Production sanding of raised-panel profiles

Woodworkers offer tips on sanding a large quantity of raised panel profiles. September 26, 2000

I rarely make more than a few raised panels, so I hand sand them. But I took on a job that has over 40 doors and I'm not looking forward to hand sanding all these raised-panel profiles. The doors have a standard cove raise. What do the production shops do for profile sanding?

Porter Cable makes a small profile sander, but if you're trying to do 40 raised panel doors per week it will still seem tedious! It runs about $90 and carries approximately 15 to 20 profiles.

With 40 doors, you would have more time in setting up a machine to do it than it would take by hand.

One possibility would be a flap sanding wheel from Klingspore's sanding catalog. They are about $70. If you combine this with a motor & table with a fence, it would be a nice setup for that type of job.
Just depends on how many you will do in the near future.

From the original questioner:
Have you ever done this setup with a flap sander and, say, a power feeder? I have had people tell me you round over the edges too much with one, but I want to try it out. If I can have someone tell me that they use it and it works, then I will know it's worth my time and money.

The only other option is to have a sanding profile of the raised panel made up and run it through that. Or blow $20,000 on a shape and sand.

3M makes a nice hand-held sanding pad just for this purpose. I don't know the part number, but it's made of a durable foam/nylon material with a hand strap. Just stick on a 5-inch disc of sandpaper and go at it. It will conform to any profile.

They're available in 1/8- and 1/4-inch thicknesses and 5- and 6-inch diameters. I get them from Louis and Company or Neuman Supply in Eugene, Oregon. They're kinda hard to find, but once you have them around everyone in the shop will be borrowing yours.

Try Crouch or Unique Machines. They make small-scale profile sanding machines.

Get out that random-orbit sander and force the outer inch or so of the pad to the shape of the cove, keeping the pad level with the panel and sand away, being careful not to round over the corners.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor R:
I would recommend using a Debb Wheel. Itís a moldable sanding disk that you shape to the necessary profile, which acts like a sanding shaper cutter.