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?
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.
Depends on the wood, the finish, if you know how to sand, as well as if
Oil and thin clear finishes:
Open grained hardwoods and softwoods (Red oak and pine) - 220
Tight grained hardwoods - 320-400
Exotics - possibly 600
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
I rarely stain. My *usual* finish is "danish" oil and poly, (semi-gloss
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.
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.
If using a film finish I stop at 220. The finish build will fill any
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.
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.
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