Using a Sander

Using a Random Orbit or Belt Sander

Power tools are a great convenience, and power sanders are no exception. As much as a table saw, a drill, reciprocating saw, or even a hammer has a specialized job for which they excel, sanders are great at keeping your projects smooth and splinter free. They are also great at cleaning off rust, and old paint when remodeling, or performing maintenance. In fact, a sander should be an essential part of your home repair toolbox.

belt sander

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Proper Drum Sander Use When using a drum sander for the first time, its very tempting to think of it like a thickness planer. After all, the machine pretty much works exactly the same way. But its probably best if you only consider the drum sander as a finish sanding tool. Removing too much stock at one time will result in tremendous heat buildup, burnt sandpaper, blown fuses, and a screwed up piece of wood.

Orbital Sander Tips

Cabinetmakers give advice on avoiding swirl marks. One thing I've noticed on my 6" Dynabrade is that since the rubber backer is slightly convex shaped, if I leave the sander balanced in the center I get more swirl marks. If I lean it slightly off to one side or the other so that the edge is doing more of the work, the swirls are almost eliminated. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because the random motion is more pronounced at the edge than it is in the center.

Best Uses for a Belt Sander

A belt sander is a great tool to have around to tackle a number of weekend projects. This power sander can be used for a wide variety of jobs from sanding wood furniture to fixing a door that sticks. Having one of these tools on hand will make it easier and quicker for you to finish your next project.

Comparing Sanding Discs

There are any number of brands when it comes to sanding discs, and this can reflect the price, as well as the grit and grain quality of the discs themselves. You will want to find the best grit paper for the job, and one that holds tight to your sander as well.

My Five Favorite Sanders

I used to loath finish sanding because it was slow, super dusty, and just down right boring. These days I embrace the process, and rather enjoy the steps involved in creating a smooth surface, but I still find the work boring. The reason for this dramatic attitude change is due to technical advances in today’s sanders that speed the work and reduce the mess. I’ll walk you through a variety of my favorite hand-held electric sanders telling you why I like them, and how they save me time and mess. I use most, if not all of these on pretty much every project I build. Each sander does one aspect of the finish sanding extremely well, so by combining their use I can greatly reduce the overall finish sanding time. Dust collection is very important to me these days. Any dust that can be collected at the source is less dust inhaled and less dust to be cleaned up later, and that is good.

Random Orbital Sander

Random orbit sanders have been around since the 1940's in the automobile and other metal finishing industry as air driven models. It was only when they were converted to electrically run tools twenty years ago, that they gained dominance, as the finishing sander of choice with woodworkers. While they won't replace a belt sander for heavy duty rough surface smoothing or a 1/3 to 1/4 sheet pad sander for getting into tight corners, overall, they will end up doing 90% of your sanding for you...with much better results and far less effort.