A sander is a tool used for finishing applications, often used to prepare surfaces for paint, stain, or seal. Sanders use sandpaper to remove material from the wood's surface.
Check out our videos and tips, and find out how you can create or reclaim amazing things using sanders.
Always sand with the grain
Sanding against the grain will scratch the surface in an obvious way. No matter which sander you use, go with the grain.
Only use a belt sander for stripping or reshaping
A belt sander takes off the most material and it's the most aggressive of all the sanders. It's best used when you need to remove a large amount of material such as paint or when you need to correct the shape of your material, like when making a piece of bowed wood flat.
Use pencil marks to make sure you don't over-sand
Mark your piece with a pencil. Once the pencil marks are gone, it's time to switch grits.
Don't skip grits, especially in the beginning when you're using the roughest grits
Plan to increase your grit number gradually. Don't jump from a rough 80 grit to a fine 220 grit. If you do, you will not be able to get rid of the deeper scratches made by the rough grit. The scratches will be especially visible once you start staining.
Clean between grits
When you're ready to move to a different grit, clear your surface of dust again. This allows your finer grit to work more quickly and efficiently because it's not rolling around on rough dust.
1/4 Sheet Sander
Less aggressive than the belt or random orbit sander, the sheet sander is great for finishing work on larger surfaces. It can also get into corners easily because of its square shape.
Aluminum Oxide Sandpaper
This type of paper uses a kind of grit that renews itself as you work. It tends to last the longest. This type is commonly found in a hardware store.
A belt sander is the most aggressive handheld sander. It might be used for stripping paint or sanding extremely rough wood.
Commonly used for shaping wood. It's the roughest option that removes the greatest amount of material.
"Coarse" means rough. Coarse grit sandpapers have the lower grit ratings like 40 or 80 grit.
Corner Cat Sander
A corner cat sander puts out less aggressive power, making it ideal for finishing jobs. Its triangular head helps it sand in tight spaces.. It's triangular head helps it get into tight spaces.
The smallest and least aggressive of the power sanders, the detail sander is best for finishing jobs in tight areas.
Fine grit refers to a smoother, less coarse sandpaper. This type of sandpaper has a higher grit rating, such as 220 or 300 grit.
The finish is the condition of your wood's surface. A rough finish is one that's rough to the touch, and a smooth finish is smooth to the touch.
This type of paper uses a mineral that tends to wear out quickly, but it also produces the smoothest finish.
A gouge occurs when you remove too much material from one spot, creating a dip in surface.
The grain is the texture or pattern of lines in a piece of wood. If you run your hand in the same direction as the texture, you're rubbing with the grain. If you run your hand across the texture, you're going against the grain.
Grit is the roughness rating on sandpapers. It refers to the amount of abrasive points per square inch. The lower the number, the rougher, more aggressive the sandpaper.
See Corner Cat Sander
Random Orbit Sander
A random orbit sander moves a circular sanding sheet in a vibrating, circular pattern. Its random motion helps you sand without leaving circular marks behind. Considered to be one of the most versatile sanders, it can be used for a lot of different kinds of jobs. It can be used for removing varnish or finer finishing applications.
Silicon Carbide Sandpaper
This type of paper is usually recommended for plastic or metals.
A colored chemical that when applied, dyes your wood a desired color.
Are sanders dangerous?If you follow all the safety requirements in your manual, you can easily use a sander safely.
What are sanders used for?Sanders are designed to remove material from a work surface. The most common application for sanders among non-professionals is wood working.
Which sander is the most versatile?If you can only pick one sander, either a random orbit sander or a Corner Cat will probably be the most versatile sander on the market. They can handle most finishing applications.
How do I know which sander to use?Your sander should be chosen based on the job you want to do. If you're tackling wood with severe blemishes, or you need to reshape your work piece, a belt sander can help you get the job done quickly and efficiently. But, a belt sander is too aggressive for final finishing work. A random orbit sander is great for preparation work (working your way up to the nice finish stage). A 1/4 sheet sander and a corner cat sander are what you need for the finer finishes, and a detail sander helps you get into tight spots.
How do I know which grit to use?The lower the grit, the rougher the finish. 40, 60, and 80 grits are good for correcting major blemishes and reshaping. 120, 150, and 180 grits are good for preparing the wood for the final finish. 220, 300, and higher girt will give you an even smoother finish. As the number goes up, the smoother and softer your finish will become.
How do I know when to switch grits?A pencil line can help with this. Make marks all over the surface. When they're gone, you're ready to switch.
Can I just start with a fine grit?If you have corrections to make to the wood, no. A fine grit is not abrasive enough to get rid of deep scratches or to take off any kind of coloring. Starting with a fine grit will just have a polishing effect.
Can I clean and re-use sandpaper?You may be able to use the less worn edges for detail sanding, but you won't be able to restore the piece just by cleaning it. As you work, the paper loses its' abrasive particles.
When do I need to sand by hand?Sometimes you may want to sand edges by hand or in tiny places where a power sander cannot reach.
What are the holes in sandpaper for?They are the dust collection vents. Sanders with dust collection systems suck up the dust through the holes.
Can I use a sander to remove varnish, paint or finish?Yes. A belt sander is great at removing tough stains and paint. Just remember that when you take off varnish, paint, and other finishes, you're going to be taking some wood off with it. If you want to keep the wood completely intact, start with a stripping agent first.
Can I sand concrete?It's best to use an angle grinder or another heavy-duty tool to smooth and finish concrete.
How do I keep from making swirls in the wood?To avoid swirls, follow these steps: 1- sand with the grain. 2- don’t apply too much pressure to your sander. 3- don't stop the machine while it's on the work surface. Keep it moving. 4- don't turn off the machine while it's on the work surface.
Can I use a belt sander for finishing?No.