Sanders Buying Guide
Grind or wear out the wood element, remove the varnish or rust, grind off any burrs, wipe the putty, file down plastic or polish the stone - all these and much more can be done with the help of modern sanding machines.
The process of sanding causes unpleasant feelings, even at the mere mention of it. Of course, sanding is the monotonous, time-consuming, tedious, dusty, sometimes noisy, a little bit harmful, but, unfortunately, inevitable operation. Modern requirements for finishing have reached the unprecedented heights; no one has questioned the fact that the plane should be perfectly flat and smooth. High-tech finishing coatings increasingly tend to the application of a thin layer, which in turn emphasizes the disadvantages of a base.
Coping with the set task becomes possible thanks to the specialized, relatively inexpensive tools – sanding machines. The advanced production gives us so many wonderful professional machines for sanding, designed for any occasion, and it has not deprived of attention of the domestic masters and amateurs to create something with their own hands. It is not really difficult to understand the diversity of best electric sanders and make the right choice, and the main thing to know: what is the purpose of a tool, as well as a clear understanding of what tasks you will be setting for your sander.
Today, DIY stores offer a truly extensive range of sanders. But very often, we don’t have enough time and patience to learn dozens of models and choose the best price-quality tool. That’s why we are going to cover a few key points to help you navigate the world of sanding machines and to understand what sander is best to buy.
Selecting the type of device depends on the material, which it is supposed to work with, the necessary quality of grinding, productivity, working method, and power source. Due to this, we divided all sanding machines into several classes:
By Working Method:
- Belt Sanders
- Combination Disc & Belt Sanders
- Sheet Sanders
- Detail Sanders
- Disc Sanders
- Drum Sanders
- Random-Orbit Sanders
- Spindle Sanders
By Power Source:
The Variety of Sanders By Power Source
With so many sanders on the market, which are different in form and application, it is very hard to make the decision. But when choosing the ideal tool for you, it is important to consider the power source of various best sanders. This depends on the work to be performed. Nowadays, the user can choose among:
The best electric sanders in various embodiments are firmly entrenched in the niche of consumer and professional products. The users appreciate the power tools for their ease, sufficient efficiency, and affordable price, and professionals have chosen this type of models because of their mobility.
Do not forget about the disadvantages of such devices – namely, the cord. It is always necessary to take into account its length because after buying the sander it appears that the cord is not enough to perform the work with high quality.
Gas sanders are not very common on the market, but there are even some. More often they are used for polishing cars rather than for woodwork. Usually, they are also equipped with dust sealed, which helps to keep the dust and debris out. Among the advantages, it is possible to distinguish low vibration for comfort grinding. But despite that and high performance rate, they remain not environmentally friendly.
But no matter how hard the manufacturers of electric tools promote their products, their pneumatic counterparts will leave them behind. What can we say - the number of turns in such sander can reach 20 000 opm, which is 4-5 times more than the electrical counterpart has! Accordingly, the work is done much faster. That is why the pneumatic tool is so loved by professionals who have to constantly deal with polishing.
In addition to the huge resourceful, pneumatic best wood sanders can boast of very small cases, which are more reminiscent of a thicker handle than the body of a tool. This, in turn, contributes to the work in remote places, where the electric version may not get through. The main disadvantage of a pneumatic – is a link to the compressor.
How to choose belt sanders?
The belt sander is designed for grinding various types of surfaces. Sanders of this type perfectly cope with the grinding, and they can also abrade or remove unnecessary layers of material, which is being processed. Belt best sander is simply irreplaceable in carpentry, joinery, and construction. The principle of operation of belt sanders is quite simple: sanding belt moves along the guide rollers, and due to this, there is the grinding process.
The basic working element of belt sanders is a sanding belt (emery paper) joint in an endless ring. Abrasive belts are distinguished by the material, grain, and by the width of the tape itself. Modern sanding belts are made of materials such as corundum, silicon carbide, zirconium corundum, and corundum fused with a ceramic coating. The basis of the sanding belt is a paper or polyester. The grit of tapes is selected depending on the material to be sanded. The coarser is the grain, the thicker is the release layer since the depth of grain penetration into the material is higher.
But if the treated surface is difficult to penetrate, the fine-grain belt will operate more effective due to a larger number of cutting heights. The width of the belt should be chosen depending on the size of belt sanders. Choosing the right grinding belt ensures good surface quality and longer tool life.
While choosing a belt sander, you should pay attention to such parameter as power capacity of a tool. Power depends on the speed of surface treatment.
You also need to pay attention to the belt speed. In combination with a suitable capacity, the belt speed will give better performance. If there is a need to process a small item, it is better to carry out grinding at a slower speed as the high speed may damage the surface.
Thus, these are the main aspects that are worth paying attention to when choosing a belt sander:
- Speed of the belt rotation (proportional to performance)
- Presence of dust removing structure
- Presence of soft-start mode (due to the gradual deterioration of motor, the vehicle acceleration decreases)
- Presence of angular stop (affects the quality of polishing of individual elements)
- Availability of the support frame (helps to correct the thickness of the layer taken).
Black & Decker DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
Black & Decker DS321 is a 6.0 Amp sander. It is much lighter (8.2 pounds) than its main competitors, and therefore, it is very convenient to work aweigh and even be used as an electro-file. The additional handle makes the operation even more comfortable. Moreover, it can be fixed in 3 different positions. With the size of 15.4 x 6.2 x 6.1 inches, DS321 has a dust collector that allows keeping the workplace clean.
In the front part of the tool, the belt is covered by a cap. It can be taken up, if necessary. When the whole plane of the tape is needed, the sander must be installed permanently. If on a flat surface DS321 behaves quite quietly, the noise may occur when working with the "rough" bumps and surfaces. Obviously, the model is not heavy enough to pass such interference unnoticed. The sander is irreplaceable when you need to round out or clean up a small item, to dispel any paint or whittle away bumps. For the carved wood works, it will also be useful.
What are the Combination Disc & Belt Sanders?
According to its name, this machine combines in one housing a belt and a grinding disc, which saves on the space required for mounting of equipment. Usually, the case of a disc & belt sander is made of cast iron and mounted on a rubber base, which together provides the highest characteristics of strength and stability of the unit.
The machine motor has soft start function and is equipped with a serious thermal protection system that not only ensures trouble-free functioning for many years but also an excellent level of safety in the operation of the device. Such additional features of the devices greatly expand the range of permissible operations and simplify the operator's job: the possibility of installing of a sanding belt in the vertical and horizontal planes; adjustment of the angle of inclination of the rotary table located next to the grinding disk.
It remains to add that disc & belt sanders often preferred by the owners of small home workshops. Its operation and maintenance do not require high skills and experience with similar equipment, while functionality and performance of the machine are at a very high level.
Among all the models of best electric sanders of this type, we can distinguish WEN 6502 4 x 36-Inch Belt and 6-Inch Disc Sander with Cast Iron Base. This sanding machine is widely used in woodworking workshops. WEN 6502 allows grinding the workpiece by the 4-by-36 inch belt and then finishing the process by the disc. Due to the large 6-by-6 inch grinding wheel, it can process dimensional workpieces. At a will of the user, the belt tilts up to 90 degrees for grinding of wide items. The grinding sandpaper is attached to the disk with Velcro, so the replacement takes place without loss of time. Overall, the machine is simple to operate and it does not require special maintenance. Support legs and a cast iron base make the device stable.
Principle of Operation of Sheet Sanders
If we take into account the cleanliness of the processed items, sheet sanding machines occupy an intermediate position between the belt and orbital. With their assistance, it is possible to carry out the finishing sanding of flat surfaces made of a variety of materials - plastic, wood, stone, and metal. Due to the relatively large working plane, sheet sanders suitable for use in large areas. The secret of the popularity of such variable speed polisher lies in its moderate cost, the affordability of tooling elements, as well as in the absence of the “dead” processing zones because a flat pad easily handles corners.
The main working body of the sheet sanding machines – is a platform that makes a frequent reciprocating motion with small amplitude. In such machines, the engine is positioned vertically, which makes it possible with a help of "eccentric-counterweight" tandem transfer the rotational movement of the shaft into a reciprocating movement of the platform.
Traditionally, most sheet sanders have engine power within 150-300 watts; they are quite maneuverable, fairly light and compact. Such level of the power capacity is almost always satisfactory. However, such agreement of opinions of manufacturers would be at least strange. That’s why there are models up to 600 watts. Of course, they are heavier and larger, but they can work for a long time without overheating at low speeds.
The most important measure of the sheet best electric sander is the platform stroke amplitude. It can vary for the different models but is always relatively small. The average class platform makes a movement of 1-3 mm, and for more mobile models, figures of 5-6 mm may appear. Large amplitude helps quickly grind the surface. However, such processing is rougher.
Another nuance is the stroke frequency of the platform. At high speeds, the sander quickly removes a relatively thick layer, and at a lower frequency, it is easier to achieve a precise finish grinding. Some manufacturers make the frequency of movement variable, surpassing the mark of 20,000 strokes per minute, which allows adjusting the treatment of various kinds of materials, especially for specific surfaces.
Special attention should be paid to the platform of a device. There are two size options: a kind of "standard" model and a "mini" with an area of about 100 mm2 (Makita BO4557, Sparky MP 250). Small best power sander suit well for narrow, pinched places. Obviously, the platform should be made of a high-quality material, perfectly flat, and with precise geometric shapes. Budget tools are equipped with a steel or high-strength plastic platform, and more expensive analogs have platforms made of aluminum or magnesium alloys (Festool RS 100). No less important is the material of pad, and the best option is a porous polymer.
Emery pad can be attached to the platform differently. It is more convenient when the paper is fixed with Velcro, but the special furniture is relatively expensive. Options with spring clamps are more complicated, but you can use an inexpensive abrasive paper cut by your own hands.
A fight against fine dust, which is inevitably formed by the grinder, put a lot of problems for developers. They have to work hard all the protection mechanisms. In this case, it uses a special motor sealing, protected bearings and switch impermeable casing channel system with forced removal. To the dust removed from the work area and not saturating the air, it is sent to a collection bag, or filter, in most cases, you can connect a vacuum cleaner nozzle - is the most effective method of protection.
When choosing a sheet sander, the advantageous parameters will be:
- Frequency of movement of the operation platform (the higher it is, the better will be the performance)
- Presence of a dust collector
- Oscillation frequency control mode (the user can set the machine to initial or final finishing of different surfaces).
DEWALT D26441K 2.4-AMP Orbital 1/4-Sheet Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
The first attention is drawn to the compactness of this model. The small size of the platform (108x115 mm) is probably its main advantage. With such a mobile grinder, it comfy to handle remote places - those that the ordinary grinder with a platform of the usual sizes won’t reach. In addition, it is convenient to skive small details and workpieces, for example, to clean up the stool or a photo frame before varnishing.
The tool weighing less than 1.5 kg is possible to manage with just one hand. To make the sander feet well in hand the manufacturer balanced the design, reduced the vibration, and made an embossed non-slip grip on the handle. The sander has a bag to collect the dust with a built-in adapter that can be connected to the vacuum cleaner, if necessary. The entrails of the power tool are protected from dust: bearing is sealed completely and the switch is covered with rubber. The interesting fact is that the attachment system of sanding paper provides traditional clips and the use of Velcro. Letter "K" at the end of model name explains to us that it is a kit, which includes a dust bag with vacuum adapter, a sandpaper punch, a sander, and a kit bag for good maintenance.
BLACK+DECKER BDEQS300 1/4-Sheet Orbital Sander
By purchasing BLACK + DECKER BDEQS300, you will get an excellent sander for the execution of house DIY works. The design of the model automatically indicates its high reliability. The absence of all sorts of "bells and whistles" allowed the manufacturer to set the quite reasonable price for the product. And this, in turn, is an important factor contributing to the demand of Black&Decker sanders. At a cost of $40, it's a good option for each home master. BDEQS300 is great to deal with material removal and finishing work. Also, a paddle switch activation is provided so that the user would be able to easily turn on and off on/off during the application. As for performance, thanks to 2.0 amp motor, BDEQS300 sanders can operate at a speed of 1,600 orbits per minute.
Are the Detail Sanders the Same as Sheet Sanders?
Sanding machines with a deltoid platform are emitted in a separate class. If you want to polish small parts or hard-to-reach areas, choose this tool. Its work is based on the same principle as the sheet sander, but it has a triangular platform. The expendable material for detail sander is a grinding pad. It varies in size and granularity. The platform is able to make frequent small amplitude oscillatory motion, which ensures a clean sanding, even of whimsical material. The body does not have any additional levers because the machine is designed to work on small areas.
Due to the small size and good passability, they are used for a treatment of objects with small, complex parts and surfaces such as furniture, woodwork, stairs elements, and carcasses. Sometimes their triangular platforms are turnable or removable with a quick installation of another type of pad, for example, for concave or convex surfaces, for structuring or polishing).
BLACK+DECKER BDEMS600 Mouse Detail Sander
BLACK + DECKER BDEMS600 sander is intended for grinding objects of complex shapes, such as furniture parts. Thanks to a compact size of a platform, it is able to work in confined spaces such as corners and edges. The 1.2 amps engine can run at speed up to 14,000 opm.
For the convenience of users and application of this detail sander in different places, the developers have made 3-position grip: palm grip, precision grip and handle grip. The handle is equipped with a rubber surface that makes work more comfortable. Due to the light weight of BLACK + DECKER BDEMS600 that equals to 2.8 pounds, it is possible to work even with one hand. The device also has a dust collector with micro-filtration, which helps to protect the workplace from dirt. Of course, the brand itself also says a lot, because long ago the company Black&Decker has established itself as a manufacturer of the best electric sanders of different types.
The Purpose of Disc Sanders
Disk sanders allow the user to give the required degree of surface smoothness. The extent of it depends directly on the used abrasive material. Besides grinding, the machine simultaneously brings the item to the desired dimensions. This equipment has become widespread in the furniture industry, the manufacture of wood windows and doors.
This class may also be divided into two subtypes: stationary devices and portable disk sanders that can be used not only for the grinding of wood but also of metal, concrete, and other surfaces.
When choosing stationary disk sanding machines, you should pay special attention to these specifications:
If you plan to use the device for some home works, you can just choose the unit of 400 watts. When it comes to the production hall, where a long-term operation of the machine is required, have a closer look at models with a capacity starting from 1 kW.
- Working surface
This takes into account the width of the disc. The larger is the area of contact of a workpiece with a grinding mechanism, the larger items you will be able to process.
- The rotational speed of the abrasive
Movement or rotation of the grinding element may be from 350 to 1800 meters per 1 minute. Such high speed of machine operation helps to achieve the high-quality processing. If you are purchasing the unit for professional use, be guided by the speed of at least 500 meters per minute. Slower machines will not allow receiving the highest quality of the workpiece.
Disc sanders for the processing of wood can have different sizes. It matters when it comes to tight spaces - a small workshop, garage. Then you have to choose the sanding machine, which not only satisfies the customer with the technical characteristics, but also is able to stay inside the building, leaving some space for the storage of blanks, supplies, support tools, and so forth.
A good example of a power tool with well thought out all of the above parameters can be considered sander Jet JDS-12 708433M. It’s small but very sturdy construction for grinding wooden products. The model does not take up much space and that’s why it is a great solution for small spaces. To collect dust it has a pipe with a diameter of 100 mm. The engine equipped with an electronic braking system for safer use of the machine (grinding wheel stops in just 10 seconds). Due to the angle stop, this disk sander can process edges at a predetermined angle.
Particularities of Drum Sanders
In order to work on the wooden workpiece properly, as well as give it the appearance of the finished product, it is customary to use different equipment, including drum best sander.
This type of equipment is typically used in the final stages of production when the items are subjected to the finishing machining. Such devices are convenient to use in the production of furniture and a wide variety of wood products for consumer purposes. Depending on the material used, best power sander is working with wood or metal surfaces.
The main objectives of the use of drum sanders are:
- The final alignment of the surface; achieving the desired level of surface roughness;
- Removal of local irregularities in the form of recesses;
- Grinding burrs and removal of excess varnish or primer;
- Internal grinding.
Drum sanding machines for metal are working with a variety of materials and forms: simple and alloy steel, non-ferrous metals in the form of rectangular, circle, as well as slabs. These machines allow polishing rods and pipes of large diameter intelligently and with minimal expenditure of time.
How to find the best Random-Orbit Sanders?
This type of the best electric sanders is designed for high-quality processing. Gentle grinding and even polishing - that's their element, although the performance of such devices may be not less impressive than those of sheet sanders. They cope with any material. Most often you will meet the random-orbit sander in the hands of wood craftsmen and automotive painters. They have no equals for working with specialized, three-dimensional, curved objects; they also do not have problems with the planes. Small deepening and corners are the only places where this machine will not succeed, as the "plate" platform just won’t reach there.
Similarly to sheet best wood sander, random orbit sanders have an eccentric and the counterweight with the help of which the round grinding platform performs the motion not only around its own axis but also on the orbit with small amplitude. Interestingly, the axial movement usually occurs by inertia, and in some models, it is forced by means of a gear transmission (Kress 900 MPS). Such a complex movement of the working platform along with the high speed allows you to get excellent surface quality, without depressions, waves, and scratches.
Many modern engines consume power between 200 and 900 watts. Naturally, those that are more powerful will be more productive. A larger platform up to 150 mm in diameter will fit them easily as in a case of, for example, Bosch ROS20VSK 120-Volt Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander Kit.
In the range of professional power tools of Bosch company, ROS20VSK is the most lightweight and compact model. Its characteristics indicate that it is optimally suitable for performing the finishing processing of material. White sanding platform is particularly striking the eye. It is made of durable foam rubber, characterized by the increased operation life. This material is resistant to long exposure, which ensures that the sander will serve for a very long time.
The formed dust is collected by the Bosch micro filter, which traps the tiniest particles of dust. The microfilter block is made of transparent plastic, so it is not difficult to determine the filling level. If necessary, a user can connect an industrial vacuum cleaner.
The tool is comfy to hold in hand. It’s affected by the size of a handle and the fact that it is equipped with rubberized straps. The similar straps are made on the body. All controls are located on the handle of the sander. At the front of it, there is a rubberized start button. At the back - a wheel of speed regulation, which indicates the presence of the electronic speed adjustment system. Thanks to that a user can easily change the speed and select the right one for each particular task. The rotating speed can vary between 7,500 and 12,000 opm.
The speed of translational motion of orbital machines also has differences. If we are talking about the rotation, this figure may be from 4 to 14 thousand eccentric rpm for models with adjustment, and about 12,000 rpm for models without it. If we talk about the "fluctuation" concept, these figures will be halved. In fact, everything is simple, the higher is the speed, the rougher is processing, but the faster you can get the job done.
The eccentric of random orbit machines can have not the same "swing" - from 2 to 7 mm. This is called the amplitude of oscillation. The smaller it is, the lower vibration is generated by the device, the smaller is the processed area, but the cleaner grinding will be. For some models of the best electric sanders, the operator can set certain amplitude, affecting performance and fineness of grinding.
Be sure to pay attention to the type of sanding pad. Firstly, if you need a very delicate process, do not pursue a large platform. By the way, the dead zone of it is larger and the amplitude is 5-7 mm. Platform made of metal has a stable, high strength, and excellent heat dissipation. Elastic platform coincides well with the convex surfaces. All of them have Velcro for fixing emery pads and holes for dust extraction. For in the individual manufacturers, these holes may differ in size, number, and location, according to this feature you need to select the appropriate snap-in. Let’s have a look at some other random orbit sanders that can be considered one of the best mix of price and quality.
DEWALT DWE6423K Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander
With a weight of 1.8 kg, it is one of the lightest and most compact models of DEWALT variable speed polisher. Due to the rubberized straps in all critical areas, the user can hold tools and better control it. During the grinding of a vertically arranged blank, the tool will demonstrate the main advantage of its compactness - the possibility of a continuous work aweigh. Furthermore, this design reduces the vibration for improved comfort of sanding.
The diameter of the unit platform is 125 mm, which is common for this class of devices. At a power of 280 watts, depending on the necessity, the rotational speed may vary in the range of 8,000 - 12,000 opm. The adjustment wheel is located on the left side of the top of the case. The location is very convenient because you can adjust the speed during the work without releasing the sander.
To sum up, DEWALT DWE6423K has very comfortable ergonomics and provides maximum user safety. Thanks to a good dust collecting system and the presence of dustproof switch, this sander is one of the best deals on the market among the power tools of this class.
Makita BO5041K 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander Kit
The random orbit sander Makita BO5041K is designed for grinding surfaces made of wood and metal. This tool is equipped with an engine with the power of 300 watts, which provides the ability to continuous operation and significant performance. Adjustment of the speed is carried out by a wheel located next to the handle. The speed range is limited between 4,000 and 12,000 opm. There is also a startup key lock function for an easy long-term work. Sanding sheets are attached with Velcro so that their replacement is easy and simple. The additional handle provides a secure grip of a tool with both hands for precise control of the working process. The device comes with a carrying case and the kit includes an abrasive disc, dust bag, operating manual, and the sander itself.
PORTER-CABLE 382 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander
This is one of the simplest versions of 5-inch random orbit sanders by the company PORTER-CABLE, but at a cost of about $40 this device has excellent characteristics. Together with a large movement amplitude, 1.9-amp motor of PORTER-CABLE 382 allows the use of a tool for a wide variety of DIY work performed by professionals and enthusiasts. By the way, the rotational speed of the device is sufficiently high and is equivalent to 12,000 opm.
The high-quality manufacturing material provides reliability and durability of this power tool. The removable spring-loaded bag can be easily unattached and cleaned if needed. As well it makes possible to connect an industrial vacuum cleaner for the cleanliness of the work. A cord can be interpreted as a disadvantage and especially its size because it can be not long enough for the full implementation of the work over a large area.
Rarely Found Spindle Sanders
The spindle sander is used for processing of wood material or its analogs. Machines are designed for industrial use as they can withstand heavy loads and are quite expensive. Therefore, for a household usage, many masters refuse such devices for the benefit of other best power sanders.
The spindle machine is arranged simply. It has an engine, a pair of pulleys, a spindle, and an eccentric. The peculiarity of a spindle sanding machine is that the operating device is located in a tank with motor oil. Therefore, the mechanism is not worn for a long time. The main parts of the device are usually made of cast iron, which imparts the severity and stability.
The key features you should take into consideration while choosing a spindle sander are:
- For a high capacity of the device, it should be between 0.8 - 1.3 kW.
- Dimensions of the working surface. The larger is the surface, the bigger workpiece can be processed on it.
- Spindle speed. The ideal speed for high-quality sanding is 1300 - 1400 rpm.
- Polishing tool size
- The possibility of inclining a working surface. For comfortable sanding, an angle of up to 45 degrees is enough.
- Weight and size can vary greatly, so pick the device that will suit your workshop.
WEN 6510 Oscillating Spindle Sander
WEN 6510 is one of the few budget models of oscillating spindle sanding machines that can be installed in any small workshop and used by both a beginner and a professional. Moreover, small size and weight allow easy storage and transportation. Six sleeves of different diameter that are included, allow picking up the necessary combination of equipment, depending on the grain size and the minimum radius of curvature. WEN 6510 has 15 by 11.5 inch worktable. It is made of cast iron, which guarantees the lowest possible level of vibrations, as well as providing the processing stability.
In order to remain the workshop clean, 1.5 in output is provided in the device for connection of a dust extractor or a vacuum cleaner. Powerful motor contributes to the high speed of spindle rotation (2000 rpm). Plastic housing has pre-drilled mounting holes in the base which serves for fixing on the surface. The control of the machine is intuitively clear. Thus, it is an ideal option for the operator without much experience.
Instead of a conclusion
If a financial question is a real matter for the home studio, you can buy a model from the "hobby" category. Black & Decker, Dewalt, and Bosch offer quite good options for home use. Pay attention to the weight and dimensions of the product, especially if a lot of work is planned aweigh or on the outstretched hands. Give the preference to not a very powerful tool but to the faster one. It will be lighter, more compact, and cheaper. But for regular operations on the bench, the large weight will become an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Always try to find the most suitable sander for you in ergonomics.
Weigh all the "pros" and "cons", do not rush with the choice, and then the entire repair will go smoothly. Good luck!