Some people will tell you that there are only four types of sanders you should concern yourself with. In reality, sanders come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, purposes, and price ranges. It’s essential that you familiarize yourself with as many as possible if you want to get the right tool for the job.
But, you should also know that sanders sometimes carry regional nicknames, depending on how they’re made and what they’re made for. This may make picking out the right tool even harder for beginners. In this article, I’ll try to explain all the types of sanders you need to know.
Belt sanders are often used to sand flat surfaces. They’re defined by their ability to get rid of large chunks of material quick, having variable speeds, and having enough power to deal with rough materials. You can use them to flatten surfaces such as doors and furniture sides.
This type of sanders uses sandpaper stretched over rollers. The continuous loop allows you to take on large projects with minimal effort and skip removing paint or sanding timber flooring.
Since it’s considered an aggressive sander, depending on the grit of the sand paper, you can use a belt sander on wood and metal. Use it on metal to remove paint. But, keep in mind that it’s a bit difficult to control if you lack experience.
There are two types of orbital sanders – standard and random orbital sanders. There are many similarities between them in terms of applications, but even more differences when it comes to efficiency.
Standard Orbital Sander
These sanders are detail sanders. They can help you work with tight corners and oblate edges. They operate by spinning the sanding paper in small circular patterns. If you want to compare it to a belt sander, the orbital sander is much more versatile and easier to control.
But, it makes taking care of large surfaces a lot harder. Also, you won’t be able to use a belt sander on curved surfaces and expect a professional-level finish. It’s a lot easier to mistakenly remove too much material with a belt sander.
Random Orbital Sander
This is another fine surface sander. What differentiates it from the standard orbital sander is the operational pattern. While it moves the sanding paper in little circles, the tool also vibrates in random patterns. This gives the surface you’re working on a more intricate finish.
You might also want to know that random orbital sanders come with special sanding paper. The sheet design allows for the implementation of dust collectors. You won’t find them on standard orbital sanders.
Now, you may be thinking that a random orbital sander is a complete tool. Why are some people still bothering with the standard design? That’s because the vibrations can sometimes make it hard, even for professionals, to get perfect corners.
You’ll often hear the terms file sander and finger sander used interchangeably. Both terms describe a sander with a visibly narrow belt that allows you to sand the hard-to-reach, confined places. Depending on grit, it can be used on ceramics, wood, plastic, and even metal.
In professional circles, it is mostly used for distinguished detail work. And, since it comes in a variety of sizes too, it can be used to detail, remove rust, and even sharpen various tools.
Oscillating Spindle Sander
This is a static tool that features an extended sanding drum. It often comes as a tabletop tool that can provide vertical and rotary action. The main purpose of an oscillating spindle sander, or OSS, is sanding challenging angles, curved surfaces, and small wooden objects.
Another reason why many woodworkers have an OSS sander in their arsenal is because it can be fitted with a wide array of attachments. These attachments can be used for sanding, finishing, scraping, and even cutting through the material.
Although stationary, an OSS sander is not suited for heavy-duty work. Keep that in mind before buying one for home repairs, instead of small art projects, framing, and other light tasks.
Straight Line Sander
If you need something to smoothen out straight edges, this may be the sander for you. It can even be used to finish flat surfaces and give them a nicer feel and look. But, you should know that a straight line sander comes in two styles – contour padded and straight padded.
Granted, if you need to work fast, this may not be the best option. The straight line sander is not known for being quick, but it is comfortable to use. Due to its unique movement that makes the sand paper go parallel to the grain, you’ll be able to quickly adapt around edges. Also, you won’t have to worry about any swirling or circular patterns throwing you off your game.
This can be a vital tool in any renovation job. You can’t have a fine drywall installation without this one. This tool is used after applying gypsum to the drywall. Wait until it’s dry before taking the sanding disk to the drywall.
Does it do anything special? Well, it can handle drywall well, meaning that it’s not strong enough to ruin it. It also comes with a dust collector because of the nature of the job.
There are also a few variations of drywall sanders, each one designed to cater to different areas such as walls, ceilings, corners, etc.
Last but not least, we have our drum sanders. You can use them to remove scratches, coats of paint or primer, unwanted particles, and substances from almost any wooden surface. It’s what you need to make your old flooring look brand new again.
You should understand that this type of tool is not to be taken lightly. That’s because it’s very big, powerful, and hard to control. It’s the best one for flooring renewal jobs, but it’s also the sander that gives the most kickback.
Play It Smart
I always recommend asking a professional if you’re confused about the tools required for the job. But, if you like your woodworking and you want to do restoration work on cars, Coca Cola mini fridges, and old gas station signs, you will need to pick up a sander and give it a go.
Hopefully, by now you have a better understanding of why there’s no one sander to rule them all and why you have to be careful when picking the one for the job.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.