Sanding Stile and Rail Profiles

Tips for choosing and using sanding wheels, or making a precise sanding block. April 30, 2009

I currently pre-sand stiles and rails for cabinet doors using a shop made sand block which is a piece of wood with the rail cut on one end and with the insert that goes into the stile removed. Apply a piece of stick on sand paper and sand the pieces. Problem is that although the sandpaper on the sand block takes the form of the stile, it doesn’t seem to sand the whole shape and also the sandpaper doesn’t last long enough before I have replace it with a new piece. Does anyone have any other methods of sanding that can help me out?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
I use 7" sanding stars chucked-up on a drill press. It works very well for contoured sanding and rails/stiles. I plan to purchase a SuperMax Brush Sander to help out even more.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I checked into that and will try it out. I also heard that a flap wheel could also do the job. What do you think?

From contributor J:
Flapwheels are ok for much larger detailed pieces. But I guess it depends on which kind. Some are really rigid, one flap per segment wide; you don't want those. Others such as Klingspor's Mac Mop have a bunch of individual strands which are a lot better. However, the strands are oriented parallel to the shaft. So they won't get into those tiny sharp crevice’s you find in door profiles. They will also round-over the sharp edges a whole lot more. The sanding stars strands are perpendicular to the shaft so they get into everything and gently round things over. Just be sure to break up the sanding star strands before using.

From contributor G:
Are you asking about sanding the stick profile that the shaper cuts? If so, with good tooling it should not need sanding. The reason the entire profile is not being sanded is because the thickness of the sandpaper changes the geometry of the profile enough that is does not match.

From contributor V:
Contributor G is correct about the sandpaper thickness causing error. To make a reverse sanding block that fits correctly, first stick the sand paper to the profile you need to sand. Now sand your reverse sanding block until it fits the sand paper covered profile. Now you have compensated for the paper thickness and can stick paper to your sanding block and sand the profiles.