A bonding experience

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What David DeCristoforo says in his Feb. 22 blog (Sanding: A bum rap) is true. Sanding seems to be the most reviled of shop tasks among woodworkers. I’ve never understood that.

Sure, it’s dirty and dusty, but then quite a few shop activities are. And the motions can be repetitive to the point of becoming sleep-inducing if you’re looking at it as a chore. But why look at it that way? I’ve always enjoyed sanding – especially hand sanding – mainly because it’s the final important step before finishing a project. When the time for final sanding comes around, several things make it my favorite part of a project:

• Hand sanding is quiet, meaning it can be relaxing. You can listen to music while sanding, and actually hear it.

• Sanding isn’t strenuous in any way. No heavy lifting, no pushing or pulling, no carrying, no hammering, no pounding.

• It’s one of the safest shop activities you can do. No spinning blades or cutters, no sharp metal edges, no flying chips or debris.

• Most sanding is at the end of a project, which for me usually occurs at the end of the day. It’s a perfect way to wind down with a cold drink and a snack while doing something that, in itself, is relaxing and non-demanding.

• It smells great. Few things are more aromatic than a freshly sanded project made with a fragrant stock.

• Being the last step before finishing, it’s the time you put away all the tools you used and take care of all the scraps cutoffs and do some shop cleaning. It’s not the ending of a project, in that sense, but beginning of the next.

• Best of all, it’s when I can really become part of the piece. Sanding requires you to touch every inch of a project’s surface, to feel the smoothness of the surface and the tight fit of the joints. It’s when you can truly examine a piece from all angles with two senses simultaneously – sight and touch – and check for anything that’s amiss. And if nothing’s amiss, it’s when I appreciate my work the most.

A finished project in the living room is nice, but final sanding is the time when I’m really bonding with my work.

Till next time,

A.J.

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