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Four Steps to a Flat Panel

Four steps to a flat panel When it comes to sanding a glued-up, solid-wood panel flat, a belt sander is really the tool of choice. And it only takes four easy steps to get the panel flat and smooth. Here’s how:

The first step in flattening a panel is to mark the high spots. Holding a metal straightedge across the width of the panel makes this an easy task. Gaps between the straightedge and panel indicate low spots. High spots, which will be touching the straightedge, are marked as shown. Check the entire length of the panel, moving the straightedge a few inches at a time (Fig. 1).

To “knock down” the high spots, hold the sander so it faces across the grain and move it back and forth over the pencil marks. Keep the sander moving to avoid gouging the wood (Fig. 2).

Load on a fresh belt and continue to sand across the grain. Move forward, backward, and slightly sideways in a long “W” pattern to level the entire surface of the panel (Fig. 3).

Finally, switch to a finer grit sanding belt and sand the panel with the grain. This will remove any cross-grain scratches and smooth the panel out before you apply a finish (Fig. 4).

Good woodworking,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor, Workbench

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