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Sanding in tight spaces/turned legs

KiddervilleAcres's picture

Hi All,

Hi All,

I am in the process of removing the Ethan Allen finish on a cherry bench we have had for several years.  My wife and I didn't like the finish as we like to see the grain/figure of the wood in our furniture pieces.  At first I was hesitant as there could be a lot of mis-matched wood pieces, especially on the seat.  As it turns out, all the pieces go together quite nicely.

We've got most of the bench sanded but I'm having a problem getting into the small spaces between the back splats as well as the shaped/turned legs.   I had thought of gluing sandpaper to narroow pieces of wood but there must be a better way.  I also thought of buying a detail sander, but have heard that these basically bite the big one. 

Any suggestions as to how best to sand difficult to reach small areas?  Would rasps and/or rifflers be a way to go?  I suppose that we could get some furniture stripper to get these small arear but am afraid the difference will show on the final finish.  As a final finish we are contemplating several coats of polymerized tung oil, followed by wax.  The finish is not cast in stone but we want a finish that will best show the cherry.

Best regards,


Bob @ Kidderville Acres

Kidderville, NH



Use whatever tool needed to Git 'r Done!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

lare's picture

(post #106849, reply #1 of 7)

I have a Bosch detail sander that actually works very well. Wouldn't hesitate to grab it for a job like you're describing. Never owned a different brand so nothing to compare to, but I would definitely recommend the Bosch.

BG's picture

(post #106849, reply #2 of 7)

An old trick is to use broken glass for the tight spots. Break a piece of glass in a brown paper bag and scrape the wood gently.

SteveSchoene's picture

(post #106849, reply #3 of 7)

There are already sticks of sandpaper glued to sticks.  They are available in the nail polish section of every drug store.  The ones with the dense foam underpinnings work quite well and come in a wide range of grits. 



Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #106849, reply #4 of 7)

Hi Steve,

Duh on my part!  When I got home from work, the wife was sanding away with one of her emery boards (sold in every drug store)!  Last night, I started using a flat file to get the bulk of the old finish off and she was cleaning up around the back splats.

You response was somewhat anti-climactic/funny, but well received!  BTW, the flat file did work quite well, just had to be careful and not get too agressive with it.



Bob @ Kidderville Acres

Kidderville, NH



Use whatever tool needed to Git 'r Done!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

bigfootnampa's picture

(post #106849, reply #5 of 7)

It also sometimes works well to use strips of emery cloth held by their ends and worked back and forth like you'd towel off your back after showering.  The scotch brite type pads are good too.

Jimmy's picture

(post #106849, reply #6 of 7)

Coarse steel wool.  Saw it back and forth in the tight spots.  Leave a bit of old finish in the tight spaces.  Will look better when you apply a new finish.  Are you using a stripper or just sanding?

cowtown's picture

(post #106849, reply #7 of 7)

sanding through finishes can be a bit of a kludge, and if you use a solvent, you risk dissolving the finish into the end grain. To my mind it's better to scrape the finish off, and you've probably already got a small scraper already at hand.

Olfa utility knives, the ones with the snap off blades have a sharp edge, but the score line edge (where the blades break off) also functions as a real good little/fine scraper. It is also pointed, so it will help you get into tight spaces. Just don't really bear down on it, or you'll be snapping off the next blade.

hope that helps. Ain't refinishing fun?