Belt - Disk - Drum - Pad - Safety

You have carefull selected the material, measured twice, cut once with your sharpest blade, carefully glued the parts together with biscuits for perfect alignment. Unless the surface is smooth all this is for naught, the finishing must be perfect also, this is when your choice of sander comes into play. There are many different types of sanders, from a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a scrap of wood to huge power fed machines, not all of these are within the budget of the hobbiest, but many are and the choices can be over-whelming, there are belt sanders, disk sanders, drum sanders, pad sanders and combinations of each. The selection depends on the job at hand, some remove a lot of material very quickly, and are used at the start of the project, others work slower but achieve the perfect finish we are all looking for. The other choice we have is how agressive we want the tool to work, this is determined by the grit of the sandpaper.

Belt Sanders

Regardless of size, all belt sanders operate on the same principle: a sandpaper belt wraps around a rear roller and a front roller. The drive roller connected to the motor spins, causing the sanding belt to move forward like the tread of a bulldozer. This is far more aggressive than other types of sanders and is used to remove a lot of material quickly so one must be careful that the material is not gouged by holding it in one place too long.

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These hand sanders are usually available with 3" or 4" wide belts from 18" to 24" in circumference. There are now special models with narrower belts and smaller front rollers to allow the sander to get into smaller spaces such as deck or stair rails. Contrary to all advice about sanding in the direction of the grain these machines usually will do a better job of leveling the boards in a glued up panel when run across the grain. This is because the length of the platen runs across the boards of different heights rather than riding along the edge of a board and gouging the low areas which will cause a wavy surface.

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These models are a combination of a belt and disk , the belts are from 4" to 6" wide, the disks are from 6" to 9" round. They feature adjustable tables to sand at an angle.

Disk Sanders

Disk sanders have been around about as long as electric hand drills, a sanding disk was one of the first attachments offered for drills. One of the problems with the original disk sanders was circular marks left from the spinning disk, this has been eliminated with the new style randon orbit models.

Random Orbit Sander


The random orbit action of these sanders will give a professional finish to your project.

Disk Sander


Build your own

This style of sander features a tilting table and a slot for a sliding miter gauge, very handy for adjusting the length of cut pieces or tweaking miter cuts when making picture frames. Some models also include a belt sanding feature.

Drum Sanders

Drum sanders come in many different styles and a sizes, some attach to electric motors, others to drills and there are oscillating models to be used on a bench or hand held. The advantage of the oscillating models is the elimination of marks left on your material from the drum. Large models with multiple drums and a conveyor type feed are available to sand panels and cupboard doors.



Sanding Drums

These are cylinders designed to be fastened to an electric motor shaft or other types that can be chucked in a drill.


Spindle Sanders

Bench top spindle sanders are invaluable to sand irregular shaped objects.


Drum Sanders

These machines will sand a panel up to 26" wide in one pass.

Pad Sanders

Pad sanders are used for finishing, they come in different sizes, and some are shaped to a point to get into corners.

They are also know as sheet or finishing sanders

  • Wear safety glasses or a face shield.
  • Wear a dust respirator for dusty operations.
  • Make sure the sander is switched "OFF" before connecting the power supply.
  • Disconnect power supply before changing a sanding belt, disk, making adjustments, or emptying dust collector.
  • Inspect sanding belts or disks before using them. Replace those that are worn or frayed.
  • Install sanding belts that are the same widths as the pulley drum.
  • Adjust sanding belt tension to keep the belt running true and at the same speed as pulley drum.
  • Secure the sanding belt in the direction shown on the belt and the machine.
  • Keep hands away from a sanding belt.
  • Use two hands to operate sanders - one on a trigger switch and the other on a front handle knob.
  • Keep all cords clear of sanding area during use.
  • Clean dust from a motor and vents at regular intervals.