I'm building a few things out of pallets including shelves, tables etc. and I was wondering about what the best way to finish them would be. I have a belt sander lying around so I was wondering if that would do the job or would an orbital sander be better. Also what grit would be best and which timber oil or stain would you recommend.
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We have loads of pallet project aficionados in the community. Let me tag a few who might like to kick off the discussion and share their thoughts with you: @LePallet, @Yorky88, @Carol_Prime, @HansoloNZ, @lcantem, @Peggers, @Tara86. I'm sure @MitchellMc will also be keen to help when he is back on the site tomorrow.
Looking forward to seeing what you create.
Many thanks for your question, I'd be pleased to assist.
Personally, I use a combination of the Ryobi 800w Variable Speed Belt Sander to remove the bulk of the waste timber and a Ryobi One 18v Corner Sander Skin Only for finishing and detail work. You can do all the work with an orbital sander but I find the process most efficient using both of the tools if the job allows.
Here's a couple of samples I've just knocked up to illustrate using 120 grit on the belt sander and the random orbital. Note that the belt sander leaves grit marks in the timber as it is only running in one direction. Generally, you'll start off with a coarser grit like 120 then move up to a finer grit such as 240. It really just depends on how finished you want the timber to look. Reclaimed timber is unique in the fact that it is not perfect. If you are spending too much time finishing it, then it would be worth considering buying finished timber.
Below I've also applied a couple of coatings, the bottom one and oil-based clear varnish and the middle an oil-based stain and varnish. Pallet timber can be finished just like any other timber and the coating is more to do with your preference and to protect the surface.
Please let me know if you need further assistance or had any questions.
@MonkeyLearn Hey mate.
you will be fine using either a orbit or pad sander. Depending on what finish you like, but to get the best finish sand back at 80grit, leaving some colour keeps the texture, then work your way upto 120-240 grit, leaving it baby smooth
@MonkeyLearn I’ve used pallet wood for lots of projects and only tools I had for sanding are the Ryobi orbital sander and palm sander. My method is exactly what @LePallet Mentioned. I found to go in at 80 and work my way to 240 was the best technique for me. If I didn’t use 80grit to start I would have a lot of marks that showed up once stained. Not to mention I’d go through a lot of the fine sanding pads. The good thing with pallet wood is you don’t need it to be perfect if you like that look. Great to test out different methods and stains and see what end result best suits.