As Jesse suggested buy a good quality 5 inch, "random orbital" sander and good quality sandpaper. I have a Dewalt. Almost all of these sanders come with a dust attachment. I remove the dust catcher and tape on a hose to my shop vacuum. This keeps the sanding dust to a minimum and keeps the sandpaper cleaner. I have borrowed extra hose from neighbors trash but you can also use pool cleaner hose which is very lightweight. I use blue masking tape to hold the hoses together. These sanders come in 8 hole and 5 hole for dust removal. A set of noise ear muffs works great at keeping the noise down from the sander and shop vacuum.
The palm sander is good but I found the newer triangler versions even better as they can go into tight corners where the palm sander can't easily get. You can also hook these up to the shop vacuum. I got the Craftsman version from Sears, it looks like a small laundry iron. Buy a lot of extra sandpaper in the 80 grit version as Jesse suggested.
After sanding go over the logs with a brush on the shop vacuum to get out anything left.
Thank you for replying. One question. my boyfriend has it in his hand, an orbital sander is going to go against the grain...why don't you use a straight back and forth motion sander>>??? Very inexperienced in sanders!! as you can tell! i am doing the sanding so i want to do it right! thank you.
Thank you for your reply!
Try the Osborne Brush product from PermaChink. Two different sizes 4" or 6", and 4" easier to work. Two grits (80 and 120) and worth maybe both grits per average interior. They work in a orbital type sander and reach into tight spaces and on varies finishes (hewn, planed, drawknife). Worth the money. Available thru several log tool outlets or from PermaChink direct at (865)524-7343.
It really depends on how smooth you want the finish to be. You will also find that the first coat of sealer will raise the grain somewhat. If you are using a ureathane you could do a light sanding using 120 between coats but it is a lot of work. I would not try this with finishes like linseed oil.
Read the sealer instructions carefully as many allow you to put on several coats without sanding inbetween if done within a certain time between coats.
The best thing to do is take a small area where the result is not so noticable and try sanding once with the 80 and then with the 120 and see the results. You can wet the log with a little water to get an idea of how much grain raising will take place as this will vary quite a bit with age and log type.