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I am creating and installing ca. 5000-bd.ft. of hard maple finishes. Keeping track of what I have already sanded is difficult, so before sanding, I rub the non-oil artist crayons (also available at artist supply stores) onto the wood and into the grain with a dry color sponge.
So I just sand down until all the chalk is gone. In addition to showing what has been and what has not been sanded, chalk brings out stains and sanding marks. Oil-free pastel chalk is a powder that does not stick to wood. If plaster remains in the pores after sanding, I simply moisten the surface with water. This lifts the plaster to the surface, so it smooths out easily. I use dark chalk on light woods and light chalk on dark woods. –Tim Jones
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