Swirleys

No, not the swirleys that were executed in the High School boys room by the bullies du jour, but the marks left on wood from sandpaper..
I usually am fanatical in my sanding through the grit range and I'm using two well respected sanders, PC333VS and Festool FEQ125. But still, even after 220 I can shine the light on cherry and walnut and still see the damn swirley things. So, technique or tool? Which is it? I hear lots of guys say they sand down to 180 and then apply oil/stain/shellac/ whatever. No way I could ever do that with the un-smoothness of my boards. So, anyone have some suggestions or ideas or whatever it is that may help me in getting my sanding done efficiently and acceptably??
ROY!
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A card scraper? Seems to be the best finish that I can get, though I have a LONG way to go before I am good with one.

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ROY!, You might not like my suggestions, but since you ask, I'd recommend either hand sanding (I like the Preppin' Weapon sanding block) with 220 or 320, or even better, using a scraper. Once it's tuned up, it goes really quick, and leaves a very smooth surface. Or I've even used a smoothing plane set to a super-fine shaving, and then gone right from there to finishing. I find it cleaner (no dust), quicker than digging through sandpaper grits, and better at leaving a smoother surface. I know the whole hand-vs-power tool issue is contentious for some people, and I use both types of tools, but this is my experience for final smoothing... Andy
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Andy wrote:

I'd have to agree with you Andy. The final sanding should be done by hand in the direction of the grain. You may also find that by doing this you can negate the use of one or two of the finer grits. regards John
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themselves for selling it. A thorough job up to 150 is usually adequate. I suspect you are moving too fast up the grades. If you don't get all 80 marks out with 100, you will never get them out with 120 (and so on).
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wrote:

I don't share that opinion; I wonder how many others here do. (Perhaps you're doing something wrong?)
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Mon, 13 Aug 2007 17:22:50 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Ah, Toller. I killfiled the lad some time ago, about the time when he proclaimed to the group something to the effect that he wished he had an idiot brother. Anyhow, the general opinions of the 333VS in this group and in magazine reviews seem to be positive so I'm not about to blame it. Some very good suggestions that I'll be trying before the end of the day. For exanple, I don't wipe off the piece once I change to a finer grit. Also, I may need to start hand sanding the final grits or forsake the ROS for sheet sander for those 220 and 320 efforts. Wow, that would be a visit on the wayback machine. I have an ancient Makita 1/4 sheet sander which I may seek out and re-audition. Anyone have any favorites when it comes to selecting a sheet sander? Thanks, everyone! ROY!
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<snip>

I hand sand the last several grits with Swing's favorite brand wrapped around a rubber sanding block from the local hardware store. And for pretty much the same reasons.
You have to slow down sometime, right? ;-)
Patriarch
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Your coarse grit swirlies are not being removed by your fine grit swirlies (sounds somewhat painful). Try doing your coarse grit sanding with the grain, then switch to random orbit with 180+.

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Lots of answers so far. The tighter grain and lighter the wood the more likely this problem will show up. Oak on the other hand is very forgiving, Cherry and or Maple not so much. As others have suggested you may not be spending enough time on at grit changes and if you are not wiping the board clean of dust when going to the next grit you probably are mixing old grit in and essentially still sanding with the more coarse grit. I very seldom start with anything more coarse than 120. Have you changed brands sandpaper? I have see some papers with inconsistent minerals that will cause this problem. Consider, a straight line sander or hand sanding the final grit.
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"Leon" wrote in message

All good advice.
I generally switch to a quarter sheet sander, going with the grain, instead of a ROS for the last two grades.
A scraper, while a good idea, can leave a bit too smooth a surface for some stains, IME. Also, I like to do my last grit, either 220 or 320 depending upon the finish, entirely by hand.
That way I get to go over the whole piece up close and personal and get to see all those little imperfections that are a part of every project ... and who knows, occasionally I may even go back do something about them. :)
I also really like Norton's 3X sandpaper lately. I may have used better sandpaper, but I don't know that I've found any yet that was more consistent from box to box and so readily available. AAMOF, I will stick my neck out and say that due to its readily availability at almost any retail outlet/hardware store, it is hard to find a better sandpaper.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 8/8/07
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Either you aren't spending enough time on the intermediate grits, or you're getting grit from the previous pass on the board and just continuing to make swirleys with it all during the next grit.
I usually do 60 -> 100 -> 150 -> 220, skipping the 60 if it was in good shape to begin with. A lot of times what happens is the 60 grit scratches that I didn't get with 100 don't really become noticeable until after I've gone over it with 150. I generally find it easier to give the surface a hard look over at 150 and go back to 100 for anything I may have missed rather than try to get it perfect the first pass at 100. It's just much easier to see then, but it'll take forever to get it all with the 150. Side lighting during sanding helps significantly to see the problem areas.
And for the other possibility, brush it down thoroughly between grits.
One other thing is that you probably aren't changing the paper as often as you should be. The temptation is to just leave it on there for as long as humanly possible, but then it just isn't removing material like it should be and you think it should have been enough time but it wasn't.
By the time you get done with 150 it should look and feel pretty darn good. I find maple to be a lot harder to get looking perfect because it's just so smooth and fine grained that anything at all shows up, and it's harder so it takes longer to get there. Some of the exotics are even worse.
-Leuf
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Hand sand, one grit coarser. Either step back to 180, or machine sand with 320, then hand sand with 220. Check the paper for clogging, aka "pilling." Those little specks of resin, paint, whatever hold the abrasive above the wood and render the sandpaper useless. Pick them off with an awl.
Learn how to use a card scraper. You can take rough sawn lumber to glass-smooth faster than changing the paper on your power sanders. Clogproof, even if you're cutting through 15 coats of cured latex paint, a job they're unsurpassed at.
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ROY! wrote:

A couple of things I haven't seen others state:
1. Moving the sander too fast can cause "swirleys" - give a little time for the random orbit to random orbit.
2. Don't shut the sander off while it's in contact with the wood.
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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http://www.festoolusa.com/Web_files/swirl_marks_tips.pdf
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One other possibility is that you are applying too much hand pressure on the ROS. I had the same problem as you until I learned to lighten up a little especially with coarse grit paper. What you might be seeing is some of the deeper scratches from too much pressure. I like to go 100-150-220-320. I use a ROS for the 100-150 and a 1/4 sheet for the 220-320.
Allen

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Gotta chime in too.
1. Blow off the piece after each grit to make sure you aren't incorporating grit left behind in you new sanding.
2. However, I onlu use orbital sanders if I have a big sanding problem. I typically machine sand the lumber with a drum or wide belt as I finish dimensioning it and before milling. Then only use palm sanders, alwys followed by finish sanding by hand, regardless of the size of the project, down to the final 150, 180 or 220, depending on the finish.

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Roy,
My preference is for Mahogany, but I use some Maple, and mostly inexpensive Pine for the 'kitchen stuff' Joanne has me build. However my 'finishing schedule' is very close to the way I do with the boat 'Brightwork'.
'Power sand' the rough work from 60 to 80 to 100. Starting with the belt sander {if required}, then the RO. At this point I change to a 1/4 sheet 'jitterbug' for 120 to 220. I'll do the final 220 by hand. If it is a large area I'll use a 'firm foam' circular PSA holder. First in a circular motion, then with the grain. Depending on workpiece shape, I may use cork-faced blocks I made, or other shapes. After tacking AND vacuuming, I start applying finish. For me that is usually 6 coats of varnish {or CLEAR water-based poly}- sanding between coats with progressively finer grits -320, 400, 600. For 'kitchen work', the poly may be used after staining. {Presently I am on my 4th coat of poly, over 6 coats of stain{'sneaking up' on the color & tone Joanne wanted}.
A lot of time? . . . Hell, Yes . . . most of it cleaning up then waiting for coats to dry. However, the RESULTS are worth it . . . at least in MY eyes, then I'm a 'Pain in the Ass' engineer.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop {PS - A hint - Don't use your *eyes*, use your *Fingers* to check smoothness of sanding or finish.}

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found an thread active today!
I had the same problem tonight, and suspect I was moving too fast along the wood. I did switch sandpaper brands recently too (convenience), so maybe I'll switch back.
But here's something else I'll tinker with - the suction caused by vacuum dust clearing. I hook my shop vac up to the dust port on my DeWalt ROS, and that definitely suctions the pad right onto the wood when I'm sanding. I can feel the difference when I start to come off the edge of a board and vacuum pressure drops (as suction holes get exposed to open air). I've also wondered whether the vacuum pressure is responsible for the way my sander will try to dance in surges across a flat surface sometimes - I have to work just to hold it in place. I don't recall this problem when using the built-in dust-collection bag and no vacuum.
Anybody notice their sander is a little harder to control and/or causing swirlies with good suction?
-Larry
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"Lawrence Gallagher" wrote

SFWIW, I use a Bosch 3727VS, a 6" ROS with built in dust collection I don't use since my work is outside.
To me, sanding is a total PITA, however, patience is a virtue.
Let the tool do the work and change paper frequently.
I purchase production grade paper, purchased in 100 pc boxes from Klingspor.
I usually stop at 220 and don't seem to have a problem.
YMMV
Lew
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