Hand Tools

The role of sand paper in hand tool work *PIC*

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Since being introduced to the concept of building something with hand tooled surfaces I have contemplated this challenge as I built stuff. I remain bewildered as to how it can be done. I am building a bed which has few parts, they are all rectangular prisms, and hence easily planed. By the time I got to the finishing step most parts had scuffs and dings that would only grow in number upon assembly. No way to plane the parts after assembly. 180 grit sand paper restores the surfaces to uniformity, easily. Why avoid using it?

Then there is the issue of staining. I do not think it is possible to pigment stain hand tooled surfaces. The open pores drink pigment and go black. Of course if staining is eschewed, or chemical stains or dyes are used, the problem presented by pigment stain is lessened.

(stained PIC taken with camera not set for lighting and it is more yellow than reality, whoops)

For example, shown is a sanded bed post end before and after staining with burnt umber pigment. Note the shade of the end grain is no different from the side grain.

Why stain at all? To preserve walnut color over time and uniform the color as desired. Oiled walnut will stay dark but that is because the oil darkens and effectively stains the wood as it ages. Colored shellac also preserves color on walnut. Some other finishes do not add color and the walnut will eventually bleach to an unattractive light yellow brown. Unstained and lacquered walnut becomes especially unattractive.

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