How to Smooth Wood: Choose the Best Tool for the Job

When it comes to wood smoothing tools, it's important to understand what to use, when and why. Use this guide to determine whether sanding, scraping or handplaning will work best for smoothing wood on your finished product.

The grit in sandpaper acts like a series of minute pointed scrapers, removing wood by compression failure at the points of the abrasive. It is a reliable way to smooth wood, but in some ways, it is as if you are using an uneven bed of nails. It leaves a series of erratic uneven grooves across the board, often leaves little balls of wood fiber at the end of the grooves, and tears the edges of the wood pores and fills them with dust. Clarity of the wood’s grain and figure is compromised for reliability.