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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

I'm new around here (will post an intro soon.) I've recently gotten into wood carving, and I'm working on my first stick, which I'm making from an aged sweet gum blank. My question is, for a hiking stick that is going to be used, and on which I'm planning to leave the inner bark, what is the lowest grit to which I should reasonably try to sand the bark? I want it to look nice, but I figure there's probably no use in sanding to 2000 when I'm just gonna scuff it on a rock anyway. Not sure where the best balance is.

Thanks for the help!

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Hi,
I would start probably with around 220 grit and do a small section maybe at the bottom and see if that's peeling off enough outer bark for you? If not you can go down bit by bit until you see it removing the outer bark easily. You might then decide to go back up in grit to smooth out the surface after. Make sure your sticks well dried. Good luck.

Sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh, I'm not talking about removing the outer bark, I already did that. I'm asking about finish sanding the inner bark. Thanks!!!

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Take a look at the inner bark and determine how smooth you'd like it and the look your going for and go from there. If you have a multitude of grits available start as high as you can and check the results. The highest I have is 220 and it does everything for a finish surface that I need and would suspect for most as well.

Welcome btw.
 

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I haven't tried using any sweet gum. They're not native where I live. How hard is the inner bark? Many of the woods I've used have very soft inner bark, and will scuff very easily. Early on, I would put several coats of urethane varnish over it to form a hard shell. I don't like the feel or look of the abrasions below 180 grit, so that's the min for me.

FWIW, I don't use much sandpaper any more. I get rid of outer bark, and most inner bark w. a farrier's knife, smooth w. 120 grit carbide blocks or wood rasps. Then I smooth w. scrapers. At the point I finish using the rasps or carbide, a scraper will produce a finish about as nice as a 400 grit w. little effort. And they are a lot cheaper than sanding paper in the long run. Think of them as knives that will only carve out thread size shavings.
 

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220 is about as fine as I will sand. I have found too fine a sanding on a walking stick IMO is a waste of effort. After all its a walking stick not a piece of fine furniture and will very likely get dinged/scuffed in normal use. I finish my sticks with 2-3 coats of spar poly then buff them up with a piece of denim blue jean.
 

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I wouldn't go past about 220. After I build a few coats of finish I go over the whole thing with steel wool and paste wax. It cuts any dust out of the finish and leaves it silky smooth to the touch with a satin sheen to it.

Scrapers are nice. They leave a nice surface without the dust that sanding produces.

Rodney
 
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