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How to Choose a Power Sander – Get the job done!

Stripping paint, refinishing a hardwood floor or preparing woodwork - you need a power sander

Updated: Thursday 22 Feb 2024

Different types of power sander compared

A power sander is a game-changer when it comes to effortlessly smoothing and shaping surfaces for home improvement and repair projects. 

Whether you’re stripping paint, refinishing a hardwood floor, or preparing woodwork for a polished finish, power sanders can turn hours of manual hand-sanding into a matter of minutes. 

Power Sanders – 5 Types for DIY & Trade

In this guide, we’ll detail the five types of power sanders available and help you choose the right one for you. 

#1. Rotary Sanders
Basic Option

Rotary sanders employ a circular pad that revolves, carrying the attached sandpaper with it. This action is excellent for tasks like metalwork and paint stripping. You can even transform a regular power drill into a rotary sander by attaching a sanding disk to its chuck.

Handheld models are affordable but they can be difficult to use. Even with much practice, they tend to leave swirl marks and an uneven surface. 

#2. Random Orbit Sanders
Great for DIYers & Professionals

Random orbit sanders move their sanding pad in small, irregular circles, preventing the sandpaper from leaving visible patterns on the surface. These are popular among DIYers & professionals due to their versatility. They’re easy to use & give a great finish.

Random orbital sanders excel at finishing, smoothing, and removing paint or varnish (without swirl marks)

#3. Belt Sanders
Rapid Material Removal

Belt sanders feature a continuous loop of abrasive sandpaper propelled by motor-driven wheels. They are designed for removing substantial amounts of material quickly. These sanders are ideal for stripping paint and other coarse removal tasks. 

Belt sanders are physically large and take a little practice to use effectively. 

#4. Detail Sanders
Precision for Tight Spaces

Detail sanders, also known as mouse sanders, are tailored for intricate areas. They sport contoured, pointed sanding pads for reaching tight corners and intricate patterns.

Detail sanders are great for detail work and hard-to-reach spots.

#5. Drum Sanders
Flooring Refurbishment

Drum sanders are large, upright belt sanders. They are used for sanding floors during refurbishment projects. These powerful tools are usually rented and are perfect for removing various materials from wood floors.

Choosing the Right Power Sander
Key Considerations

  • Your Project: Consider the specific tasks you’ll undertake. A random orbit sander is versatile and suitable for most DIY projects. 
  • If you own one power sander, this is it.
  • Comfort: Opt for a sander that’s balanced and features moulded, padded handles for comfort during extended use (these things vibrate!)
  • Dust Collection: Sanding generates a lot of dust. Look for tools with effective dust collection systems and filters that can be cleaned or replaced. Better still, opt for a model that you can connect a vacuum to. 
  • Variable Speed: Advanced tools offer variable speed settings. This feature is valuable for adjusting the tool’s performance to your needs.
  • Switch Durability: Ensure the sander’s switches and controls are dust-sealed to prevent clogging, especially in budget tools.
  • Weight Balance: A well-balanced tool will feel comfortable in your hand and reduce strain during use.
  • Battery Brand: If choosing a battery-powered sander, go for a brand that you trust. You can use the same battery brand across all your cordless power tools, saving you a small fortune.

Optimal Results with the Right Sander

Selecting the right power sander is paramount to achieving efficient, quick and high-quality results across all your projects. The choice depends on your specific tasks, preferences, and the level of comfort you seek during operation. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned woodworker, a power sander can transform your projects, making them faster, easier, and more enjoyable. 


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