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Our new 6' privacy fence is very rough, shaggy, almost furry. We've been told it's best to get the surface smooth before staining both to allow for better absorption and to prevent unevenness when the shag wears/falls off.

Sanding with 36-grit belt sander gummed up the belt quickly so we switched to a power hand planer, then sanding. This is taking forever. Removing the pickets for treatment is not an option. Does anyone have a better idea?

The fence is just off the sidewalk and very visible so we want it to look nice and to be easy to maintain over the years so I'd rather do the hard work on the front end, just wish it wasn't so hard.

I've little experience with wood so any help would be appreciated.

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  • Do you have a picture of how furry this is? I'm guessing this thing must be quite shaggy looking if it gummed up the belt sander. At any rate, seeing what you are dealing with might make it easier to recommend something. – Becuzz Sep 19 '19 at 14:06
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    You didn't have to do anything to these really if you're willing to keep up with maintenance, in my part of the world fencing is often shaggy like this, and used as-is. Apologies for how this sounds but if a smoother finish was what was desired the boards should have been addressed before installation, or smoother boards bought initially. Smoothing in situ is possible, but backbreaking work, as you know all too well already. And unfortunately, you're already doing it pretty much the only way that makes sense so I don't think there's much we can provide other than our commiserations, sorry. – Graphus Sep 19 '19 at 16:46
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    Got timed out on edit...Had we known how it would turn out we'd have done a lot different. Cabot reps and others have said it's much better to get it smooth now than fuss with it later and I agree. My goal here was to find out if there was anything I should be doing differently and you've answered that, so thank you. I wouldn't buy this fence again, but I'm not sorry for doing the work, it looks so much better, just want to do it the least painful way ;) all the stain people I've asked said down the road I'll be glad so here's hoping. Thanks again for helping. – Diane Sep 19 '19 at 20:31
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    A solid colour stain might be your best option as it will work over rough wood – Monte Glover Sep 20 '19 at 0:18
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    Just in case anyone sees this and is having similar troubles with pine clogging up sandpaper-spray it with Pam. I'm not making this up. I read it on another forum about pine flooring. He suggested spraying the sandpaper with Pam (or any oil in a spray bottle) and it would keep it clean. He posted photos of two drums, one treated and one not. treated was clear, other was caked. I've done 10-12 boards with no gumming-before, 1 1/2 boards ruined it. The rough comes off fast and no gouges from the planer. This will be so much faster. So, if it happens to you try Pam. Hope this helps someone. – Diane Sep 22 '19 at 22:24

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