Removing Drum Sander Scratches

Tips for detecting and sanding out the scratches left behind by a drum sander. October 13, 2005

After drum sanding, is there an easy way to see if you have missed any of the residual scratches, cross grain or even vertical when you think you are finished orbital sanding? It’s a pain to put your finish on just to find out you’ve missed some. Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
The only way I would suggest is good lighting or taking your work into the sunlight.

From contributor A:
I would recommend that you wipe the surface with denatured alcohol. It highlights the scratches, cleans the dust, evaporated quickly, and doesn't seem to cook ones brain like other solvents.

From contributor D:
If you're going to be sanding after the drum sander - wet the wood. Don't saturate but wet it like you're applying a light even stain. With good light you can see scratches.

Better than that is when you put a sander on it the scratches will actually come out. The water will raise the grain and bring the scratches with it (and any other little hidden defects like dents, machine and scratches) and on woods like maple it'll cut 25-50 percent of your sanding time. I've been doing this with counters and tabletops for about 4 years now and have probably saved hundreds of hours sanding and there are no scratches when I'm done.

From contributor R:
When I use the widebelt on anything I intend to sand with the random orbital after, and I always sand to the next grit finer with the widebelt than I'm going to sand with the orbital. This way it eliminates your problem and it's much faster and easier to sand 220 back to 180 than it is to sand 120 to 180.

From contributor B:
Using bright lights shining low across the surface will create scratch shadows. I've used this
for years, and it works great. The web site below has sanding lights.