What Kind of Sander is Right For the Job?

1. Belt Sanders

When people visualize a sander in their minds, most people see a belt sander. These sanders feature a design that has two wheels, which have a circular belt of sandpaper stretched around them. When turned on, the wheels spin at a very rapid pace, providing excellent power sanding capabilities.

belt sander

Belt sanders are the most powerful of all hand held sanders, and are perfect to use at the onset of a large woodworking project, when large amounts of material needs to be removed. Use a belt sander when removing a large amount of paint or stain, or any time you prepare a work surface for a new finish.

Be careful when you operate these machines, because they can remove a lot of layers very quickly, especially if you are working with softer woods. If this quick pace is a problem, you may want to consider a belt sander with variable speed settings, so that you can slow it down when necessary.

Another type of sander is the narrow belt sander, which is similar to a belt sander, just with a narrower sanding surface. This can be a good option for smaller sanding projects. This Black and Decker belt sander review from our friends at PowerToolPro.com covers this very kind of belt sander.

2. Palm Sanders

palm sanders

Palm sanders are known by several different names, including finish sanders and pad sanders. These machines are designed with a small rectangular sanding surface. Most of the time these pads can be fitted with a 1/4 inch or 1/3 inch sandpaper sheet.

When you are operating a palm sander, you will notice that it vibrates in somewhat of a circular motion. To avoid scratching your work surface, you must move the sander in the same circular motion generated by the machine. When this is done correctly, these tools provides an excellent finish on flat surfaces.

These sanders are the perfect compliment to belt sanders. Use them after the belt sander does the rough work first.

3. Detail Sanders

Detail sanders are the smallest of all power sanders. These machines are used for getting into the small spaces that other hand-held sanders simply cannot reach. These sanders come in many different designs, and most come as part of a kit with many different attachments. Typical attachments included in a kit will be a triangular sanding pad for sanding in corners, and some sort of attachment for sanding curved surfaces.

detail sander

When it is time to add the final details to your woodworking project, the detail sander is the perfect tool for the job.

4. Random Orbital Sander

random orbit sanders

Orbital sanders are the most popular and most versatile of any hand-held power sander on the market today.

They work well for woodworking tasks of any size, and they can reach most small spaces with their circular sanding pad design. This circular pad moves in an orbital motion, with a small amount of randomization.

This random variation in sanding prevents scratches, swirl marks and gouges while you sand, automatically protecting your project.

Many of these machines also have variable speed settings, which is a big help when you are sanding soft wood or your sandpaper is wearing down. Dial up as much or as little power as you need to tailor your sander to the task at hand.

Most random orbital sanders now also feature on-board dust collection. This often comes in the form of a dust bag or canister attached directly to the sander that collects sawdust. Holes in the sanding pad provide suction that transports the sawdust to the collection mechanism as it is created. Some of these machines will also feature a vacuum hose port, which can be used attach a sander to a shop-vac or other vacuum for even greater dust collection.

To fully realize the dust collection benefits, you must buy sanding discs that have holes that align with the suction holes on the sanding pad. These are just some of the many great features of an orbital sander. If you are in the market for an all-purpose sanding machine to keep around the house, a random orbital sander is a perfect fit for you.

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