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What Is the Best Way to Sand Spindles?

November 23, 2023
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In woodworking projects, spindles often stand out, adding a distinct beauty to furniture. However, when they age, restoring their luster can be a challenge. Sanding is the classic solution, yet this process requires specific techniques and considerations.

The best way to sand spindles is to use a power tool such as brush wheels, drum sanders, or power. They offer speed and efficiency, but caution is needed to avoid damaging the spindle’s intricate parts.

Alternatively, traditional woodworkers may prefer manual sanding, embracing the tactile experience of working directly with sandpaper. While more laborious and time-consuming, this method offers precision and a personal touch to the sanding process. Several manual sanding techniques can rejuvenate your spindles, making them appear as good as new.

What Are Spindles?

In woodworking, spindles are slender and cylindrical rods that give support or serve as a connecting point to the other parts of wooden furniture. With their distinctive intricate patterns, spindles commonly appear in stair railings, bedposts, and chair backs.

Craftsmen and woodworking professionals often view spindles as vital elements in their projects. Working with them provides a chance to refine sanding skills, requiring mastering various techniques to streamline the process.

How to Sand Spindles

  • Use Power Tools

Employing power tools is the quickest method to sand spindles. Options include various electric sanders and power drills fitted with rotary tools like abrasive flap wheels.

  • Use a Chemical Stripper

Applying a chemical stripper helps remove old varnish or paint from spindles. After applying the stripper, use steel wool to eliminate any remaining varnish, making the subsequent sanding process more manageable.

  • Get Duct Tape

For rounded spindles, a helpful technique involves using duct tape. Cut the tape into long strips and attach them to the back of the sandpaper. This method strengthens the sandpaper and improves grip, facilitating more effective sanding.

  • Use an Abrasive Cord

Abrasive cords are ideal for spindles with tight grooves. Like the duct tape method, pull the cord from both ends during sanding to achieve a smooth and even finish on the spindles.

Common Issues When Sanding Spindles

  • Uneven Sanding

Uneven sanding is a frequent issue, particularly for beginners. It typically results from inconsistent pressure during sanding, leading to uneven spindle surfaces. To prevent this, sand gently and evenly, paying equal attention to all areas of the spindle.

  • Clogged Sandpaper

Sandpaper, a critical tool for spindle sanding, may sometimes receive less attention than needed. Grit buildup from continuous sanding necessitates regular inspection, especially for fine-grit sandpaper, which demands closer monitoring.

  • Overlooked Wood Grain Path

Wood grain has a preferred direction that should be followed when sanding spindles. Ignoring this direction can lead to rough surfaces and subpar finishes. Adhere to the natural wood grain path of the spindles to achieve a smooth texture.

  • Uneven Finishing Coats

The final step in spindle sanding is crucial. A more accurate application of finishing coats can result in a less-than-ideal outcome. Ensure the coating is applied evenly, with sanding between layers, to avoid a bumpy and uneven appearance on the spindles.


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