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  • Sanding oak

    Is it possible to eliminate all scratches in oak? I planed some boards down today with my new handheld electric planer, which works nice, and then cut out an electrical outlet cover. I then took it to my belt sander, which had an 80 grit belt, and sanded down the face a little. I then attempted to get it smooth with 180 grit on my palm sander. I worked so long at it that by the time I got done, I realized I didn't need the planer after all. I had effectively elimated 1/16" of the wood and still had the same scratches. It's hard to see them unless you hold it under a light just right, but when you push your fingernail across, you can feel them. What's up with this? I even tried 220 grit sand paper and that doesn't take enough off.

    WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?
    Mike

    Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.
    www.picturetrail.com/naturephotos

  • #2
    Mike, I would suggest that you sand one side smooth ( the face side ) first before planing for thickness. A few minor planer marks on the back should'nt hurt. Steve
    If This HillBilly Can't Fix it Then it Ain't Broke!!!
    My Gallery
    [email protected]

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Minnesota scroller
      I planed some boards down today with my new handheld electric planer, which works nice, and then cut out an electrical outlet cover. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?
      You mean other than NOT stack cutting?

      Were the scratches in the wood before you started, or were they planer marks?? Or are they just the grain in the oak?

      I sand all my stuff to finish grit before taping, drilling, and cutting. I usually start at 120, then 180, then 240. I wipe with mineral spirits between each grit to remove any "stray sand". I've found this speeds the process up.

      80 is pretty course and can cause some deep scratches. I reserve it for semi-rough stuff, although I have been known to resort to 60 and even 40. Also, it is (IMHO) a big jump to 180. I'd go to 120 after 80.

      Pictures of the problem would help as well.....
      ‎"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They're easier to ignore before you see their faces. It's easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

      D. Platt

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      • #4
        My wife think it's just the grain. I ran my finger across some oak woodwork and a couple oak switchplate covers in the house, and wherever the grain shows, it feels rougher. Maybe that's the nature of oak. I've never worked with it before.

        When I go out of town this weekend I'll be picking up a couple belts of 120 grit. While trying to research this on the net, I came across a Canadian wood working forum. They claim not to sand down oak beyond 150 grit. Some actually claim 120 is as far as you should sand. Something about damaging the soft grains or something.

        Thanks guys, for your advice. I've noticed, when posting a question or looking for advice. only around 10% of the members that view the thread actually respond. I wonder why that is. I would think if they have time to read all the posts, they should have time to type a couple lines and submit. It could sure be helpful. However, I found another woodworking forum, which has over 18,000 members. I joined and posted the same question, looking for recommendations or advice on a router. The overwhelming response was actually less than 2% of the viewers. I noticed that 2 - 3% is common on that forum. If this forum was that bad, I wouldn't even bother with it. Although, I do wish more members would contribute a little.
        Mike

        Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.
        www.picturetrail.com/naturephotos

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        • #5
          Hi Mike

          It's not a problem I've ever encountered and I'm wondering why it's hit you. Are you confident that there's nothing contaminating your palm sander, both on the abrasive and between the abrasive and its mount? If so, would it be worth applying a bit of sanding sealer and seeing if that helps?

          I've certainly sanded oak satisfactorily way beyond 220 grit in the days when I sanded veneers for marquetry.

          Gill
          There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
          (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)

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          • #6
            Mike, as you probably have gathered already, I work for quite a large cabinet manufacturer and we sand thousands of cabinet doors and frames a day. On our door sanding lines what they call a cross face/ polishing sander which is the last thing they go through. The doors are sanded with a 240 grit. Now when they go to the finishing dept. there is a sanding sealer applied before the stain/paint and topcoat. Hope that helps. Steve
            If This HillBilly Can't Fix it Then it Ain't Broke!!!
            My Gallery
            [email protected]

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Gill
              Are you confident that there's nothing contaminating your palm sander, both on the abrasive and between the abrasive and its mount?
              Gill
              If anything, it might have been the belt on my belt sander. I did use a little pressure and the scratches or shallow gouges, whatever you want to call them, did run the direction of the belt. But then, that's also the direction of the grain. It does get me thinking though. I think nest time I'll skip the belt sander and just use the palm sander. I've never had a problem with the palm sander on BB ply.
              Mike

              Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.
              www.picturetrail.com/naturephotos

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              • #8
                Mike, I avoid a belt sander except for extreme sanding and shaping of large pieces. I find belt sanders remove to much wood to fast. They also can gouge if you are not very careful. Even after planning boards 90% of my sanding is done with an orbital sander.
                Scott
                Creator of fine designer sawdust.

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                • #9
                  Mike, as a couple of people have already mentioned graduate to the next higher grit. Don't skip any grit steps. You say your started with 80, personally after I plane a board the lowest grit paper I use is 120 then 150 and 180. The planing cut is already smoother enough to skip even 100. However, I use a circular random orbit sander. The ROS really does a great job and I don't have to worry about grain direction that much.
                  I suspect you are right in that part of the problem may have been using a belt sander w/80 grit. Unless your planer left a very bad cut. Also, let the grit on the sandpaper do the work. Any extra human pressure serves only to wear out the granules before the sanding is accomplished. I just guide my ROS as the weight of the sander is enough pressure to do the job. I also have the luxury of having a Performax table sander which does most of my work. Wouldn't be without either of these sanders.

                  Paul S.

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                  • #10
                    try HAND sanding it, WITH the grain. You should have a really nice finish ready piece with 180 grit, if hand sanded properly. Dale
                    Dale w/ yella saws

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                    • #11
                      It might be just grain. Oak has an open grain and no matter how much you sand it it'll never get as smooth as poplar, for instance. If you start sanding the face side with 80 gr. you might play h*&# getting the scratches out. After planing I start no lower than 120 then 150, 220 and maybe 320 & 400 if necc. Now matter how the planer cuts, ie. snipe, ridges from worn blades etc., the 120 up gets it done. I always use an orbital sander or 1/4 palm sander only. Never a belt and I use that only for edge work.
                      Confuscious says, "The cautious seldom err".
                      Confuscious didn't own a scrollsaw either.

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                      • #12
                        I tend to agree with the Captain. Red oak has a unique grain pattern. Looking closely at the darker rays, you will see the open grain. Contrast that with the lighter rays that appear more dense. The surface won't appear or feel perfectly flat unless you use a grain filler.

                        If you've already removed that much material by sanding, it's hard to imagine that the scratches you see are from your original belt sanding. However it's good advice given that you need to gradually progress up through the sanding grits to get the smoothest, most scratch free surface.

                        In regards to your comment about the number of responses to a post, relative to the number of views, I think it's attributable to the fact that many folks are just interested in the topic. I'm familiar with the other woodworking board you mentioned, in fact I responded to your post there as well as here. I lurk there often, but usually by the time I get to reading a post, if I had any input, someone (or several others) have already offered it. The same goes here. I read many of the posts simply to see what information I can glean from them (and I've been able to learn quite a bit, thanks to all). That's the real benefit of a forum like this. I'll chime in if I think I can add something that hasn't already been said or reinforce a point someone else made, but I've always presumed that if a post gets a lot of views and only a few responses, the advice you got in those few responses must be pretty sound. Besides, I tend to get a little wordy (like now), so I try to restrain myself so as not to bore the good folks who are reading this.
                        Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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                        • #13
                          While waking this morning, I remembered what caused this problem. When I pulled the blue painters tape off, the tape pulled up some slivers. I hadn't had this happen since my problem with the 1/8" BB ply. This never happens with walnut or maple, but then they don't have the grain that oak has either. I think I'm going to have to try some of that purple tape. I know I can go without tape and use the mineral spirits, so we don't have to revisit that subject.

                          However, I'm still going to heed all the advice I received from this thread regarding the sanding.

                          Thanks all.
                          Mike

                          Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.
                          www.picturetrail.com/naturephotos

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                          • #14
                            Mike, I use the purple tape on almost all my cuttings and have had good luck with it. Back to the sanding, I will sand up to 400 grit if I am planning to just apply a clear finish. Will only go to 220 grit if I am going to stain the wood, if you go beyond 220 grit then the stain has nothing to "grab" onto.
                            Mick, - Delta P-20

                            A smile is a small curve that straightens everything out.

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                            • #15
                              Mike, I really dont think the tape has anything to do with your problem. I always use clear packing tape on scrolling wood, have used regular masking tape on red oak, and have used an industrial double faced cloth tape between layers of red oak, and have never had the problem you are having. I think the sanding technique is culprit. Dale
                              Dale w/ yella saws

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