Monday, June 30, 2014

Why does everybody hate sanding? My tips for ROS use

(the PEX 400 AE Expert Sander 
was sent to me by Bosch Australia 
to keep, however all opinions
are my own and
of course the tips are my own!)

I love paints that allow you to not sand and prime but I will often almost always still sand when using these paints, not to ensure that the paint sticks, but to ensure my finished piece of furniture is very smooth. I know there are lots of different ways to paint furniture and some people like a lot of texture but I have to be true to myself and I like the smoothness.

So I sand...and sand...and sand.
Because sanding makes a huge difference to the end result.


I sand before I paint as part of my cleaning process. It's nothing major unless I am stripping off an old finish that is chipped or flaky or I am wanting to leave the timber unpainted. If I am sanding a good surface to paint I will usually just hand sand with a light grain/grit to create a key. If I am sanding to create a smooth surface, or remove the old finish or strip then I almost always use a random orbital sander

I often sand between coats - and I always sand after I finish painting with a very fine grade sandpaper. I will often just hand sand with either sandpaper or a sanding sponge.  If I want a heavily distressed finish, I will use a power sander.


Recently my old random orbital sander broke and it meant that dust was going everywhere, creating a huge mess and making sanding very difficult. When Bosch asked if I needed any new power tools I asked them for a good sander with excellent dust extraction. They sent me the Bosch PEX 400 AE which was just great as I was about to buy one for myself anyway. It's a good DIY level sander. They retail for around $200. 


Firstly I can tell you that this sander is very smooth to operate. 


it's no longer this clean!!
There are three different sanding backing pads you can use depending what you are sanding. This is perfect as you require a different pressure for finishing a piece as to stripping a piece (as well as different sand paper grade obviously). There is a removable microfilter box but you can also buy a small attachment that connects the sander to your vacuum cleaner for superior dust extraction. Although saying that, the standard filter box works well and (depending on what you are sanding) you can sand with minimal dust in your work space. I actually sanded my white dresser top to repaint and wax without even moving it out of my bedroom and it was perfect. I would never have trusted the dust extraction of my old sander doing this. However, I will definitely buy the attachment to the vacuum cleaner soon as that will make the whole process even cleaner.

I know sanding is very unpopular but it will really make a difference to your furniture and I think the small effort involved make a huge difference.  Over the years I have spent a fair amount of time talking to master wood workers, painters and even car spray-painters about sanding, wet/dry sanding, sanders, dust extraction, sand papers etc all in the name of improving my own painted finishes. It's always good to learn from other craftsmen and industries that are aligned with your own. I'm a big believer that that cross pollination of ideas and learning will only benefit your work and improve your (my) painted furniture finishes.



My tips for using an Random Orbital Sander

The fast and random motion of a ROS will allow you to sand without leaving scuff marks on your surface, however you can do a few things to assist this. Here are my tips for using this versatile sander:

  1. Wear a dust mask
  2. Clean out the dust box regularly
  3. Keep the sander moving with the grain of the wood
  4. Be careful near the edges to not sand them too far down and go over the edge
  5. Don't apply too much downward force, let the sander do the work, you are really just guiding it.
  6. Start with a lower grit disc and work through the grits until your desired finish (smoothness) is achieved (ie Don't skip grit grades)
  7. Wipe down your sanded surface regularly as you work
  8. and my last tip is when buying power tools, buy the best one you can afford/justify as you generally get what you pay for and when I buy tools I'd prefer to buy once and have it last a long time.

So do you sand? or do you just think it's a big hassle?

Fiona xx



16 comments:

  1. I'm totally with you! I always sand too, no matter what kind of paint I'm using It's just a regular part of my prep and an opportunity to really look a piece over. It usually pretty quick and easy. And I think you just end up with a better end result.

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    Replies
    1. That's a good point you have there about looking over a piece. How annoying it is if you haven't given it a thorough inspection and then discover a nasty when you have the paint brush in your hand!

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    2. I agree Sharon, that's one reason I like to prime also. it brings out all the faults of the piece!

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  2. Aha!!! Thank you!! This topic should have been called 'True Confessions of a Furniture Painter'!! Whenever I've used the chalk paint, or any acrylic for that matter, on furniture, I always find, in order to get a really good finish I have to sand!! I keep reading others' comments that there is no sanding needed, and this has had me stumped! I kept thinking I had to be doing something wrong as my finishes always felt scratchy and nowhere near what my level of acceptable is. Thank you so much! I knew I couldn't just be 'too fussy'! Same deal with how many coats of paint to use.... if it's white, I've found it always takes numerous coats, and I usually do it over a primer, if I want to achieve a good solid depth of colour. Thanks so much, Fiona.

    Oh and by the way, point 6.... 'Don't skip grit grades' sounds like a tongue twister! :)

    Thanks again.

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    Replies
    1. I often wonder that myself Elisabeth but have come to realise I need to paint how I like and how I want it. I'm sure some people think i fuss too much over small details but I need to be happy with the end result so I just do what I do.
      cheers Fiona

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  3. i like to sand, too! even just a little- it makes me feel like my piece is better prepared for long term durability.

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    Replies
    1. absolutely Cassie, especially when you sell the furniture!

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  4. I love sanding, perhaps a little too much! I find it really cathartic and calming, it that weird?!!

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    Replies
    1. I know exactly what you mean. Don’t worry I think a lot of people hate painting also!

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  5. Hi Fiona, When I first started working on furniture there was no choice but to sand all the time: To prep, after each coat, between layers of poly, etc. Now not so much. I still sand if someone wants a smooth shiny surface, before I start if the finish is peeling or flaking, working with laminate.........LOL. I guess I still sand more than I realized! But if I can skip it I will. Not my favorite,
    Leslie

    Leslie

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    Replies
    1. I agree Leslie, without thinking I would say I don't sand that much but I do. I love a silky smooth finish and everyone comments on how my furniutre feels and I know it's from sanding so I keep on sanding!

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  6. Hello Fiona,
    Do you have any tips for refurbishing cane furniture? I have an awesome retro pretzel style suite, which I am about to tackle.

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    Replies
    1. no sorry, can't help with that. I'm sure google can though :)

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  7. I hand sand always, but have just bought a Bosch model similar to Fiona's as I have a messed-up wrist that cannot really assume the flexed-sanding position. I like to fuss over these sorts of details because it helps me focus on the process and learn. I was hoping I could convince Fiona to post a little video-demo showing how she handles her Bosch, uses the backing pads, advice for sanding laminate/veneer and maybe going through heavy layers of paint, as these are all first-time tasks facing me... guess I'll experiment with a spare piece of wood!

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    Replies
    1. that's exactly the right thing to do - experiment. I use old cabinet doors discarded from kitchens. you can always find them on the side of the road. One day I'm going to write a book with all my DIY knowledge in it!!

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    2. You know, the thing I really don't like about sanding is that I have to find a day decent enough to do it outside - if its not snowing or raining (and for long enough to get the piece back inside)!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! (Sorry if you have trouble commenting, I'm trying to sort it out)