Sanding Dining Tables Tops

The biggest and probably the most important sanding job is a dining table. 

Any scuffs or pig tail marks are going to be visible and your hours of work will seem like they have been wasted.

So what’s the process we take to get it completed fast and effectively?

Use the right equipment 

All large flat surfaces need to be sanded with a belt sander. The low grade grits (60 etc) required to remove the existing polyurethane and stain, are the main cause of pig tails. Using a belt sander has the sanding motion all going with the grain in straight lines, removing this issue. 

Don’t have a belt sander?

If you are going to be sanding a number of pieces, the investment in a quality belt sander is well worth it.  Ours is a Makita which cost around $300.

If you are looking to do a one off job, we all know someone with a belt sander, that can be borrowed for a couple of hours.

Work through the grades of sand paper

Sanding belts come in 40, 80 & 120.

Start with 40 and remove everything from your surface.  Change to 80 with the purpose of removing the grooves created by the 40, then go to 120 to remove the grooves left by the 80.

The 40 grit pass will be the most work in this process.  A dining table should be about 10 minutes with 40, then just a couple of minutes each with 80 & 120.

Once the 120 is completed, we move to the orbital sander with 180 grit going over the entire surface, once this is completed we go over with 240 grit.  Both these should take no longer than 5 minutes each.  

We stop at 240 as we find any smoother and the stain doesn’t work as well as the surface becomes too shiny.

Handy Hints

  • Always have 2 hands on the belt sander.  It naturally drives forward with power and uneven pressure can make it chuck a wheely.  This will sand a divot in your surface.
  • Go with the grain.  Diagonal passes will cause unwanted sanding marks.  Avoid the temptation to attack a problem spot with anything but passed which run with the grain. 
  • We sand the ends of the table first - just like in the pic.  When sanding the ends we always have the back of the sander going towards the end.  Because of the power of the sander if you go forwards the sander can easily roll of the edge and cause unwanted low points along the edge.
  • Be prepared to engage your core and build your six pack.  Belt sanders have amazing power and reaching the middle of a table can be a stretch and take some real core strength to control.  
  • If using a belt sander for the first time, like most things, find something you can practise on. 
  • Attach your sander to a vacuum.  Particularly when sanding off polyurethane, removing this from the surface and sanding belt will help ensure it doesn’t melt.  The belt sander will do this if not vacuumed and you get tar like marks up and down you surface and go through belts in minutes. We tend to get 10 or more tables out of a belt. 
  • Learn how to adjust your belt so it runs straight. If not aligned the belt will wear against the sander and you will chew it up (I’ll do a video tomorrow to demonstrate). 

As always we hope this helps and welcome any questions you have that can help your flipping experience.

Happy Painting

❤️ Bree & Stewart

PS - We stock a large range of sanding discs for 125mm Orbital Sanders at a fraction of the cost of the major retailers …

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