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Sanding wood smooth without losing rustic saw marks Answered

I've searched for an answer but can't find one. Hoping someone can help me out with this.

I recently picked up some old wood boards, about 3" thick, 4' long, and a foot wide. They're fairly old and have that warm weathered look of old raw wood. On one side you can see the nice circular saw marks from when they were milled. They're also very splintery, and I got plenty of splinters when I moved them.

My goal: preserve their rustic beauty while making them into usable wood for furniture. I want the surface smooth enough that splinters aren't an issue.

How can I sand the boards so they are smoother a micro level, but don't lose the beautiful saw marks? Ideally I'd keep that weathered color, but I suspect I'll lose at least some of that due to sanding and will have to fake it with stain.

Thanks a ton for any help!
Josh

Discussions

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tyty1233
tyty1233

4 weeks ago

A wire wheel will knock all the fuzz off but leave the underlying texture and bandsaw marks.

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DrColgate
DrColgate

5 weeks ago

Perhaps treat the project with a wood hardener, to permanently afix the splinters. Polyurethane a few coats and then sand anything "extraneous" or protruding from the finished surface, followed by 3 more coats of poly to get the build depth of finish you desire (some marine applications get 30 coats of spar varnish...in the good ol days at least.
DrColg8

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SlickSqueegie
SlickSqueegie

6 years ago

I agree with Artlife. Sand it with a course grit using an orbital or even by hand. When you stain the saw marks will pop.

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artlife
artlife

6 years ago

Hi, I have made a few pieces of furniture that have a rustic feel. Not rough, just not perfectly even like most commercial furniture today. Some of them I did with hand planes and skipped the sandpaper all together. The easiest way to take down those boards a little, would be to use abranet either by hand or even better in an orbital sander. http://www.amazon.com/Mirka-9A-241-080RP-pieces-6-Inch-Abranet/dp/B001BKXW8K/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1372775982&sr=8-12&keywords=abranet+sanding+discs If you stick to a coarse grade and don't get carried away by the "joy of sanding" you will be fine.

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joshme
joshme

Reply 6 years ago

Thanks artlife. Is there a difference between abranet and regular sandpaper? I have a belt sander, but no orbital sander right now.

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artlife
artlife

Reply 6 years ago

Yes, there is a big difference between abranet and sandpaper. The abranet (and abralon) products seem more expensive but they last much longer. Taking a belt sander to that wood is going to wipe out the texture you are trying to save. Do you have a scrub plane? If so you can knock down some of the rougher spots on the edges and then use the abranet on the entire surface. Can you borrow or rent an orbital sander?

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joshme
joshme

Reply 6 years ago

I don't have a grinder or much of anything else. I have a very limited set of tools in my little apartment :-)

I can probably get an orbital sander to use. Thanks for the tips!

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artlife
artlife

Reply 6 years ago

Okay, good luck. Will you post your project when you are done?

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artlife
artlife

Reply 6 years ago

Also, for the color, you should be able to match the weathered color with a wipe-on poly. It comes in a bunch of colors and it is super simple to apply. Just wipe it on and wipe it off. Just use a rag to apply. No tools needed.

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artlife
artlife

Reply 6 years ago

Do you have a grinder? If so you can try using it in place of an orbital sander. The issue with the grinder is you have to use a very light touch.

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tumidaj
tumidaj

6 years ago

I think so too.

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steveastrouk
steveastrouk

6 years ago

Shot blasting. Or some other media, like dry ice. You can't do it DIY, but it will do what you want.

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Kiteman
Kiteman

6 years ago

I saw a guy on TV ages ago, he made a rustic table out of lumps of tree. Rather thsn preserve the original texture, he added it afterwards by gently attacking the surface with a power file.

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joshme
joshme

Reply 6 years ago

That's cheating :-)

But really, I've seen lots of DIY tips on making wood look distressed, but nothing really brings back the original curved lines of a sawmill blade. I'd rather not lose that if I don't have to.

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caitlinsdad
caitlinsdad

6 years ago

You might want to try something less aggressive than sandpaper. Fine steel wool or those scotch pads (potscrubber green plasticky mesh fiber). Steel wool needs to be vacuumed out or you might see little rust stains later on. Try wet sanding or sanding sealer first and knock off just the big parts. Good luck.

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joshme
joshme

Reply 6 years ago

Thanks for the ideas. Not sure those will be enough to really smooth up the surface, but it might be worth a shot.

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RavensCraft
RavensCraft

6 years ago

Perhaps a "high build" epoxy finish will work.
You won't have to do any sanding.

Check out this site:http://www.uscomposites.com/kk121.html

They are saying that  this product can be applied  in 1/8 inch thick coats.
And 3 coats is  not unusual .

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joshme
joshme

Reply 6 years ago

Thanks RavensCraft. The epoxy is an interesting idea, but it's not really the look I'm going for. I'll definitely use some polyurethane, but in my experience that's not enough to prevent splinters.