Leaning Wall Shelves Part 3: Sanding…and sanding…and sanding

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Woodworking Tutorials

Furring strips.  They entice you with their unbeatable price, looking beautiful in their perfect bundles of straightness.  That is, until you cut one open.  I swear, I actually heard a “boing” sound–straight out of the cartoons–when the plastic tie broke open on one particularly warped pack.

And accompanying their lack of conformity to straightness is their rough texture.  But as I mentioned in Part 2, I was up for the challenge.  At least I was on day 1 of sanding.  On day 3 I couldn’t stand up straight and my hand had vibrated into uselessness.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Rough furring strips

Here is my sanding partner.  My Man bought this for me when I had to refinish the front door a few summers ago.  Gotta love that guy, he always gets the best: (UPDATE:  This would have went a lot quicker with an random orbital sander.  I don’t have one yet, but that’s what I’ve read now that I’ve been doing this awhile.  I still use this sander, but I also use better quality wood than furring strips for most projects.  I may invest in a random orbital sander in the future…)

And you are going to need sandpaper.  I used 60, 100, and 150 grits.  I found out when I went to get stain, that I should not have skipped grit numbers because it can cause scratch marks that only come out when you start staining.  I was sufficiently scared, since at that point, the shelves were assembled.  I would do it the same way if I had to again, since I did not see any scratch marks in the wood after staining.

The 60 grit is pretty rough, but so are the furring strips.  I spent the most time on the boards with this sandpaper.  I also discovered that the strips were cupped enough that the sandpaper would not reach the middle of the boards on one side.  On every board.  I broke a rule at this point and didn’t sand with the grain, but went up and back perpendicular to the long sides of the boards.  I didn’t see another way of getting into those boards.  The cupping presents problems later on as well, but we’ll get to that…

I worked on 4-5 boards at a time at my sanding station, which was 3 rubbermaid bins:

Do your back a favor and find something taller.  I spent about 15 minutes per board when it was all said and done.  That’s a lot of sanding.  Here’s a shot of 3 finished boards compared to some that haven’t been touched yet:

As you can see, even after all that sanding they are not perfect.  I do not mind some “character” in the finished product, so that suits me fine.  Here’s a shot of a Top Choice board compared to the furring strips–none of them sanded yet:

Can you tell which one is the Top Choice board (far right).  The Top Choice obviously needs less TLC before it is smooth.  They also have a lot fewer blemishes that cannot be sanded out.  But you can’t beat the furring price!