How To Use Sandpaper On Wood

When it comes to making wood surface smoother and flatter, sandpaper comes in handy. It removes both smaller and larger scratches from the wood piece.

Knowing how to use sandpaper on wood is the key! A wrong sanding approach may ruin the entire wood surface.

This article will cover a complete guide about this topic.

Why Do We Use Sandpaper On Wood?

Sandpapers are mainly used on wood to smooth the surface and remove imperfections, such as scratches, uneven spots, etc.

It also improves the overall look and health of the wood. This makes it easy to maintain.

Besides, woodworkers use sandpaper before painting the surface. This allows the filling compound and paints to adhere appropriately.

How Sandpaper Works On Wood?

How Sandpaper Works On Wood

When you rub sandpaper on a wood piece, its grit generates a small, mid, or larger scratch pattern depending on the sandpaper grit rating.

It removes uneven spots with thousands of tiny abrasive particles.

 As finer grit sandpapers are used, the scratches left behind become smaller, and the surface becomes smoother.

What Are The 3 Grades Of Wood Sandpaper?

What Are The 3 Grades Of Wood Sandpaper

Sandpapers for wood are available in three options: coarse, medium, and fine.

01. Coarse

Their grit rating ranges from 60 to 80 grit.

This type of sandpaper is used to rough or massive imperfections quickly.

 It is also useful for shaping and leveling surfaces or removing old paint or finishes.

02. Medium

The grit rating of this sandpaper ranges from 100 to 150 grit.

They mainly used for the final shaping of the wood piece and prepared the wood for finishing.

Woodworkers also utilize them to get off minor imperfections.

03. Fine

Their grit rating ranges from 180 to 220 grit.

Coarser grits may have left some scratches on the wood surface.

They create a smooth and even finish and prepare wood surfaces for staining or painting.

What Type Of Sandpaper Is Best For Wood?

It generally depends on the condition of the wood surface.

The following tables show which type of sandpaper is best depending on the requirements.

Grit TypeGrit RatingIdeal Usage
Extra Coarse Grit40 gritStripping the wood surface
Coarse Grit60 or 80 gritRemoves heavy roughness or imperfections
Medium Grit100 to 150 gritRegular sanding
Fine Grit180 to 220 gritFinal finishing and polishing
Super Fine Grit320 to 400 gritSuper finishing

Wood Sanding Tools

Wood sanding tools are mainly used to prepare and finish wood surfaces.

They smoothen out rough surfaces, remove imperfections, and shape wood to create a desired shape or finish.

01. Sandpaper Sheets

sandpaper sheets

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They usually come in a rectangular shape. But you can cut them into the desired size and shape for the task.

Sandpaper sheets come in various grit sizes, from coarse to fine.

They can remove roughness, scratches, and other imperfections on wood surfaces.

02. Sanding Belts

sanding belts

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They are abrasive belts commonly used on wood for sanding and smoothing large flat surfaces.

Sanding belts are made of coated abrasive material, such as aluminum oxide. This type of sandpaper is mainly used with a belt sander.

They come in handy to remove huge amounts of material rapidly, such as when refinishing floors or removing old paint or finishes.

03. Sanding Discs

sanding disc

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This type of sanding tool is commonly used on wood for sanding and smoothing surfaces.

They are made of coated abrasive material, such as aluminum oxide or silicon carbide.

Woodworkers use sanding discs with various power tools, including angle grinders, random orbital sanders, and disc sanders.

How To Use Sandpaper On Wood Step-By-Step Guide

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use sandpaper on wood:

Step: 01—Scribbling Light Pencil Lines

It might sometimes be tricky to figure out where you have sanded and where not.

One of the best solutions is scribbling light pencil lines over the wood surface. They will go away when they sand the wood piece.

This will help you sand the whole wood piece without missing a single spot. It also comes in handy to sand hard-to-see high and low areas easily.

Step: 02—Selecting The Right Sandpaper

The next job is choosing the right grit sandpaper. Generally, coarse, medium, and fine-grit sandpaper is essential.

When working on raw wood, extra coarse sandpaper may be needed initially to remove or strip thick layers of wood.

It generally depends on what sanding result you want to achieve.

Step: 03—Sanding The Wood 

It is a good rule of thumb to use both power sanding tools along with hand sanding. There might be some hidden scratches that power tools left. Hand sanding can remove them.

Start with coarse sandpaper, followed by medium grit sandpaper. Then finish the sanding jobs with fine sandpaper.

Make sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to reduce the visibility of scratches.

However, if the wood piece has any deeper stains and scratches, you can sand across the grain.

But be cautious. Your sanding angle must not be 45 degrees, especially for initial sanding.

Step: 04—Cleaning The Wood Surface  

Grab a tack cloth or Microfiber cloth and lightly rub it over the wood surface to remove the dust and particles created by the sandpaper

Then, pour a small number of mineral spirits on the fabric and rub it gently clean to the top layer.

Using Sandpaper On Wood Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages of using sandpaper on woodDisadvantages of using sandpaper on wood
Removes rough spots and uneven surfacesMay make the wood extremely smooth
Smoothes wood grainGenerate harmful  fine dust particles
Prepares wood for finishingMay damage the wood fiber
Creates a better surface for paint or stain to adhere toPaint may not adhere well too inappropriate sanding
Can be used to shape wood or remove layers of materialTime-consuming and labor-intensive for large or intricate projects
Available in a range of grits for different levels of abrasivenessMay require additional cleanup to remove sanding debris
Relatively inexpensive and easy to useWeakens the overall structure of the wood
Perfect for various wood types and finishes 

Using Sandpaper On Wood Common Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

01. Make sure to use the appropriate grit of sandpaper for the wood type and condition.

02. Avoid applying too much pressure to prevent damaging or gouging the wood.

03. Change the sandpaper frequently to avoid clogging and reduced effectiveness.

04. Don’t use too old or worn out as they can lead to poor finishes and wasted efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you sand the wood with regular sandpaper?

Regular sandpaper might be okay to use but not highly effective. It is best to use appropriate grit of sandpaper for the best result.

Can I use water with sandpaper?

You can use water with a bit of detergent to avoid the sandpaper building up with material and minimize scratches.

What happens when the wood is rubbed with sandpaper?

Rubbing sandpaper on a wood surface makes the wood smoother and gives it a polished look gradually through repeated sanding.

Last Words

It is common for beginners to make mistakes while sanding wood. Make sure to practice sanding on a plank of scrap wood before working on the primary material.

Now, you know how to use sandpaper on wood. Don’t forget to clean the wood surface properly before sanding it.

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