Sanding swirl marks from 5" DA sander - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Sanding swirl marks from 5" DA sander

My usual procedure for sanding is start with 80 on my ridgid 5" DA, http://www.homedepot.com/p/RIDGID-5-...6011/100053683. Then 150 and finally finish with 220 before staining and poly. Sometimes I get little curly q swirl marks that I don't really notice until I stain. Any ideas on what I might be doing wrong to get these? Am I just not sanding good enough with the 220 or am I doing something wrong with the 220 that is leaving these marks? Any tips for me? Thanks

Thanks for your help
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post #2 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 08:29 PM
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You are just not sanding enough with the 150. It would help after sanding with 80 if you would wet the wood and allow it to dry. This would raise the grain and make your sanding more effective.
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post #3 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 08:47 PM
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You aren't sanding enough with the 150. Also change the 150 often.
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post #4 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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Sounds like it's conclusive then. Guess I'll just have to start sanding a little better. So nothing wrong with using my ridgid DA for the whole sanding process? Thanks for the help.

Thanks for your help
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post #5 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 09:34 PM
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I would skip the 80 grit..
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post #6 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 09:51 PM
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Yea unless you're doing some serious shaping, starting at 150 should be just fine to start.
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post #7 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
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So just 150 and then 220?

Thanks for your help
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post #8 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 10:12 PM
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I would also make sure you're using high quality sandpaper. Cheapo sandpaper can have inconsistent grit which will leave rogue swirl marks.

For what it's worth, I start at 100, then 120, then 150, then 180, then 220. It's a lot of paper changes, but I don't need to spend too much time on each grit.

Also, don't push too hard on the sander. As they say, "let the sander do the work" the more the pad can spin, the more efficiently it works and the less likely that an irregular grit will "dig in".

Lastly, my favorite tip. If your sander has a vacuum port, hook it up to a vacuum. Having the vacuum suck up the dust not only makes for less dust up your nose, but getting that dust out of the way saves the sander from re-sanding the dust it just made and it works a zillion times better.
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post #9 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 10:17 PM
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If the wood is a little rough, I may start with an 80, but normally I'm able to start with 120 grit. Like someone posted above, 80 grit is not the normal start point. We use the heavier grits to shape a corner, sand out a rough spot, etc. I tend to use a lot of 180 grit. I got some with a cloth back that last much longer than the paper back.
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post #10 of 34 Old 09-03-2015, 11:05 PM
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I keep a blower handy and blow off the project and the work table between grits---
That helps keep stray 80 grit particle from getting on the work when you are doing 220--

I usually start with 100 or 120--the 80 only comes out when I have a real mess to start with---
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post #11 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 12:31 AM
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On flat work I normally start with a belt sander. Then 80 grit with an orbital. Then 180 grit with an orbital. Finally if it's a soft wood or prone to blotch I sand again with 220 grit. The sanding process can vary though from sander to sander. If you have an orbital which runs at a slower rpm you might alter the grit you use or length of time sanding. I use a Porter Cable Quicksand which runs pretty fast so it isn't prone to make the swirl marks to begin with. 80 grit is too coarse with some sanders so you may consider starting with a finer paper if the problem persists. It's hard to escape using coarser paper to begin with. Wood has planer marks in it and if you start with too fine a paper it won't remove these marks. This is why I belt sand everything.
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post #12 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ponch37300 View Post
So just 150 and then 220?

It should be smoother than 80 coming out of the planer. So starting at 80 is going backwards. If you need to level after glue up. Use a cabinet scraper and then go to 180 and 220.

Also never set the sandpaper side down on anything except the wood your sanding. You can pick up something larger than the grit on the paper and "swirl" it around.

Change the paper often. I know some like to get their money's worth but when the grit is gone your just polishing the wood not removing or cutting it.

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post #13 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 04:00 AM
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As has been mentioned, those swirls can have a lot of causes. Personally, I've found that a combination of keeping a vacuum hooked to the sander, letting the sander do the work and giving each grit plenty of time to work eliminates any swirlys. Nice little trick, between grit changes, take a carpenters pencil and scribble the wood surface (make sure its a carpenters or similar soft pencil, harder or mechanical pencils make divots. Wanna know how I know?). After that, sand until the pencil marks are gone.

Also, I'll go ahead and throw in with the 'skip the 80 grit' camp. I never use anything lower than 120. I find that if I need heavier stock removal than I can get with the 120, the RO isn't the right tool for the job. Even then, the 120 is only for rough stock removal, like the first step in sanding down a 2x4 fresh from the home center. If it came out of the planer, I start at 180, 220 if my blades are sharp

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post #14 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 02:27 PM
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I only use 80 grit to smooth irregular surfaces. I finish with 120. I took teak the other day to 150 grit because it got an oil only. Anything 150 grit or above will be for clear coat only. Sometimes your sander is causing the curly-Q's but usually its the disc's you are using. I use Mirka,VSM or Rhino sand paper...

I generally will blow off the work in between grits to not contaminate the bigger grits with the small grits.

At home I use PC 332 and 333 sanders. At work we use air sanders with a 3/16 orbit and 120 grit in most cases.

a lot of woodworkers waste a lot of paper and time to get the same results as others using less paper and less time. You need to spend a little time on paper and sander till you find the correct formula. You can easily get rapped up in over sanding when less is more. but the finish is everything.

Last edited by Rebelwork; 09-04-2015 at 02:29 PM.
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post #15 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 03:10 PM
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roughest paper I have is 150
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post #16 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 07:30 PM
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Asking WW'ers what the best way to sand is is like asking somebody what the best way to build a fire is.

I agree with Rebel for the most part. I usually sand with just 120, 220 if it's store bought S4S. Most of the higher grits are for clear finish, not prepping raw wood for stain.

I only break out the 80 or 40 grit for shaping/leveling.


My guess on your swirls are too much or uneven pressure.

Last edited by Chamfer; 09-04-2015 at 07:49 PM.
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post #17 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 07:36 PM
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post #18 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
On flat work I normally start with a belt sander. Then 80 grit with an orbital. Then 180 grit with an orbital. Finally if it's a soft wood or prone to blotch I sand again with 220 grit. The sanding process can vary though from sander to sander. If you have an orbital which runs at a slower rpm you might alter the grit you use or length of time sanding. I use a Porter Cable Quicksand which runs pretty fast so it isn't prone to make the swirl marks to begin with. 80 grit is too coarse with some sanders so you may consider starting with a finer paper if the problem persists. It's hard to escape using coarser paper to begin with. Wood has planer marks in it and if you start with too fine a paper it won't remove these marks. This is why I belt sand everything.

I remove planer marks with 150 grit all the time. Actually, every time. And it doesn't take long. It's usually the only grit I use to sand to a stain-ready finish. A belt sander absolutely never touches anything that will become a finished surface in anything I make. Takes too long to sand out the deep scratches and surface irregularities that a hand held BS leaves.
A common cause for swirl marks is loading of the sanding disc. They don't last as long as a lot of people think they oughta lol
Change your paper often, blow the dust off between grits if using several, and use a light hand. No need to bear down on a ROS.
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post #19 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 08:25 PM
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I get "swirlys" when I move my ROS too fast. Slow down your movement, and let the grit do the work. I also have dust collection hooked up to my Ridgid ROS.

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post #20 of 34 Old 09-04-2015, 10:30 PM
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To me, an ROS is just a finish sander, I don't have anything less then 120 grit for my ROS. An ROS should be moved slowly, that gives the paper a chance to do the work, don't bear down on the ROS, it does just fine on it's one, palm weight is all that is needed. Before I use my ROS I usually send everything thru the drum sander that has 100 grit, and use very light sanding, just enough to contact the wood. It might take 3 or 4 passes, but worth the time.
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