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How to Sand Wood Logs

Marlene Affeld

Newly constructed log homes are lightly sanded to remove mill marks, soil and stains acquired during the construction process. Sanding is a process of abrasion with sandpaper. Log sanders are usually powered electrically or they are cordless and battery operated. Log restoration contractors often employ woodworking sanders powered by compressed air. Although time consuming and labor intensive, careful sanding of logs is the ideal way to restore the original bright look and smooth finish of older log homes.

  1. Clean the logs prior to sanding. Use a stiff bristle broom to sweep off dust, pollen and debris. While you are sweeping the logs, inspect for any signs of mold, mildew, fungi or moss build-up. A good cleaning will reveal hidden problems and provide an opportunity to repair or replace any damaged logs.

  2. Blast the logs. Media blasting using sand, ground-up corn cobs, walnut husks or soda is often preferable to sanding. Blasting under light pressure with an abrasive material is less erosive to the underlying wood structure than sanding.

  3. Use an orbital sander with adhesive discs to shape and form the ends of logs. The most effective method of sanding is to begin with a coarse sand paper to quickly remove surface marks and discoloration. Then sand out the coarse grit sand marks with finer and finer grit sandpaper until you reach the desired degree of smoothness. Start with 60 grit sandpaper and change to 150, 180 or 220 grit paper. Be carefully not to sand too heavily.

  4. Choose a narrow, belt sander to sand logs. In all cases, always sand in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Start at the top of the log wall and work down, sanding evenly as you proceed. Be careful how much pressure you apply to the sander so as not to make depressions or scars in the wood.

  5. Employ a small triangular hand sander to smooth burls, knots and splits. A 150 grit or finer grade sandpaper is recommended. Again, always sand in the direction of the wood grain. Replace sandpaper often to maintain a smooth, even finish.