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Simple Guide To Electric Sanders

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Everyone has come across a tip or trick at some point in their life and thought to themselves “I REALLY wish I had known that when I got started”. Well, it feels like a good time to share some of those “ah-hah” moments with you all. In our Simple Guide To Electric Sanders, we will cover the basic knowledge that I wish I had known walking into the hobby. We hope that our insights will help you to fill your shop with the right gear to fuel your woodworking passions for years to come!

Types Of Sanders

Random Orbital Sander

We will start with the workhorse of the sanders, the Random Orbital Sander. If you are planning to enter into the woodworking hobby with charcuterie boards, cutting boards, and chopping blocks as your main types of projects, you are going to want to buy the best Random Orbital Sander that your budget will allow. You are going to spend many hours standing over a workpiece trying to get the finish just right, so why not make that time as comfortable and effective as you can?

When I started into the hobby, I had an old Random Orbital Sander that I had bought from Wal-Mart in my toolbox. After upgrading recently, I can’t believe I waited this long. The added benefits of a solid ergonomic design, including anti-vibration and hand placement have made sanding a much less laborious chore! Again, you will spend hours sanding, so make them as comfortable as possible.

Sandpaper Grits 40 (40-1000 for Epoxy)

I burn through a lot of 40 grit paper on my Random Orbital Sander. It is probably worth your time to buy a large pack of 5″ discs to have in your shop. I also picked up a selection of other discs ranging up to 1000 grit. I rarely use them because I am working with a lot of live-edge materials. However, if you are going to be adding epoxy inlay to your workpieces, you will want to sand your way through a grit progression that gets you to 1000 grit finish. We cover all the details in our Beginner’s Guide to Epoxy Resin. Having this broad range of sandpaper available is going to go a long way towards ensuring that your finished epoxy works glisten!

Detail Sander

The Detail Sander is probably my second most-used sander in the workshop. Because I am working with a lot of live-edge materials, I often require additional maneuverability. Live-edge lumber has odd contours and tight spaces. The design of the Ryobi Corner Cat really works nicely for this type of work. The tip of the sander can get into really tight spots, and is great for corners (as the name suggests). The sides of the sanding pad can also be used to great effect. By following along the contours of a live edge, you can quickly knock down any rough spots. The best part is, the surface area of the pad is generous enough to sand larger planes, as well.

Sandpaper Grits 40, 120, 240

I usually run three grits through my Corner Cat Sander – 40, 120, and 240. I generally use 40 grit to knock down any heavy discoloration left behind by bark. This grit is also good to grind down branch collars and knots. It also makes quick work of the notoriously hard-to-sand end grain. You can sand these surfaces with a Random Orbital Sander, but I find the ROS kicks a bit more. In addition, it seems to wear out pads really quickly.

As I work through the grit progression, I use 120 grit to round off sharp contours on the live-edge pieces. By gently turning the sander while moving along the live edge, I am able to impart a safe edge that still holds true to the natural form of the workpiece. In addition, 120 grit does a great job of eliminating any router burn marks. Router burn occurs on the chamfered edges if I linger too long in one spot.

As you may have guessed, 240 grit is used to give the wood that silky smooth finish that everyone loves. I sand along all of the wood surfaces until everything is smooth to the touch. In addition, I love to use 240 grit to round off any sharp corners in the wood. Lastly, I run the sander along the live edge to ensure that it has a completely splinter-free edge that is not too sharp.

Finishing Sander

The Finishing Sander (also called Sheet Sander) is probably the sander that I use the least. However, it definitely has a place in the shop. These types of sanders have a similar level of maneuverability as a Detail Sander, but cover a slightly larger area. As such, I tend to use my Finishing Sander when I am working with a thicker piece of live edge. If I am working with 4/4 to 6/4 lumber, the Corner Cat does a fine job. However, with anything thicker, the added surface area of a Finishing Sander makes it so that you can sand your workpiece with a single pass. This saves quite a bit of time and effort.

Sandpaper Grits 40, 120, 240

You will want to stock up on all three grits of sandpaper for your 1/4 Sheet Sander, as well. Because of the nature of the tough work that happens at lower grits, I find that I go through 40-grit paper faster than the others. While this is not surprising, it can be annoying. Because most kits are sold as an even number of sheets per grit, I find myself ordering 40 grit separate. Your mileage may vary!

SanderStrengthWeaknessGrits
Random OrbitalCoverageManeuverability40
DetailManeuverabilityCoverage40, 120, 240
FinishingVersatilityRips Paper40, 120, 240

Looking Forward

We hope you enjoyed our Simple Guide to Electric Sanders. As we continue to expand our capabilities in the workshop, our selection of tools is sure to grow. As we acquire more tools and master their many uses, we will continue to provide tips, tricks, and guides. Our guides are meant to save you time and effort.

Please take the time to check out our selection of charcuterie boards, end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop. If you would prefer, you can click here to see our selection of boards and blocks on the site.

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