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Thread: sanding wood handles

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    Senior Member Stiffy's Avatar
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    Default sanding wood handles

    I'm currently working on a red oak handle for a kit knife. After the handle is cut out, I do rough shaping with a dremel sanding drum. It removes material quickly. But for the fine sanding, I'm not sure what to use. So far, I just do it by hand, in grits up to 600. But it's taking a lot of time. What do others use for the fine sanding?

    If I use the dremel, I'm thinking that flap wheels might be the way to go.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I use the cheap Harbor Freight 1 X 30 belt sander. I can get 80, 120, 220 grit belts locally, but have to order anything finer. I used to go to 400, 600 and 800 but lately don't use anything higher than 400 (and worn out 400s)

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    I sand by hand and between sandings dampen it down to raise the grain. Then sand down the whiskers and raised grain and repeat. Most of the time though, I'm not very fussy.

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    Haven't tried it on scales but I bet it'd work. It is called sanding sealer, I've used it on other wood projects and it is good stuff! Raises the grain like (Randy) uses the water for but also hardens the surface a tad to stop the fuzzies.
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    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    I do all my fine and finish sanding by hand.
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    Senior Member Stiffy's Avatar
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    Thanks. I guess for now I'll just finish it by hand.
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    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    It occurs to me that if you put the right paper on it, you could probably speed things up with a drum/spindle sander pretty easily. Dremmles are a pretty big pain to do much with at a time, and the little drums for them are way too small to be practical doing a whole knife handle through final sanding.

    Harbor freight used to carry a cheap one, but it looks like they discontinued it.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    You can use wood file/rasp to speed up the shaping.
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    On knives I really care to get a great finish on I do it by hand starting with a metal file, so I can get the bolster and handle flat and shaped, just keep brushing it clean. Then I start using sand paper 100g and working to 1000. when I start about 220 I use mineral oil for wet sanding, then buff most woods on loose wheel with white compound. For a quicker finish I use a 2 x 48 and a 1 x 30 belt sander I use the wider belt to get good transitions from bolster to handle and 1 x 30 to get into finger groves etc, I then have a set of various sized sanding drum's I put in drill press to finish top and bottom. Doing it by hand gives you such a better finish and and mineral oil works much better than water if you put on a bolster water will swell the wood then when it dries out you can feel the transition from wood to metal around pins also, with mineral oil you do not get that. I do not want to feel any transition on my pins or bolsters not always possible must most of the time it is if you take your time. I have a few flat and round bars of aluminium for wrapping sand paper around for hand sanding some have a layer of 9oz leather glued to them, almost forgot they come in handy.
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    Senior Member Skinner's Avatar
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    I'm Like Everyone Else .I Use the 1x30 Sander All the Way to 240 Then Start With hand Sanding Starting with. (240 .320.400.600.1000.1500.2000.4000.6000.And Last But Not Least 12000 )And I Too Use Minerial Oil For Wet Sanding .
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    If I understand you correctly, you're concerned only with finishing, meaning you can get the shape you want no problem. Like others said, its just a process. I actually just learned about the mineral oil/water trick in this thread. However, I did know that you basically want to work your way up to the highest grits.

    I haven't made a knife, but generally, when I install oak hand rails, I only sand down to 180g, 220g if its being finicky. That gets it smooth enough and allows for the stain to run a little truer to color (extensive sanding with high grits will cause stained wood to be a lighter shade vs lower grit sanded wood). Its like painting, you need some rough for the stain to get into and hold on to, more surface area = deeper color with stain. Also, sand with the grain for the most part. Sanding against the grain can remove more stock with coarse grits, but usually also leaves scratches. Even sanding against the grain with a fine grit will leave scratches. Sanding with the grain leaves a smoother finish.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Stiffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPGreco View Post
    If I understand you correctly, you're concerned only with finishing, meaning you can get the shape you want no problem. Like others said, its just a process. I actually just learned about the mineral oil/water trick in this thread. However, I did know that you basically want to work your way up to the highest grits.

    I haven't made a knife, but generally, when I install oak hand rails, I only sand down to 180g, 220g if its being finicky. That gets it smooth enough and allows for the stain to run a little truer to color (extensive sanding with high grits will cause stained wood to be a lighter shade vs lower grit sanded wood). Its like painting, you need some rough for the stain to get into and hold on to, more surface area = deeper color with stain. Also, sand with the grain for the most part. Sanding against the grain can remove more stock with coarse grits, but usually also leaves scratches. Even sanding against the grain with a fine grit will leave scratches. Sanding with the grain leaves a smoother finish.

    This is also the first time I heard about the mineral oil or water treatment. I'll give that a try and see how it turns out. I'll probably hand sand down to 600, since that's what I have in the garage.
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  13. #13
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    Also the mineral spirits like water will swell the wood around pins and not dry out. It will pretty much stay swelled and keep the pins nice and tight so as to not let the scales come loose. Water will dry and make the wood shrink down.
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