Sanding. We all got to do it at some point. 

But who am I kidding...I actually really enjoy it!

Before we left for North Carolina I went on a power sanding marathon, sanding my hutch, dresser, and a changing table for a client. 

And pathetic as it is, I was SUPER sore when I was done. 

So I thought that we should do a Sanding 101 post. 

Sanding isn't super difficult, but there are a few tricks that make it easier.

Sanding 101
The first thing you need to know when sanding is understanding the "grit" of sandpaper. Grit is a reference to the number of abrasive particles per inch of sandpaper. The lower the grit the rougher the sandpaper and conversely, the higher the grit number the smoother the sandpaper.The grit you use depends on what you are trying to do.

Here's a chart describing various grits/grades of sandpaper and their uses:

30 grit
extremely coarse
60 grit
80 grit
100 grit
recommended for general purpose, drywall patches, furniture re-finishing
120 grit
180 grit
220 grit
recommended for general purpose, furniture
240 grit
320 grit
400 grit
recommended for fine finishing, polishing, gilding
600 grit
800 grit
recommended for fine polishing, hand rubbed finishes and gilding
1000 grit
1200 grit
1600 grit
extremely fine. Polishing, jewelry

I prefer a 60 grit for removing old stain/paint and a 220 grit for buffing.

Once you have the sandpaper you need, make sure you've removed all existing hardware, screws etc from the furniture. Side note: It is SUPER frustrating to misplace screws, nuts, bolts, hardware etc. Make sure you put all hardware in some form of container. This is ESPECIALLY important if you are reusing the original hardware on an older piece.  Sometimes old hardware isn't produced anymore. SO DON"T LOSE IT!!

Now it's time to sand. Hopefully you've already decided if you want to stain or paint your furniture. If you are wanting to stain the piece, sanding is going to be a little more time consuming. Staining is much more difficult than requires ALL the old stain to be removed. If you try to stain over existing stain, the new stain will be darker in the places where the two overlap, producing an uneven color.  

With painting, just the varnish needs to be sanded off before it is painted. You don't need to sand it down to the original wood.  And there are some new lines of paint that don't even require you to prime or prep your wood before painting. Seriously amazing!! (See Annie Sloans website for more info) Another tip: I find it easiest to sand horizontal surfaces as opposed to vertical ones. I usually rotate the piece as I sand.

It should look something like this. 
I did sand it down a little more after the picture but you get the idea. 

You will periodically need to replace your sandpaper as you sand. My general rule is one piece will last you 1/3 of your project's size for large projects. Does that make sense? I'm not sure how to explain it better. 

Essentially, if your sandpaper looks like this

it's time to replace it.

For sanding detail work, an electric sander usually won't be able to get in all the nooks and crannies. This little guy is great for such situations. It's called a sanding block.

They are about $6 at Home Depot.

Finally, how to sand and look good doing it. 
  1.  Don't wear anything you don't want to get dirty. I prefer a hoodie and sweats. They do wonders for my backside. :)

2. Make sure you wear some kind of protective eye wear. Sunglasses work fine.
        3.It is helpful to wear a mask so that you don't choke on all the dust. But I usually do fine                      without one so it's your call.
        4. Finally, it is SUPER helpful to either wear your hair pulled back or a bandanna etc.  Saw dust is actually really difficult to wash out of your hair, especially if your hair is thick.  
Now go get to work!! :)