Let us face it, sanding is a tiresome and messy job. Unfortunately, it’s a job that cannot be skipped when refinishing furniture. Fortunately, having the right sanding tool makes things easier. A good orbital sander is the most useful tool. The Dewalt Orbital Sander is a must have, the one to buy if you only buy one.
If you know somebody who likes sanding, let me know! For a lot of people, sanding means hours of tedious work through the various grits surrounded by noise and dust. Choosing the proper tool will save you both a lot of time and efforts. Let us therefore review the different types of sanders suitable for sanding a piece of furniture.
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Which Types of Sander are not Suitable for Furniture Refinishing?
Let’s talk about these sanders first. Should you wish to sand your favorite piece of furniture, don’t buy or use these power sanders. Here is why.
1/ Belt Sanders
Belt Sanders are handheld power tool for leveling and smoothing rough boards. They have a pair of rotating drums that rapidly turn a sanding belt. Belt sanders are quite heavy and cumbersome to handle. For example, the Makita 9403 4″ x 24″ Belt Sander weighs around 13 pounds (5.8 kg) whereas a corded Dewalt orbital sander – a popular sander among furniture flippers – weighs around 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg).
Belt Sanders are made for wood working projects. They remove material fast and aggressively, so they can take off serious amounts of wood. Hence, belt sanders are not adequate for furniture, let alone delicate veneer furniture.
If you don’t know how a belt sander looks like, take a look at this beautiful Makita belt sander.
2/ Drywall Sanders
Drywall sanders are large-diameter orbital electric sander designed to provide a smooth finish before a further coat of plaster or a fresh coat of paint. They’re larger than regular orbital sander and can be handheld or attached to a pole for hard-to-reach drywall sanding projects.
Drywall sander may be used on wood but is definitely not the perfect tool to sand a piece of furniture. It’s a quite large with a long handle so it is not designed for detailed work. Don’t buy or use a drywall sander for refinishing furniture.
B/ Sanders Suitable for Furniture Striping
1/ Random orbital sanders
Random orbital sanders are handheld tools that have a circular sanding base and spin the sanding disc in small circles. Orbital sanders work fine for both finishing and removing material on large surface. Circular heads remove more stock and leave a better finish than palm sanders.
In addition, random orbit sanders are easy to use. They are light and easy to handle. Icing on the cake: you can change sandpaper in a few seconds. Indeed, orbital sanders retain their paper with “hook and loop” (Velcro) rather than wire clips. Adhesive sanding discs sandpaper for random Orbital Sander are readily available on Amazon or at your local DIY store.
It’s versatile and affordable tool. It’s no wonder they are very popular among furniture flippers.
The second sander I bought was a random orbital sander. I chose a Bosch sander (PEX 400 AE). It’s a good sander, light and powerful enough. However, I have mixed feeling about that particular model. I had an issue at the beginning, sandpapers did not stick the pad more than 2 minutes, so I had to change sanding discs even if they were still like new. Amazon Customer Service replaced this product within a couple of weeks and the new sander works very well.
My orbital sander saved me a lot of time when sanding large pieces like tables or cupboard doors and I’ve been able to remove paint and varnish without a hitch. It saved a lot of effort compared to my old mouse sander. The variable speed is a must!
The only thing I’m not entirely satisfied with is the dust collection system. I chose a corded tool because I wanted to be able to work for long hours without having to worry about battery charging. It is also less expensive. This tool is really good value for money. Overall, I would say I’m pretty satisfied with this tool and would definitely buy a new one the day my current sander ceases to work.
Christina really loves her Dewalt Orbital Sander. As excepted from Dewalt, this sander is a solid and reliable tool. We can assure you that you can buy it with your eyes closed !
If you’re more a fan of the Bosch brand, I would recommend you to have a look at this Bosch Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander which seems very similar to mine. Sorry I couldn’t find the exact same one on sale at the time of writing this blog post.
2/ Detail sanders or “mouse” sander
Detail sanders have a small, triangular sanding base which vibrates in order to sand a surface. The triangular sanding base allows easy access to corners.
Detail sanders are small, very lightweight, and extremely easy to hold, aim and control. Changing sandpaper is also simple. Like orbital sander, detail sanders have a textured base, and sandpapers have with “hook and loop” coating that sticks to it. You just need to align the paper with the edges of the base.
Mouse sanders are perfect for small project, detailed work tasks and fine finishing of corners and edges.
You can find mouse sander for a very cheap price. Actually, prices begin at $ 30 for a basic mouse sander making it a good option if you start refinishing furniture and do not want to invest a lot.
My first sander was a mouse sander. I bought it for a very cheap price (less than $30) in 2013 and it is still working fine. Yeah, almost ten years ago… I bought a cheap sander at that time because I was not sure I would use it a lot. I used it on several projects before acquiring a random orbital sander. I’m still using my cheap mouse sander when I want to give a piece a light sanding and for sanding into nooks and crannies.
The exact same sander is for course no longer for sale but I found a similar Skil Detail Sander on Amazon for less than $35 (as of the date of publication of this post – October 2022). This might be your ideal first purchase if you’re running a very thight budget.
3/ Sheet Palm sanders
Sheet sanders are small hand tools with a rectangular sanding base, also known as finish sanders. They’re perfect for finishing on large surface but most of them will not be powerful enough to remove several layers of paint or varnish.
Here is a popular and affordable Dewalt sheet palm sander.
Like details sanders, they are extremely easy to use. The square pad allows you to get in those 90% angles with no problem. Palm sanders are generally cheaper than orbital sander. Sandpaper sheets are also less expensive than the special Velcro sanding discs needed for random orbital sanders. However, changing sandpaper may be more challenging since sandpapers are loaded using clamps. Because of their small size, sheet Palm sanders are not made for large projects or pieces that need to be sanded or stripped before being painted or stained. In this case, on orbital sander is more suitable.
I personally don’t have a palm sander and I’ve never used it. So, I won’t be able to share my own experience about this tool.
How to choose a sander for your DIY furniture makeover?
|Best for / Type of sander||Sheet Palm Sander||Mouse Sander||Random Orbital Sander|
C/ Options to Consider When Buying Your First Electric Sander
1/ Corded or cordless sander?
Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Battery operated sanders are very handed and you can literally work everywhere. It’s convenient if you have to sand outside. But you may go through the batteries fast. You will need to purchase at least two batteries if you don’t want to run out of power while sander.
Corded sanders may look less attractive. But think twice before buying a battery-operated sander. Corded sanders are lighters. Dewalt corded orbital sander weighs around 2.9 pounds whereas the cordless version weighs around 4.3 pounds. You do not need to worry about charging the batteries. Lastly, corded sanders are less expensive than battery operated ones. If you’re on a tight budget but want a good and power orbital sander, you should definitely go a corded one.
Our favorite Dewalt orbital sander is also available cordless.
2/ Dust-Collection Bin
A great dust collection system is important. It makes sanding less burdensome. Most mouse sanders and orbital sanders are supplied with canister or bag dust collector. Do not expect miracles. Some dust collection systems allow the user to lock vacuum hose up with the sander. They are more efficient and allow you to work in a – almost – dust free environment.
3/ Variable Speed
Variable speed is a very nice feature. I usually go with a lower speed when sanding veneer or to get a smooth finish. When I want to sand more aggressively or faster, I use a higher speed. I consider variable speed is worth having.
D / Sanding Safety Tip
Sanding furniture involves exposition to harmful particles. So always wear a dust mask while sanding to prevent inhalation of wood and dust particles.
For occasional projects, dust masks should do the job. Should you sand regularly, you will need a good respirator. I got mine from Amazon and have been using it for almost 2 years without any issue. I highly recommend it.
For those who love top notch equipment, you may rig up a shop vacuum for dust collection. Let’s talk about shop vac later.
Save this post for later!