The Art of Hand Sanding

Grinding Techniques explains how important it is to choose the correct sandpaper when doing some hand sanding. We all love the speed and convenience of power tools when refurbishing furniture or sanding the garage door at home. But once the heavy sanding is done, the power tools finish finds it difficult to compete with a little hand sanding. Power sanders leave a small but noticeable scratch pattern that could become more visible after your final coating is applied.


Hand sanding even when using the same grit size that was used on your power sander produces a finer and more consistent scratch pattern which normally disappears under the
first coat of varnish, stain or oil. Hand sanding also gives you more flexibility and control when it comes to sanding in hard to reach places. When sanding contours, corners and
curves there is not much that beats a sheet or strip of sandpaper that can also be used with a sanding block.

When taking on a project at home or at the office, we can agree that anyone would like to do as little sanding as possible. Therefore, we only buy the correct amount of sandpaper and
variety of grit sizes that we think we might need to complete the project. In most instances you will be able to complete your project with just 3 grit sizes of sanding sheets, for example
100, 150 and 220 grit. It is always advised to test a small sample piece of wood on your project to see whether you will reach your desired finish before purchasing your sandpaper.
It is also recommended not to sand with half used sandpaper scraps due to their bluntness and inconsistent wear as it can leave uneven scratch patterns on your surface.

When sanding by hand we are left with two choices, wet or dry sanding. Dry sanding offers more control and you have good visibility of what you are doing and the finish. Dry sanding
however does tend to clog your sandpaper much quicker. It is always more beneficial to use a stearate coated sheet equipped with an anticlogging agent for such dry sanding applications.

In wet sanding, use a liquid such as mineral spirits or soapy water to provide lubrication that aids in floating away the debris that would have clogged the sandpaper. For this application,
use a silicon carbide wet or dry abrasive sheet, more commonly known as water paper.

Finally, you can use non-woven hand pads that contain just enough abrasive to remove small imperfections without cutting through your finish.

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