Sanding – it’s hardly anybody’s favourite. In fact on the DIY boredom scale this repetitive action probably scores a ten. But there’s no way around it, pretty much any woodwork will at some point require some sort of sanding. The secret to taking the pain out of sanding is using the right tool for the task. So let’s unpack the most common sanders.
THE BELT SANDER
We think of it as the bulldozer of sanders – it might not be particularly subtle, but it gets the job done. As the name suggests, belt sanders feature a sanding belt, a loop of abrasive paper that’s fitted around two drums. One of the drums is powered by a motor while the other spins freely allowing for the sanding belt to be fed continuously in one direction.
Speed and brute force is what a belt sander is about. It removes a considerable amount of material very fast, so it’s the sander to pick for rougher jobs requiring the removal of at least 2-3mm of wood, thick paint or varnish and decades-old grime. It’s ideal for large, flat wooden surfaces like tabletops and wooden floors. Finer sanding belts will of course give you a smoother finish than coarser grades, but belt sanders are really a first-step stander – use it to do the tough work, then refine the sanding surface with a second sanding using one of its less aggressive cousins: an orbital sander, random orbital sander or finishing sander.
Makita MT Belt Sander 940W (M9400B)
R 3,675.00 R 3,995.00
THE ORBITAL SANDER
For combining versatility with affordability, an orbital sander is probably the most practical choice for a basic DIY toolbox. Normally either square or rectangular in shape, orbital sanders do the job through a small orbital sanding action – so subtle that it just feels like it’s vibrating in your hand.
Unlike round sanders, square or rectangular orbital sanders do not require any special sanding pads. Simply cut normal sandpaper to the correct length and width and clip it on.
Ryobi Orbital Sander 180W (S-180)
R 585.00 R 895.00
Ryobi Mouse Sander 130W (MS-130)
R 440.00 R 515.00
Orbital sanders are somewhat all-purpose. You can use them for rougher sanding jobs, but as they remove much less material than belt sanders, it’s time consuming and chows a lot of sand paper. What they’re really good for is delivering smooth sanding on less demanding surfaces or finishing a rough sanding job that you started with a belt sander. The one drawback of an orbital sander is that the action of this sander follows a very specific orbital pattern, making it possible to create whorl marks, especially on softer woods. Enter the random orbital sander…
THE RANDON ORBITAL SANDER
Another very versatile sander choice, the random orbital sander does exactly what an orbital sander does – only better. That’s because the random orbital sander’s round sanding head moves in tiny orbital formations while also spinning. The result? A random sanding action that delivers a smooth sanding finish without any whorl marks or swirl patterns. With their Velcro backs, the sanding pads for random orbital sanders attach in seconds. And thanks to the holes in the sanding pad’s surface that let out sawdust, the pads are less prone to clogging and last longer. If you want a fine finish or are working with soft wood, the random orbital sander is the one to pick.
Metabo Random Orbital Sander 350W (SXE 450 Turbotec)
R 3,595.00 R 3,815.00
THE FINISHING SANDER
The last sander in our lineup, the finishing sander, is similar to a random orbital sander but it delivers a super smooth finish. If you regularly do very fine woodwork and you’re a perfectionist, a finishing sander is a nice-to-have addition to your toolkit.
Makita Orbital Finishing Sander 190W (BO3710)
R 1,575.00 R 1,870.00