4 Ways to Fix Sanding Mistakes

Sanding can take a lot of patience, and therefore the temptation to hurry the process is ever-present.

Sadly there are no shortcuts because even a slight change can lead to disastrous consequences such as accidentally causing scratches, uneven surface, or unwanted rounded edges.

Lucky for you, this article offers the right fix for each of these sanding mistakes to reverse the damage done.


How often have you come across an instance where just as you start sanding down your wooden surface, you notice there’s a scratch?

You need to do is figure out the cause of the scratch. Remember that if you are using a simple block sander that operates manually, chances are you are getting deep, straight scratches.

A random orbit sander could cause small circular scratches to appear on the surface, whereas a rotary sander can result in wide circular patterns on the wood.

All you need to do is change the pattern of each step; this will help you in finding the source of the problem by looking at the direction and shape of the scratches.

So if you are using an orbit sander first, finish up by manually sanding down the surface until they are no longer visible.

As a hint, you can follow the following steps to eliminate scratches or avoid this problem completely.

Start with gritting down the surface by hand, ensuring that instead of doing it in a perpendicular motion to the grain of the wood, choose to grit by on a slight angle directed to the right or left of the grain.

Once you’re done, proceed with a random orbit sander for a smoother finish.

The majority of the time, simply sanding a blemish or deep scratch in the wood will fix the problem; however, if that doesn’t work for you, try applying water to raise the grain of the wood.

This will get rid of the depth of the blemish or scratch and hopefully fix the mistake.

Uneven Surface

The most common mistake that any novice might make while sanding a wooden surface is ending up with an uneven surface.

In case you’ve made the same error, don’t panic because this can be fixed very easily.

The trick is to keep sanding; however, remember to take breaks and make a proper assessment every few minutes because you could risk over sanding, which could change the shape of your project, causing irreversible damage.

I would also like to give you an additional hint: Always be aware of the direction you are sanding in. Never sand against the direction of the grain; the rule is to always sand in the direction of the grain of the wood.

Rounded Edges

Everybody has fallen victim to this common mistake, letting the edges of your wooden board get rounded.

Now, this won‘t be a problem if that was the intention and your specific project requires rounded edges, but if that’s not the case, you may be in deep trouble.

You will have to take extreme measures to fix this problem, so it’s better to prevent it in the first place. Don’t stay in one spot for too long. You need to keep moving as you sand.

This rule applies even if you’re sanding down the wooden surface manually or with a machine. This is applicable for both avoiding unevenly sanded wooden surfaces and rounded edges.

It is recommended to you use a sanding block near the edges as keeping the sander away from the edges can be tricky if you’re not an expert.

You can fix this mistake by using a round sanding block.

Finish with a Plastic appearance

If you performed everything successfully, but your finished look gives the sanded wooden surface the look of cheap plastic, then I’m afraid you have applied very thick layers of finish.

This can be a byproduct of multiple problems such as uneven layers of thick finish and defects. You can fix this problem by a technique called “rubbing out.”

You need to apply a thick film and then let it harden for a few weeks. Next, sand the finish to create a buffer and level it out.

Once you’ve reached this stage, the rest is easy. Keep on working on the finish until your desired level of sheen is achieved.

As a final piece of advice, I will suggest using a pore-filler to avoid an uneven surface even after you’ve tried flattening the top.


Thankfully all of the above problems are not irremediable.

The goal should be to take the right precautionary measures to avoid such issues in the first place, but we as humans are bound to make mistakes.

I’m hopeful that you found the tips, advice, and solutions to be of help. Good luck with all your future woodworking endeavors!

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