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I know I can smooth surface right after stripping is done. And I read somewhere that I can choose to perform smoothing step after pre-conditioning step instead. What I would like to know is if I can skip sanding, to smooth out the surface, until after applying :

a) stain to surface?

b) protective coat(in my case polyurethane satin finish)?

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1 Answer 1

Sanding
The core of the sanding must be done before you finish your work; in other words, just after stripping. Most paint strippers won't do a perfect job, sanding will help you remove the leftovers. Sanding can also be used to remove any existing scratches or dents.

Raising the grain (Optional)
Once your piece is perfect (no visible scratches and smooth), you can then choose to raise the grain or not. Your stain's instructions will usually tell you if you have to do it or not. The goal of this step is to greatly reduce the fuzzies created by stains or finishes.

To raise the grain, you must:

  1. Wet your piece,
  2. Wipe the excess of water,
  3. Let it dry overnight,
  4. Sand the piece again with an extra fine paper (Rule of thumb: The next grit after your last sending grit.)

Maybe this is what you heard about smoothing the surface...

Staining
To be honest, read your stain's instructions and follow them. Some products will require you to sand between coats and others will advise against it.

Varnishing
Varnishes usually requires you to lightly sand with extra fine grit between coats. Once again, your product's instructions are your friends!


tl;dr

a) No. b) No.

Read you product instructions.

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What if I missed a spot? Can I still correct it after the stain has been applied? –  user272671 Aug 3 at 20:29
    
If I miss a spot, I would re-sand the whole surface where the spot is. The goal would be to avoid two coats of stains on the edge of the spot that I would have fixed. If you are really really accurate, you could just sand the spot and stain it and avoid the 2 coats on the edges... I'm not that accurate. –  Maxime Morin Aug 4 at 1:59

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