How should you smooth plywood edges?
Do you know a technique for smoothing plywood edges? I need to remove fuzzy bandsaw lines without rounding over the edges, and I have a lot of pieces to do.
—Bill Lloyd, Warrenville, Illinois
A random-orbit sander makes short work of the straight edges on your workpieces, Bill. Just center the sanding pad on the edge and work slowly to avoid tipping the sander. An oscillating spindle or disc sander works great on curved edges, but there are ways to do the job if you don't own one of these. Try smoothing rough, curved edges using a belt sander that has one side perpendicular to the platen. Start with 100-grit or 120-grit belts.
To let the belt turn freely, lay the sander on a scrap of 1⁄8 " or 1⁄4 " plywood double-face taped to the bench. Then clamp the sander atop the scrap on the bench. Raise your workpiece by placing it on a scrap of 3⁄4 " plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) double-faced taped to the workbench in front of, but not touching, the sander belt.
For accurate edges, first bandsaw to within 1⁄8 " of your layout line. Then, turn on the belt sander and press the workpiece against it until you sand the edge down to the line, as shown above. For sanding inside curves, relocate your 3⁄4 " worksurface to the sander's front roller. Finish by hand-sanding to at least 120 grit with a rigid block.
You also can sand parts by hand, although it will take much longer. Use the curves on scraps cut from your workpiece to follow the edges, as shown below. Spray-adhere 80-grit through 120-grit sandpaper to the curved scraps, and work the edges down to the marked lines.