My oak spheres unsanded themselves.
February 14, 2017 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm creating some oak spheres as part of a larger project. Last week I got done cutting them and sanded them down to a nice 220 in anticipation of staining them when I have the whole project ready. This morning I went out and touched them and they're basically rough wood again. I'm assuming this is moisture related, but I'd like to hear about people's experience here. Presumably I just need to sand them down again?
posted by Tell Me No Lies to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a chance they got wet after sanding? That's sure to raise the grain. I'd be tempted to dampen the surfaces intentionally, let them dry again and then knock down the raised grain with fine sandpaper before staining. Doing this will reduce the degree to which the stain itself raises the grain.

I'm assuming these were made from dry lumber, not some random hunk of tree you found somewhere.
posted by jon1270 at 6:31 PM on February 14, 2017

Oak is an open-pore wood, that's probably what you are feeling (and moisture could be playing a part also). Check out this process for filling the pores.
posted by beagle at 6:35 PM on February 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Moisture in the air can raise the grain on freshly sanded wood, even without it getting actually wet.

I would repeat the sanding with new sandpaper and a light touch. A new piece of sandpaper with fresh unbroken grains of abrasive will cut easier, so you don't have to push as hard, much like the difference between cutting with a sharp knife, compared to a dull one. Not pushing as hard means you're less likely to dig in and cut embedded fibers, creating new fuzzy ends.

You might also consider using a finer grit, which will also be less likely to cut deep and create new fuzz, and using silicon carbide paper (black or gray abrasive), which (if I remember my abrasive physics correctly) is more likely to wear by splintering, leaving sharp new edges on the grains, rather than by rounding off, which is more characteristic of aluminum oxide (tan abrasive).
posted by Bruce H. at 12:53 AM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Any time I sand oak smooth and leave the wood for some period of time before finishing, I will generally have to do a quick once-over again with 220 before finishing. But I also carry all my wood work back into the climate controlled house between sessions. If this was in the garage, shed, etc, it probably took on moisture and that raised the grain.

Your situation is probably compounded by doing a sphere, where I'm assuming you've got half of it as end-grain, which is always a tough nut to sand, regardless.
posted by k5.user at 7:41 AM on February 15, 2017

Doing a quick and gentle once-over with 220 returned the spheres to stainability. This was a real lifesaver -- I was not looking forward to starting from 60 again.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:52 PM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

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