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I have some lovely old wood boards purchased from an estate sale. Each one is 3" thick, a foot wide, and over 4 ft long. On one side they still have the rough circular saw marks from when they were milled.

I want to turn them into something, maybe a TV stand, and I want them smooth enough to be safe furniture (i.e. no spinters!), but I don't want to lose the character of the rustic saw marks. Right now these boards are very splintery and unfriendly to handle.

They also have a nice aged color on the outside, but I suspect I have to lose that to get them smoother and then I can use stain to get the same effect.

I'm a total beginner, and I have few tools at my disposal, but I would love some ideas of how I can get the boards smooth but still looking rustic.

FYI, photo of the wood is here: http://www.instructables.com/file/FP4N08NHIGF9DP7

Thanks a ton in advance!
Josh
 

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j123jam said:
I have some lovely old wood boards purchased from an estate sale. Each one is 3" thick, a foot wide, and over 4 ft long. On one side they still have the rough circular saw marks from when they were milled.

I want to turn them into something, maybe a TV stand, and I want them smooth enough to be safe furniture (i.e. no spinters!), but I don't want to lose the character of the rustic saw marks. Right now these boards are very splintery and unfriendly to handle.

They also have a nice aged color on the outside, but I suspect I have to lose that to get them smoother and then I can use stain to get the same effect.

I'm a total beginner, and I have few tools at my disposal, but I would love some ideas of how I can get the boards smooth but still looking rustic.

FYI, photo of the wood is here: http://www.instructables.com/file/FP4N08NHIGF9DP7

Thanks a ton in advance!
Josh
Beautiful wood, couple ways you could
Go.... First one is sandpaper. Sand the whole board. But not too much you take the saw marks off it will smooth down a lot of it and leave the
Marks. The key is knowing when to stop. There is a fine line. Second way you could do it is drench it in clear coat. I'm talking like 8 coats ( make sure the clear wont crack with that much) that will give you a nice barrier that should give you a flat surface while leaving all those marks in it. The last thing is plane it. Take everything down and antique it. Put some worm holes in the board with an awl. Sand the corners down to an angel. Put a nice finish on it. Like an oil. Then clear coat it. And rub a black
Glaze over it. The glaze sinks to the low parts ( the worm holes and imperfections) then you can hand scrape it.... Drop a couple hammers on it. And antique it that way. But if I was you I would do the sandpaper thing. Just be careful not to sand too much.

That's my 2 cents lets see what some others have to say.
 

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If you use 180 or finer sandpaper sanding by hand or with a finish sander it should elimate the fuzz without taking off the saw marks. Then if you use a film coating try not to put it on very thick and use one with a satin sheen.
 

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I'm with sanding because that will take the high points away. Even an aggressive 60 grit paper will not take the marks out very easily so if you want a smooth finish leaving the saw marks, try a 100 grit paper to save you time and still be safe for your desired look. If you want all other sides to be smooth - try a hand plane followed by a cabinet scraper.
 

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I have found that "Rustic" furniture building requires a different skill set than "fine" furniture. Other than the chair seats, the only thing I might sand would be the edges of things to prevent someone from catching a splinter or snagging clothing. I use a spoke shave or small block plane a lot on the edges.

To even out a texture I will run the face along the edge of the band saw blade, not enough to remove any wood, just to get the saw marks.

The photo shows a dining set I built out of recycled fir beams, a decidedly splintery wood. I did sand the chair seats for obvious reasons but I left some tool marks and gouges to keep it in character.

The table top was touched textured with the band saw which did not remove the patina but produced a uniform texture. Several coats of semi-gloss polyurethane made the top smooth enough to wipe up after meals.

P7070129.jpg

P7070126.jpg

Bret
 

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I have found that "Rustic" furniture building requires a different skill set than "fine" furniture. Other than the chair seats, the only thing I might sand would be the edges of things to prevent someone from catching a splinter or snagging clothing. I use a spoke shave or small block plane a lot on the edges.

To even out a texture I will run the face along the edge of the band saw blade, not enough to remove any wood, just to get the saw marks.

The photo shows a dining set I built out of recycled fir beams, a decidedly splintery wood. I did sand the chair seats for obvious reasons but I left some tool marks and gouges to keep it in character.

The table top was touched textured with the band saw which did not remove the patina but produced a uniform texture. Several coats of semi-gloss polyurethane made the top smooth enough to wipe up after meals.

Bret
That's fantastic furniture.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
JJBoozel - Thanks for the tips. I'd rather not drench the piece in clear coat as I don't like the plasticky look of those finishes. I think I'll go with a sandpaper route as others agree with that suggestion.

Brent - That table is beautiful! I love the band saw technique, although for my piece I do want to keep the circular saw marks intact. Besides, my workshop is my small apartment plus the parking lot outside, so I don't have a bandsaw :)

So it sounds like the verdict is that I should use finer sandpaper. I couldn't figure out if it made sense to do fine or coarse, so that's helpful. I may have to start a bit coarser though as the wood has some pretty large splintery parts.

I have a belt sander, but I suspect that will be too aggressive. Should I sand by hand, or get an orbital sander?
 

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I just spoke with a guy at a craft fair this weekend. He used an old (giant) circular saw for his work. It had that great character I see in your boards. I asked him what type of finish he used. He told me that the only "finish" he uses if fire. It eliminates the splinters and brings out the marks from the saw.

I didn't get any more details but I assume he uses a hand-held blow torch to "finish" the wood. Perhaps you could test it on a small part of a board.

I hope this helps.
 

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rough sawn boards

take them to a professional. Since they are 3" thick, you could have them resawn into 1 1/2 inch thick planks. That will double your available material. Then put them through a drum sander, with the face side down, to get them to a consistant thickness. Then you can run them through the drum sander, face up, removing only a couple of thousandths at a time until you get what you are looking for. It may sound like a big project, but it isn't. Any shop with the right equipment could do this in a short time. They may be able to work it in between bigger jobs, if you aren't in a hurry. One of the shops I go to does this type of work on Saturday mornings while you can wait and watch.
 
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