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I've cut a worktops to size out of 18 and 36mm thick plywood (36 = 2x 18mm) and I'd like to sand the edges of these to a nice smooth finish of exposed plys. But with the thinness of the tops, I'm hesitant that I'm going to wobble and waver off, being inconsistent and create undulations in the final piece.

With that in mind, I'm wondering if there is any way to sand at a perfect 90 degrees to the surface of my tops?

I'm not against hand sanding, but in terms of power sanders I do also have a Bosch random orbit sander and a Black & Decker mouse sander.

I did find this example in my travels, I'm just not 100% sure my attempt to recreate would be truly 90 degrees with the offcuts I have available.

enter image description here

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  • How much sanding do these need? (In other words, is it something modest like saw marks from a tablesaw or chopsaw, or is it scratchy wobble from something like a jigsaw?) I'd say if it's only a little cleanup, then your pic would do great. If it's way more, then think about ways you can clamp your RO sander at a consistent 90 degrees to a table. Nov 25, 2023 at 22:00
  • "I'm just not 100% sure my attempt to recreate would be truly 90 degrees with the offcuts I have available." That's up to the making/construction — one is not locked into any angles with this, any more than one is by the original starting dimensions or geometry of any piece of wood. All you need to do is make it as accurately as you can, check it for square and if it's slightly off adjust until it is square. See bottom of this Answer for other styles of edge-sanding tools.
    – Graphus
    Nov 26, 2023 at 9:34
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    I can't remember, do you have any hand planes? If any of the cuts are particularly off it's much faster to do the bulk of the cleanup using a plane — even just a block plane can do the job well, although ideally you might want to use a longer plane it's not at all vital to help keep the edges flat/straight. If you have to/want to do the task entirely by sanding and there's a lot to remove do remember to start coarse, like 80 grit at max. If the edges just need a general cleanup then try starting at 120 and see how it goes, if the progress is too slow just go down to 80 and assess again.
    – Graphus
    Nov 26, 2023 at 9:40
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    Oh in that case it shouldn't take much sanding. I'd probably start with 120 myself (only because I don't have 100 on hand and lots of 120) and go from there. Remember that wood doesn't generally need to be sanded past 220-240 so expect diminishing returns beyond that. Be careful sanding outwards from any corners as blowout/chipout is possible on each alternating ply whose grain is at right angles to the adjacent edge; to eliminate the chance of chipout entirely it's generally best to only sand inwards from all corners (even if slightly rounded).
    – Graphus
    Nov 27, 2023 at 7:58
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    You want to self-Answer this one when you're done for the oh-so-sweet self answer points and badge?
    – Graphus
    Nov 29, 2023 at 9:30

1 Answer 1

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A stationary belt sander will usually have a table that can be set to the correct angle. Then you just ensure that the panel is flat on the table as you pass it against the belt.

You can create an analogous jig by gluing sandpaper to the vertical face of a wood block, and creating a second raised surface for the panel to rest on as you slide it back and forth.

A table saw, handheld circular saw or sliding miter saw would be an easier way of ensuring an angle. Then you just smooth the splinters with a light sanding.

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  • I like the sound of adding a smooth 'blade' with sanding paper stuck to it, to my circular saw... Just the right amount of danger and jank for me :D
    – physicsboy
    Nov 30, 2023 at 11:31
  • @physicsboy, I don't think that's what the Answer is suggesting, but actually sanding disks for the TS were actually a thing back in the day, see Can I really use my table saw as a disc sander?. They are even still made. It's worth remembering tho that the less material a machining action takes off the finer the surface produced, hence the idea of a 'dust pass' using a TS or router where you remove just a tiny amount (much less than a 64th) to leave a near-perfect surface.
    – Graphus
    Nov 30, 2023 at 13:01
  • @Graphus oh yeah, I understand what the answer meant, and I do know about the tablesaw sanding discs, but I couldn't help fantasise about a circular saw version, just for fun XD
    – physicsboy
    Dec 1, 2023 at 17:06

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