What Grit Sandpaper Should I Use After Planing?

You’ve just finished planing your surface and need to start using sandpaper. If you are confused about where to start, you are not alone! Deciding what sandpaper to use can involve an entire process.

After planing, always start with coarse-grit sandpaper such as 80-grit. This will allow you to tackle the majority of the surface imperfections on your material. You can proceed with 100, 120, 150, 180, and then 220 grit to remove scratch marks carefully.

To learn more about what sandpaper can do to help your project, the benefits of sanding with sandpaper, and how to scale up the use of sandpaper, keep reading this article! 

How Sandpaper Works

When looking at a gorgeous finished wood piece, the gleam of polish can make a world of difference to the quality of work. However, what many people don’t know is that it is the sanding, not the finishing polish, that can make any surface shine. 

Using sanding techniques like sandpaper can be time-consuming and patient work, but there is no denying that the correct use of sandpaper can change the way your project looks. While using sandpaper can seem like a task with no end, the true benefit of the job can show up when you apply the final finish, and there are no imperfections to be seen. 

This is because sandpaper manages to scratch away defects on the surface of wood or other materials using abrasion as a technique to remove unwanted finishes from the surface.

The abrasion happens because of thousands of particles on the sandpaper, which allow you to measure the grit. The more grit on the sandpaper, the bigger the area that the sandpaper can scratch away. Using this method, you can carefully (and painstakingly) remove the defective scratches, dents, or stains on the surface of your material. 

What Sandpaper Grit Should I Use?

Despite the long time needed to get results with sandpaper, there is a method to this technique. The best way to get the results you are looking for is to choose the right sandpaper for each step of the process. 

The methodology followed by most experts involves starting with coarser grits, which allows you to get to the most stubborn imperfections on the surface of the material. You can then proceed to use sandpaper with finer grits.

This methodology allows you to get rid of the scratches from the previous sandpaper while also eliminating the imperfections on your surface. When you are down to the very fine sandpaper, the scratches will become completely undetectable, whether by the naked eye or by touch and feel of the surface you are working on.

Most sandpaper use will start with 80-grit paper, which is the most coarse, and then proceed with 100 grit, 120 grit, 150 grit, and then 180 grit. You can decide whether or not to end it there or do a little sanding with the 220-grit sandpaper. 

You may be tempted to skip a few numbers and go straight to 180-grit sandpaper, but this isn’t the right course if you want your surface to look clean and polished. Proceeding to the next sandpaper in the sequence is the best way to keep the surface clean from scratches while also removing imperfections.

Here’s a helpful video for you to watch while reading ahead:
All You Need to Know About Sandpaper

The Benefits Of Sanding

Sading can seem tedious, but it is worth the work it requires because sanding serves multiple benefits. Here are some benefits of sanding your surfaces before finishing them with polish.

Smoothing Out Imperfections

When using sanding, the most significant benefit is that it can help smoothen out imperfections on the surface of your material. This is particularly beneficial on natural surfaces such as wood, which are prone to natural differences. 

You may have a rough feel on the surface, which is not just unpleasant to look at but can be dangerous. Covering imperfections before you apply the finish will help your surface avoid looking damaged when you apply the finishing polish.

Removing Older Finishes

Often, surfaces may have a previous coat of finishing that may be damaged or undesirable. Sanding can help remove these older finishes to make way for new ones. Sanding will help keep your surface safe while you remove a more aged finish.

Helps Finishing Adhere Better

Applying the final finish on top of a sanded surface will adhere better and last longer than if you were to apply it onto a surface that has not been sanded. Sanding helps create a clean, smooth canvas for your finishing polish, resulting in an even and long-lasting coat of finish.

When To Stop Sanding

Once you have reached the 220-grit sandpaper, it is up to you whether or not to continue sanding with finer grits. If you want a polished look, you can continue sanding up to 400-grit and even 600-grit sandpaper. 

However, if your surface feels smooth at the 220-grit level, you can proceed with the finishing polish of your choice.

No matter the grit level, remember to always sand with the grain of your material instead of against it. This will ensure you avoid accidentally creating scratches on the surface while sanding. However, keep in mind that stopping at 180 grit, 220, or even further can have different impacts on the surface you are sanding.

Using 220-grit sandpaper can sometimes impact the ability of the surface to absorb your polishing material. This is why some people will stop using sandpaper at 180 grit if they want to continue to use a finishing polish at the end of the sanding. 

On the other hand, using finer grit sandpaper, at 400 or even 600 can help give materials such as wood a fine, glass-like finish.

No matter what grit level you decide to stop at, using sandpaper can greatly improve the appearance and feel of your project’s surface. It may take time and effort, but the end result is worth it. Just remember to start with coarser grits and proceed to finer ones, while also always following the grain of your material.

Final Thoughts

Sanding is a crucial step in any finishing project, whether for woodworking or even automotive refinishing. It helps remove imperfections and creates a smooth surface for the finishing coat to adhere better. This will ensure you see the best and most polished results for your project.

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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