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Thread: How long to sand a cabinet?

  1. #1

    How long to sand a cabinet?

    How long does it take you to sand a cabinet? I'm building standard base cabinets and each is taking about an hour to sand (carcase only). This seems incredibly inefficient.

    I'm using my RO sander and doing 120 then 150. I have some chalk markings from cutting joinery, and use them coming off as a guide. Any thing I can do to improve this efficiency?

    How often do you change disks? About how many cabinets could you sand with one disk?
    Last edited by Chris McLeester; 01-28-2019 at 10:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    So, are you talking about only the Faceframe... and/or the Doors, and/or any exposed sides?

    Need more info.

    I personally am NOT the guy to answer this, but I am interested in your getting your question answered, AND for myself hobbyist also.but the ones that know need more info.

    Marc
    I'm pretty new here, not as as experienced as most. Please don't hesitate to correct me

  3. #3
    Depends on the cabinet. 5-10 minutes on average I'd bet.

  4. #4
    Marc - I'm talking about the carcase, not the face frame.

    Martin - Do you do only one grit? Which one(s)? How often do you change disks?

  5. #5
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    Sanded Ply ?

    Thin veneer or generous ?

    Stain or paint ?

    Marc
    I'm pretty new here, not as as experienced as most. Please don't hesitate to correct me

  6. #6
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    You question is a conditional answer. You always sand starting with about 120 then 180/220 and 320 if it is a porous grain like oak. Maple and Cherry are good at 220. You do not want to over sand. Remember sanding is scratching the surface but with finer and finer scratches. You can use a random orbit sander but the last grit should be hand sanded with the same grit on a rubber or cork block with the grain. You can use mineral spirits on the wood to see if you have any imperfections or glue that has not been removed. Let the mineral spirits dry and then seal and finish. Do not neglect to seal the wood. The finish coats go on smoother and less of them if you seal. I use clear dewaxed Shellac(Zinnzer Universal Sanding Sealer) and wipe on Poly (Minwax) or I spray Minway Poly through a HLVP Earlex if the project is large enough to justify all the setup and cleaning.

    So most cabinets are plywood and are already sanded to about 100 or so before you get it. The veneer is thin and is easy to over do with power sanding. Keep the sander level especially along the edges where is really easy to over do the sanding exposing the ugly under belly.

    Feel the sand paper when new and when it quits cutting it is time to change. Feel the paper when it quits cutting and you will know the difference. Let the sand paper do the work. If you push harder then you only load up the sand paper and it burnishes and does not sands after that. I use the mesh type Mirka brand sand paper and it lasts through three or four cabinets. The Norton paper does not last as long ad the Mirka. A plus for the Mirka is you do not have to line up the holes with the sander base. Mirka collects dust better and lasts longer. Every type of wood reacts differently to the sand paper. Teak and oily woods load up the sand paper but hard woods like cherry and maple usually do not load up the sand paper. I have a Sander SItter base that has a gum rubber insert in it and when you put the sander in it it cleans your paper a little.

    The only way to learn about sanding is to do it and make mistakes and do not repeat the mistakes. The only way to master a task is to repeatedly do it and get progressively better each time you do it.
    Last edited by Guy Donham; 01-29-2019 at 1:07 AM.

  7. #7
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    I sand and finish before assembly. Less than 10 minutes on a trapped cabinet, 15 with one end exposed using a 6" Bosch random orbit. Only one grit on the interior, 150. 150 and 180 on exposed end. If I was doing it now, I'd buy prefinished plywood. I don't build face frame cabinets.

  8. #8
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    I sand and finish before assembly. Less than 10 minutes on a trapped cabinet, 15 with one end exposed using a 6" Bosch random orbit. Only one grit on the interior, 150. 150 and 220 on exposed end. If I was doing it now, I'd buy prefinished plywood. I don't build face frame cabinets. New abrasive with every box.

  9. #9
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    Honestly, I try to pre-sand components before actually putting a cabinet together. It's a lot easier and faster to clean them up when things are flat on the bench and it then only requires a little touch up/final passes once it's built. For sheet goods with quality material, you can often go right to the 180, too, in my experience.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 01-30-2019 at 10:13 AM. Reason: Misspoke...meant 180, not 150
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
    Can't answer the question without knowing a couple things:

    1. How big is the cabinet?

    2. How is it built (ex. frame and panel?, raised panels?, frameless?, )

    3. What's it made of?

    A pic would answer all three of those questions.

  11. #11
    Thanks, all. To answer questions about materials: unassembled maple ply pieces to be finished with shellac, interior only. Size varies from 18-36" wide with standard 24 depth and 30 height. Tongue and dado construction. Face frame will be glued to a rabbet on the front.

    Jim and Richard, I'm also trying to finish before assembly this time. I'm going to mask off the pieces before (based on advice you gave someone else in another thread, Jim). My last set took forever to finish inside the box brushing shellac. This will let me spray, which I much prefer. I'll go with 150 only since the material is already pretty smooth.

    I agree, Guy. I'll try changing my disk more often. Practice makes perfect. It really helps to know what my goal should be as I practice -- shooting for 15 minutes now. Maybe ten will come one day.

  12. #12
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    Veneer plywood? I never use anything coarser than 220 grit. I have no clue how anyone uses anything coarser w/o quickly cutting through that incredibly thin veneer. I always sand interiors components before assembly, and sometimes prefinish the parts, too. I doubt it takes more than 6 or 7 minutes to sand the 4 or 5 panels for a base cabinet. And I almost never hand sand anymore, definitely not for interior components.

    John

  13. #13
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    180 grit here, and only a few light passes to avoid going through the thin veneer.
    Scott Vroom

    If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Bernard Baruch

  14. #14
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    One thing I didn't see mentioned: RO sanders work faster when hooked up to dust collection.
    AKA - "The human termite"

  15. #15
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    Pre-finished ply for hidden components (backs and shelves) can be a real time saver, and the coating materials they use are typically tougher than what we use in the shop.
    NOW you tell me...

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