How to Smooth Wood for Painting

by Alexis Rohlin
A sand block can help you avoid high and low spots when the job is finished.

A sand block can help you avoid high and low spots when the job is finished.

Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images

Smooth wood for painting with a blade scraper and sandpaper to create an even coat of paint on your woodwork. First, you must fill holes in the wood with spackle to make an even surface, then remove old chipped paint with a blade scraper. Making the wood as smooth as possible will require a bit of elbow grease, but if you take the proper steps your paint job will look as though it was performed by a professional.

Items you will need

  • Sponge
  • 2-inch Carbide blade scraper
  • No-shrink spackle
  • Putty knife
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper
  • Vacuum with brush attachment
  • Tack cloth
Step 1

Wash down the surface of the wood with warm soapy water and a sponge to remove any dirt that may make an uneven painting surface. Wait one hour for the wood to dry.

Step 2

Remove any bumps from built-up grime, loose paint, paint drips or blobs that dried during a bad paint job. Use a blade scraper for this task. Hold onto the scraper handle with both hands and run the blade down along the surface of the wood. Pull the blade in the direction of the wood grain. Continue to scrape it off until you can see the wood beneath it.

Step 3

Fill in any depressions, holes or divots in the wood with a no-shrink spackle. Pick up a generous amount with a putty knife and spread it over the holes in the wood. Pull the blade of the putty knife across the hole to remove excess spackle and make the surface of the wood as flat and even as possible. Wait overnight for the spackle to dry.

Step 4

Sand the wood with 120-grit paper in a back and forth motion across the surface. Sand it until the wood is even and smooth to the touch. Switch out your sandpaper to 220-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper. Sand the wood with this sandpaper, moving the paper in the same direction as the grain of the wood.

Step 5

Dust off sanding particles and pick up removed paint chips or bumps that you took off with the scraper. Use a vacuum hose with a brush attachment. Wipe down the wood with a tack cloth to remove any remaining dust.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you feel that you cannot press down onto the wood hard enough while sanding, look into renting an electric sander from your local hardware store. You can use the same grit or grade of sandpaper with an electric sander to smooth your wood.

Photo Credits

  • Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images