Every woodworker knows the importance of sanding before finishing. It is a task that needs to be taken seriously and be done with patience. In my opinion, the worst thing to happen to a project is to find imperfections after applying finish. Most woodworkers have their way of perfecting the wood before applying finish.
My preferred way to ensure a flat surface is to use a small flashlight and angle it against the wood surface to illuminate the imperfections in the wood. Even the smallest dings will show and you can sand them away easily. There is something satisfying about pointing your flashlight at an imperfection and watching it go away as you continue to sand around the area.
As with most sanding-related jobs, you must be concerned with consistency. If you see a sizable ding, you cannot plant your orbital sander on the area and let the sander do the work. You must feather out the area to keep it as unnoticeable as possible.
This tip was written by Matt Boley of Richfield, MN. Are there any tips or tricks you've picked up on around the shop that you would like to share with our growing community of woodworkers? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy woodworking!