It also depends on the finish. A hard finish, like a varnish, can be polished, sanded, or steel wooled. It all depends on how much sheen you want.
An oil finish can be rubbed out with a soft cloth after several weeks of drying for a shine. The final sheen of an oil finish is directly related to the condition of the surface prior to application of the finish.
Ryan, I can tell you what Garrett Hack told us in a class he taught at the shop. He says get your card scraper really clean and sharp and then pull it across the surface relatively lightly. We were working with a shellac finish and I found that it worked for me. Just looked over at the table in my living room and smiled. Charlie
I love how smooth I can get a workpiece by using a hand plane. So much more satisfying than sanding for hours when I have a choice as to which way I can go.
My question to you is this: How does one get back to that glass-smooth feel after applying a finish? I think all finishes raise the grain in wood, so what comes next? Do you hand tool experts grab a fine grit paper, steel wool, go for the hand plane again, or something else entirely?
I'd love to know your experiences before I get myself into a corner on my current project. Thank you!