I have just made a picture frame that is 30" x 9" and 2.5" from the inside of the frame to the outside.

I was just given a sheet sander and I am looking to sand the frame so it has a smooth finish but I am hesitant on using the sheet sander as I have never used one before. Would it be worth while to use the sheet sander in this case or would hand sanding be a better option? I do have a wide selection of sand paper available to me: 150, 220, 320, 400 grit

I am not looking to remove a lot of material and that's another reason I am hesitant on using the sheet sander as I have the notion that "power tools = a lot of material removal", is this the case or not? As I am a beginner into wood working any advice or tips would be very much appreciated on how to properly sand the frame!

  • Picture frames should ideally require no sanding after assembly. You can't always prep pieces for a project prior to assembly so that no further work on them is needed, but with picture frames you can and for the future it's the thing to aim for. Since you need to sand this be very careful at the corners, since it's difficult to avoid sanding across the mitre and that results in cross-grain scratches which are plainly visible after finishing and are very hard to remove.
    – Graphus
    Jun 15 '17 at 8:29
  • Quick thing on grits, depending on the finish you're using you can safely stop sanding at 180-220 grit. With any film finish there's nothing to be gained from sanding any finer than about 240 at finest.
    – Graphus
    Jun 15 '17 at 8:30

A sheet sander is often referred to as a Finishing Sander - this is due to the small amount of material that it will remove compared to (for example) a random orbital sander.

You could certainly use this for the flat areas of the picture frame with no risk as it will take a long time (relatively) to remove material.

However, picture frames are often shaped such that there is not much "flat" surface area - if that is the case then you are probably better hand sanding.

Personally, for that size frame I would probably hand sand. If you are not familiar with sanding it would probably be a good idea to have a quick read up on it - most important is making sure you sand with-the-grain, particularly going into the corners. Depending on the state on the state of frame currently I would run through 120, 240, 300 grits, making sure you have completely eliminated the scratch marks from the previous grit level before progressing to higher grits.

If it is a completely flat picture frame, then there is probably no harm in using the finishing sander once you get to the higher grits.

  • Thanks for the info! Yeah it is mostly a flat picture frame as the grain in the wood produced a "wave" like pattern that I really like, but I think I will do hand sanding and maybe try the sheet sander on some scrap to see how it runs.
    – ptrickono
    Jun 15 '17 at 21:55

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