DeWalt on large areas between coats but did the initial sanding with the Bosch.

    I need to work on my scraper sharpening skills. I have tried it but never gotten a good scraping edge. I don't like sharpening my planes either. I guess I need to sharpen one with a slight radius on the iron so I can plane without leaving lines in a surface wider than the iron. Is that what you guys do for a table top?

  22. #15
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    Re: Sand less ... or not at all

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Wallace View Post
    Steve, I have two suggestions for you....
    Jim, thanks for the advice. I'll try the Tried and True. My understanding (Flexner, Taunton) is that oils and waxes aren't as resistant to abuse (water rings or scratching). Do you find that? How would the Briwax hold up? I've mentally lumped all these together as inappropriate for where the majority of my work ends up at the moment... in the hands of office dwellers and teenagers. But I'm trying to branch out. I've not tried steel wool since the water-based finishes discourage it for fear of oxidization spots. And I must not have used the correct Scotchbrite products, I felt like I was always rounding out the details with their soft flexibility.

    Sorry to hijack the thread from sanding to finishes. I consider them a relationship where they're bound together!

    Phil's experiment has me thinking planing might somehow simplify the finishing process as well. Less raised grain? Fewer coats?

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