3 Common Types of Power Sanders and How to Use Them

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November 7, 2016

3 Common Types of Power Sanders and How to Use Them

Whether you’re an amateur DIYer or a more experienced woodworker, chances are, you need a good power sander. This tool will come in handy when you’re preparing a surface for painting or you simply want to give it a good finish. Perhaps you already own a sander, but you’re thinking of upgrading it. Either way, we’re going to show you the three most versatile types of sanders and how they can help you in your woodworking projects.

A good power sander will be of great help for whatever type of project you’re doing, and they can significantly reduce the time you spend preparing the surface for painting, for example. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at 3 common types of power sanders and how they can help make you a better DIYer.

  1. Orbital Finishing Sander

For starters, we have the orbital finishing sander, which is used for ultra-smooth sanding. Furthermore, using this tool, you can round over sharp edges, as well as remove dried coats of paint that cannot be removed with some other methods.  It’s easy to control with one hand, and it’s fairly quiet, as far as power tools go. An orbital finishing sander is a great choice for both amateur and veteran woodworkers, as it’s quite versatile and user-friendly. You might not want to use it for heavy-duty tasks, though, but for most situations, it will come in handy.

The orbital finishing sander is equipped with a flat, square pad – this is where you attach the sandpaper, using the provided spring-loaded clamps that will hold it against the pad. The pad itself accepts one quarter of a sheet of standard sandpaper (9 x 11 inches), which is why this tool is often called a quarter-sheet sander. And the orbital part comes from the motion of pad, which vibrates in orbits, or tiny circles, giving you a nicer finish.

  1. Random-Orbit Sander

The next item on our list is the random-orbit sander which, unlike the previously mentioned orbital finishing sander, uses a round pad instead of a square one. It’s a more powerful tool, as well; but also, it’s more difficult to control compared to an orbital finishing sander. Still, this is a great choice for more difficult projects, and once you master this tool, you’ll be able to achieve some pretty impressive results with it.

Usually, you will find a random-orbit sander equipped with a handle for one-handed use, with an ergonomic shape for the palm of your hand. This particular shape of the handle is something most people prefer, but there are also other types. For example, you can get a random-orbit sander with a D-handle and a barrel-grip handle, which are useful in other situations. Finally, it should be mentioned that this type of sander comes with either a 5 or 6-inch pad, the former being preferred for DIY projects.

  1. Belt Sander

Finally, we have the big guy – the belt sander. This is a serious piece of machinery that’s intended for quickly removing paint off hardwood floors or any other surface that requires extra work. Operating a belt sander is not something beginners should be dealing with, at least not until they master other types of sanders. This is a big and powerful tool that can potentially be very dangerous, so you need to know your way around it if you want to use it properly.

A belt sander, as its name implies, uses sanding belts, which is basically reinforced abrasive cloth in a shape of a loop. Two drums move the loop continuously, one of which is driven by the tool’s motor. Next, the belt itself is installed by using the tension-release lever, which makes it easy to change the belt once it’s worn out. Finally, most belt sanders are equipped with a tracking adjustment knob, with which you can center the belt, achieving optimal performance.

Which One to Choose

Ideally, it would be good to have all three types of sanders in your woodworking shop, but that can be a bit costly. And after all, if you’re not that serious about DIY projects or you’re not very skilled, having all these tools might not be necessary. In that case, a random-orbit sander is highly recommended. It’s powerful enough for most projects and it’s fairly simple to use. This versatility will be great for any woodworker, no matter how skilled they are. You can also find them at a variety of prices, so you can easily find the model that will fit your budget perfectly.

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