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Surface Preparation

Sanding is one of a handful of modern techniques that greatly enhances the rate with which a shop can produce its product. In its most basic form (and under magnification) sanding is just grinding really small gravel into your fine wood. If you look at the results under a microscope what you see is a uniformly devastated surface, or from a distance it looks softer or a bit fuzzy. When a wetting finish is applied the whole thing takes on a uniform glossy look and viola!, modern furniture.

But wait, there is another (predictably traditional) option, scraping! Well, scraping doesn't sound all that romantic does it, images of house paint typically coming to mind. But what a properly sharpened cabinet scraper does is to shave a very thin layer off the surface of the wood. What this does in practice is give you the same smooth uniform surface as sanding does, but instead of crushing the structure of the wood surface it shaves it clean. Thus a scraped board will appear sharper, it will have visual clarity and depth unachievable with abrasives, and it's historically accurate too.