We aren't just scratching the surface! A thorough guide on the use of different sanders.

Decorating and DIY jobs often involve the use of varying sanders. It can be difficult to decide exactly what type of sander to use. With the variety of different tools out there, you can easily end up using the wrong tool for the job. Which not only makes it a lot harder to complete but it can also negatively impact on the finished product.

In order to help you with your next job, we have put together a brief guide on orbital, belt and detail sanders. We’ve also included information on the variety of sandpaper available.

Belt Sander

Description:

A belt sander works in a similar way to a conveyor belt. It is run by a motor that spins which causes the belt of sandpaper to move along in a straight line. The sander leaves a rough finish on the surface. Hand-held sanders can be relatively large compared to other hand-held sanders.

What's it used for?

Usually used with large construction tasks and in the first stages of sanding due to the rough finish the sander leaves.

Pros and cons :

PROS

CONS

-Allows rougher and greater depth of sanding than other sanders

-More powerful

-Can often be purchased with a dust bag

-Large surface area means it can’t sand corners or surfaces that are thin or difficult to access

-Often needs corrections or further sanding with finer sanders or sand paper for a smoother finish

-Not as easy to replenish sandpaper as other sanders

Random orbital Sander

Description:

A hand sander with a flat, round sanding attachment. The attachment rotates randomly in a circular motion to sand down an area. It can leave circular imprints in the wood so is commonly used to prepare a surface before finer sanding occurs.

What's it used for?

Usually used in the middle stages of sanding or when a thicker layer is placed onto the surface (eg oil based paints) where the surface does not need to be completely even. Can be used as a starter before sanding down with finer p120 sandpaper.

Pros and cons :

PROS

CONS

-Large surface area enables quicker sanding

-Can be easier to control than a belt sander

-Easy to re attach new sandpaper attachments

-Round end can’t sand edges and corners

-Can leave circular imprint on surface

-Surface needs further sanding with finer sandpaper for detailed finishing.

Detail Sander

Description:

A detail sander is often smaller and has a small, triangular attachment. It vibrates to sand down a surface with finer sandpaper to achieve a smooth finish. The smaller, triangular shape allows for sanding into corners and edges.

What's it used for?

A detail sander is usually used around the final stages of sanding. Since it is the most effective at sanding vertices and edges. A detail sander is used to sand door frames and skirting board edges or areas close to walls or other surfaces that you do not want to sand.

Pros and cons :

PROS

CONS

-Small area can reach and sand smaller edges and surfaces

-Triangular shape allows for sanding down of corners

-Leaves a smoother finish than previous sanders.

-Easy to re attach new sandpaper attachments

-Small surface area means that a larger sander is usually required to sand flat surfaces first

-May still need extra sanding with finer sandpapers for smoother finish

-Sandpaper attachments wear down very quickly (this can depend on the type of detail sander though)

Sandpaper

Sandpaper is the product used to add to sander attachments which allows you to sand the required surface.  You can also use higher p-factor sandpaper to achieve a smooth finish on the sanded surfaces. P-factors vary in size from P-20 up to P-600 . P-60 – P-220 is the common range used during decorating and DIY jobs.

p40-p60

These are the coarse sandpaper types that are commonly used in the first stages of sanding. They have a larger grain that allows them to sand deeper into a surface to leave a rough finish.

p80-p120

The medium sandpaper types are used to smooth a surface and prepare it for finer sanding. It is important not to jump from coarse to fine as this is more likely to wear the fine sandpaper down and won’t leave a good, level finish.

p180-p220

This is the finer range that is commonly used for detail sanding. You can purchase sandpaper with up to P-600 yet P-180 is more than suitable for any DIY or decorating jobs where you want a smooth surface. The sandpaper has lots of small grains that sand the surface lightly and level off any uneven fragments.

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