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Forum topic by Prplhrtjarhead posted 09-04-2012 04:18 AM 2234 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Prplhrtjarhead's profile


80 posts in 2310 days

09-04-2012 04:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

So here I am, getting into the craft on a level that I have really always dreamed of. Over the past year and a half, I have purchased a new 10” cabinet table saw (Craftsman), Grizzly 13” planer, Grizzly 16” Scroll, Porter Cable Router, Drill Press and various other small hand tools as well as a router table and some untility tables.

Up until now, most of my woodworking has been along the lines of handyman stuff, with the exception of redesigning our entryway and stairs, then redoing it all in oak,

Tonight while working on my first cabinet project, it is actually more of a simple 3-shelf cubby, I realized I have a tool issue.

The cubby is designed as a space filler to fill a void in between a vanity and linen cabinet our sons’ bathroom. It’s a small bathroom that had to be hastily remodeled after a water pipe burst this spring, and after my wife picked out the replacement cabinetry, without going custom, we found no matter what we chose, we had a gap that just doesn’t work. So I decided to make this cubby to fill that space and join the two pieces together.

Anyway, enough background. As I completed the face from maple, I knew I would have to give the piece a good sanding. And as I began to do so, I found out how lacking my 1/3 sheet Black & Decker sander is. Lacks power, but also, the power switch is in an awkward position that finds my large hands frequently bumping it and powering it off in mid-motion.

I have no other power sanding equipment and I am not ready to invest yet in a drum sander, as I am unsure it will be necessary for me. Much of the sanding I will need to do will be on smaller pieces as I plan to make military type pieces, think footlocker and smaller. I am not sure I really need a belt sander either, but maybe one of you can tell me why I might with what I am planning to focus on in my wood working.

So, my dilemma is this: I need a good compliment of sanding equipment but have never given it much thought previously. What is a good small, palm type sander and something a littler larger, say the 5” round random orbit type. Or, if there is something that is a good all around sander, that is both small yet powerful, I’d love to hear about that too.

Please help. I have come to a cross roads, where I know I am now seriously in need of an upgrade in something but have no idea about what or where I should head. (Please, don’t recommend anything Black and Decker. I will not pay it any mind. I am just not impressed with anything they do for sanding equipment.)

Thanks in advance for the advice.

-- "We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." R. Reagan, "The Speech", 1964

13 replies so far

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3512 days

#1 posted 09-04-2012 04:39 AM

A good quality random orbit sander is versatile and invaluable. I use a 6” festool and a 5” bosch and definitely have got my moneys worth out of them. I have a bosch belt sander but it gathers dust instead oh making it. I had a 1/3 sheet finish sander and I gave it away.
Before i bought a drum sander I also thought it was unnecessary…I bought one anyway and after using it I do not know why I waited so long to buy one…invaluable.

View waho6o9's profile


8525 posts in 2781 days

#2 posted 09-04-2012 04:41 AM

Festool excels in the sanding department and a dust extractor is a must, however, a shop vac
can be used as well.
The sanding paper last longer so you don’t have to change the paper as often.
You’ll replace your sanders with Festool, but you won’t replace your Festools with anything,
anytime, anywhere. Except for Mirka, maybe.

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2516 days

#3 posted 09-04-2012 12:26 PM

Small finish sanders are not much better than a block of wood, some sand paper and your elbow grease. To remove material, a random orbit sander works well, but you have to be careful not to round your edges. My ROS is not a Festool- and it has worn out after about 10 years of sporadic use.

Don’t over look a card scraper. If you have a lot of material to remove, think about a plane. Buy good saw blades, keep your tools sharp, you might save a little sanding time.

Look for information on using the sanding grits correctly. There is a reason there are so many to choose from!

-- Dan V. in Indy

View jackass's profile


350 posts in 3917 days

#4 posted 09-04-2012 12:52 PM

I’m with Danpaddles, about a year ago, I began using a card scraper, combined with 400 grit sand paper. Amazing results. Very little sanding to do, and excellent on hardwood. I would like your impression on card scrapers, if you try one.

-- Jack Keefe Shediac NB Canada

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2889 days

#5 posted 09-04-2012 01:33 PM

Don’t dismiss the 1/4 sheet palm sander. It gets into corners that my round ROS won’t. On larger projects I use the latter with a coarse grit (like 80) and follow up with the 1/4 sheet loaded with a finish grit(like a 220). Things move pretty quick since I’m not changing disks all the time. All my sanders are PC (appear to be the same as Dewalt) are relatively inexpensive and have lasted longer than I thought they would.

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2718 days

#6 posted 09-04-2012 01:43 PM

Despite the obvious quality of the Festool products, they also come with a huge price.
Take a hard look at the Harbor Freight palm 5” palm sander. There are guys who run working shops who use these things, for years at a time. At a regular price of $24, it’s kind of a no-brainer. I own two, and just keep two different grits on them.
You should also look into a 6X48 belt with a 9” face sander on it. I wanted the HF, but ended up with the Powertec unit listed on Amazon for $266. I then went to the supplier and bought an additional table so I had one for the belt, one for the face. It runs great.
If you want a belt sander, look at the Harbor Freight Magnesium. I got mine for $55 with a 20% off coupon, and it is a sheer horse. I did notice they did just raise the price to almost $100. I would think because it sells like hotcakes. I got a towel and rubber mat sucked into mine and had to take it apart, found only good steel gears, hefty needle bearings, and fiber layered cog belts. It turned out to be a heck of a machine.
Good luck!!

Just starting out, it may be better to concentrate on style, size and usefulness, rather than buy the biggest, most high quality unit you can find, only to find out it sits quietly most of the time.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Planeman40's profile


1307 posts in 2965 days

#7 posted 09-04-2012 02:05 PM

I’m going to throw in my two cents here . . .

I use single edge razor blades as my scraper. I buy them by the box of 100 from Harbor Freight when they are on sale at $2.50 per box. Hardware stores also have these boxes for around $5.00 per box. Just throw the blade away when it gets dull and grab another one. One blade will usually do a whole cabinet door and sometimes more.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View waho6o9's profile


8525 posts in 2781 days

#8 posted 09-04-2012 02:13 PM

Good idea Planeman.

Have you ever tried honing the spent razor blade for the heck of it? If so, how did
it turn out?
Maybe a couple of passes on the strop and see what happens.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 3040 days

#9 posted 09-04-2012 02:16 PM

Just don’t buy black and decker; pure garbage, mine lasted 3 uses.
I didn’t really understand the need for a disc sander until I stopped being lazy and bought discs for my lathe attachment. With the sanding table it makes sannding small items unbelievably fast; I only use a 220 grit to reducuce how fast it takes down material. Now I wish I had a belt or spindle sander to deal with the curvy pieces. If all you’re doing is flat oblects like cabnets or bookshelves then you don’t need a belt sander and just a orbital sander will do it all. If you’re gonna start making toys gor your son or small objects for the missus a disk and belt sander will really make a time difference. Basically anything too small to hold with your fingers for the orbital a disc or belt sander will be your friend.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View oldnovice's profile


7336 posts in 3572 days

#10 posted 09-04-2012 06:32 PM

If you can afford it, take a look at the Mirka.

Mirka (not inexpensive)

There was also a review of this tool on the LJ site

And more information if search on Mirka!

I have a PC ROS with variable speed (a gift from my kids) and I am happy with what it does.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View MrRon's profile


5203 posts in 3447 days

#11 posted 09-04-2012 07:23 PM

If I want to remove a lot of wood quickly, I use my PC belt sander followed with my Makita variable speed ROS, but for a final fine finish on flat surfaces, I turn to my Rockwell 1/4 sheet block sander. Who can eat just one potato chip?

View Prplhrtjarhead's profile


80 posts in 2310 days

#12 posted 09-04-2012 10:03 PM

Thanks everyone for the info. While I am just starting putting my own shop together, that is because I was in the military for so long and moved so often, it would have just been a hassle. I’ve been toiling away sporadically for years, between deployments and such, with wood working. Maybe surprising to some, many of the military installations have some pretty outsanding commercial grade wood shops. These are where I did most of my sawdust making over the years.

I totally understand sandpaper grits and what they are for, that’s not the issue. I just have never really given serious thought to sanding equipment, for whatever reason, inexperience most likely. But now that my shop is coming together, and I am doing more on my own, it just kind of hit me in the face while working on the piece last night.

I’m not sure Im ready to drop a buck-eighty on the festool, but I’m not sure I wont either. I llok at the recommendations and give an update to what I decide down the road.

Thanks again!

-- "We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." R. Reagan, "The Speech", 1964

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3226 days

#13 posted 09-04-2012 10:18 PM

I think that I own six different sanders at the moment. All of them have their uses but the 5 inch Bosch ROS gets more use than any of the others. The go-to sander when I need to remove a lot of material or adjust to a scribe line is the PC 371K compact belt sander… does the work of a belt sander without all the bulk.

-- Greg, Severn MD

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