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We all love to sand (did we get enough sarcasm in there?), but there are lots of little things we can do to make the process more productive. There’s nothing worse than getting a project completed, applying the dye and seeing every surface blemish known to man show up. By including a raking light and introducing some kind of liquid to the process, you’ll reduce the frustration associated with finishing.
Surface prep is the foundation of any good finish. If you don’t do a proper job of eliminating dents, scratches and tear out, they’ll haunt you throughout the finishing process. Each layer added to an imperfect surface traps that imperfection deeper below the top level of finish. Adding more finish won’t level out the surface, unless you’re using an epoxy pour-on bar top finish that’s 1/4″ thick. Even then, major blemishes will translate to the top surface.
To get a good finish, start with good surface prep, and that means proper sanding. And if you’re going to sand, you might as well take advantage of learning a few useful tips from two guys who’ve screwed up more surfaces than any ten woodworkers you know.