Sanding: How fine?

I've been sanding down to 220 on Oak. I have some 320 discs but I can't see/feel where 320 is any improvement over 220. On some of the softer woods it seems a little smoother with 320. Is there any consensus on how fine one should go?
Max
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The short answer is I wouldn't waste effort sanding oak finer than 180 with the grain. Maybe a bit finer with an orbital or across the grain, less fine on softer woods. But these days I try not to use abrasives at all and get a finish straight off a sharp blade wherever I can. It is a different look. it wouldn't be always acceptable in the trade. But I like it.
Tim w
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wrote:

The 220 grit is the finest for most projects. I use 320 and higher for between finish coats.
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Max wrote:

Depends on the wood, the finish, if you know how to sand, as well as if you're staining.
My normalities:
Oil and thin clear finishes: Open grained hardwoods and softwoods (Red oak and pine) - 220 Tight grained hardwoods - 320-400 Exotics - possibly 600
Staining: Most woods - 120-150, maybe 180-220 on closed grain wood End grain - 220, or a grit higher than the face
The important part of ending at a lower grit pre-stain is to be aware of cross grain and orbital scratching. You CAN stop at 120 before staining IF you hand sand with the grain. Closed grain woods may require 150-220 grit to avoid obvious scratching. Sanding to too fine of a grit pre-stain may result in pigment wiping right off, and a too-light final color.
Barry
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"B A R R Y" wrote

I rarely stain. My *usual* finish is "danish" oil and poly, (semi-gloss or satin) I'm curious about using a *finer* grit on hard woods. My experience is that the softer woods show scratches easier than the hardwoods do. I use a lot of Ponderosa Pine (mostly for "Southwestern" style) and I find that I get a better look by going to 320. Maple, Red Oak, Ash all seem to turn out just fine with 220. I haven't done anything in Walnut or Cherry in many years so I don't know what my results would be for them. I've done some cabinets in Hickory and they were fine with 220. I use a Bosch 3727 down to 220 and then hand sand with 220. (or 320 as the case may be) Thanks for the input.
Max
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I always stop at 180 used on a finish sander.
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On Tue, 02 Sep 2008 14:56:19 -0600, Max wrote:

If you're putting a clear finish on it, 220 is fine. If you're going to use stain, which I seldom do, stop at 180 so there will be some pores open for the pigment particles to lodge in. Or use a dye instead, but even then 220 will give a lighter color than 180.
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Good info. Thanks.
Max
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I use mstly clear finishes....
I sand oak to 220, and cherry to 400 - it takes on a silky smooth feel!
shelly
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Thanks.
Max
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Max wrote:

If using a film finish I stop at 220. The finish build will fill any irregularities.
If I'm using a penetrating (oil) finish I'll sand to 600 or possibly 800 depending of the type of wood and the items function.
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Evidently no consensus at all then.
I have to say these people sanding to 400, 600 & 800 grit have too much time on their hands. There are some but very few woods hard and dark enough to take a polish from abrasives that fine. If you are working in ebony for instance or making a pipe from briar root then the wood will shine beautifully with very fine abrasives alone. Maple will polish a little but it is too pale to really shine. Pine, cherry, oak, - sanding finer than 180grit with the grain is just vanity.
Tim w
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OK.
Max
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Tim W wrote:

There are many woods, Cocobolo, Bocote, Wenge, any of the Rosewoods, etc., that all polish nicely with the finer grits.
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Yes you are right and it was not correct to say there are only a few.
Tim W
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