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When I took WoodShop in school,and it came time to finish a project, our teacher had us sand our project smooth up to 220 grit. Then he made us use water on the piece, and let it dry till the next day. This raised the grain then we would sand again with 220 and repeat with the water twice more. When we had done the water thing 3 times, we sanded with 220 and then 320. The wood was super smooth, and after we had applied the finish coats, a very light sanding between coats was all that was needed.
Lately I have been using this method on my cutting boards and I see and feel a remarkable difference when completed, compared to other boards I have completed without using the water method.

Has anyone else been taught to finish a project in this manner??
 
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Yes, raising the grain is a age old method of sanding. The only difference I was trained to wet the wood before each grit change sanding instead of wetting the wood three times with the final sanding. Raising the grain would even be better used today since finishes are turning to waterborne finishes which raise the grain themselves.
 

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A professional cabinet maker taught me to scribble pencil marks over my work and sand with 100 grit... repeat with 120 grit... repeat with 150 grit. Following the 150 grit machine sanding, I dampen my project surfaces (not soak but dampen) and let it dry for 20 to 30 min. I watch it dry and make notes of glue stains, gulleys and other imperfections the dampness points out. I deal with these imperfections with 180 grit... and dampen once more. The water will raise the loose fibers off the surface and I hand sand these off using 180 grit paper.

Now comes the differences in opinions... and my method is not the correct one for all... it's just my preference! I only machine sand too 150 grit and hand sand to the 180 grit. I feel that the 220+ grit papers close the wood grain from accepting the stains and finishes. It makes too much of a glassy finish for my taste. The shinny finish will make my woodworking projects look like plastic. I like the wood look and feel to my projects.

This is by no means a put down on the fine shinny finishes. My comment is my preference... Back to the original post, yes I use the water method. It's a good habit
 

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With a WB stain, raising the grain is an absolute necessity. I always do before any finishing steps.

However

Rather than trying to knock the raised grain down after WB stain, I just apply the finish with a 2" square of white ScotchBrite. It doesn't take much effort and there's very little chance of sanding through the stain.
 
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