How To Sandpaper Wood – 11 Answers To Sandpaper Questions

Expert or beginner, sandpaper will always be a present during any of your wood working projects. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding what grit sandpaper to use in different situations and to what different roles can sandpaper play in your projects.

In this article, we will go over the very basics of using sandpaper, and then cover 11 specific questions that you will need accurate answers to if you ever come across such a situation.

Beginner’s Guide To Sandpaper

Sandpaper is used in all kinds of woodworking, whether it is wood carving, woodturning, or general wood related projects. In this article, we will cover all the important questions about sandpaper and its different uses.

Before we start here are some key definitions to terms related to sandpaper:

  • Grit: How rough the sandpaper is, the lower the grit the rougher the sandpaper is.
  • Abrasive sandpaper: Sandpaper used to remove the roughness from a surface. Usually, it is 400 grit or below
  • Wet sanding: Wet sanding is done with different movements to dry sanding and leads to a scratch-free finish. The sandpaper will specify if it is created for wet sanding.
  • Dry sanding: Dry sanding is used to remove rough areas of the surface and even them out. Dry sanding is usually more abrasive.

You should remember a basic rule when using sandpaper is to always start from a low grit going up step by step to a higher grit. Doing otherwise will never work as you want the sandpaper to get more and more course as you reach the end to smooth out your wood.

Starting with coarse sandpaper will unfortunately not even out the surface and remove larger unevenness that more fine sandpaper will do a good job at.

What Grit Sandpaper To Remove Paint From Wood

Pain is a very secure finish on wood, to remove it you must use very coarse sandpaper to scrub off the paint and move up in grit to smooth out the surface and take off the separated paint.

To remove the paint from wood with sandpaper, start with coarse 80-grit sandpaper to break the paint apart. Make sure to apply enough pressure to scrub through the paint. After the paint separated into smaller islands use 120-grit sandpaper to remove them. Finally, finish with a 150 or 180 grit to smooth out the wood’s surface.

It is important to brush off the dust and debris between each layer. Use a soft brush such as a makeup brush to clean the surface before changing the sandpaper you are using. It may be hard to notice, but the effect of sandpaper decreases if you do not clean the surface. It is just as important to clean the surface of the wood with dish soap and water before you sand it with the 80-grit sandpaper. However, don’t forget to allow for it to dry.

What Is The Highest Grit Sandpaper For Wood

Sandpaper production goes as high as 1000000 grit sandpaper, of course, such sandpaper is so ultrafine that it has no use for wood. Other types of sandpaper such as the 7000 grit sandpaper are also common, but once again, they are used for cars. So what is the highest grit sandpaper to be used for wood?

The highest grit sandpaper that will make a noticeable effect on your wood is the 2500-grit dry wet sandpaper. This sandpaper is used for wood finishes and wood turning polishing. For a more noticeable effect, you can also use 1000-grit sandpaper. This is also one of the highest grits used for wood.

If you are carving wood, or creating your own wood carving project and you have to go ultra-fine on sandpaper, going over 1000 probably will not make sense. 2500 grit sandpaper will make sense if you are polishing antique furniture or something else that you want minimal change on.

If you are interested in our recommendation for sandpaper, be sure to click on this link to Amazon. In our opinion, they two below selections are very reliable and the best that we have seen so far:

Of course, don’t forget that you have to sand the surface of your wood with lower grit sandpaper before moving to such high grit. How low you start will depend on the project that you are doing.

What Sandpaper To Finish a Wood Carving On

Sanding wood carvings is a little tricky because you want to achieve two things that don’t go well together, Smoothness and fine detail. When you use too abrasive or too fine grit on wood carvings, a lot of the details you carved will fade away. Therefore it is important to find the right balance between the two.

To smooth a wood carving, you must sand it with coarse sandpaper to remove all the unevenness and scratches, and then gradually move to finer sandpaper grits to smooth out the surface. Start with coarse 80-120 grit and move up to 320 grit to smooth out the wood. You can go as high as 600-800 grit for an even smoother finish in areas with little detail.

It is also important that you don’t forget to brush the wood dust created when sanding. Use a makeup brush to clean the surface before going to a finer grit.

The grit you use also depends a lot on the wood. While basswood will do great with 80 grit to start with, more dense wood such as cherry may require a rougher start. If you see that the sandpaper you are using does not work, either apply a little more pressure (not too much, you don’t want to scratch the carving) or go to coarse sandpaper before coming back.

What Sandpaper Is Needed To Sharpen Carving Knives

Sharpening your knife with sandpaper, although not very common, is an effective and economical way to maintain a sharp edge on your knife.

Depending on your carving knife’s state, you should start with a lower or higher grit sandpaper. If your knife is very dull and needs a fixed edge, you should start with 80-grit sandpaper. If you just want to hone your knife, a 220-grit sandpaper is a good place to start. You want to then gradually move down in grit to reach 2000 grit sandpaper.

A possible pattern would be to hone a knife would be 220, 400, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000. If your knife is dull or you want to change the shape of its edge the pattern would be exactly the same, except you would start with 80 grit, move up to 150, and only then start the sequence from 220 grit.

A more common way of sharpening a knife is with a whetstone. If you would like to read on how to sharpen your knife with a whetstone, be sure to check out our article: How Do You Sharpen A Whittling Knife With a Stone?

What Grit Sandpaper To Remove Stain

This depends a lot on what kind of stain and how deep has the wood allowed it to soak in. Unlike on fabric, it is almost impossible to dissolve or evaporate the stain, the only way stain is removed from wood is if the top layer of the wood is sanded off.

To remove stain from wood, use 80-grit or 100-grit abrasive sandpaper and apply pressure to scrape off the top layer of the wood. While you don’t want to scratch the wood, you should attempt to remove the stained layer of wood with very coarse sandpaper. If the stained wood is soft such as basswood use 100-grit, if dense like cherry, 80-grit, or even higher.

After enough stain is removed, you will notice a very rough unfinished surface. Smooth it out with sandpaper going all the way down to 800 grit for an even and semi-polished finish.

How Do I Know When I’ve Sanded Enough

If you want to be precise with how long or how much to sand for, it is not very simple. A lot of it depends on the wood you are using and how much pressure you apply when sanding.

You know you have sanded your wood enough if by shining a bright light at it the surface of the wood, it looks even and scratch-free. The light will highlight any unevenness on the wood. You can then decide if you want to get rid of the imperfections by sanding more with a lower grit sandpaper or by sanding with more pressure with the same grit sandpaper.

You should know that there are always going to be little cracks and scratches no matter how low you go. As a rule of thumb, if you sanded your wood with 800 grit sandpaper and seen a noticeable effect, going up will most likely not make a visual difference to the wood.

How Often To Change Sandpaper

Sandpaper deteriorates over time and although it will last you for a long time will not last you forever. So, how often should you change your sandpaper?

You should change your sandpaper when it takes a long time to complete a sanding layer. Sandpaper will not lose its grit over time, instead, the unevenness and sharpness on the sandpaper will become milder over time and therefore make the process much slower.

You can go for a very long time using the same sandpaper sheet, but we recommend changing it once the sanding slows down to save yourself a lot of time, sandpaper is usually not too expensive for the amount of time that it will last you, so from a financial side you will be saving very little if you keep using your old sandpaper sheets.

It is also important to remember that different grit sandpaper and a different brand of sandpaper will wear out over a different period of time. Usually, lower grit sandpaper wears out a little faster.

What Grit Sandpaper To Use Before Painting

Painting your wood is a very secure finish, however, by sanding the surface with the wrong grit sandpaper you can actually ruin the protection that paint provides to the wood. S, what grit sandpaper to use before painting?

Before painting the wood, 220-grit sandpaper is the ideal grit to remove any unevenness from the surface of any unevenness but still leave a surface for the paint to stick to. By going to a higher or lower grit than 220, the paint will either stick worse or be visually unpleasing due to a rough surface.

This is a general rule that works fairly well on average, however, if you are using exotic wood, or the kind of wood that is too dense or too soft, maybe some adjustments could be made. With that said, 220 grit sandpaper will probably work well for any wood which makes it the safe choice to go with.

Is Steel Wool Finer Than Sandpaper

Steel wool is often used instead of sandpaper to smooth out a surface of a wood carving or some other wood working project. However, as well as it gets the job done, steel wool, just like any other sanding method has a grit level. So, what is the grit equivalent to 0000- steel wool?

0000-Steel Wool is equivalent to around 400-grit sandpaper depending on the brand. Although steel wool is finer than a lot of abrasive sandpaper used for wood, it is still used as coarse sandpaper to smooth out the wood’s surface. Overall, steel wool is slightly better than 400-grit sandpaper.

Steel wool also has longer durability and life span than most kinds of sandpapers. It is often used together with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out rough surfaces such as the surface of a newly carved wood.

Best Brand Of Sandpaper

There are quite a lot of sandpaper brands that are commonly used and considered to be the best out there in the market. So, what brand of sandpaper is the best?

Norton sandpaper is probably the best brand of sandpaper, although it is quite expensive. If you are looking for a better value for your budget, LotFancy is a high-quality sandpaper brand with fair prices.

If you are looking to purchase them, you can use our link below to support the website. It does not cost you anything extra, but helps us produce more and better content.

Norton Abrasives is a sandpaper brand that is based in the USA and has a history of working with its clients. LotFancy on the other side, imports its sandpaper from abroad, however, still managing to provide a high standard of their sold products.

What Sandpaper To Use For Spoon Carving

After a spoon is carved from any kind of wood, you should always sand it to remove all excess wood that creates unevenness.

Spoon carving is usually done out of hard and dense wood. When sanding a carved spoon, use coarse 100-grit sandpaper to get achieve an even layer of the wood, then progress to 150, and 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the wood. You can even go as high as 400 grit sandpaper or 0000-Steel Wool if you want an even smoother surface.

You can go as coarse as 100-grit because most of the time you would use wood such as cherry or apple. However, if you are carving out of softwood, it’s better you start with a finer grit such as 220 in order not to scratch the wood or leave any permanent marks.

If you like the idea of spoon carving, you can also check out our complete guide on spoon carving for beginners. It is a very informative and easy-to-read article (even has pictures!).

Final Thoughts

Sandpaper has many uses and its use in wood working projects will never be replaced. It is always important to check the density of the wood before deciding on what grit sandpaper to use, and learn how to apply enough pressure to scrape off the excess wood, but not leave scratches on the wood.

We hope you found this article useful and at least one of the questions you had about using sandpaper was answered.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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