Unfinished Brazilian Cherry - Sanding Options


I'm about to install 350 SF of unfinished Brazilian Cherry in my home. I am wondering if I can get away with using a rented vibrating plate sander instead of a drum sander to smooth out the edges. I've done floor refinishing before with a drum and edge sanders, but that was to get gouges and old finsh up. I'd rather not do that again if I can avoid it. Given the hardness of the wood, is a vibrating sander going to do the trick? What grit would I start with/end with assuming that the floor is pretty smooth to begin with?
Erik
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That is a VERY hard wood and traditional sanders don't make much headway with the wood. A vibrating sander will be of little use. You need to stick with the BIG DOG sanders designed for floors.
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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By "BIG DOG" I assume you are talking about the big walk-behind sanders made for flooring. I am definately renting one, my question was aimed at which kind? The drum type or the vibratory type? I'd rather just use the vibratory personally. The drum would seem to be overkill for just finishing as opposed to re-finishing. Thoughts?
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

I used a rented 12x18 (approx.) orbital plate sander for many, many sq/ft of new oak flooring with perfect results.
The particular machine I rent is made by Alto <??>, powered by a good-sized motor, has excellent built-in dust collection, and probably weighs 200-250 pounds. I needed ramps to get it on and off the truck without help, and I'm a big, strong guy. <G> The machine could easily get within an inch of the wall, so the small areas I couldn't get were finished with a 5" ROS.
A drum sander is faster, but the orbital is almost goof-proof if you've got the patience to finish each grit. I went 20-36-60-80-100-120 grit. I was still able to do 250-300 sq/ft in 4 hours, or so.
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Those plate sanders work well for prepping an unfinished floor. They are horrible for re-finishing work. If, as you said, the floor is pretty smooth to start with, use 80 - 100 and then finish with 160 - 220 (depending on what's available locally). These machines do not have any dust pick-up. Do a small area and vacuum often. Wear dust protection.
Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Its relative hardness is to maple about as maple is to cherry; IOW, it is hard but not *nearly* as hard as the grit on any abrasive paper.
--

dadiOH
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Jenek See if someone in your area rents the Varathane sanding machine. It is slower but you are doing a small area and it will do a great job. The process is much slower but for some of us thats not so bad. I fixed up the horrible job I had fone with the belt sander and edger to an acceptable level with it. I was warned away from it because it would take for ever. Well it took two forevers before I was done. Try it only cost me $35 a day
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Well I spent the weekend installing the Brazilian Cherry and it came out pretty nice. I have (I think) the typical raised edges between the boards to sand now (mostly 1/32" differences). What I am hear from other posts is that varathane sander is good but slow. Given the hardness of my floor, I would guess that the orbital would be extra slow. I do have it available in the area though.
I have used the drum sander before (on oak) to refinish floors and got them to look very nice. The part I did not like was using the edger along the walls - back-breaking!! If the drum could get to the walls, I'd do that. The other option would be to find a heavy orbital sander like Barry suggested.
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Do you have any pictures you'd be willing to share? We considered the BC, and not quite sold on it because the samples we looked at had massive color variances...which isn't the look we're going for.
Thanks Darwin
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As you have not installed this stuff yet, why not run it thru a planer then drum sander to the finish you want then install. I don't imagine it would be cheap but I am sure a lot less that the wood itself, and your cost to rent a sander and supplies. Just a thought not a solution.
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This wood is already planed. The sanding will fine-tune the top corners of the board since there are slight differences in height from one board to the next. You can only do that once the floor is in place.
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