Here is a photo of the sack back that I rubbed down the other day. I wanted to show the change in surface that occurs after using the gray scotchbrite pad to burnish the paint. As you can see, it completely knocks down the roughness and leaves a nice sheen. A rubbing with 0000 steel wool will finish it off and get it ready for oiling.
One of my favorite aspect of making chairs by hand is the various textures that naturally find their way into the piece. As I've said before, I prefer to use sandpaper only for knocking down grain that has been raised by scraping and because I do little scraping, most of the surfaces are straight off of the sharp edge of my tools. While painting the chair unites the silhouette, as you get closer to the piece, the various surfaces start to shown themselves.
I work diligently with my scraper to finish the seat pan so that the grain will shown and not tool marks. Here is the edge of the seat.
The bow is a place where I like the spokeshaved facets to give a muscular stringy look, building confidence and awareness of the bows role in supporting weight.
As important as the tool marks are in describing shapes, their absence is equally important when flat is called for. I like light to strike the top of the hand, light it up and then glance off as I keep moving.
In more machine based work, surface quality is often dictated when removing the machine marks. This most often points to sandpaper and the homogenous surface that it leaves. Yes it's all beautifully smooth but the lack of variation can be stifling. While you may be invited to touch it in one spot, that is where the connection ends. The various woods and shapes in a chair offer a great opportunity to explore surface as a means of describing the shape and role of the piece.