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15 February 2007

A Note on Sanding

Sanding is the most important part. I was trained as a furniture builder and finisher in a high-end furniture shop and I can tell you that from my experience you CANNOT get a good finish without a good sanding job. This means you will have to be patient. Follow the directions, always work with the grain, and start with a higher grit sandpaper than you think you need. For really bad floors I would start with 80 grit, if they just need a light going over you are best to start with 150 and up. Don't be afraid to go to higher grit at first, you want to get comfortable with the machine and the way it moves before you start taking layers off.

Don't stay in one spot too long. It is tempting to try to grind out the trouble sopts, don't do it. You might not see it now, but when you lay the finish down you will have a nice divot that isn't as smooth as the rest of the floor. Keep the machine moving, use a light touch, and always go with the grain. You will see some sites that tell you to start at a 45 degree angle to the grain for the first pass. DON'T DO IT, you most likely do not need to take off as much as you think.

I start with the 80 grit, move up to the 150 grit, and then hit the whole thing on my hands and knees with a hand orbital sander at 220 grit. This may seem excessive but trust me it works wonders for the finished product. I go as far as to hand sand with the grain after the orbital, this takes out the little spirals. Trust me, that is extremely anal, you don't have to go that far.

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