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Most woodworking projects require a lot of sanding.  While the Kreg Jig® helps you get improved alignment which often translates into less sanding, sanding remains an important part of every project. If you’re going to be doing any significant sanding, you’re going to want to invest in a good power sander or two.  The reason for this is simple: Power sanders vibrate, roll, or spin sandpaper to multiply the number of strokes you can apply in a given amount of time. This lets you sand more, in less time, without tiring… which will result in smoother, more consistent surfaces.

To get the best results, you need to know which sander best suits the job at hand. Here’s a quick look at the three main types of power sanders, plus a few reasons you still need the simplest “power” sander of all: your hands.

Finishing Sander

This sander has a square, vibrating pad that accepts standard sandpaper sheets cut into quarters. A finishing sander isn’t aggressive and won’t remove mill marks or surface rough stock well, but as the name implies, it sands corners well and is next to none for final smoothing with fine-grit papers.

Belt Sander

At the opposite end of the aggression scale is the belt sander.  It has rollers that drive a continuous belt.  A belt sander is designed for rapid stock removal and not for finesse or final smoothing.  Heavy and aggressive, a belt sander chews through wood in a hurry. It’s great for flattening a panel, but difficult to control. A belt sander will get limited use in most shops.

Random-Orbit Sander

A great compromise is the random-orbit sander.  Its round pad spins rapidly and rotates in an eccentric circle. That leaves a scratch pattern that, while not truly random, is very difficult to detect.  Outfitted with coarse paper, a random-orbit sander will sand aggressively.  With fine paper it produces a beautifully smooth surface.  Random-orbit sander is easy to control, making it the go-to tool for most sanding tasks.  If you only own one sander, this is the one you want.  A random-orbit sander represents the state of the sanding art. Typical features include dust collection, variable speed, and a hook-and-loop pad surface that makes switching discs easy.


For all the advantages power sanders offer, there are still some tasks best accomplished by hand sanding .  With hand sanding, your hand conforms to contours and can feel the surface as you work. For curves, contours, or any time that you need a really good feel of what’s happening, hand power is still hard to beat.

© 2010 August Home Publishing............................................................................ From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine


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