Beginner Restoration Skill Level Tips and Tricks

How To Choose the Right Sandpaper Grit

Not all sandpaper is equal and today I am going to teach you how to choose the right sandpaper GRIT for the job. First off I have posted other blogs about sandpaper that explains the different types and what exactly grit means. So if you are a nuby please check out my post Sandpaper 101.

A few months back I was at my local Ace Hardware looking at stain colors. I meet a lady who seemed very frustrated, I told her I was a refinisher and asked her if she needed help. She explained that she keeps staining a cabinet in her house and the color won’t come out dark enough on the wood.

Welp I asked. “What grit did you sand with?”

She gave me a puzzled look then looked away and said “I think it was a 320”

“Oh, well that’s part of your problem right there” I went on to explain that she closed the pours of the wood too much that the color won’t soak into the wood. Try using a 120 to a 220 sandpaper to get it darker in color. However sometimes stain isn’t enough and toning might be needed to achieve a dark rich color. But that’s a blog for another day.

Sanding with Different Grits

To prove this I took three pieces of birch wood. I sanded three different grits, stained using the same color and I have three drastically different tones.

The 80 grit really soaked into the wood. 120 is a nice medium tone and 320 is a light in color.

Sanding and staining wood

Have you ever seen those color sample boards at the hardware store? Those boards are more than likely sanded to a 120, 220 grit. Which is helpful when you are trying to achieve a similar color. However that is new wood if you are like me and working with refinished old wood adjustments will need to be made to get to a specific color. My trick is always go lighter because its easier to go darker than lighter.

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Grits When Sanding

I typically only use one to two grits when sanding projects. I’m refinishing furniture and not manufacturing new furniture so I don’t have to worry about grain raise too much. Normally I will go from a 100 to a 120 and depending on the wood type. I might rebel and go from 100 to 180 but normally I won’t skip more than one grit when sanding. Why? Well when you sand you are creating a scratch pattern different patterns on different methods of sanding. If you use a 80 and the scratches are very deep and then go to a 180 you are going to have very uneven scratch patterns. The uneven patterns might make your stain uneven as well. On orbitals the pigtails might stand out a lot more if you skip grits.

Tara Lou

Mama, wife, furniture connoisseur, small business owner, nature-lover, homebody, hunter.

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