Sanding and Finishing

How to sand and finish solid wood table tops.

This is a process that sounds simple, and i'm sure most people have had a go at.
Obviously the main purpose is to bring the wood back to life and protect it with a durable finish. However, if some steps are missed out, all your hard work could be a waste of time.
There are many different methods, with a huge range of expensive tools and products, but we would like to show you how we do it and the mid range tools we use.

Recommended tools and products:

Metabo Orbital Sander.

We have been through several sanders in our workshop, and this one is the one we have stuck with.
Its powerful with very practical different speed settings.
The sanding discs are attached by velcro, however the only down side of this sander is the sanding pad. Some times we get carried away and spend an hour or so sanding constantly; this unfortunately melts the pad very slightly which causes the velcro sanding discs to not attach and stick correctly. Luckily, the pads are easily replaceable and cost around £13.
Overall, a fantastic sander that is easy to maintain and had the power to allow your lower grit sand paper to rip through layers of wood.

Osmo Oil.

I cannot begin to stress how amazing this product is.
First of all, and most important, it is food safe. You can use it on kitchen work tops and dining tables. It is incredibly easy to apply, as if applying a whitewash undercoat. Osmo oil comes in a variety of different colours and finishes (follow the link) and is very flexible in how to build up shades of colour. One coat is seriously enough to protect your wood, but with two coats, the colours deepen and give you that added flexibility to adjust the desired colour. 
The only downsides of this is as it is an oil, the drying time is around 24 hours depending on ambient conditions. Also, this really does get right into the grain, but as it dries, it raises the grain, so don't forget to use a very high grit (smooth) sand paper or a wet and dry emery pad to smooth it all of once completely dry. This product is also slightly more expensive than most other finishing products, but as one coat is substantial, it will go along way further than most other products.
All in all, you will love it. Amazingly durable, safe and flexible with a huge amount of colours and finishes.

Liberon Tack Cloths.

In my opinion these are essential. Once you have sanded your item, you need to ensure all dust is removed before applying any kind of finish. If the surface isn't completely dust free your finish will have imperfections and in some cases compromise the durability. The tack cloths work out to be under £1 each and as long as you keep them in a resealable bag, you can use them again and again. They are tacky to the touch, which is what helps pick up all dust that a duster or brush would miss. In my opinion they are a great investment, however, do not solely rely on these to clean the surface, dusting and brushing prior is crucial.


1) The most important step. Protect your eyes and lungs with goggles and a dust mask. Wood dust can cause eye and skin irritation, as well as aggravate an asthmatic condition. If the wood is old or hasn't been well-treated, there are also biological dangers associated with bacteria and fungi, so please make an effort to protect yourself.

2) Dust off the surface you are about to sand, theres no point clogging up a sanding disk with just dust.

3) Attach your sanding disc/paper. You will want to start with a coarser lower grit paper to start with, perhaps a 60 or 80 grit, then work your way higher/smoother in grit to obtain a smoother finish.

4) Begin sanding. Ensure that the sanding motion goes in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Stop sanding only when the surface is entirely even. Don't leave your sander in any one position for too long as it will become a nightmare to even out the divot it will make. Keep the sander moving with the whole pad in constant contact with the surface.

5) Dust off and repeat process with a higher smoother grit sand paper, this will be much quicker than the first time round. If you have small cracks in the wood, you can use this sanding process to eliminate them. By squeezing a very small amount of Evostik wood glue into the cracks, level it out and remove the excess glue. Now before the glue dries, run your sander over the glued crack. The small wood particles will become trapped in the glue, and when the glue dries, filled crack will be the exact same colour and your wood. (ensure the wood glue you use is stainable)

6) If your surface has rounded edges or intricate detailing, use a foam block, cut to size and wrap in 100-grit sandpaper. Alternatively, use a mouse sander, but be careful over detail, they are more powerful than they look.

7) Once you are happy with the surface, brush of dust and wipe over with a Tack cloth to remove all dust particles.

8) Now to begin the finishing process. First of all, shake and stir your finishing product well! We recommend Osmo Oil, and will use it in our explanations.

9) Decant a small bit of Oil into a separate clean container to dip your brushes into. Try to get into the habit of doing this, as it eliminates the risk of contaminating the whole batch if there is something alien on the brush.

10) Using a foam brush or paint brush with loose bristles removed, dip it into the oil, only covering around a third of the brush, and wipe of excess on the side of the container. By only covering a third of the brush this will ensure the oil doesn't creep up into the metal part of the brush, which makes it very difficult to control an even application.

11) Apply a thin coat, moving the brush with the direction of the wood grain and keeping your brush in constant contact with the surface.

12) Allow to dry thoroughly before adding more coats if needed.

13) Once completely dry, you will notice that the oil has raised the grain of the wood, which makes it rough to the touch. You will need to use some very fine sand paper (240 grit) or a fine emery pad to smooth this off, ensuring your sanding motion moves with the grain of the wood.

14) Congratulations! All is done. For the next two weeks, try to avoid using any cleaning products on the finished surface, just used warm water to clean.