5 Types of Sanders for Wood: What Wood Sander Do You Need?

Any woodworker will surely agree that sanding is one of the least enjoyable parts of the job. However, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t a necessary part of the job. It can certainly make or break a job, largely affecting the final appearance of any project. In this article, we’ll be going through five different types of a wood sander, what their application is, and what they’re meant for.

1. Orbital Sanders

The trusted orbital sander is also referred to as a finish sander, and it is one of the oldest types of sander used by a woodworker. So what is an orbital sander? Its name comes from the sanding pad, which moves in a small orbit or oval manner. You can find them in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of sandpaper sheet they use. As an example, you can have a quarter sheet variety that uses a quarter sheet of sandpaper, a half sheet sander that uses a half sheet, and so on.

So when are you going to need one of these tools? They are most commonly used in fine finishing applications because they remove a very small amount of material. It also makes it difficult to damage surfaces that they are sanding. It’s the perfect wood sander to use if you don’t want to take away a lot of material. It also has square edges, so it is very useful for sanding corners and tricky places that you can’t reach with other sanders.

Even though it’s great for sanding wood, it comes with a drawback whereby using it takes a long time because little is removed from the surface of the material. If you want to go for large surfaces, check out different types of sanders.

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2. Random Orbital Sander


A lot of times people like to confuse these with orbital sanders because their names sound so similar, however, they are not the same. So what is a disc sander that’s both “random” and “orbital”? One key difference is that random orbital types make use of circular sanding pads, whereas the other kind uses square pads. The random variety also leaves out much smoother services because of the random motion of the disc.

There are two motions employed by the discs. One of them rotates circularly and vibrates in orbit at the same time. It leaves a great finish because any grit from the sandpaper can’t pass through the same part twice when sanding is carried out. This type of sand is also much more aggressive and so be careful because it can take a lot of material away very fast. It makes it very useful for sanding large surfaces.

However, be careful when using it to make sure that you don’t damage or dent any surface because of the aggressive nature. It can be helpful to adjust the speed settings to match it to the application without causing any damage. We would highly recommend opting for a random orbital variety, which includes a variable speed trigger. Look online at every random orbital sander review to get an idea about these triggers. A trigger will allow for maximum control and subsequently, less damage to the material that you’re working with.

3. Belt Sander

It is a great and very popular variety. However, one of the cons is that it can cause a lot of damage if not handled correctly. An ordinary belt sander is highly aggressive and takes away a lot of material very quickly. If you’re going to leave it running on one spot for a long time, a big dent awaits you!

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We find them very useful for sanding large surfaces and when you’re trying to remove a lot of material from the surface. Because of its aggressive nature, just make sure that you keep the belt sander flat and flush on the material surface. In other words, don’t leave it running too long on one particular spot. When you’re shopping for one of these drilling devices, we would also, just like with the random orbital sander, recommend that you buy one which has a variable speed control.

4. Straight-Line Sander

The straight-line variety is one that does as the name suggests – sanding in a straight line! They can come in many varieties depending on the pads which you are looking for. Some have angular pads, which make it easier to sand the right angle edges of a word and other crafted edges. We think that this is a great product because it doesn’t leave any swirl marks on the material that you sand with – it is always in a straight line, so it can’t do this.

5. Spindle Sander

Last but not least, let’s look at the trustworthy spindle sander. An oscillating spindle wood tool is one that you want to purchase if you want to create grooves. It features a tabletop section whereby either a spindle or drum covered with some sandpaper protrudes through the top. The spindle then rotates in a circular motion, while also oscillating through the hole towards the tabletop. If you’re using one of these, you can get a really lovely finish on any material that you’re standing with. The motion and oscillation of the spindle are great because it means that there will not be any uneven surface.

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Final Wood Sander Thoughts

Even though it’s not the most exciting part of any woodworker’s routine, sanding is a necessary component of any project. With the right tool in your arsenal, you can get things done professionally, efficiently, and quickly. We would highly recommend safety to come first and so always make use of a respirator so that you’re not breathing in any suspended particles of dust during the process. We would also advise you to wear safety goggles at all times to shield your eyes from any debris and dust. Now that you know which electric sander to use for a particular task, figure out how to use a sander and get on with the work that needs doing. All the best!

What is the best kind of floor sander, in your opinion? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Author’s Bio:

If you’ve got questions such as what is a belt sander used for, you will find a very useful asking our copywriter, Chele. She used to work as a builder for many years before retraining and tapping into her love for writing. Chele now writes on a freelance basis for many different companies.

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