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darker when stained with pigmented stains. (Dye stains are somewhat more forgiving.)

What should your final grit be? This depends on both the type of wood you've chosen and the type of finish you plan to apply. Very hard, dense woods, such as rock maple and ebony, require finer sanding to eliminate scratches that would be invisible on a coarser wood such as mahogany. Finer sanding is also required for thin finishes (such as oil finishes) because they will show more scratches than thicker finishes (such as lacquer or polvurethanc). If I were putting an oil finish on ebony, I d sand the wood to 600 grit. But if I were spraying lacquer on mahogany, I'd stop at 180 grit.

A good general sanding schedule tliat will work for most woods and finishes starts with 80-grit paper, moves up to 120 grit, and then on to 180 grit. (To shorten the sanding process, many craftsmen first remove machine marks with planes and scrapers, then begin sanding with 180-grit sandpaper.) Make sure to sand out all scratches from the previous grit before moving to a finer grit. If you are planning to apply shellac, lacquer, polyurethane or varnish, you can stop right here, brush off your project, wipe off any remaining dust with a tack cloth and get ready to apply your finish.

Raising and De-furring the Grain

If you are going to use a water-based stain or top coat, or an oil finish, you'll want to raise and de-fur the grain before finishing. This will minimize the grain-raising effect of these types of finishes. Here's the procedure I recommend:

After sanding your entire project to 180 grit, sponge all the wood surfaces liberally with plenty of clean water. After 20 to 30 seconds, wipe excess water off the wood with a clean absorbent rag or some paper towels, and let the piece dry overnight.

When the wood is completely dry, it should feel rough to the touch. Sand it lightly with 220-grit paper-either by hand or with a power sander—just enough to smooth out the roughness and "de-fur"" the raised grain. If you sand too hard or use sandpaper that is too rough, you risk cutting into fresh wood where the grain was not raised. On turnings, carvings and other hard-to-sand areas, use nylon abrasive pads, which conform to shapes better than sandpaper. As soon as the wood feels smooth, stop sanding, tack off the dust with a tack cloth, and get ready to apply your stain or finish. ▲

LOOKING FOR STRAIGHT ANSWfRS?

Send your questions about finishing problems, materials, and techniques to: Michael Dresdner, American Woodworker, 33 E. Minor St., Emmaus, FA 18098

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