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Thread: New sanding method?

  1. #1

    New sanding method?

    As just about everyone knows, at work I spend a fair amount of time sanding. Its just the way it is building high end yachts. Anyway, while the job can get tedious, I am always looking for faster ways to get from point A to point B. The point A being raw stock, and point B being a nice gleaming surface that will reflect your image back to you with no flaws.

    Naturally I experiment with different methods.

    Traditionally I always started with 100 or 180 grit sand paper and worked my way up. I would sand by hand or machine using 100 grit paper until all the defects were gone and all the scratches were out, then jump to the next grit all the way up to 4000 grit.

    Well lately I tried something new. I started with 100 grit, but I did not bother to get all the scratches out. I would sand for a minute or two, when the paper got worn out I would jump to the next grit and go from there. Never once did I try to get all the scratches and defects out. Just sanded a bit, then moved on. I would go all the way up to 1200 grit, then drop back down to 100 grit and start over. I did this 4 or 5 times before I had a nice shiny plate that I could continue on past 1200 grit up to 4000 grit.

    But here is the kicker. The second way of doing this saved me a lot of time. I mean a couple of hours. I am not sure why. It makes no sense that skip-sanding as I call it would bring the surface down smooth and shiny so fast. You would think getting ALL the defects out before moving on would be better and faster. I tried this several times this week and the speed is always the same. Skip sanding is a lot faster.

    Well obviously sanding stainless steel is a lot different than sanding wood, but I am wondering if I stumbled onto something here. Would skip sanding on wood also be faster and yet give the same flawless finish? My other question is why do you think this method is so much faster?

    Just kind of curious if I stumbled upon something interesting here.
    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
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Smithville, TX
    Man, that's alot of sanding, either way. Personally, and I may end up a bit contrary here once again, I hardly ever go beyond 120 with bare wood, with the exception of turned pieces (I stop at 220, one extra step). Clarity is just fine and I find it makes for better adhesion of a finish, plus if it is water based finish the grain raising defeats any sanding beyond that. After my first sealer coat I go to 220, 320 after the second seal coat and 400 between topcoats. The real sanding for me begins after the final coat has cured and I sand, and/or, eventually polish to the desired sheen. I'm confident there are as many sanding principles and styles as there are woodworkers, though. Many moons ago I used to go through alot more sanding steps before applying finish, but along the way I was schooled by some wonderful, ornery old cusses who informed me I was wasting my time. Or maybe I've just gotten lazy as I get older...
    Mini Max Tool Acquisition Mediator.
    "An old man to most kids and a young man to those who are dead."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Stainless must be a different animal than wood.... With wood I always THINK I'm done with a grit, only to find that I quit too soon - finer grit seems to show up the flaws I missed at the coarser one.

    My thinking is more along the lines of Sam's, with one exception... Since I generally use oil finishes instead of varnishes, it pays to sand down to 220 or 320. If I was doing a lot of varnishing, I probably wouldn't go past 150.

    I have found I save a lot of time by starting at 60 instead of 100, get all the flaws with the coarse grit, then just give the piece a quick once over with each finer grit 'til I get where I'm going.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Stockport, England
    I hate sanding, and Travis's post brings me out in a sweat!

    For the last 4 years, I've been lucky enough to employ a guy to do all my sanding and finishing. He loves it - and does a great job!

    He leaves after Christmas. Am I going to miss him!

  5. #5
    I stop at 400 as after that it seems to be burnishing. The purpose (as you should know) of the graduating grits is to control the scratches. I begin with 100 if I have good mill works or 80 if not. That makes a series of scratches even in size and character. Progress to the next size and sand till all the scratches are again even in size and character. Then the next grit until all scratches are even in size and character (see a progression here) If you skip to a finer grit before all scratches are even in size and character you will be sanding the apex of the grooves (peaks and valleys) of the scratches left by the previous grit, but not removing the valleys or scratches. You want to leave newer smaller scratches, that you can remove with the next finer grit.

    With your "Skip Grit" method, those polished apexes are most probably easier to remove with the correct grit on the next approach to following the rules of engagement with different grits. It seems to be faster as you may be using too many closely related grits in your attempt to progress.

    I usually go, 100, 150, 220, 300, 400 and then procede to sanding sealer to stabilize the fibers before progressing to finner (if necessary) grits.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I'm actually going through the process of sanding my chair and honestly I do not know what to say, once I think I'm finished with a part, some previously unseen scratches appear all of a sudden when I look at the piece under different light angle or from a different point of view.

    I try to stick to the usual method going to a finer grit after each step, but then I have to go back to coarser grits at some specific points in order to get rid of those previously unseen scratches, because if I stick to the same grain I'm using at that time I takes me much longer to get rid of them.

    I do not hate sanding (yet), but I don't enjoy it either, I just accept it as something that has to be done and if not done properly it spoils my job.
    Best regards,

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  7. #7

    Raise the grain

    Have you ever tried raising the grain. Simple method that speeds and eases the pain of sanding.

    I raise the grain on every piece I sand, either flat work or lathe turnings, Stained especially and painted as well as natural finished. Raising the grain will produce a finer finish and a smoother surface.

    The process of sanding power or by hand, will fold over the open pores of the wood, it will collapse the sides of the grain structure and burnishing occurs. The raising of the grain is simple, Wet the fibers and allow them to swell back to their orignal shape so that you can slice them off with the sandpaper. simply wet the piece surface with clear clean water, I prefer distilled or bottled water as tap water has minerals that will prevent even coloring of stain. Simply wet the surface and allow to dry. When dry. the fibers that were smashed in the previous sanding grit or those that were folded over or fill with dust will be standing proud once more you can tell by the fuzzy feel of the wood, Sand those off and wet again, again they dry and are a little fuzzy, each time you do this the poores are opened, the fibers are sheared off more evenly and the scratches will lessen until a smoothe even surface emerges, This process will not only better prepare the surface for staining and prevent the blotchy effect so many complain about, when applying finish, there will be less sanding or scuffing between coats because the wetness of the finish wound have any fibers to swell and the stain will be absorbed more evenly as the pores will be open. Those lingering scratches will linger no more and aching joints will thank you, as well.

    Some don't do this as they think it takes too much time, wetting, waiting to dry, and sanding the fuzz of, etc. When in actuality, the process is so speeded by raising of the grain that the sanding is quicker and easier.

    How does this effect turnings on the lathe? at least 50% of the piece is long grained whilst 50% is end grain exposed and so the half that is long grain swells from the water drying and the end grain portion gets the pores cleaned out of dust and debri in the wipe down with the water.

    Another advantage of raising the grain is exposing glue spots around the joints. When we glue we do our best to prevent squeeze-out from getting glue on the surface, we wipe with a damp rag to clean but it often just smears it on the surface, sealing the grain in that area. When we apply finish or stain, the white ghost appears... When you wet the piece to raise the grain, that ghost will show itself and you will be able to remove it before the finishing process is ruined.
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 11-09-2007 at 04:19 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Antonio, Texas
    I seldom start below 120 grit, even on flat work, and stop at 320 for flat work and often up to about 4000 on turnings (yet to have a finish not adhere well here), but that's just me.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Burt View Post
    I seldom start below 120 grit, even on flat work, and stop at 320 for flat work and often up to about 4000 on turnings (yet to have a finish not adhere well here), but that's just me.
    Billy, I used to feel that way too but soon found that my elbows would last longer if I started with a more course grit (excellant mill work will determine where to start.) Consider the job the sandpaper has to do... If the scratch or mill mark is 10/1000 of an inch deep then you have to remove 10/1000" oof surrounding surface to bring it up to the surface, how many strokes with fine paper will that take? but with a more course paper a few strokes makes the surrounding scratches 5/1000" deep so a finer grit can clean them down to 2/1000" deep then a few strokes with a finer paper makes a series of scratches 1/1000" deep and so on intill the scratches are minute and "Blah Blah Blah... Yes it seems like a waste of time but if you consider the number of strokes it takes to wear down the surrounding area to an even plane with the scratches you want to remove using fine paper or medium fine as with your 150 C paper then consider the fewer strokes with progressive grits, I think you will come on over to the dark side and do as the old folks did and some of us old folks still do.

    Just the other night... I was making some Cutting boards with Corian. Now, I cut the pieces with a Bandsaw and pretty darn straight (I might add) but there were saw marks. I was hacking my way along with a finer grit paper to smooth the edges. Then I realized I was polishing the peaks of the saw marks and getting pretty tired (in my golden years) I went and got some 60 and in a few strokes the marks were gone but there were scratches... Then 80 for a few strokes, then some 100, where are the scratches? jumped a big leap to 300 and then to the green scotchbrites and tomorrow I will buff them. But the course grits saved my elbows and wrists then the finer grits cleaned up the mess left by the course grits.... That is the reason for the progression.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Antonio, Texas
    I fully understand, Bill. I really do. But I've spent more time removing scratches and gouges left by 80 grit paper than I have starting at a finer grit. That was some years ago and I may have been (more than likely) using a cheap grade paper, so now that I'm using Klingspor almost exclusively it may be different. I have some Klinspor 80 grit, but have yet to need it. Should I run into the situation you describe, I'll give it a shot.

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