Sanders. Orbital or 1/4 P.S and why? Convince me.

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Forum topic by Mark posted 01-02-2011 05:18 AM 1352 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1807 posts in 3243 days

01-02-2011 05:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question sander

Okay so I have both orbital and 1/4 sheet palm sander and I have a pretty even liking for both. But I am not liking my staining results due to poor sanding. Once I stain the wood I unravel swirly scratches that the sanders have left behind and I think its due to too much pressure on the sander and sanding too quickly. anyways back on topic about which to choose. I love both of them but I’ve been having better results with the orbital. Problem with orbital is the price on sandpaper in comparison to a pack of full sheets. o what I’m mainly asking is the pros n cons of each. Whats your opinion?

-- M.K.

19 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


10283 posts in 3617 days

#1 posted 01-02-2011 05:28 AM

Plain paper sanders are either linear or orbital – most are orbital.

The round sanders spin and rotate, which makes the pattern more
random and the cut more aggressive than the plain paper sanders.

They have different uses. The square ones can get into corners
like inside drawer boxes. I use the round ones mostly because they
are faster in my opinion.

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


705 posts in 3242 days

#2 posted 01-02-2011 05:32 AM

I agree with what Loren has written.

I also seem to find that there are a lot less swirl marks left on the wood when done sanding.

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3243 days

#3 posted 01-02-2011 05:36 AM

Ya I noticed that too Dave. I barely had any swirl markings when I used the orbital on my previous project. Like I said I just hat spending so much for sandpaper for the orbitals

-- M.K.

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#4 posted 01-02-2011 05:37 AM

ROS are the way to go . I have 6 different brands ,I like the Milwaukee best . In some woods it’s best to do the final sanding by hand or with a 1/4 sheet sander. Some folks have problems by not going through all the grits and skipping over some grits. 60,80,100,120.150 and some folks sand up to 220 grit and finer.
As far as the cost if you buy larger quantities they cost less instead of the 5 packs they sell in box stores.
I like Woodworking supply I think most grits are around $17-$24 for boxes of 50-100.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3029 days

#5 posted 01-02-2011 05:52 AM

I find the sheet sander works best between coats of finishes.

Start using the sander in 220, 240, 320, 400 etc…

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3243 days

#6 posted 01-02-2011 06:15 AM

i use paper up to 220 before staining n finishing

-- M.K.

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#7 posted 01-02-2011 06:42 AM

I find on woods like cherry it’s best to hand sand the last couple grits to avoid swirls . I’ve found that sanding beyond 160 it tends to block the stain from absorbing into the wood in fact if you want to keep your end grains
from absorbing more stain sand it to 600-800 and it will let stain in the end grain.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3029 days

#8 posted 01-02-2011 06:51 AM

Of course
it depends what wood your sanding and finishes.

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3116 days

#9 posted 01-02-2011 10:16 AM

Good topic as I have been having this issue lately. My dark stain on Douglas fir clear mix grain (CMG) has been a challenge. Even with my Festool rotax I follow up each sanding grit with hand sanding with the grain using the same grit. Dark stains will show more imperfections but depending on the quality we want it doesn’t hurt to learn to sand well on every project. Those swirl marks will show up if you don’t final sand by hand. Learning to see the scratches and lots of patience works for me. Some will use a mineral spirits wash to reveal scratches, but I’m with Jim here and always follow up with a finer grit to 180 before stain. To completely sand each grit is the key. 120 shows after 150. See those #80 after sanding with 180? Get my drift? My point here is that if you want a good sanding grit for stain (for me it is # 180) do the final sanding by hand, the rest will be done in the finish coats. Jim also pointed out that sanding the end grain to a much higher grit will keep the stain more even. But how do you control the color on the slight radiuses? End grain & flat surface good but those round overs too dark!!! Another subject here would be pre stain sealers and how they may help hide sanding sins! Jim?? How about Charles Neil?

-- $tudie

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18250 posts in 3645 days

#10 posted 01-02-2011 10:30 AM

Don’t you use radius sand paper $tudie?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3667 days

#11 posted 01-02-2011 04:02 PM

Orbital for me, palm I gave it away.
Mark ever try getting your paper from Stockade Canada quality is very good for the price.
Bear Wood have very good price too quality??

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2953 days

#12 posted 01-02-2011 04:24 PM

I use my ROS for the majority of my woodworking because of the orbital action. while the sanding disc may cost more I find they last longer than the sheet sandpaper. I use the palm sanders for things like preparing reclaimed lumber to help remove any dirt or grit before milling and for scuffing up paint to repaint a project. I also start kids out with the palm sanders to get them used to using a sander.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3044 days

#13 posted 01-02-2011 04:32 PM

I raised this as a topic the other day but the point is germane on this page also.

With a ROS, a lot depends on the size of the orbit. A large orbit (1/4” or more) is great for removing material. A small orbit (1/8” or less) produces a much finer finish. There are a few dual mode ROS on the market from Festool, Bosch and Ridgid. Even with traditional, single mode sanders it is a good idea to check the orbit size (if it is in the specifications) and get a sander that meets your objective. I think it would be great to have a couple of single mode sanders, one with a large orbit and one with a small orbit.

For me, my absolute favorite sander is my Festool Dual Mode RS 125.

However, I also use what I call a “mouse sander” to get into corners and other tight spots. The bottom is shaped like an iron (women used to use irons to iron cloths).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3975 days

#14 posted 01-02-2011 04:35 PM

Sunlight is your friend for spotting sanding flaws in raw wood. My vote is for random orbital almost exclusively except the palm sander is great for smoothing sanding sealer in large areas like bookcases.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3273 days

#15 posted 01-02-2011 06:38 PM

hello mark, happy new year to you ..i sure understand your partial problem here…and getting our sanding done like we need sometimes is a hard thing, in todays world so many thing have become mechanized and costly, if i was running a business i would certainly have to use a electric sander and the customer would have to incur the cost of supplies, but i dont and so it has easily come down to need and cost…i have 6 different electric sanders…and use them …but i have started to limit there use somewhat and have gone back to sanding by hand…most people dont like sanding…but for me..the reason i enjoy it is because i like seeing the final shape and feeling of the project come to fruition…and the sanding process to me is a big part of the finish…so i have some nice sanding blocks and use them…much cheaper too…i hope you can find a happy medium with your sanding . doing some of it by hand will lower your cost…and maybe you can learn to enjoy it as a part of the overall connection with the wood and what you want it to become…i also think that we try to go to fast with our projects and we dont really enjoy the whole thing because were in a hurry …going from 80 grit to maybe 360 is a big change in the wood…and when its all said and done and you feel that smooth grain and how it feels in your hand…to me its worth the extra time to sand by hand…....grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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