Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
High grit

Patrick Chase
There is a common myth that you can "fix" the finish left by sandpaper by simply sanding to a higher grit. You can't.

Higher-grit sandpapers do indeed leave smooth surfaces (as measured by, say, surface profilometry) but they do so in a very different way than a plane. Fine-grit sandpapers still disrupt the living daylights out of the surface, but merely do so at finer scales. You still lose grain and pore definition, chatoyance, etc. This is all stuff that's easy to see if you really take the time to look.

This is closely related to why finishes don't adhere as well to surfaces that have been worked with high grit sandpaper, which is why we stop at #220 when finish-sanding the bare wood and reserve the finer grits for sanding the finish.

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