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Types Of Power Sanders And How To Choose The Right One

Types Of Power Sanders

Power sanders are electric or battery-operated appliances that quickly abrade surfaces for various home repair and renovation projects. A power sander can be crucial for a variety of tasks, such as peeling paint or varnish, refinishing a hardwood floor, preparing woodwork or a carpentry project for a smooth finish, and many more. While many of these projects may be completed with a manual sanding block and sandpaper, a power sander can do them in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

The way the motor moves the sanding pad and paper is a common way to classify power sanders. There are three possible formats for this action:

  • ROTARY: On some sanders, the motor merely spins a circular pad that is covered in sandpaper. By simply attaching a sanding disc to the drill's chuck, a regular power drill can be converted into a rotary sander.
  • RANDOM ORBIT: A random orbit sander moves the sanding pad in tiny, erratic circles, preventing the sandpaper from forming recognizable patterns on the surface being sanded. The majority of random-orbit sanders are hand-held devices, however, some heavy upright floor sanders also employ this technique.
  • ROTATING BELT: Wide sanding belts rotate around powered drive wheels or drums to operate both portable belt sanders and upright drum sanders. They are useful for quickly removing a lot of material, but using them efficiently takes some skill and practice.



The majority of do-it-yourself homeowners start with inexpensive orbit sanders. They operate by oscillating in small, erroneous orbits that stop the sander from creating recognizable patterns on the surface of the wood. Random-orbit sanders can even be used to buff solid surface countertops or to smooth thin veneers of wood when equipped with a very fine-grit sandpaper.

Although there are other sizes available for random-orbit sanders, the most popular sizes are frequently referred to as "1/4-sheet" or "1/2-sheet" sanders, depending on how much of a typical sandpaper sheet is placed onto the oscillating pad. While a 1/2-sheet sander has a rectangular sanding pad, a 1/4-sheet sander has a roughly square one.

Given its versatility, affordability, and ease of use, a random orbital sander would probably be your only choice of sander to purchase for DIY projects. Because it operates more like a vibration than a rotary or belt sander, this kind of sander is easy to handle. Simply attach the freshly-cut sheet of sandpaper to the hook-and-loop surface of the sander to change the sandpaper.


A belt sander operates by using motor-driven wheels inside the tool to spin a continuous loop of abrasive sandpaper in a circular motion. The motion is comparable to the constant circular motion of a chainsaw's cutting chain or the brush drive of a home vacuum cleaner.

Belt sanders are used to remove wood or coatings in a coarse manner. Belt sanding will probably be used in the initial step of stripping a painted table, for instance. This is in order to remove the top layer of paint and expose the wood underneath. In later phases, the wood will probably need to be prepared for a fresh finish with a random-orbit sander.

According to the size of the sanding belt they employ, belt sanders are available in a variety of sizes. The smallest belt sanders are typically 3 x 18 inches. However, larger tools, which are typically used by professionals, can be up to 4 x 24 or 4 x 36 inches in size.


A power instrument having a sanding head that rotates in a circle is referred to as a "rotary sander." Although permanent floor-mounted versions are also employed in woodworking workplaces, most are portable instruments. Any regular power drill can be converted into a rotary sander by adding a sanding disc attachment. Rotary sanders, which are typically air-driven, pneumatic tools, are frequently used by automotive professionals for bodywork.


The correct way to describe a drum sander is as a long, upright belt sander. Similar to a lawn mower, a drum sander is positioned on the ground and is propelled around by a handle. They are only used to sand down floors when renovating. They use very long sanding belts powered by drive wheels. Drum sanders are often accessible at large home centers and tool rental facilities, where they are leased in blocks of four hours or a full day. Drum sanders are too expensive for the majority of homeowners to purchase.

Because of their strength, drum sanders can remove any type of material from a wood floor, including bumps, gouges, stains, paint, adhesives, and mastic. Make sure they don't contain asbestos before you sand any flooring adhesives.


If you enjoy woodworking as a hobby, you might want to consider purchasing a stationary sander—a combination sander that is placed on the floor or a table and has the capacity to have two or even three sanding "stations." Consumer versions frequently come with a rotating sanding belt and a spinning sanding disc. In some variations, a metal table's opening is rotated by an upright tubular sanding spindle.


Unlike most sanders, this one has a drum that rises above the benchtop. The drum raises and lowers on the spindle while the sander operates. This makes the drum's wooden surface contact with it. This mechanism both prevents grooves and lessens surface wear on the drum.

The edges of planks should be sanded down the most. Additionally, it is portable and relatively light. Depending on the type of job, you can choose the size of the drum. Additionally, certain models have a function that allows the drum to be changed into a belt sander.


Considering the purpose the tool must serve when choosing a power sander.

  • For novice DIYers, a simple random-orbit sander—a square 1/4-sheet sander or round model—is a fine place to start. A detail random-orbit sander with a pointed, contoured head can be a useful second tool to buy if you frequently work with furniture.
  • Owning a belt sander also makes sense for many households, especially if you frequently strip paint or refinish furniture. Although you probably won't use this as frequently as your random-orbit sander, it is a fantastic tool for coarse removal.
  • While owning a rotary sander can be useful, it's typically simple to add a disc sanding head to a regular power drill for occasional usage. Rotary sanders are specialized tools. Owning a rotary sander might be quite useful if you frequently repaint a house with wood lap siding; this is an exception.
  • It virtually never makes sense to buy a drum sander for refinishing floors (they can cost thousands). Rent one when you need it instead.
  • Finally, if you frequently construct woodworking projects and want the precision offered by a stationary sander, a stationary sanding station is a suitable option.


Ultimately, you have to choose a sander based on your needs. A drum sander is preferable if you need to polish your floor. Otherwise, use a surface sander to give the timber floor a few finishing touches.

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