How to Sand Rough Wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Wood comes from a variety of manufacturers and not all wood is smooth and bump free. Certain pieces are rougher than others and require a lot more work to even out bumps, dents, ridges and other imperfections. Rough wood is a challenge to sand and work with. But sanding can be achieved with sandpaper and a sanding block or electric sander. Once rough wood is smooth, it is ready for your woodworking or construction projects.

Wipe the rough wood with a soft cloth or rag to remove any loose dust and dirt. Wear work gloves, safety goggles and a nose mask.

Turn the piece of rough wood so you see the grain.

Attach a piece of 80-grit sandpaper to a sanding block or electric orbital sander. You can also sand by hand.

Hold the sanding block, electric orbital sander or your hand at a 45-degree angle and sand the piece of rough wood in the direction of the grain using even, firm strokes. Sanding against the grain will result in scratches.

If using a electric orbital sander, do not apply excessive pressure-guide it in even strokes over the rough wood.

Wipe the wood frequently with a tack cloth to remove dust. Use a new piece of sandpaper when the old one becomes slick.

Continue sanding until wood is smooth.

Attach a piece of 150-grit sandpaper to a sanding block or electric orbital sander. Sand parallel to the wood grain to even and smooth out any ridges, scratches and imperfections.

Vacuum the dust from the wood and the area around it with a shop vacuum or canister vacuum cleaner.

Apply 3 tablespoons of paint thinner to a soft cloth or rag. Wipe the wood.

Re-apply paint thinner to the cloth or rag. Continue wiping until the wood is free of dust.

Re-vacuum the area.


When sanding, do not extend the sandpaper too far past the wood's edge; this will cause the edges to be rounded.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 soft cloths or rags
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Nose mask
  • Sandpaper: 80-grit
  • Sanding block or electric orbital sander
  • Tack cloth
  • Sandpaper: 150-grit
  • Shop vacuum or canister vacuum cleaner
  • Paint thinner
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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.