Planing vs Sanding: Which One Is Right for You?


When it comes to finishing techniques, is planing better than sanding? This is a question carrying a lot of meaning when you want to do some final touches on a wood. At times the wood surfaces need to be well-prepared for the staining, priming, and painting work. Through the removal of excess wood or leveling of the surface, your woodwork project will be superb. All you need is to have the right tools and procedures at your fingertips.

In the two methods, there is some diversity in the tools used. For the planing, you need to arm yourself with a planer which is normally hand-held. However, there are modern machines such as orbital sanders which make work easier. When it comes to sanding, sandpaper will do. For smooth finishes, higher-grit papers such as 180-grit and 220-grit will serve you right. Sanding is much effective for the fine finishing of projects while planing helps in the removal of excess wood surface material.

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Can You Plane Deck Boards?

As time passes, you will notice some slight differences in the condition of your deck wooden floor. However, with proper treatment, the wood structure will always look brand new. Never forget to do maintenance work such as staining and applying sealants. Sometimes, the deck board needs more than applying finishes for better results. In this case, think of planing. With this procedure, you have the chance to get rid of the dents or holes which may be dominant on certain points.

 How easy can you plane deck boards? It all depends on a couple of factors such as the type of wood you have and the overall thickness of the lumber. Some woods such as the Western red cedar are hard. It mostly comes from the high silica content in the structures. Often when planing deck boards from such wood, it will feel hard to maintain a sharp blade throughout.

To be on the safe side, arm yourself with several blades which you will keep replacing once in a while. The red oak also has some knots which often cause blunts on the cutting edge. First, know the type of wood your deck boards are made of and you will be sure of how easy it will be to do the sanding.

When dealing with pressure-treated decks, think of your safety. Before 2003, the pressure-treated (PT) lumber was treated with a preservative containing a high concentration of arsenic. These days, the lumber is being treated with less-lethal preservatives. For instance, manufacturers are using Alkaline Copper Quaternary which is arsenic-free. Therefore, arm yourself with safety gears such as gloves and eyewear. The wood shavings also require proper handling. This is why I find it necessary to burn these materials in an open space rather than doing the dumping.

Can You Sand Deck Boards?

One may wonder why some deck boards look much better after sanding than others. The difference lay in the way the surface is prepared. How efficient can you sand deck board? First, do proper power washing on the surface and concentrate more on the joints. The wood fibers tend to rise when in contact with the water. Ensure proper drying of the wood before proceeding to the next step.

Find the right sander for the job. The sandpapers can make the whole project strenuous hence settling for the power-driven ones is crucial. For the household setting, an orbital sander will serve you well. Even with such machines, it may be impossible to complete the whole operation in a day. This is especially for the large deck areas.

For the decks made of softwoods, gouging may occur when such power tools are employed. I see it fit to stick to the oscillating sanders as they make the sanding operation smoother. Similar to planing, never forget the safety gears as the dust particles should not be breathed in. People tend to overlook the knee pads which are important for comfort during the long hours in sanding work.

Inspect the deck area before the actual operation. This is where you check the fasteners. They ought to be driven as deep below the surface as possible. This is where you replace the old screws and nails. It becomes effortless to tighten the loose boards at the deck. Filling any deep gouge you see makes the surface level for the sanding. Again, ensure the wood filler is completely dry.

While working on the surface, pay attention to the edges. I once did a proper sanding on the deck area only to find myself at the halfway line as I forgot the board edges and railings. At times the outer edges seem tricky to sand when the bottom of the baluster railing is low. This is where the low-grit sandpapers come in. The 60-grit and 80-grit papers make the end-grain of the deck well worked on. You need this for the uniformity of your staining and sealing work.

Do You Need to Sand Wood After Planing?

The two finishing techniques are independent of each other. Even so, it is a great idea to use one to complement the other. This may be the case when there are some blemishes on the surface that need to be dealt with. After sanding, some lines may appear along the board. Some are almost invisible but looking closely against the light will reveal them.

The best way to do the test on sanding miscues is using an alcohol-wetted cloth. Another option is doing the soaking with lacquer thinner. Rubbing the rag across the surface will highlight the botch on the surface. Most power planers operate in rotary motions which tend to leave scallops on the board. The sanding work in such situations will eliminate such dents and this may not take much time.

The Cleaning Work

After sanding and planing, the next important thing is doing a cleanup. This requires a proper removal of the dust at all points. Take time on the joints between the board joints as many particles will get stuck here. Doing some blowing helps a lot in this task hence an air compressor will do a great job for you.

Running water across the boards is a suitable option as you hardly disperse the dust around the deck. My best leash is on using a vacuum cleaner as it makes the whole work seamless. Wiping the board with a rag should come later before the actual staining and sealing.

The finishing techniques on woodworking projects mean a lot to the general outlook of surfaces. Planing and sanding methods are traditionally used in this. For the planing, it becomes easy to get rid of more surface material on wood. The sanding work on the other hand is essential for smooth scrubbing hence perfect for finishes. Both techniques can be done manually or by the use of power tools.

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