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Specifics of My Sanding Process, Part 3

Keith Long
6 12 Big Machine 100 Grit

Hello all, Keith Long here with Thunderheart Flooring out of Greeley, Colo. This year has been particularly eventful—I have been summertime-busy since four months ago. Now that it actually is summertime, I’ve really been hopping.

Let’s wrap up this sanding project we’ve been going through (see Part 1 and Part 2).

6 12 Big Machine 100 Grit

Last time we met up, we got wood filler down to fill the voids. For this red oak floor, I chose 100-grit paper to run on the big machine. Notice I’m running straight with the rows of boards for the final pass with this particular tool.

6 12 Big Machine 231

I was taught on a Galaxy-brand big machine before I got out on my own. This particular machine is a Bona 8-inch belt sander. It has served me well for 10 years, and still going strong, as will most all brands if they are maintained. It does the work, customers like the results, and I’m getting payment and referrals.

From the above picture, it appears I am moving over a fair bit with each pass. Since everything being gone over at this stage is already flat, it doesn’t take long to complete this step.

6 12 Edger And Felt Pad

Next, I put 100-grit paper on the edger. When I was first taught, for this final edger pass I was instructed to use a thick white felt pad between the rubber drive pad of the edger and the sandpaper, which can be seen above. The main reason for this was to reduce the risk of scratches in the finished product. Once I got a better feel for the tool, I started edging this final pass without it. It’s faster that way, and the dust collection is better without it. But, it has its uses—thought I would at least show what it is!

6 12 Edging Complete

I feel edging technique would be better to show by video than explaining with words. I’m in the planning stages of making that a reality. That being said, I’m a middle-aged guy raised up on ranches, who graduated from college before anyone had a personal computer or cellular phone. It’s in the works—if you’re patient, we’ll get there…

The main thing I keep in mind while edging is to figure out at what point on the tool the predominant scratch is being left. Then, I orient that most aggressive scratch pattern in line with the rows of boards and do the work.

6 12 Toekick Edger

This particular job had toekicks to be sanded under a couple cabinets, so I got out my toekick edger (also referred to as a cabinet edger, or radiator tool). Since this was a raw wood installation, I did only 100-grit on these toekick areas. Had it been an existing floor with finish on it, I may have done a pass here with 60-grit earlier in the job. Once complete, I hand-sanded with 120-grit paper with the grain in these recessed areas.

6 12 Handscraping Corners

When the subfloor is properly prepared, and the milling on the wood is good, it doesn’t leave much work to do in the corners. I use a Mercer-brand scraper to scrape with the grain to get the corners flat and free of wood filler, then follow up with a 100-grit edger disc folded in half to follow up and hand-sand the areas that have been scraped with the grain. Once my hand-sand paper starts to not perform that well, I open it up, and fold it in half on a new plane to maximize the use of the disc.

6 12 Red Vacuum

Keeping a clean floor never goes out of style. I used the pipe and wand on the perimeter and field in preparation for the next steps.

6 12 Rotex

Even with this floor going natural, I still go around the perimeter, and everywhere the multi-disc sander won’t go, with a random orbit sander. This includes over and a bit to the sides of the flush-mount vents, since I don’t go over them with the multi-disc. I used 120-grit paper.

6 12 Trio With Donuts

Next, I put 120 paper on the multi-disc sander, with the Velcro donuts between the drive plates and the paper. I typically go around the perimeter first, then with the rows of boards at this stage. I get around 300 square feet per set of paper with this grit. Since the floor was near that size, I turned the paper in the same manner as the 60-grit pass at half way, and then completed the other half of the square footage with the same set of paper.

6 12 Trio Tipped Back

6 12 Stained

After putting a brand-new microfilter liner in my backpack vacuum, I final-vacuumed the floor, and stained and finished it.

Hope this series of posts on sanding has been helpful. I have been having fun writing them!

Let’s meet up next week to go through some thoughts on bidding for jobs. Until then, stay sharp!

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