Sanding live edge on a table can be a little tricky. For me, I want to take any sharp edges off of the bark so it isn’t an uncomfortable piece of furniture to have around, but I don’t want to dramatically change its shape or contours. I also want to use the sanding live edge process to double check the bark and make sure it’s going to stay stuck. This isn’t a good job for a random orbit sander; that would flatten the bark too much. It IS is a good job for a flutter sander, also called a mop sander.
What kind of sander?
The sander we’re using to sand the live edge goes by a few different names: flutter sander, mop sander, sanding mop…there might be more. It’s made up of layers of abrasive, each layer going onto a mandrel at a slightly different angle than the previous layer. As it gets used the sander softens up (like a mop head, get it?) which allows it to conform to unusual shapes. As with any sander, a variety of grits are available so you can take your sanding from coarse to fine with this tool.
You may not find a mop sander at a big box store. You’ll have to head to a more specialized woodworking store or, like we did, order one online. This sander was purchased from Klinspor’s Woodworking Shop. It’s a good idea to get one mandrel for each grit you’ll be using.
Mop sanders are great for any irregular surface. In addition to the live edge worked on here, it made short work of cleaning up turned table legs. Check it out.