Sanding on the lathe. - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-08-2008, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Sanding on the lathe.

I'm new to the turning world. I bought a small lathe and have just done some pen turning. I was starting to try and make some of the Christmas tree ornaments and I'm having a hard time sanding out the scratches. There are a lot of curves and I even tried to do a perfectly round one.

My issue is that I'm having a hard time sanding out the scratches. The parts are small and the curves make is difficult to be able to sand with the grain in all the areas. What is the best way to achieve a scratch free finish on these small things? I tried to take them off the lathe and do it by hand while holding the parts, but that didn't work too well.

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Derek
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-08-2008, 12:34 PM
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I do two things. If at all possible I sand with the grain between grits. Then don't skip any grits. Keep the sandpaper moving all the time. If you don't you get more scatches because it picks up a piece of grit and that sticks to the paper and it's like running a board through a planer with a nick in the blade, only reversed.
Inspect the wood very closely between each grit. It helps if can blow it off because dust sticks in the sanding scratches and hides them. I don't use the blower on small stuff but will keep a rag handy and dust the piece between each grit.
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-08-2008, 01:47 PM
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Although in general it's better to sand with the grain, when sanding on a lathe you can get away with just sanding across it. Keep the sandpaper moving to avoid scratches and burning the wood. If possible reverse the direction of the lathe for alternate grits. Don't skip large steps in grit sizes - I use 120, 150, 180, 240, 320, 400, 600, 1000 and 1500. Make sure you use good quality, cloth-backed abrasive - this moulds to contours well and doesn't crumple into sharp folds, which can scratch. Good luck!
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-08-2008, 03:37 PM
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We didn't mention the quality of the sandpaper. Hardware store sandpaper is hard to use. I use either Klingspor Gold sandpaper or Norton 3x. I prefer the Norton.
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-08-2008, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Well there could be 2 problems then. I use the cheaper sand paper and I might jump to grits too fast, 150-240-320-400.
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-08-2008, 04:35 PM
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sanding on the lathe

Yes that can cause a big problem (cheap sandpaper an skipping grits) Another thing that I don't believe was mentioned,was how fast are you running the lathe while sanding?you should be running it as slow as possable,cause if you run it to fast you can actually burn scratches in the wood.I use a soft pad as a backing to the sandpaper,also I tear the sandpaper into small pieces,about 3" sq. and while sanding I rub the piece with a soft paper towel as I sand to keep the sandpaper from clogging up to quick.Hope this helps an good luck.

Ken
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-08-2008, 09:06 PM
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Just to expand on what woodsman said about speed - the speed you can get away with will depend greatly on the wood. When I use bone-dry maple, I can get away with 2500rpm on a 2" spindle because the dust falls away very easily and doesn't clog. For part-seasoned cocobolo, though (very oily and has moisture in it) - anything higher than 600rpm is hopeless.

If your wood is clogging the sandpaper, then either change or clean the sandpaper often. Rubbing clogged sandpaper against wood is a sure way to get a bad finish.
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