I have spent thousands of hours sanding wood. If I could only impart one tip to all woodworkers regarding how to sand wood, it would simply be this,
SAND THE SEQUENCE.
Most woodworkers know the secret to a quality finish for any woodworking project is great sanding. If you can resist the urge to start with a higher grit, and start with 80 grit and sand the sequence, it will always save time. Don’t jump ahead and don’t skip steps. I’ve done this and it always ends up taking longer, costing more in abrasives, and it’s frustrating trying to achieve the desired results. These two videos are an introduction to understanding sandpaper and sanding theory. They are the synthesis of my experience to produce the best sanded surface in the least amount of time, for the least amount of money and effort.
What is Sanding The Sequence?
Sanding using each of the grits below in succession.
80 • 100 • 120 • 150 • 180 • 220 • 320
When you start sanding wood using 80 grit you quickly set the shape and remove machine marks, embedded glue and level uneven joint surfaces. Then you continue sanding using 100, 120, 150, 180, 220, 320 without skipping any of the sequence. Remember, after this initial shape is set with 80 grit then all the other subsequent sanding grits are only removing the previous grits sanding marks. So, you are not trying to remove material any more, you are only polishing the wood. This is crucial to understand.
Half Sheet Sanders
I have used and worn out more sanders than I can count. What I have finally determined is that half sheet sanders do the best overall job for the investment. I still have a couple random orbit sanders, but I rarely use them. My Festool half sheet sander works perfectly for 90% of my sanding needs. For flat surfaces, half sheet sanders are the best. They are also great for sanding edges and into corners.
Save Money Buying Sandpaper
The best way to purchase sandpaper isn’t at your local hardware store, it’s buying online or at an industrial supply store. Making this one change can save you lots of time and money. I always buy full sheets of paper and cut them down into half sheets myself. (video shows this simple technique). The two types of paper I use and recommend are Mirka and VSM Vitex. I buy Mirka from BeaverTools.com and you can get VSM Vitex from VerySuperCoolTools.com. Buying paper 5 sheets at a time pre-packaged is not the most economical way to buy sand paper.
WoodMan’s Tips For Sanding Wood:
- Sand the sequence
- Use a half sheet sander
- Buy quality sandpaper in full sheets (Woodman recommends VSM Vitex and Mirka)
- Watch my videos for many more tips and tricks
Have a question that wasn’t covered? Please Ask Woodman in the comment box below. I will be happy to answer you!