Sanding again. This time, I am getting the front coffee table into fighting condition, which is coming along pretty well. All that’s going to be necessary now is to sand the piece into shape. Yes, I did use my hand planes to do some general flattening of the top, but I did have a bit of tearout when I worked with them. Sure, I could tweak my settings and technique, but it’s still hot in the shop, and I was looking to use a technique I knew like the back of my hand.
My belt sander was a very good option for this. Starting with an 80 grit ceramic belt – a perfect medium for heavy duty power sanding – I attacked the top going along with the grain to ensure that the scratch pattern was going to be easy to hide later.
After the first pass to get everything leveled out, I turned to another great trick I had picked up from my dad when it comes to sanding – shining a flashlight from the side With the sidelight from the flashlight, it’s easy to see where any sort of tearout, dings or scratches live.
Needless to say, those areas get some special attention. Of course, you have to be very careful when it comes to sanding these imperfections, lest you dig a hole in your board. So, a little focus on the affected areas, followed by spreading the love around the rest of the table top to ensure you have a table top that looks its best.
Once done with the 80 grit, I took the time to carefully sweep all of the dust and loose grit off the table top to prevent the coarser grit from making deeper scratches in the wood. Once I got the 120 grit pass on the board, I switched to my random orbit sander with a 120 grit pad on it.
With the top taken care of, I flipped the table over to start working on the legs – being sure to take the time to protect the table’s top with a beach towel. Soon, it will be time to get a finish on this piece and move it to its home. I can hardly wait!