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7 Things to Consider when Sanding & Preparing Wood for Staining

7 Things to Consider when Sanding & Preparing Wood for Staining

For proper sanding, choose the right sandpaper, remove the dust, sand along the grain, use a sanding sealer and ensure proper working conditions

Sanding is important to have proper finishing. Staining also depends on how effectively you sand the wooden object or surface.

Sanding is the process of removing the splinters and smoothing the rough edges. You can either use hand sanding or power tools to get glossy prep work on wood timber for staining.

However, there are particular prerequisites for both hand sanding & using power tools. Unless you are a professional in sanding or staining, it’s wise to stay away from the power tools.

For effective sanding, the tips below will come in handy.

1. Choose Between Hand Sanding or Power Tools

Each one has its perks. For instance, if you want to craft an aesthetic piece of wooden furniture, hand sanding is the best way to go because it enables you to sand those corner bits or hard-to-reach spots.

But if you are working on a larger project like sanding an entire surface then it is best to choose a power tool. Using hand sanding will be very time-consuming, and you might even make the surface uneven. Power tools are very efficient, work better on heavier carpentry works & overall make the sanding much faster.

So, the decision is yours. However, choosing the power tools to do a small job like a piece of artifact will ruin it if you are not experienced enough. So, watch out for that.

2. Learn About Different Sanders

There are different types of sanders available. Check the functions of each sander and decide which one is perfect for you.

For a large or flat surface, the most popular sanders are palm sanders or electric orbital sanders. Most experienced woodworkers use random orbital sanders because of their versatility. You can use these sanders on cabinets or flat panels and other large surfaces.

Powerful belt sanders are another viable option. But these only work on wall or floor surfaces. So, don’t use it on other objects.

Lastly, there are finishing sanders to provide a smooth finish. A high-quality finishing sander provides the best and smoothest finish. They also come in corded and cordless forms. Out of all these types, an orbital sander or a palm sander should be a part of every woodworker or DIY enthusiast’s woodworking toolkit.

3. Choose the Right Sandpaper

Sandpapers are the most important tools that are required to do the job, so it is very important to choose the right paper. There are mainly three types of sandpapers available, those are fine, medium & coarse sandpapers.

Before discussing their specific function, let’s first talk about what these grades mean & how to tell which graded sandpaper you need?

There are tiny little sand granules on the sandpaper. These are called grits. The number of grits available per square inch will determine the grade of the sandpapers.

Coarser sandpapers have less than 100 grits/inch. Medium graded sandpapers have (100-120) grits/inch, whereas the finer ones start from 220 grits/inch. The coarser sandpapers aren’t necessarily bad. If you want a darker satin or less smooth surface, the coarser sandpaper will do the job for you.

Medium sandpapers are famous for wiping out old scratches or finishes. The finer ones impart the desired glossy & smooth look.

4. Collect the Dust

While sanding with sandpaper or power tools, it’s natural to have dust flying around., If the dust is not removed or cleaned properly, it will again fall on the final stain and ruin all your hard work.

Dry rags or brushes are not a convenient option to remove the dust. Eventually, they will accumulate on the wood again. Therefore, it’s wise to use damp cheesecloth or a tack cloth. These clothes can keep hold of the dust, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning again.

In case of using a cheesecloth, make sure to soak it in tung oil & prevent it from getting dry between uses.

5. Be Careful About the Grains

If you notice closely, you will find tiny pores on the surface of the wood. These pores are called grains. While sanding, you need to be careful about these grains.

Never sand against the grain lines. These grains form a pattern. You need to follow the pattern while sanding. Don’t scarp with your sandpaper perpendicular or at an angle to the grains. You will damage the final look by doing so. Also, the final finish will not look good.

Similarly, while scraping around the edges, try not to exert much pressure. Remember to hold the wood firmly while sanding back & forth. Otherwise, the uneven finish will be noticeable after the final staining.

6. Use a Sanding Sealer

Sanding sealers can be a great addition to impart a perfect, glossy finish. You should use sanding sealers on bare woods or unstained furniture. Some may think the sanding sealer is the same as the wood conditioner. However, these two are different.

The sanding sealer dries quickly & blocks all the pores of the surface. After applying the sealer, you can do fine sanding with higher grits sandpapers. Finally, you will see an ultra-smooth finish after staining.

7. Be Careful About the Sunlight & AC

Sanding under direct sunlight or AC is not a wise approach. When sunlight comes in contact with the wood, it forms bubbles all over the surface. You may notice some irregular grain patterns or bubbles because of the prolonged exposure to sunlight after staining.

AC is also harmful in some ways. If you work in an air-conditioned room, the chance of dust accumulation on finished wood is higher. Air conditioners can blow the dust on the wet stained surface. So avoid working under such conditions.

Final Thoughts

Wood finishing is fun and relaxing if done correctly. Otherwise, you may have to do the whole process again. Remember not to rush, sanding is a careful procedure and needs to be done with proper care and with the right tools.

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