The difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders?

What’s the difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders? It is difficult knowing which type of sander with the right tool for the job as there are such a wide variety of power tools to choose from. In the post we aim to look at sheet, detail, random orbit, disc and belt sanders and help explain the differences and advantages each type has.

Even which each different type of sander there will be a range of manufacturers offering models with varying degrees of quality, so we also try to recommend what we feel is a good example of a quality tool at a reasonable price.

 

Sheet Sander

What's the difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders?
Makita BO3710 240V 1/3-inch Sheet Orbital Sander

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A sheet sander uses square pieces of sand paper simply held in place with the wire clip and the front and back, the Makita sander pictures also has a dust collection bag for all of that dust you are going to create. Sheet sanders should only be used going with the grain of the wood as going against it will leave marks, they are best used for light sanding on flat surfaces and are ideal doe sanding up to edge or into square corners.

The sheets of sand paper for this type of sander are readily available most using 1/3 inch sheets, or you can even cut your own from larger pieces and save a bit of extra cash.

Positives

  • Excellent at getting into corners and up to edges.
  • Good for light sanding on flat surfaces.
  • In-expensive to buy.
  • Sand paper readily available and cheap.

Negatives

  • Can leave marks on the wood if used incorrectly (Against the grain).
  • Will not remove a large amount of material quickly.

 

 Detail Sander

What's the difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders?
Bosch PSM 100 A Multi-Sander [Energy Class A]

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Detail sanders sometimes known as mouse sanders, palm sanders or multi sanders are probably the cheapest option on our list. Whilst not the best option for removing a large amount of material or covering a large surface area, they are great at reaching into hard to reach areas such as with furniture restorations or crafts. They are best used on slow speeds while applying very little pressure to give a fine detailing before painting/protecting the wood.

Once against pads are readily available and will attach with Velcro, but due to the shape of the pads and the configuration of holes you will have to check these fit your sander and they can be more expensive.

Positives

  • Great for fine sanding.
  • Excellent at sanding tight or hard to reach areas.
  • In-expensive to purchase.

Negatives

  • Sanding pads can be more expensive.
  • Somewhat limited use.

 

Random Orbit Sander

What's the difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders?
Bosch PEX 400 AE Random Orbit Sander

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Random orbit sanders are probably one of the more versatile options on our list as they can be used for both fine sanding and for removing material, although for heavy sanding we would always recommend a belt sander.  Random orbit sanders are characterised by their circular pad, with a sander head that moves in random orbits as well as the sanding pad also rotating.

Usually available in 5 and 6 inch varieties, of which we suggest going for the larger of these two if you have a lot of work to be done. The sanding pads themselves have holes cut into them to allow dust to escape and attach with Velcro. Whilst a lot of these are universal between brands, they will be more expensive that sand paper required for a sheet sander.

Positives

  • Less likely to leave marks on the wood.
  • Can be used in any direction.
  • Suitable for light sanding (finishing).
  • Also suitable for heavier sanding (Material removal).

Negatives

  • More expensive than sheet sanders.
  • Not able to reach into corners.
  • Sand paper pads can be expensive.

 

Belt Sander

What's the difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders?
Bosch PBS 75 A Belt Sander

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Belt sanders might be one of the more expensive options but when you have a large amount of sanding to be done on a flat surface there is really only one tool for the job. They use a belt of reinforced sand paper that fits around the rotating drum at each end, these are readily available but be sure to check which size your sander uses. It is also important to ensure you sand with the grain of the wood and ensure you do not press down too hard with a belt sander as this can end up clogging up the sand paper and having to replace it more quickly.

Great for use on rough surfaces or removing paint and other finishes on doors boards and anything else you can think of, but they should not be used for fine sanding as it would be easy to remove too much material. (a detail sander might be more appropriate)

Positives

  • Excellent at removing old paint and other finishes.
  • Great for use on rough surfaces.
  • For use on large surfaces.

Negatives

  • Can leave marks on the wood if used incorrectly (Against the grain).
  • Not able to reach into corners.
  • More expensive.
  • Not suitable for light sanding/finishing.

 

Hopefully now you understand the difference between sheet, detail, random orbit and belt sanders. If not then please feel free to leave a comment and we will get back to you.

If you are looking for more power tool advice then why not take a look at our post discussing the difference between combi, impact, hammer and drill drivers?

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