Wood boards – part 2 – sanding

You know, I never knew how many steps were involved in sanding wood. I thought you just picked up some sandpaper and, well, sanded.

After my visit with Bob Bouvier, as I mentioned in this post, I learned that there are more things to consider than what I had initially thought. This is one of the reasons that I love the craft community – there are so many people who are willing to teach you what you need to know.

When Bob cut my wood for me, he left the boards with a smoother surface than that of the original boards. It was for this reason that he suggested that I start with 220 grit sandpaper. I used this grit to smooth out the edges and surfaces of the boards and to correct any unevenness caused by my cutting. I also sanded down the corners of the boards so that they wouldn’t be so pointy.

One thing I did to make sanding easier was wrap a piece of sandpaper around a wood block – this made it easier to keep the sanding even and helped me to hold on to the sandpaper without constantly banging my fingers on the boards.

After sanding down all of the boards with 220 grit sandpaper, I did a second round of sanding with 400 grit sandpaper. The idea is that by moving to a finer grit sandpaper, you can remove any scratches left behind by the rougher grit. The 400 grit created a really soft finish on the wood – I was surprised by the difference from the previous grit.

Sanded purpleheart board

Sanded purpleheart board

When I finished sanding the boards, I cleaned the dust off using Endust and paper towels. Bob recommended that I spray the Endust on the paper towel and not directly on the wood. I imagine this is so that the Endust is less likely to get absorbed. He said that you could also use tack rags, but he seemed to lean more towards the Endust recommendation.

So what did I learn during this process?

  1. Sand outside or in a location with really good ventilation. You will generate a lot of dust.
  2. The time it takes to sand a board will vary depending on the hardness of the wood. The purpleheart was the most difficult to sand.
  3. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You will get covered in wood dust.
  4. Don’t sand your boards outside during the winter. When you sit on your front porch at 5 p.m. in 20 degree weather and sand boards, it will take a long time to warm up again. Plan to do your sanding during warmer weather. (that’s more of a note to myself – I couldn’t stop shivering for hours.)

In my next post, I’ll talk about the finishing process and the tips that Bob gave me.

5 Responses to “Wood boards – part 2 – sanding”

By liz BAG member&production assistant - 23 February 2009 Reply

Hi Elissa,
I can not wait to see your NEW books.

By elissa - 24 February 2009 Reply

Thanks Liz!

It’s going to be a while before they’re done…I have to make some prototypes of the binding first. I don’t want to do anything else to my wood until I know what I’m doing.


By Stitchworks-jackie - 24 February 2009 Reply

Like most things that look impressive when finished, this process is far more complicated than I imagined. Well done so far.

By elissa - 26 February 2009 Reply

Hi Jackie,

I never would have imagined that there were so many steps…that’s why I have a closet full of unfinished, non-book related projects. They always look so easy and then reality smacks you in the face. Hmmm…there’s the knitting, mosaic, soap making, quilting…oy!

I guess that’s why I love to barter. Leave the work to the professionals. 🙂


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