Video: Planing VS Sanding
Marc: Does a hand planed surface look better than something that's been scraped or sanded? Let's find out. (upbeat music) Any hand tool user will tell you that nothing beats a hand planed surface, but is that really true? I know I sand a lot of my projects to a high grit or scrape them and I like the results, but I do think there's some merit to it because a hand plane is actually slicing the grain. It's a nice clean cut and it leaves the pores wide open. When you sand, a lot of times you're actually abrading the surface, you're crushing it down and that could lead to a lack of clarity. But the question is, after you apply finish can you even tell the difference? So we're gonna do a little bit of an experiment today.
We're going to scrape, plane and sand some test boards and then finish them and see if we can even see any differences. Let's get to it. The test boards were drum sanded to 120 grit. The sanded samples were sanded by hand with 120, 180 and 220 grit. The scraped sample was hit with a few passes from a card scraper. For the planing, I'll use a freshly honed 50 degree blade in my low angle jack plane. Before we apply the finish, let's take a look at these results here. The hand planed surface is definitely better than the sanded surface just in terms of depth, clarity, it just looks really good. The question is, what's gonna happen after we apply finish? But you can see why hand tool users say that this surface is superior, because it certainly does look better. The scraped surface versus the sanded one over here, I don't see as much of a difference between the two. I do see some lines in here from the scraping, which can happen and that's why I always hit my scraped surfaces with a little bit of sandpaper before I actually apply finish.
But the difference isn't all that substantial here. Alright, so let's apply some finish and see what happens. The finish I'm using here is OSMO Polyx an oil based product. Each board gets a light coat on both sides. After the boards cured, I added a couple of coats of lacquer to one side, just to see if a thicker film finish effects the appearance. First let's take a look at the planned versus sanded and this is just the oiled side. And I do see a difference here. It's not dramatic, but it's definitely there. The darker spots are just darker on the planed board. They're a little bit lighter and it gives a little bit more of a consistent look to the sanded surface so this could come down to personal preference. Maybe you do wanna tone down some of that contrast, but for sure, the hand planed surface definitely has darker stripes on it. Let's flip it over and take a look at the lacquered side, oil and then lacquer.
And here I see another contrast as well. It just looks like this has more clarity. The lights are lighter, the darks are darker. So if you're going for contrast, it definitely seems like this hand planed surface looks better. Not that this looks bad, but the sanded surface is a little bit more muted and a little bit less of a high contrast. Now let's look at the scraped versus the sanded and this is the oiled side. I don't really see as much of a contrast in difference between these two. You know, generally speaking, the lights are about the same. The darks are about the same. The only exception is this area here does look a little bit darker than this, but I think that's probably more of a composition difference 'cause these were sliced from the same board and this just may be a little bit more darker material there.
But overall, I don't see that much of a contrast. Let's flip it over to the lacquered side. And once again, they both look pretty equal to my eyes. They both look great though. This is amazing material. Just for the sake of good experimentation, I took the original sanded board and gave it the planing treatment. So here's a side by side of the same board. Sanded on the left and planed on the right. Once again, the planed board shows more contrast. Now of course, a little experiment like this is not perfect and it's left to interpretation. You may look at those boards and see something different and your conclusion may be different. But I just wanna give you some data points that you could use for yourself and make a decision for what's right in your shop. Now if I'm to draw a conclusion from this, I've gotta say, the hand tool users are right. This surface is better and especially if were talking about a highly figured wood, I think it's totally worth it to tune up a hand plane and make those final passes with the hand plane.
If you can't and you have to sand, obviously it still looks good. That's absolutely beautiful. But if you want the most contrast possible, you gotta use a blade and not sandpaper. A scraper is a good, but I still don't think that the scraper is producing nearly as much contrast as we see with the hand plane and that could be circumstantial. These two pieces, my sample pieces were very different. The one I used for scraping versus the hand plane, so that could be a factor as well. But scraping and hand planes have another benefit. They're faster and they don't use as much sandpaper or create as much dust as sanding. So when I sanded those pieces, I had to go from 120 to 180 to 220 and some people wanna go to 320. That's a lot of work, a lot of paper and a lot of dust. I could do the same thing and get better results with about four or five passes of a hand plane. So this is where the whole hybrid woodworking thing comes in and I try to hammer at home in my book, that you really just wanna use these hand tools to finesse, or at least I want to use these hand tools just to finesse.
I don't wanna use it for milling, but if I can get better results, save myself time and money, totally gonna use a hand plane for it. So hopefully this helps you in your woodworking journey and gives you some information that you can use in your shop. Thanks for watching..