Wood grinding: which sander and paper to choose?
Wood grinding: which sander and paper to choose?

Wood grinding: which sander and paper to choose?

Carefully sanded and protected wood is distinguished by its elegant appearance and high practicality. With the help of simple tools, we can quickly refresh old wooden surfaces. We will successfully take care of kitchen furniture, countertops, tables, chairs, and shelves. We will get rid of any roughness and prepare their surface for painting and varnishing. How do you go about it all? Contrary to appearances, sanding wood is not complicated and requires, apart from a sincere willingness to use simple tools. Let's check what we will need to quickly and effectively sand a wooden surface.


Unlike metal or stone products, wooden furniture and other items made of this natural material lose their original charm over time. In addition, the wood is not as resistant to mechanical damage as, for example, dents, scratches, or chipping. For these and many other reasons, we often decide to restore wooden elements by sanding their surfaces and subsequent painting and varnishing. Thanks to this, we secure wooden items for the next several or even several dozen years.
What is wood sanding? First of all, the main purpose is to smooth the surface of the workpiece. At the same time, we get rid of old paint, glue, and varnish. Thanks to sanding, the wood becomes more uniform and ready for further processing, which is impregnation and painting of the wood.


Currently, it is possible to distinguish two techniques of sanding wood: manual and using some machinery. What are the differences between them? They relate to the tools used. In the case of manual grinding, we mainly use sandpaper with appropriate granulation. Sanding wood by hand is an excellent exercise and a way to become familiar with this type of material processing. Thanks to this, we can see how the sanded wood behaves and how the thickness of the sandpaper affects the results obtained. Importantly, manual sanding of wood is better for soft varieties of this natural material. Slightly harder wood may require the use of professional mechanical equipment.
Wood sanding using machines, in turn, involves the use of appropriate power tools or pneumatic equipment. As a result, the entire process takes much less time. Unfortunately, the use of specialized devices requires a bit of practice. Perfect results are obtained when both grinding techniques are combined. Mechanical equipment is perfect for the quick removal of old varnish coatings and paint. Manual grinding, in turn, allows you to maintain maximum precision and reach hard-to-reach places with sandpaper.


Regardless of whether we carry out the manual or machine grinding of wood, the basic working material for us will be sandpaper. In the case of manual processing, we can use, for example, a block on which we put to paper, while when using power tools, we must have sandpaper with dedicated shapes and dimensions. So let's check what type of power tools will work best when sanding wooden objects.


It does not qualify as a power tool, but without it, we can do nothing. When working with wood, it is necessary to gradually go through the various grain sizes of the paper - from lower to higher. With each successive gradation, the paper becomes smoother, and sanding with it leaves fewer and fewer scratches. So what grain size of sandpaper is best for sanding wood? Much depends on the hardness and origin of the item. If it is raw wood, we will not do without paper with a very low gradation of 80-100. In the case of thick layers of glue or varnish, it may be necessary to use even thicker paper with a gradation of 40-60.
Sanding wood most often ends with granulation of 200-220 paper (gradually moving to this level, of course). Ultimately, however, after applying the appropriate preparations, the grinding will continue, but then the sandpaper with high gradation will start.
Note: Remember to remove any dirt from the wood surface after each change of paper granulation, e.g. with a dry cloth or a vacuum cleaner. Otherwise, the dust left behind may scratch the surface.


Angle grinders are one of the most popular power tools that are used at home and in construction. They are highly functional and can not only be sanded but also cut and polished. But will they work for sanding wood? Yes, but they must be carefully used. High rotational speed can cause us to simply burn the surface of the wood instead of grinding it. Nevertheless, corded or cordless angle grinders are perfect for coarse sanding of wood.


Orbital grinders are more specialized power tools, although due to their functionality, they are more and more often chosen by home DIY enthusiasts. The more so that the prices of this type of device start from less than PLN 200 (in the case of a mid-range device, e.g. the Ryobi RSS200-G orbital sander). The appearance of the orbital grinders differs quite significantly from the previously discussed angle grinders. The oscillating versions resemble a rectangle or a triangle. Orbital sanders are recommended for people with little experience because they act on wood less aggressively and are easy to use.

Eccentric grinder

The eccentric grinders have a round shape and are, in a way, a combination of an angle grinder and an orbital sander. They simultaneously ensure the rotation of the paper along with the oscillating movements. Thus, they are much more efficient than the above-mentioned orbital sanders. Their undoubted advantage is that they are perfect for grinding larger surfaces. Unfortunately, the downside is the round shape of the working tool, which prevents it from reaching hard-to-reach places.


Belt grinders are characterized by very high efficiency on a large surface. It is one of the reasons why they are perfect for sanding wooden floors. Unfortunately, they are not easy to use and can be a small challenge for people with no experience in woodworking.


Most people will find that wet sanding of wood cannot be successful. After all, we do not want the wooden object to deform due to moisture. At this point, however, two things must be distinguished: "sanding wet wood" and wet grinding of a wood. The purpose of sanding is not to completely wet the object in water, but to do the same with a special water-resistant paper.

So how do you properly perform wet grinding of wood? First of all, we must remember that the treated wood should be previously treated with a protective agent. Only then can we proceed. Soak the water-based paper in a bowl of water and start sanding the surface of the wood with it. Remember not to try this with ordinary sandpaper, which will become soft after a short while and begin to discolor. Most often, water-based paper is dark blue or black, while regular dry sandpaper is dark red.

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