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Thread: In praise of hand sanding

  1. #1

    In praise of hand sanding

    I know everyone is supposed to hate hand sanding, and I know there are 4 million inventions to eliminate it, but to be honest with you, my woodworking has never improved so fast, so quick as when I realized there is just no replacement for it.

    Lately I have taken up hand sanding in a pretty big way. My dovetails have never been more flush. I still plane the ends as flush as I can to save some time, then its out with a sanding block, and finely just with my fingers and the results are amazing...smoothness time radius times pie R squared! Same with some laps joints I just made. I hogged off the waste with my radial arm saw (with a single cut off blade via repeated passes), shoulder planed it close, then sand-blocked it to perfection, and probably did so faster then I could have changed blades to a dado blade or routed it out with a router.

    I can now see why after 4000 years its still around...quiet fast and accurate. I'll let others look for the holy grail of woodworking, I am not sure, but I think I found it.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    I'm with you here, sure to take down volume, a power tool works fine but to get that delicate finished look , you need to lay the tools down and get you hands into the mix. I always finish sanding by hand

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    radius times pie R square!
    Sorry Travis, but pie R round, cornbread R Square!
    Jesus was a Woodworker

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    There are jobs at woodworking that some of us fancy more than others, I do no like sanding but I try to be good at it, I'm not good at all with finishes but I try to learn as much as I can.

    Sanding can or can't be avoided, even Jim Krenov sanded his pieces when it was necessary. It has its tricks and techniques and they help to sand less and more efficently. Besides, power tools have taken a lot of the burden from it but even then I do not like it.

    So I take it as a necessary step to achieve my goal.
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    I love the building part but I really hate the finishing part.
    I don't like to hand sand but I have to do some of it on every project.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    new york city burbs
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    I hate hand sanding, but its a necessity for me with almost every piece I build. I cant get into place or delicate places Id rather not hit with anything too powerful when I need to just take a bit of glue or bit of extra roughness off edge. I hand sand small bevels in bottom of most of the legs I put on my pieces so the bottoms dont chip when moved.I really do hate hand sanding though, just havent figured out ways around it yet.

  7. #7
    Bob Wiggins is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    I know everyone is supposed to hate hand sanding, and I know there are 4 million inventions to eliminate it, but to be honest with you, my woodworking has never improved so fast, so quick as when I realized there is just no replacement for it.

    Lately I have taken up hand sanding in a pretty big way. My dovetails have never been more flush. I still plane the ends as flush as I can to save some time, then its out with a sanding block, and finely just with my fingers and the results are amazing...smoothness time radius times pie R squared! Same with some laps joints I just made. I hogged off the waste with my radial arm saw (with a single cut off blade via repeated passes), shoulder planed it close, then sand-blocked it to perfection, and probably did so faster then I could have changed blades to a dado blade or routed it out with a router.

    I can now see why after 4000 years its still around...quiet fast and accurate. I'll let others look for the holy grail of woodworking, I am not sure, but I think I found it.
    ************************************************** ******
    I agree totally.

    My random orbit usually does a fine job on most of my projects but before I feel the job is complete with a personal touch my old stiff and dry hands must touch it with paper in palm.

  8. #8
    I think at some point I will move away from hand sanding to using only blades or knives. The traditionalists say a better finish is derived from a finish applied to wood that was cut with an exceptionally sharp blade rather then roughed up by sandpaper. (as in hand planes and scrapers)

    I think there is this natural progression as woodworkers, where we travel from machine only work, to more and more hand work, and thus more quality projects, even if its as Allen says, a touch here and there to keep chipped wood from occurring.

    Everyone of us is in a different stage of that beginner woodworker to journeyman stage. I just seem to be finding myself using my machines to make cuts that are close and finishing up with handtools, planes and sand paper. Perhaps one day I will forgo the power tools altogether and simply make everything with hand tools and planes...sand paper excluded.

    Either way its important to see the big picture sometimes and to derive happiness from this hobby as its a journey and not the project really. Looking back I see a plethora of improved woodworking skills in my lifelong woodworking wake and that's the way it should be. I now see a hand sanding block as one more passed buoys to my port side. Maybe this post will encourage others to look at sand paper in a different light...its improved my woodworking that's for sure.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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