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What would be the best grit to stock on my drum sander to level and sand end-grain butcherblocks?

I would think 36 grit would go fastest but I'm not sure that's the best option.

Edit: I have a Powermatic 209HH and (this was my first glue-up) I had a pretty big height difference between high and low points (maybe 1/4 inch or so). After sanding I plan to use a beeswax/mineral oil finish. It's about 1.75" x 14" x 23"

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  • 36-grit? Or you could hire wolverines to slash your blocks level. It really depends on what further finishing you want to do. I'd imagine that, unless you are going into production with several machine finish steps and stations, you'd want to start with a modest 80-120 and then go from there.
    – jdv
    Oct 15 '20 at 20:42
  • Yes 36 grit would go fastest. It's actually common advice from most trained pros to use the coarsest grit needed to start any given job, although many leisure woodworkers (and not a few pros who didn't have formal training) start with the finest grit they can get away with and still seem to make good progress :-| So anyway, can you give us a better idea of what you're doing here — dimensions, woods used, just one or you're doing a few (or production work) etc. P.S. You're going to need to do something to lessen spelching AKA breakout on the trailing edge, in case you didn't know.
    – Graphus
    Oct 16 '20 at 7:41
  • @jdv thanks for the laugh, that's a great way to start the morning!
    – FreeMan
    Oct 16 '20 at 13:54
  • i expect you will need a few or several grits to get a good job. Not the same but polishing metal we used about 6 grits of paper then went to powders like diamond Oct 16 '20 at 14:01
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You don't say what machine you have or the max height difference between your lowest and highest blocks. On my Supermax 19-38, I would start with 60 or 80 grit depending on that height differences. I prefer to glue things up with the minimum variance in height and then take as many light passes as needed to create an even surface.

You can then go up to as high of a grit as you wish from there. Just go with light passes on the high grits as I can see too much heat glazing your end-grain blocks.

If you're working with a height difference of 1/4" or more, I'd definitely start with some 36 grit and work up. The drum sander does all the work so you don't really need to worry about the sweat equity involved in removing the sanding marks from the 36 grit. The thickness drum sander really is fantastic tool. I could easily get lazy using it too often.

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