For sanding techniques fold a large sheet in half and crease it. Align the crease along a table edge and pull down firmly to tear the sheet apart. Fold each half sheet in two so that it’s hand size, and use one side at a time. For flat surfaces, wrap paper around a padded sanding block. To make a block, glue felt or low-pile carpeting to a 2 x 4 scrap.
Sand back and forth in straight strokes, using light, even pressure. Do an entire surface, sanding all parts equally. Whenever passible, follow the grain. On a curved surface, sand first with the curve: but finish with the grain. Use a folded edge of paper in tight crevices. Wrap paper around a rounded piece, such as a chair rung. Wear a mask to avoid inhaling dust.
When using electric sanders wear goggles and a mask with all power sanders. Use a disc sander on a drill only for rough jobs, such as removing rust or king paint off siding. Apply a slight pressure, and tip the disc so that only the half nearest you touches the surface. Keep it moving and take care not to cut swirl marks. Another drill attachment, a drum sander, is good for finishing edges.
An orbital sander, which moves sandpaper in a small oval path, is a good choice for finishing furniture. Tear ordinary sandpaper into halves, thirds, or quarters to fit its pad. Use only minimal pressure as you guide it over the surface. With a dual-action model, use the oval action for initial sanding and the straight, back-and-forth action for finishing.
A belt sander uses a continuously rotating loop of sandpaper. It costs more to buy and use but works fast and handles heavy-duty jobs. To control sawdust, get a model with a built-in, vacuum-like dust bag. Start the sander before touching it to the wood; then keep your strokes even and level. To avoid gouges, never apply excessive pressure and always keep the machine in motion. To sand down a rough surface quickly, use a belt of coarse paper at a 45-degree angle to the grain. Then smooth, using medium and fine paper with the grain.