Sanding is one of those not difficult, but somehow still difficult things. We blame options and possibilities for this. So here is a basic run down of our daily sanding routine.
For furniture prep we recommend you use an electric sander. We have used everything from a $13 mouse sander to a our $300 Surf Prep. It will all work and get you the desired result, the biggest difference is the amount of time it will take you to get that result.
We use 3 sand paper grits; 80, 120, and 220. Extra shiny or rough surfaces get 80 grit, The rest gets 120. Before staining we will typically sand quick with a 220 grit so the surface is nice and smooth.
HOW MUCH TO TAKE OFF
How much you sand will depend on your goals for refinishing and condition of your piece. More detailed information is below, but a general rule of thumb is to take off the least amount of finish as possible if you are planning to paint.
Painting Pieces with no visible cracking or peeling:
If you are painting your surface your goal is to just rough up the surface and smooth out any blemishes such as scratches dings and dents, 120 grit all over moving at a semi slow, but still moving along fairly quickly is your pace.
Sanding Pieces that are Cracking or Peeling:
If your pieces existing finish is cracking or peeling, your goal is to get off as much of the finish that is cracking and peeling. Remember that when painting your paint job is only going to be as good as the surface you start with. These finishes may come off with the 120 grit, if you are having to work really hard at it with the 120 move down to the 80 grit.
Sanding for Restaining:
If you are restaining you have two options; some existing finishes remove easily with sanding. Finishes on flat surfaces and thinning peeling surfaces are examples. For these you can most likely get away with sanding off the existing finish using 80 grit and then finishing with 220 grit. ***NOTE*** be extremely careful to only sand off the old finish and not get to deep into the wood or veneer. If the finish is well intact, very thick, or on detailed areas we recommend using a chemical stripper to remove the existing finish.
DEEP SCRATCHES GOUGES AND DENTS
Sometimes these guys are just to deep and a sander won't help you. For deep scratches, gouges and dents we recommend using KwikWood to fill this spots first then sand them back and they will be nice and filled in. Most of the time these will prevent you from being able to restain a piece. If you would like a more stain friendly option, we recommend filling in these spots with tinted filler.
After sanding always be sure to wipe your pieces down good. We stick to a warm water and TSP solution with a rag. After that your pieces are ready for next steps!