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Sanding Direction on Carvings- Help!

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  • Sanding Direction on Carvings- Help!

    I am having difficulty figuring out which directions to sand the wood on my carvings. I know you go with the grain, and this is probably stupid, but I'm having trouble figuring out what that means on a 3d shape.

    I've been carving comfort birds (see the picture below to get a sense of how this looks, or check out the link below), and when I take a block of wood I will lay it out so the grain of the wood goes from the beak to the tail. After I cut out the blank and then shape it and go to sand it, however, I'm at a loss about the direction to sand many parts of the bird, and always end up with scratches.

    Take the rounded head of the bird, for example. Since it is round, you can kind of see the grain pattern going in a circle on it. Should I then sand in a circle around the head? Or should I just sand in a straight line from the beak to the end of the bird? Similar issues come up when sanding other parts as well. Do I follow the turns of the grain in circular parts, or just go in one direction throughout?

    I hope I'm being clear. This has been causing me no end of trouble, and I would really really appreciate some advice. Thanks!


    http://woodcarvingillustrated.com/wp..._164328917.pdf
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  • #2
    As far as I have ever understood, sanding does not need to be done with the grain. If you have scratches after you have sanded, you need to do it again with a finer grit, and again, and again until you have the smoothness you are looking for. Can you tell I don't like sanding?

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    • #3
      You need to get to about 400 grit before you don't notice the scratches as much. Then like Steev said, just keep going finer. I like to finish up on a buffing wheel, and they get a real nice polished finish on them then.
      If I took the time to fix all my mistakes, I wouldn,t have time to make new ones.

      www.spokanecarvers.com

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      • #4
        Or, skip the sanding altogether. I do. Lay on your first coat of finish and let that set up good and hard.

        Extremely coarse steel wool has flat strands, not round.
        They cut like a million chisels as they glide over your curved finish, cutting off the raised grain.
        Watch the cutting surface to see how hard to push if it scuffs up any finish.

        Your fingertips will tell you when you are done. That's it. Don't have to repeat.
        Maybe a couple more coats of finish?
        BUT at the very end, burnish the carving with a plain brown paper grocery bag.
        Brian T

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        • #5
          I use a scrubbing motion, around and around, I start out with 80 grit and processed to at least 220, & if not please keep going higher
          . . .JoeB

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          • #6
            I agree with the advice given. On my comfort birds and natural finish pieces I go through the following order of sanding: 80g, 120g, 220g, 350g, 400g, with the final being 4 o steel wool and a finish of tung oil. I do not worry about grain but use a very light touch on the rounded head. If I see scratches, I drop back to the previous grit and go over it again.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Paul_Guraedy View Post
              I agree with the advice given. On my comfort birds and natural finish pieces I go through the following order of sanding: 80g, 120g, 220g, 350g, 400g, with the final being 4 o steel wool and a finish of tung oil. I do not worry about grain but use a very light touch on the rounded head. If I see scratches, I drop back to the previous grit and go over it again.
              This is helpful information, thanks Paul. Since you have done comfort birds in the past, can I ask how you deal with the beak and breast specifically? I think the fact that these are end grain give me the most problems. For the breast, do you sand from the head down, or from the side across? Same with the beak and head, do you tend to do it around the head, or from the beak backwards?

              It might just be that I keep switching my directions when sanding, and so fail to remove the previous grit scratches. So I'd like to settle on a best-practice.

              Thanks again.

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              • #8
                I do not sand with the grain unless I have a softwood like basswood that sanding makes the fuzzies. If you sand with the grain you do not brush up fuzzies that often.....otherwise.... I sand whichever way that works.

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