7 Types of Wood Sanders

Each Wood Sander Has Its Own Indication

Are you aware of the types of wood sanders? Wood sanders are available in many forms and every sander  should be used for different applications. Explore the different types of sanders, their uses, and applications. It is important to know that every time you use a wood sander, safety goggles should be used to properly protect your vision and your workers.

Belt Sanders

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Belt sanders are among the fastest sanders and are very practical and convenient due to their weight and portability. This type of sander is used over large surfaces and can remove a lot of wood.

There are different sizes available and for general purpose use, you can use the 3 x 21-inch type. This tool is ideal for large plywood panels, large areas, and rough sanding. Be careful on some surfaces as their tough force can damage wood pieces if not handled carefully.

Older models can generate a lot of dust while newer equipment is equipped with dust collectors. This tool works by moving a belt between two or three pulleys and can be adjusted to keep the belt centered as it works. 

Common uses for belt sanders include:

  • Buffing
  • Polishing
  • Sanding rough surfaces
  • Repairing a poorly done saw cut
  • Creating neater joints

Detail Sanders

Woman in a wood shop refinishing a wood table
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 This is the ideal tool for those professionals that are really into detailed sanding. They are normally used to finish and detail corners and tight spaces, due to its geometry and speed. If you don't have a detail sander available, then you will need to do it the old-fashioned way, by hand.

Most of the manufacturers have developed triangular-shaped sanders with precut sandpaper. They are very practical really easy to use. Detail sanders can be modified to attach different shapes and sizes allowing you to sand in curve or slot spaces. These ones are ideal for producing fine surfaces without damaging the wood grain. Do not apply a lot of pressure to detail sanders and be sure to adjust the speed as you work on the surface.

Finishing Sanders

Man sanding down fench planks
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The main difference between detail and finishing sanders is that the finishing sander uses a circular motion, although sometimes a straight line motion can be used as well. They are very good when used in corners and are probably the best ones for veneers. This tool normally is lightweight, and it is recommended for inexperienced professionals, as it will prevent them from damaging the surface. It is also known as a palm sander. A piece of sandpaper will be attached to the bottom part of the tool. This one will not affect the grain of the wood as it will only move in one direction.

Random-Orbit Sanders

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Random-orbit sanders use a circular sandpaper disc that can sand in two directions: orbital and rotary. When these motions are combined, practically reduces or eliminates all swirl marks in the wood. They can also be referred as quarter sheet sanders due to the fact that they use one-quarter of a sheet of standard 9 x 11-in. sandpaper.

Random-orbit sanders can be used to smooth surfaces as well as removing old coatings and wood from the surface. The sandpaper is attached to the tool using velcro or other sticky elements. This one can be found as a one-handed or two-handed tool. An orbital sander moves only in a circular motion, while the random orbital sander also moves back and forth.

Belt-Disc Sander

Woodshop Machine Belt and Disc Sanders
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This type of sander combines a belt and a disc sander so they can work simultaneously. The belt sander can be adjusted from vertical to a horizontal position to facilitate the work being carried out. It can be used for curve sanding, small pieces, and even when precision sanding is required.

Due to the size of the sander and because a table is needed to use this sander, it can also be used to sand large pieces of wood. Due to its size, changing the sandpaper is somewhat difficult and challenging although it is a very robust tool.

Drum Sanders

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Drum sanders are ideal to smooth out uneven surfaces and recommended for large wood members.It can generate very fine and superb results as the slow progressing sandpaper just removes the portion that is actually needed. You can adjust the thickness of the wood being sanded, and it will complete the work at a very slow pace. This sander will definitely need to have a dust collection bag installed to capture all of the loose particles.

Additional Items Sanders Must Have

Orbital sander
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So now that you know most of the common sanders available in the market but you will need to know that these tools can be equipped with many other features. Some of these are:

  • Dust Bags: These can be attached to the sander and will absorb or vacuum all of the dust generated when sanding. It can be either a wet or dry vac that will help you maintaining a cleaner site. This will still require you to use a mask to prevent inhaling dust particles.
  • Safety Lock: This feature will allow you to keep the sander locked in and on position, without actuating the trigger.
  • Clamps: Use to lock sanders in a unique position so a sanding stand can be created.
  • Pad Brakes: This is a nice feature that enables you to rest the sander on top of the surface without damaging the material.
  • Grip: Grips handles can be attached to hold the sander with much more control.

One for Every Project

As you can see there are many options to choose from, although if you don't have experience at all, you should start by using the random-orbit one. This one can be controlled easily and will allow you to sand the wood with damaging the grain or the wood surface. Remember that all of these tools should be used wearing proper PPE to prevent work-related injuries.