Please help me pick out a sander

deedee-2008September 13, 2008

Hi everyone...I have some projects around the house I need to do, and was would like to purchase a sander to help me, but are not sure what type would be best for me. Projects include: sanding risers, railings and spindles on inside steps before restaining, sanding six chairs before refinishing them also. I realize I will still have alot of hand-sanding, but was hoping a mechanical sander would make the job quicker and easier. Do I get a rotary type? I also have small hands, and don't want one too heavy, nor too expensive. Thanks in advance.

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I just helped a friend pick out a sander. There was a review in one of the magazines as he was in the process and the editor's choice was the Ridgid random orbit from Home Depot. He's used it and wonders how he got by without one for so long. My recommendation to him was to get one with variable speed, soft start, and good dust collection.

Whatever your choice, get a random orbit sander, not a belt sander or pad sander, they are much more useful.

I am a bit worried by your question though, sanding is not the most efficient way to remove a finish from things like chairs and spindles -- use a chemical stripper for this. Trust me, you will be frustrated before you have the first chair sanded.

Here is a link that might be useful: R2600

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 7:44AM
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As noted, a sander isn't always the first or best tool for the job. A sharp scraper and strippers should always be options.

Anyway, I own and like the Rigid sander. I don't know if it's still the case, but mine came with both a velcro and a psa pad (which plays nicely with my other psa sander, a bigger and burlier P-C 7335). Fine Woodworking did a tool test of sanders in the last couple of years, and I seem to recall that Bosch came out well. Porter-Cable recently released one that sits a bit lower than most, but it's probably not cheap.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 1:05PM
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I have been very happy with a Makita 5" random orbital sander. It was moderately priced around $100, comes with a dust bag (which works) and a plastic case. It replaced a similarly-priced Bosch unit that was garbage.
I am also delighted with a Festool Rotex 150 which I purchased almost two years ago. It is a 6" dual-mode random orbit or circular sander. It connects to a vacuum for true dustless sanding. It was more costly than the Makita, at around $450, but it does really heavy-duty sanding, and is equally capable for fine finishing and polishing.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 5:44PM
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Just to continue. I got a Bosch when ROS first became available (20 years ago, maybe). I have replaced the pad a couple of times (H&L) and I can walk into the dealer, and they ask me what choice of hardness I want and pass me one over the counter. Dead easy. I often thought when this one bought the farm, I'd get another.

A couple of years ago, I got a Festool (at special introductory price), which is an excellent tool. Better than the Bosch. If I had to pay 2-3 times as much, I'm not sure it's 2-3 times better.

I have used DeWalt and PC machines and found them nowhere near the quality of finish and ease of use of the above. The new crop of Porter Cable machines seem to be repositioned by the new owner (B&D) as between Dewalt (professional) and Black & Decker (Joe DIY).

The editors of a woodworking magazine are friends of mine and one of them loves the Makita.

So Ford, Chevy, BMW, Honda, Toyota -- boils down to preferences and what you want to spend.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 6:57PM
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The PC ROS works nicely with 2 disadvantages: noise. and the cylindrical foam dust catcher is forever falling off.
A third thing while I'm at it- they are so lightweight that they are particularly hand-numbing with vibration. On a heavier tool the mass absorbs more of the bad vibes.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 7:53PM
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Thanks, everyone, for your great advice. I don't want to spend alot since I don't have alot of work to do, but I don't want to waste my money, either. I refinished the dining table already (that goes with those six chairs), and used a chemical stripper on it (CitriStrip?), which worked well on the soft goo that was the finish.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 11:52AM
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Make sure you get one with variable speed. The single speed ones don't go as fast. I usually leave the sander turned up as high as it goes. Turn it down to a lower speed for the final sanding with a 220 or 240 grit pad.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2008 at 2:16PM
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