How to sand faster

Sanding can be laborious and time consuming. Whilst it's an essential part of the process there's no denying that sanding is boring!


There has to be a way to speed up the sanding process, so let's look at the options:

Double duty
If you happen to own two sanders, you can put both hands to work and, well, sand twice as fast—duh! Keep the sanders close together and think of them as a single machine. If your hands wander apart into separate territories, you'll oversand some spots and miss others. Make sure that you have the same grit sandpaper in both sanders - or you'll end up with more work instead of less!

Clean as you work
Cleaning away the dust as you work does actually allow a sander to work faster. Even though you might be using a Bosch sander with integral micro filter, the sander rides on a thin cushion of dust that prevents full contact between the grit and the wood. So, by increasing dust removal you improve sander efficiency.

Pump up the speed
When sanding by hand, the harder you work the more you remove. But don't try this with an electric sander, especially with coarse sandpaper. Too much pressure or speed creates tiny swirling scratches that you’ll have to sand out. A light touch and patience are the key to avoiding those swirls. Rest your hand on the sander; don’t press. The weight of your arm provides enough pressure. Move at a snail’s pace.

Organise the gang
Gang sanding with a random orbit or belt sander lets you smooth a bunch of edges in one pass. As a bonus, the wider surface prevents the sander from grinding too deep in one spot or tilting and rounding over the edges. This trick also makes sanding a self-correcting process; all the parts will end up exactly the same.

Only the best
It might be more expensive, but in long run you will save yourself a lot of time and effort by using quality sandpaper. This type of sandpaper has sharper particles of grit, which bite into wood faster, and the backing sheet doesn't tear as quickly. Premium paper removes wood at two or three times the rate of standard paper. It costs a bit more, but the grit stays sharp much longer, so you actually save money, whether you’re using sheets, discs or belts.

One benefit of owning a Skil sander, is the fact that for this model [above] you can buy fabric sanding sheets and cut them down to size. I normally get three pieces out of a single sheet of sandpaper. The fabric paper lasts 10 times longer that cheaper papers, and even when it no longer sands on the machine, you can still do hand sanding with it.

Less is best
When using wood filler, don't apply a huge amount all over the place. Use your finger to apply a small amount to holes and then wipe clean with a paint scraper or palette knife. By doing this you will cut down drastically on time spent sanding away excess wood filler.

Don't be a drip
As with wood filler, the same applies to wood glue. Apply to much and you will end up with glue squeezing out of joints and dripping onto the wood. If left to dry, wood glue takes quite a while to remove. Use masking tape to protect edges when joining, or have a slightly damp rag handy to wipe away any excess glue.

janice anderssen and family handyman