Turning Archive 2006

sanding test

john lucas
>I finally had time to do a brief sanding test. The idea was to sand from 220 grit to 1500 grit and then finish with a thick body finish and and oil finish and see if I could see the difference between 220 and 1500 with either of these finishes. Well I'll know more after tomorrow night when I let the club look at these samples but here goes my analysis.

I resawed 4 boards, maple, cherry, walnut, and curly mahagony. I chose 2 open pore woods and 2 smooth woods to see the differences. I sanded each board to 220 grit and then sanded 3" sections to 400, then 600, 1200, 1500 grit, so each board has 5 sections sanded to different grits.

I sprayed lacquer on 4 of the boards using 4/0 steel wool lightly between each spraying. I put on 4 coats. The other 4 boards I applied low gloss tung oil, 6 coats again rubbed lightly with 4/0 steel wool between coats. didn't buff out the finish on either finish because I wanted to see the results as is. I will buff them out later to a higher quality and see what happens but I don't think it will change the appearance of the wood, only the finish itself.

The results. When I first looked at the boards I could barely see a difference between the 220 and the rest of the board. I took them outside into better light and could make out a little difference between the 220 and 400 step but from 600 on up I could not tell any difference in the look of the wood. Even the chatoyance of the curly mahagony doesn't show any difference between the 600 on up.

I wish I could have done this same test with some exotics but wasn't willing to waste that wood. My conclusion at this stage is I don't need to waste extra time using higher than 600 grit unless I change my finishes and the way I'm finishing. These finishes look very good. They could be improved by using the beal buffing system or by sanding the finishes to a finer grit such as the way Mark Kauder does his finishes. I was more interested in how the sanding of the wood affected the final finish.

I have done the same test when making wine stoppers using Hut abrasive. I made about 30 or so and finished 10 by sanding to 400 grit, 10 to 600 grit and 10 to 1500 grit. I applied the hut abrasive to these to finish them. When I finished I could not tell any of them apart. These were woods from maple and cherry to dogwood and ebony.

I'll let you all draw your own conclusions. I would photograph them for you but you won't be able to tell the difference in a photo.

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