No More Sanding Disasters

My first year of custom furniture building was marked by an unforgettable blunder. I was making an octagonal tabletop from $100-a-sheet mahogany plywood.

sanding off pencil marks

My first year of custom furniture building was marked by an unforgettable blunder. I was making an octagonal tabletop from $100-a-sheet mahogany plywood. After gluing on the 1-1/2 in. mitered edge-banding, I grabbed a vibrating sander to smooth the glue joint between the banding and plywood. In just seconds, I sanded away a narrow strip of plywood veneer alongside the banding. The table was ruined.

Years and tears later, I offer this advice: Power-sand the tops of plywood edge-bandings with ultra-light pressure, use fine-grit sandpaper, and rub a pencil firmly along the glue joint before sanding to help monitor where, and how fast, the surface is being sanded away. If you press the sander more to the banding side, go slow and keep a hawkeye on the disappearing graphite. You’ll never waste a 4×8 sheet of expensive plywood—or two hours fitting and gluing on bandings—with an irreversible mistake.

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