Sanding

Many factors contribute to a fine piece of funiture. It should be structuraly sound, and pleasing in appearance. Sanding is an often overlooked step in the production of furniture that contributes to the color and texture of a piece, and is a detail that distinguishes an average piece from a quality piece of furniture. Turned or carved members should be sanded with a fine grade of sandpaper before final finishing to remove any minute scratches left by chisels which might stand out after a final stain is applied. Sharp edges should be sanded to retain their angle without running over the edge, and curved edges should be sanded uniformly with no low spots. The bottoms of legs on tables and chairs should be sanded smooth and level to prevent wobbling. The bottoms, backs and edges of casework should be sanded with the grain as part of the finishing process.

Wood must be smooth and free from scratches and other blemishes before final finishing in order to produce a piece capable of retaining a high polish. This is done by sanding. Sandpaper is simply a piece of paper coated with an abbrasive, but there are several different kinds of sandpaper, and different grades of sandpapaer suited for different purposes. Glasspaper or flintpaper is yellow and doesn't hold up well. Garnet paper is good for both softwoods and hardwoods and is reddish in color due to the garnet that makes up its abbrasive particles. Aluminum oxide paper comes in a variety of colors and is excellent for smoothing the sufaces of denser hardwoods. Silicon carbide paper, or wet-dry paper, ranges in color from grey to black and works well on hardwoods and for sanding in between coats. Sandpaper is graded from very coarse to very fine depending on the size of the abbrasive particles. This grading system also uses numbers to differentiate the grade, with higher numbers being a finer grade.

Sanding can be done by hand or with power equipment, but the method is the same. Sanding should always be done with the grain in order to bring out the best figure of the wood. Care must be taken to produce a smooth, even surface and to retain the angles and curves without distortions or dips. Sanding in between coats of paint or other finishes prepares the surface for a final finish by removing small particles. This is generally accomplished by starting with a coarse grade and gradually moving to finer grades of sandpaper. Sanding is an important final step in the preparation of fine furniture.

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