How to Sand Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen is an essential room in a house. When building a new home, woodworkers face serious scrutiny when designing a kitchen to the owner’s choice. From the tiles on the wall to the ventilation system, every aspect requires perfection. One such factor is the kitchen cabinets.

Most homeowners prefer wooden cabinets which are durable and have a perfect finish, but even some of those cabinets need to be refinished after a while. So, here are some ways you can sand your kitchen cabinets to make them good as new!

How to Sand a Cabinets in 4 Steps

Disassembling the Cabinets

To sand your cabinets, you need first to disassemble them. However, before you do so, mark the cabinet doors sequentially using sticky notes or duct tape. This will help when you reinstall them. Next, remove all the hinges, latches, and knobs.

If you are fortunate, your cabinet doors are fitted with a release mechanism in the back. Just reach your hand in the end and pop it off the socket. If it has no release tabs, use a screwdriver to undo the screws attached to the door manually.

Try not to lose the screws as it is essential for assembling, later on. Similarly, unscrew the handles on the doors.

Getting Rid of Old Paint

To refinish your cabinets, you need to remove the old paint and grime that settled on it due to exposure. Lay your cabinet door on your work station, and apply epoxy and paint remover (available at your local hardware store) with a paintbrush. Apply with generous strokes of your brush all over the wooden surface.

Likewise, make sure it’s covered with a thick layer of the paint stripper. Wait until the existing finish starts drying off before the next step. Once it’s ready, use a regular hide scraper, and scrape off the old finish. Do it very gently, and make sure not to gouge the wood. Try to scrape along the grain as much as possible.

Then, wipe the wood clean, and get rid of all the shavings afterward. Don’t forget to clean the debris accumulated in between corners where panels meet.

Ready for Sanding

Once you’ve taken the dust and grime off, your cabinet is ready for sanding. You need a cabinet sander for this process. Since kitchen cabinets are usually smaller in size, consider using one with a triangle sanding pad to get in those corners first.

Accordingly, sand the corners and the corresponding sides evenly. Tilt the triangle sander sideways to sand the insides of the panels as well. Repeat the sanding with 80, 150, and 220 grits of sandpaper respectively.

Subsequently, use an orbital sander and sand uniformly all over the cabinet door. Sand over the panels and the sides as well. Be patient and try not to sand a particular area longer than the other. Continue the same technique with 80/150/220 grits. Rid the entire surface of debris using a vacuum.

Refinishing the Cabinets

For this step, use a lint-free cotton cloth to apply a wood conditioner over the entire surface. Apply smoothly and cover every inch of wood. It will dry off in approximately half an hour. After it dries, apply the stain using a cotton cloth. Spread the stain lightly across the wood, and exert some pressure to fill any pores or cavities.

Let the stain sink in for about 15 minutes (or as mentioned on the back of the container), then wipe off the excess stain with a small rag. After it’s all dried out, buff the cabinet constantly with steel wool. This is to assure that there are no dust particles left astray. Vacuum and wipe with a tack cloth for more assurance.

At the same time, when all the dust particles are taken care of, apply the clear coat. Spread it evenly with thin strokes of your brush. Brush it from the wood frames and upwards.

However, the strokes must be precise and effortless. After drying, buff and vacuum the surface one last time. Apply the second clear coat for a dazzling finish, then leave it to dry, and your job is done!


Refinishing your kitchen cabinets will be reasonably easy if you follow these steps in the correct order. Always maintain safety while sanding. Wear protective glasses and masks to prevent debris from harming you.

You must wear gloves while handling the wood conditioner as it may erode your skin on touch. Moreover, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for more efficient use.


David has been a Craft & woodworking enthusiast for 10 years, and in that time has written huge resources on Sander, woodworking, and tools.

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