STCS Sander Buying Guide

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If you are looking to purchase a new sander, this brief article points out some ideas you may want to include in your decision process prior to spending your money on a sander.

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A sander is an essential tool that will get used in almost all do-it-yourself projects involving wood. Sanders can be used to remove large amounts of material or surfaces finishes easily and quickly, in addition to being able to create a smooth surface on your finished projects. There are several types of sanders out there, and several of them can only be used only for specific applications. One key to deciding on a sander is to get the sander that will meet your needs best. Here are the varieties of sanders to consider:

— Belt Sanders —
Belt sanders are best used during the starting phases of big rough sanding jobs as well as for the starting phases of large refinishing tasks. Belt sanders take off a lot of material in a hurry, so care must be used to keep from scarring the material being sanded. Belt sanders can tend to be heavy. Think about getting one that has an adjustable speed control as well as a lock button which lets you lock the speed which will allow you to place your hands in the most comfortable position when using the sander; this will help reduce user fatigue when using a belt sander.

— Detail Sanders —
Detail sanders are littler sanders typically used to sand around odd shapes and in small nooks and crannies like carvings, slats, curves and inlays. Detail sanders are frequently used for craft projects and on mill work such as window and door casings. To get the most use out of your detail sander, buy one with a lot of attachments since this will make your sander more flexible and make it usable in more locations and shapes.

— Disc Sanders —
Disc sanders come in both bench-mounted and hand-held models. The hand-held varieties are most suited towards home projects whereas the bench-mounted disc sanders are most often used by people who need to perform sanding on a more industrial scale. But there are some smaller bench-mounted options that are still cheap enough for consideration by the occasional user. Disc sanders are excellent for sanding angled edges and for finishing the end grain of wood. If you are thinking about getting a bench-mounted disc sander, additional features you will want to look for include: a belt sander somewhere on the frame; a tilting table; and a sliding miter gauge.

— Random-Orbit Sanders —
Random-orbit sanders have circular pads that move/vibrate in a circular motion with a random pattern. The random pattern lets the user move the sander in any direction on the material being sanded, even across the grain, without marring the material surface. This is the “safest” type of sander and it is one of the best available multi-purposes sanders; this makes it an excellent choice for the occasional user. Most random-orbit sanders necessitate the use of special sand paper designed for the brand and/or model of the sander being used.

— Sheet Sanders —
Sheet sanders come in models that make use of 1/4 or 1/3-sheets from standard-sized sheet sandpaper. Some sheet sanders make use of specific sand paper with adhesive or velcro to attach the sand paper on the sander. Other models are able to use any type of sheet sand paper. Obviously, the latter type of sheet sander is more flexible for the everyday user. Unlike the random-orbit sander, the sheet sander moves the sand paper in a single direction, so sheet sanders have to be moved along the direction of the grain of the material being sanded to avoid marring the surface. Like the random-orbit sander, sheet sanders are very versatile and they can be used on a lot of different types of projects.

— Spindle Sanders —
Spindle sanders are excellent for edge sanding, particularly on curves. Spindle sanders are always bench-mounted tools with a cylindrical spindle located in the center of a large worktable. There are no hand-held spindle sanders. As such, spindle sanders tend to be used by more industrial users and wood-working enthusiasts. If looking for a spindle sander, your best option is to look for one with an oscillating spindle; the oscillations increases the rate at which the sander removes material and it reduces the probability of gouging the material being sanded.