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Detail Sanding Tools ?

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I'm a newbie to this task. I have red oak kitchen cabinets that I want to sand and restain.
My problem is the length of time it takes to sand down ONE door. and I have about 35 doors
to refinish. They are what I believe are called "raised panel" doors, but there are about 6
different edges - 4 are about 1/8 inch. In addition, the surface of one inset has a curved
profile. I bought a rotary sander that works great on the flat areas. BUT, I am shopping
around for "detail sanding" tools and not having luck finding the right tool. Yes, I found a
sanding sponge with an edge - still a lot of manual work ! I've been looking at oscillating
sanding tools, but am striking out. I also see a "sanding mop" out there - pretty pricey and
I'm not sure how well it works. If it works, I'd pay the price... WHAT DETAIL SANDING
TOOLS SHOULD I BE USING ? thanks for any shared wisdom ! 


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What are you going to do after they are sanded? What is on them now? Would a stripper work,then a light sanding? Are you going to re-stain or paint? and what are you going to use for a clear finish,if you stain? If this is the factory finish, it is probably a lacquer finish on them now.

Just a suggestion, but you might take a door to a paint store and see what they recommend for a stripper.



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4 minutes ago, Dadio said:

What are you going to do after they are sanded? What is on them now? Would a stripper work,then a light sanding? Are you going to re-stain or paint? and what are you going to use for a clear finish,if you stain? If this is the factory finish, it is probably a lacquer finish on them now.

Just a suggestion, but you might take a door to a paint store and see what they recommend for a stripper.



I'm sanding off a golden oak stain and varnish and replacing the stain with a mahogany Danish oil stain. I think the Danish oil is a combo of stain and a finish.  Great suggestion on possibly stripping - will check that out.


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8 hours ago, lew said:

If these were commercially built units, they may not have been stained but had a tinted lacquer finish. True stain would require a whole bunch of sanding as it penetrates into the wood

My thoughts exactly.


If you strip the doors, then do a light sanding, then I suspect you will be where you need to be. You're going back with a much darker color which should help cover any imperfections in the stripping/sanding processes. If they used a penetrating stain, then it may be a lost cause, as you will never get the color out of the wood.

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 Trying to sand the old paint off will take many days and not a good idea to do it that way.


   If you can still find some commercial paint remover that would be great.....There are , were two types.. the very thick and the thin style.... Don't even try the thick for you will have to use a scraper to remove the crud and you will make lots of gouges and scratch marks that should be removed to look good again...

   Starting by laying a door flat  just brush it on and continuing keeping it wet for a few minutes until it all gets loose on the one side then turn it over and do the other side.... then stand the door up and down and keep brushing more remover on both sides. All the finish will slide off the bottom...After that use some 0000 steel wool soaking in lacquer thinner and clean off all the areas especially the cracks and crevasses. Using the thin type no scraping is required...the lacquer thinner will dry the surface where in just a few minutes you can lightly sand the area keeping all areas the same look. meaning don't sand more in one place than the other...The lacquer thinner also prepares the wood for a new finish in just a very short timeand doing nothing else to the wood before the next steps.

   I use to use something like an oven rack to stand a door on so the crud will drain past the door. The lacquer thinner prepares the door for your new finish except for the lightly sanding with say 320 or there abouts sand paper. 3M has some very good flexible long lasting paper that is great. All pro I believe it goes by. It last forever and flexible enough to get along the cracks. The lacquer thinner will clean the cracks but if you leave a little old finish it will keep the new finish from drying in that area....really important to dry all the shiney spots with the wet steel wool.

   With all due respect to Keith I don't believe he has ever been around any one using a commercial remover so his experience won't be the same in removing an old finish. I did have a furniture shop and I did this on all the furniture that I refinished. 

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If the color was added to the lacquer as a finish then yes a remover will remove that stain. Lacquer was the only commercially used finish back in the fifties and sixties when I had my shop then that is only color that you would be removing off the surface of the wood...lacquer thinner won't remove any stain that penetrated the wood itself. Your door looks as if when you remove the finish it will still be the same for the next clear finish.  This is the reason I suggested not overly sanding in one spot for the door will show a lighter area after the clear has dried. My cabinet doors look like yours and they had no extra stain added before the clear went on..  If you sand, do it the same over the entire door and it will still look good........that goes for all the doors...

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I don't think anything will reach into tight areas as 0000 steel wool does is the reason I still use it over the commercially made stuff. And yes an air compressor and a big soft paint brush is what I use to remove the 0000 and dust to get it ready for spraying on the new finish...

  Also if you want the doors darker any rubbing stain will work over your surface before you apply a sprayed on clear finish.. Once you apply the rubbing stain, dry all the excess off and this will enable you to keep a constant color and darkness through out the entire cabinet set up...

   And unless your business is brushing on clear finishes for a living then no you will not be happy with what you will end up with...…..This talent is god given so think about it for a while cause you will have to look at it for the rest of your life as each morning while you are getting that cup of coffee it will haunt you...and maybe have to commit yourself to the institution of unhappy folks

Edited by Smallpatch
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Always use synthetic steel wool.  The actual steel wool dust when finish is applied over it will turn black and ruin your finish.  I believe that is for waterborne finishes.  If using oil based finishes I think you will be good.

Here is my receipe does anyone see any issues with the below.

1. Strip the finish.

2. Sand the wood with 320 or 400.

3. Wipe down with laqurer thinner.

4. After dry move it to the finishing space in your shop and vacum throughy the entire peice.

5. Dye with alchol or water based dye to get your backgroud color.

6. Stain with oil based stain to create an interesting fore ground or do not stain at all.

7. Top coat with catelized laqurer or poly.

Edited by Michael Thuman
Correct wording.
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Been out on medical leave the last several days, but I'm finally back on this.   Thank you for your responses.


So my house was built 35 years ago and I have no idea if my cabinet doors have been replaced sometime. The

existing doors (look like red oak) have a "golden oak" finish.   It took me one hour to sand the finished door -

hoping I can cut this time down somehow. I have 30 doors to refinish. I put "WATCO Danish Oil" stain on the

door I finished. I'm not worrying bout being super perfectionist - I'll be happy with a rustic look.  Here's a side

by side picture of a finished and an existing door.  Will lacquer and synthetic steel wool speed up my process still ?

Otherwise I just throw the rotary sander on the door and take off the flat areas.  The struggle is with the irregular

surfaces.  Thanks !


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On 4/13/2019 at 11:04 PM, Stick486 said:

stripper wash down..

Recipe for furniture stripper:

Equal parts of acetone, methanol (wood alcohol), methylene chloride and tolulene...


non-woven pad rubdown...

color-grading non- woven pads.pdf 85.27 kB · 1 download

COLOR CODES NON-WOVEN PADS.pdf 12.98 kB · 2 downloads




Unfortunately, the Methylene Chloride is almost impossible to buy over the counter anymore. If you were to use this you will have to find a source or a chemical supplier that would be willing to sell it to you. Stripeze used to contain it, but IIRC it has been eliminated from the current formula(s).


If you do use Sticks formula, just ensure you use the correct PPE (respiratory, eye, and hand/splash protection), that is a pretty nasty concoction! Effective but nasty.

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