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I'm trying to finish a finishing job on a dresser; I abandoned the project (long story) a while ago after getting a few drawers done, and I've since lost the exact instructions I was following. After putting the polyurethane on the third drawer, I realized I must have used two coats of stain on the first drawers, so I sanded the thing with 60-grit sandpaper to get rid of the polyurethane and start over with the staining.

Thing is, while most of the drawer is looking fine and ready to be stained again, the shorter edges, which have a nice sloped curve to them (see images), look seriously scratched up, as if I were sanding against the grain or something. I always sand along the length of the drawer (which is rather tricky on the short edges), so I'm at something of a loss as to what's going on, especially as the longer edges (which are also sloped) look fine.

Here's what I'm talking about:

End of drawer, with scratched-up short edge Detail of scratched-up edge

I doubt I'll care that much once it's all done, but it seems worth knowing: Is there something subtle about sanding edges like these that it looks like I'm missing?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

The short ends you pictured are the cross grains of the board. What I see is that you have used a too course sandpaper on these edges. This should be easy to fix. You need to step down the grit of the sand paper. any final sanding should be done with 220 or 320 paper. On these end details, use fine paper, break it's (paper's) back so it is flexible, and take your time working it on these ends by hand. It may take a few minutes, but it will smooth out nicely.

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Perfect. Thanks! –  Luke Maurer Jan 24 '12 at 19:08
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I take it I should still be sanding in the same direction as the rest of the piece then? (Pardon the n00bism; I'm not sure what cross grains are.) –  Luke Maurer Jan 24 '12 at 19:15
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With a very fine grit paper, you can go across the grain. Form the paper to the shape of the wood and sand away! –  shirlock homes Jan 24 '12 at 21:21
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one other thing to keep in mind: edngrain will absorm more stain than the surrounding wood and will therefore look darker. In order to mitigate this you want to increase the grit to the next series just on the endgrain...if you sand the whole piece with 220 then you should do 320 on the 2 short edges, following the profile of the contour. –  ecathell Jan 25 '12 at 16:40

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