Sanding wood is a key skill in the woodworker’s toolbox, so it’s important to be well-versed in what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing. There’s a little more to it than simply grabbing some sandpaper and getting to work – but enthusiasm is important too!
As a beginner woodworker, you might get confused by the different techniques and tools available for sanding wood. However, getting started on making your wood finish look perfect is easier than you’d image. In fact, it’s so easy it can be divided into 3 simple steps – just following these will be enough for you to know how to manage with sanding wood like a professional carpenter.
In today’s article, we’ll explain in simple terms exactly how to sand wood perfectly. From picking the right grit for your sandpaper to making those all-important finishing touches, our guide to sanding wood will help you hit the ground running. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Pick out your grit
When it comes to sanding, there’s one tool you simply can’t do without: sandpaper! But it’s not quite as simple as picking up a few sheets from the shelf and working your magic. In fact, sandpaper is graded using a numbering system that describes the coarseness of the grit on the paper. Generally speaking, the lower the number, the coarser the grit.
So to sand wood perfectly as a beginner, we’d recommend you pick three grits starting with something coarse and ending with something fine. You’ll be able to find a wide range of grit surfaces in your local hardware store or online – just make sure you know which number of grit you’re looking for.
Want a tip? In our opinion, an 80-grit, 120-grit, and 240-grit should give you the control and finish you need for the perfect first sanding job.
Step 2: The all-important technique
Before you actually begin sanding, there are a couple of decisions to be made – primarily whether you’ll be using a tool (like a sanding block or orbital sander) or going with the manual approach.
Because it’s always better to walk before you can run, let’s assume you’re using the manual option today. There’s no single technique that all woodworkers use for sanding, but there are a few core concepts and rules you should bear in mind. You’ll want to sand progressively with the grits you picked out earlier; starting with the coarsest and moving to the finest as your work goes on. Doing this will remove the scratches left by the prior grit and (eventually) lead to a smoothly sanded surface.
Here’s the golden rule when it comes to sanding technique: always sand in the direction of the grain of the wood – and never against it. This will avoid any visual oddities once the sanding is complete.
Step 3: Finishing touches (and handy tips)
Now that you know exactly what equipment you’ll need and the best technique to employ when sanding, let’s talk about those all-important finishing touches. As you close in on completing your sanding job, you should be using the finest grit sandpaper, which will work very well on the main flat surfaces of the wood – but what about those intricate nooks and crannies?
Well, there’s a technique to get those sanded too! If you have right-angled corners that you can’t quite seem to access with your sandpaper, we’d recommend wrapping a piece of sandpaper around the top of a putty knife or spatula, then using this to gently sand the corners down to match the rest of the wood finish. If this sounds too much like hard work, you can also buy specialised sanding grips which are designed to get to those hard-to-reach areas.
There are plenty of other tools that can help you perfect your sandpaper technique, such as customisable sanding sponges which can be found in lots of shapes and sizes. Simply pick the sanding sponge that best fits the dimensions of the item you’re sanding.
There you have it: everything you need to know to begin sanding wood the right way. We hope you’ve learned something new with today’s guide. Be sure to check back regularly for even more woodworking tips, features, and advice!