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Why use an Orbital Sander?

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Forum topic by danoaz posted 08-31-2013 11:31 PM 2368 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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danoaz

220 posts in 1630 days


08-31-2013 11:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sander orbital sander

So I don’t have a buddy next door or someone to call and I am a complete novice as is evidence of this question. I see Youtube videos and so forth of people using orbital sanders and I don’t get it. I was always taught to use the flat square vibrating kind and sand with the grain. Doesn’t the orbital sander tear up the wood no matter what grit you are using?

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright


20 replies so far

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Finisherman

227 posts in 1309 days


#1 posted 08-31-2013 11:47 PM

The key here is to use a random orbit sander. These machines create a random scratch pattern on the surface, rather than a consistent one. The human eye will naturally pick out a regular pattern, and since there isn’t one, the scratch pattern become indiscernible. Just be careful to move the sander at a slow, even pace and be sure that there are no large pieces of grit under the pad. If you see “pigtail” scratches on a surface, this indicates that the machine was moved too quickly across the surface.

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Loren

8295 posts in 3107 days


#2 posted 08-31-2013 11:48 PM

Random orbital sanders remove more material faster so
you can get through a progression of grits faster. They
do leave little semi-circular marks though. The marks
may be removed by hand sanding for the finest
work or work with stains where they would be noticed.

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distrbd

2227 posts in 1906 days


#3 posted 09-01-2013 12:22 AM

I have not had much luck with my random orbital sander,I need a lot of practice so I don’t leave those swirl marks
I tried slow even pace like finisherman says,tried different grits of sandpaper but at the end of sanding with it I always have to use my 1/3 sheet sander to get rid of those swirl marks.
I know experienced hobbyist and professional finishers use them all the time but for me,my 1/3 sheet Makita does the job better.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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Dusty56

11806 posts in 3148 days


#4 posted 09-01-2013 02:12 AM

distrbd, have you checked to see if the “brake” is working properly on your ROS ? If it is, you shouldn’t see any swirl marks at all. If your sanding disc is spinning in a consistent circle,and at a high rate of speed, then the brake isn’t working. The other possible reason for seeing any marks at all would be by skipping too many grit sizes between coarse and fine.
I always use my ROS for removing blemishes quickly, and then switch over to my Porter-Cable 330 Speed-Bloc finish sander. That baby purrs….so smooth and zero vibration : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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distrbd

2227 posts in 1906 days


#5 posted 09-01-2013 02:28 AM

Dusty,this my ROS:

As far as I know it’s working flawlessly,I also use it to buff my car with it,I wish I could blame it on the tool but as you know ROS are not as easy to use as regular vibrating sanders,I just haven’t found the knack of it yet.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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Dusty56

11806 posts in 3148 days


#6 posted 09-01-2013 02:36 AM

I have the 5” Porter-Cable ROS’s from a few years ago…make that about 10 years ago now that I think about it.
I can see where you might get swirl marks from that model while trying to balance it and move it along at the same time. Reminds me of a grinder / buffer, more than a sander, but I can remember Norm Abram using a similar tool to yours.

This is the “brake” / belt that I was referring to earlier that fits my sander and others. It is located beneath the sanding pad disc.
http://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE-BELT/dp/B001S3ZXYG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1378003195&sr=8-3&keywords=porter+cable+333+sander+parts

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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MarkTheFiddler

2053 posts in 1648 days


#7 posted 09-01-2013 02:41 AM

I used to use the sheet sanders. I gave every single one of them away. I use random orbit sanders all the time now. I move the sander slowly across my wood. No more than half an inch a second. If you press down, you get swirls. If you angle the sander you get swirls. Just use your hand to steer the sander. Don’t press down.

The only thing is, I used to see a bunch of swirls with the sheet sanders. I don’t see any with the ROS. The sheet sander was a pain to change paper with. The ROS with hook and loop changes out fast. It took 3 times longer with sheet sanders.

I make a few passes with 40 grit if needed. 80 if needed. Well planed wood, I start at 150, 220, 320 done in one pass each.

I used to dread sanding. I love it now.

Best of luck.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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MarkTheFiddler

2053 posts in 1648 days


#8 posted 09-01-2013 02:44 AM

Ahh – the picture. I’m definately recommending the palm sander ROS models.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Loren's profile

Loren

8295 posts in 3107 days


#9 posted 09-01-2013 02:57 AM

Read this:

http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Stroke_drum_and_widebelt_sanders.html

and this:

http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Stroke_Sanders_and_WideBelt_Sanders.html

These threads deal with wide belt machines, drum sanders,
orbital sanders and stroke sanders. The input is from professionals.

Sanding is a huge time-suck in building work for clients ,
who usually expect a simulation of perfection, no
matter what the price tag and don’t care how much
time it takes or what the machinery investment is.

Machine marks are most quickly removed by heavy sanding
machinery or by cross-grain sanding with a random orbital
sander. The reason these sanders are aggressive is because
they tear the wood fibers from the side. I have never
found them to not leave marks, but the marks can
be reduced by meticulous compressed air blowing and/or
tack cloth cleaning between grits.

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Loren

8295 posts in 3107 days


#10 posted 09-01-2013 02:59 AM

Oh… and to answer the question of the thread title:

To save time and sweat.

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distrbd

2227 posts in 1906 days


#11 posted 09-01-2013 03:00 AM

Dusty I’ll have to check it out.
Mark,now you put that ROS palm sander picture in my head and I just can’t shake it off,Home Depot here I come.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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Loren

8295 posts in 3107 days


#12 posted 09-01-2013 03:22 AM

Here’s another thing:

Those 1/4 sheet sanders are orbital sanders. They are
not random orbital sanders however and they are
not as aggressive. I believe the orbital pattern tends
to be smaller than the round type and thus the
scratch pattern isn’t as obvious.

Festool sells random orbital sanders in the 3mm orbit
and in the 5mm orbit. I have a 5mm and it is aggressive
and leaves marks. I am seldom perfectly hygenic with
orbital sanding however and do not always blow/tack
cloth wipe thoroughly between every grit.

You can get 1/2 and 1/3 sheet sanders with linear
motion. They approximate hand sanding in a handheld
power tool the best I think.

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Gary

8968 posts in 2892 days


#13 posted 09-01-2013 03:40 AM

I use the ROS almost every time. I have never had any problems with swirls. But, even tho I use the ROS, I always finish sand by hand.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

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MarkTheFiddler

2053 posts in 1648 days


#14 posted 09-01-2013 03:51 AM

Ken, I honestly believe you will be very happy with it. I bought a rigid variable speed model and it broke within 30 days. HD replaced it with the Dewalt variable speed for no up charge. I have used it for over 100 hours without any issues.

I have used the skil ROS and it’s not bad but the extra bucks spent on the Dewalt are worth it in my opinion.

I read a review on the Dewalt ROS and folk weren’t impressed with the dust collection. I have heard good things about the porter cable and Bosch ROS palm models. Have fun, make slow passes and watch your sanding woes go away.

HD sells the diablo paper. Not bad but the vent holes are very small. Even though its expensive, I prefer woodsmith brand at Lowes. The paper never seems to wear out!. Stay away from garnet. It’s cheap and doesn’t last. You will be prone to make the paper last longer. Both the diablo and shopsmith are long lasting.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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distrbd

2227 posts in 1906 days


#15 posted 09-01-2013 04:54 PM

Danoaz,I hope you you forgive me for hijacking your thread,it was not my intention,but looking at the responses you got,made it a good thread,there’s a lot of wisdom here.
I’ll stop posing and may start a new thread later .

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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