If you are talking about the butt joint where like a rail and stile
join, I sand that with ROS usually down to 150 grit and pay no
attention to grain. Then the transition or joint is smooth I switch to
my finish sander and the same 150 grit and will try to only move the
sander in the direction of the grain. I first run the sander along the
piece that runs into the other. If I go too far, into the mating board
with the grain running 90 degrees to the piece I am sanding, I work that
out when I sand the other piece. It is easier sanding in this order
than sanding in reverse to that order. Then I do the same with 180
grit and the finish sander. Because finish sanders typically use
rectangular pieces of sand paper it is easier to control exactly what
you are sanding.
I have always looked at the round disk ROS sander as one to remove bulk
but with much more fineness than a belt sander. For the last grits I
almost always use a finish sander so that I can have more control with
direction. About the only time I will finish sand with a ROS is when
sanding large non-enclosed panels, cabinet sides or tops. ROS's can't
get into inside corners and are tough to hold flat on the edge surface
of a face frame, doors, drawers, anything narrow..
Exactly what I was attempting to explain in the previous reply. BUT if
you have a small finish sander it is easily done with that instead of
using brute force. ;~)
That is a little over kill. LOL BUT it should work. You don't quite
have to be that anal, sanding should be FUN! ;~)
If you fold the paper into the corner of the block it will also ease the
outside edge and sand the outer edge at the same time. BUT unless
executed perfectly it could round the outer edge more than you want.
Better to use two pieces, one for the outer edge surface short of the
corner and one for the surface short of the corner, come back and get
Free hand sanding with a block of wood or finish sander should allow you
to get close enough with out going over on the pieces that butt. Once
yu get into the finer grits the stray scratches tend to be overshadowed
by that line at the joint where the two pieces meet.
One other thing, I buy foam backed 4x4 sheets of finish grit sand paper.
The makes for great hand sanding with out a block, the foam prevents
you fingers from slipping and is great for quickly easing over edges in
tight spots and corners. I typically use Mirka brand found at Woodcraft.
The proper degree of "anality" is what I've mostly been trying to get a
grasp on with these questions. As always, the "answer" is a stew of all
of the various responses I get here coupled with a bit of my own sense
As for sanding being fun ...
I have to say, I got a small amount of pleasure from hand-sanding the
curved surfaces. But repetitive machine sanding is still a chore.
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Let results be your gauge. Don't be afraid of a project not being
perfect as you will certainly be over doing on many steps. Build a
small and a bit complicated shop box and stain it and don't over think
it. Learn from those results.
LOL, well hopefully one day you will be able to obtain equipment that
works better and has stellar dust retention. When you can sand for
hours, stop and walk inside and sit down with out bringing any dust it
becomes more fun. ;)
Hey, I can do that! ... all but the "fun" part, that is. ;)
What I like about our particular choice of sanding equipment is how much
less time and effort it takes.
... giving me more time to find "fun" somewhere else. LOL
That's making this a bigger issue than it is in practice.
The rectangular pad of most "finish" sanders, and the small round pad of
most "compact" finish sanders, allows you to sand up to a line, or
joint, with enough accuracy for 99.9% of any desired sanding results,
and certainly without need of a "stop".
Mechanical sanders are tools, and like all tools, some use the same
tools in different ways to get the same result.
And, like all tools, you generally get what you pay for in performance.
I use a ROS (Festool Rotex 125) basically for rough sanding (60,80,100g)
and minor material removal;
...a finish sander (Festool RTS400EQ w/orbital motion) for finish
sanding (100, 120, 150, 180, 220);
...and a detail sander (Festool DTS400EQ w/orbital motion) for places
where I can't get the ROS or a finish sander.
90% of my sanding is done with the finish sander/RTS400EQ. YMMV
I ease edges after assembly; however, unlike Leon, I do the inside edges
as well simply because I like the look. One needs to exercise a bit of
caution where two pieces meet; if oneis really anal, one can make that
union look like it had been coped.
There are times when an eased inside edge is useful (as well as esthetic),
either between two pieces in the same component or two different
components. For example, the inside edge of a breadboard end is often
eased as are the butting face frame edges in a row of cabinets. It is
called a "quirk" and is useful because - expecially in the case of
cabinets - it is close to impossible to get the abutting face frame edges
Actually I do ease inside edges, If I can touch the edge I ease it no
matter where it is. I simply don't ease edges before assembly as some
of those edges will no longer be exposed. I don't ease the edge of the
end of a rail where it joins a stile.
This is as I mentioned where all edges including those in the joint have
a chamfer or other profile on all edges of the rails and stiles.
Again, what Leon said, except add to that, "breaking"/easing the edges
has a valid purpose in finishing, other than mentioned by posters thus
far, such as for feel, appearance, and protection of edges from breaks
and splintering on impact.
Sprayed and/or painted top coat finishes have a tendency to build up on
sharp edges, which can often result in areas that may flake and/or show
an unevenness, sometimes even in shade/color.
On Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:54:06 -0400, Mike Marlow wrote:
Since I seem to have triggered this discussion, I'll chime in.
I agree with Mike. I've never had a problem with cross grain scratches
using my ROS. Sure, you can see scratches in coarser grits, but they're
orbital, not directional. If Leon is seeing scratches most likely he's
either not going to a fine enough grit, he's bearing down too hard, or he
has an orbital sander, not a *random* orbital sander.
I can't state that there's no ROS that will do what Leon's does, but I
can state that mine (an old Bosch) doesn't.
Can the mechanism in an ROS fail in such a way as to eliminate the
OK, I'm taking sides here. ;)
My experience in that regard more closely matches Leon's.
IME, ROS sanding scratches do show up on crossgrain (proportionate to
the coarseness of the grit) much more than on long grain when using a
ROS across a crossgrain joint, like a rail and stile, even with a top
quality random orbit sander.
Unfinished, you might never see them, but they have a tendency to become
much more evident under a stain and topcoat.
Leon uses a 5" Festool ROS, IIRC ... and one look, up close and
personal, at anything he builds and finishes will tell you, without
equivocation, that he indeed he is a master at using it. ;)
Again IME, and because there are a myriad of reasons where you do not
want to sand past a certain grit, heeding Leon's advice regarding
following grain direction when using a ROS, may well save a project you
just thought that, by using a ROS without regard to grain, there would
be no problems with sanding marks showing up after a stain and topcoat
As often happens, I don't see a clear answer. Still, I usually learn
something. Here's why I asked:
For those of you who have forgotten, or figure I MUST have moved on to
a new project by now, I'm building two of these:
(plus shelves and a top, of course)
I've made essentially no progress at all since the dry fit pictured in
the photo. (family obligations) As you can see, the project is composed
practically entirely of face-frame-like components. I think I did a fair
job of lining up the dowel holes that will hold it all together, but
especially after sanding all of the pieces individually, I'm sure the
joints on the ladder sides won't be exactly flat.
I had considered easing the edges on the parts (including the ends of
the "rungs") before assembly, leaving an deliberate line between the
rungs and uprights. But the fit was pretty good in the dry fit, leading
me to wonder if I could sand over the joints somehow to fix any
I would normally have guessed the answer was "no". But Larry Blanchard's
suggested otherwise. So do you guys simply have sufficient accuracy that
this never comes up? Or is there some method you use to sand the joints
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Having that deliberate line is often done to hide joinery imperfections;
it can also be a deliberate design feature; and it can certainly serve
both purposes at the same time.
The decision is entirely up to you, so keep'em guessing. ;)
I personally have rarely used that particular method/device to hide
inaccurate joinery in face frames ... can't remember the last time.
The issue where it would be necessary is mostly one of project parts not
being cut or milled perfectly square/at right angles.
By insuring your stock is prepared with square edges during milling,
ripping, and crosscutting, and by batch cutting ALL parts, you can
pretty well discount that being a problem.
That notwithstanding, that does not preclude the occasional need to sand
some joints to insure their adjoining exposed faces are level with each
other ... a not uncommon occurrence when gluing up parts using any
joinery; often a byproduct of clamping issues, like slight slipping
Depending upon the severity, most of these can be taken care with a
finish sander, or the "aggressive" setting on a ROS if need be, and you
have one that will do that.
However, when installing a 15' run of face frame, base or wall cabinets
to each other, a ROS (preferably one with an "aggressive" setting, like
the Festool 5 and 6" Rotex sanders) is often essential in getting an
evenly matching surface between adjacent cabinets so the doors and
drawer fronts are in the same plane to those in adjacent cabinets.
Many folks who own one, as well as just about every cabinet shop that
specializes in items that use that type joinery, will routinely run all
their doors, face frames, door fronts, and anything with that similar
type joinery, through a large drum sander as a matter of course.
IOW, it's not like its an uncommon issue.
Can't advise you on your specifics because every situation is different.
But, I can tell you what I usually do:
Almost always run through 100, 120, 150 with a finish sander, with the
grain on real wood; I generally start with 120 or 150 with plywood.
Use the ROS, on the high side only of problem area, with the coarser
grits as necessary (run through 60?, 80 and 100) for problem areas.
Switch to a finish sander, with the grain, and with 100 (over above
sanding), 120, 150.
Then, depending upon the project, 220 by hand to lightly sand the faces
and break edges.
On bath and kitchen cabinet wood that will be stained/painted I usually
go through 100, 120 and 150; stop at 150 and break the edges, by hand,
On stain grade veneered plywood parts, I finish sand lightly at 120, 150.
In all case for the final three grits (100, 120, 150), I use a finish
sander, with the grain only; and sand up to, but do not sand across, the
joint in either direction.
The drum sander is not the final pass. I have a drum sander and use a
relatively coarse grit. I use the drum sander to make everything flat
and smooth. I follow up with a ROS and then a finish sander. Keep in
mind that the drum sander normally removes the problem areas so the ROS
and finish sanders are simply smoothing out the scratch pattern produced
by the drum sander.
FWIW I used a PC Right angle ROS starting in the late 80's and used it
until going to the Rotex 5~6 years ago.
Revisiting the ROS action, yes it is a random action but if you are
going cross grain you are still moving the cutting edges of the grit
across the grain. Yes the ROS is better than a regular "non random"
orbit sander but I can't get away with what I see if I get up close and
personal. I very very very seldom have ever used a ROS as the last step
for sanding regardless of grit.
Now having said that I too have used a Bosch ROS. By comparison it was
much less aggressive and beyond noticeably slower than both the PC and
the Rotex in ROS mode so perhaps some ROS sanders don't display that
scratch pattern but IMHO the whole purpose to use a ROS over a finish
sander is to speed up the sanding process.
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