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sander preference

Joined
Aug 5, 2022
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Appleton, WI
Everyone has to do sanding before applying finishes. I am interested in not only what is your primary sander e.g. battery powered drill, corded drill, or inertia sander, etc. but also, if you have experimented with different types of sanders, how did you choose your go to tool?
 
Joined
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I took one look at the inertial sanders and said no because I couldn't sand with the bowl not spinning. I went with a Milwaukee angle drill from back when they used to be made by Sioux Tools. I did get one of the Milwaukee drills after Milwaukee started making their own. Keys to longevity with the corded drills is to run at half speed max, oh, with the slow speed drills, and never more than the weight of the drill for pressure. They are drills, and not grinders, which is pretty much what we use them for. As for the cordless drills, I tried one once. The battery would last 2 bowls or so, then would need to be recharged, which means that I would need several batteries. Just didn't like them. Still trying to figure out how to do a flex shaft from a mini lathe with forward and reverse, and have that mounted on my 'articulated arm for bowl sanding', and I have a video on that. Got the flex shaft from King Arthur tools, I think. There are several right angle drill attachments that should work...... Hand sanding, nope, just not efficient. I can get 500+ bowls from the drills before they need new bearings, and some times brushes. I did try one of the 'cheap' ones once and it had problems with the trigger after only a few bowls. I tried a pneumatic one, and it kept the compressor running non stop. The smaller Grex sanders, pneumatic, do work, and some use them, but I found they work better with the finer grits, like above 220, but not with the coarser grits. Some times I do start with 80 grit, but that depends more on the wood than anything else... They are random orbit sanders.

robo hippy
 
Joined
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Inertia sanders seem quite popular. They are easy to make or fairly cheap to buy. Easy to use but not fast. Personally I quite like using them.
I did see a post on social media where a guy said they were a complete waste of time. He didn’t initially elaborate on why. When questioned he admitted that as professional turner he didn’t have time to use one, so he used a battery drill as a sander. Some asked why a professional turner was wasting his time posting on social media if his time was so short …
 

odie

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For external sanding on my bowls, I only sand by hand, starting at no coarser than 180gt. Many times I can start sanding a tooled surface with finer grits than that.....240gt, or even higher at times.

However, I still do rely on power sanding for bowl interiors. For this, I will only use the Milwaukee 55° corded drills. (Sioux is good too....when you can find them.) Although I've completely worn out 5-6 of them over the past 42 years, I've come to appreciate them for being "industrial grade"......and, the abuse they get from me is horrible, compared to the kind of use they were intended for within the construction trades.

-o-

IMG_2358.JPG
 
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Steve Worcester

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I do not like inertia sanders because the speed of the sanding disk is dependent on the surface feet per minute of the piece you are working on. Regardless of the speed, the smaller the diameter is, the slower the disk goes. This maybe related to why I do not like hand sanding. Maybe it is the heat maybe it is the concentric rings on the piece. But if you stop and sand against those rings, it wouldn't be that bad.
I have had several Sioux electrics, love them, then they had a bad batch of drills that used non-metallic bearings and the woodturning community melted them and maybe that is why, or maybe not, Sioux doesn't make electric drills.
I have other electric right angle drills that I buy just for the research, like Pep boys or Harbor Freight, they all work about the same, they work but I think for what we do, they are designed to be disposable. They aren't quiet, which is why I don't use them much, a bonus would be if they had a keyless chuck, just less hassle and one thing less to lose.
My current cordless is a Milwaukee 2438. It has a really obscure thread on the nose (9.5 mm) but it is easy to rethread to 1/4x20. The batteries are readily available and an extended battery is not horribly expensive (Milwaukee brand)
But, most all of the cordless tool brands can fit this model - and it doesn't have to be a right angle or compact depending on the internal size of the vessel. If you have a brand you are in to, look at what drills they have. You don't want it to spin too fast, which is one of the problems with pneumatic tools like angle grinders or drills. Speed and or pressure on the disk equals heat. Heat is the enemy of sanding.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2020
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Huntington, VT
For roughing
Sioux 1400rpm angle drill
Milwaukee M12 rotary sander-polisher 0-2800 rpm

For finishing inside and out
Festoool 125EC_EQ 5" random orbit max 10k rpm
Grex angle random orbit sander max 10k rpm used throttled down

Random orbit sanders are less aggressive but better for fine grits due to the random scratch pattern.
 
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odie

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I have had several Sioux electrics, love them, then they had a bad batch of drills that used non-metallic bearings and the woodturning community melted them and maybe that is why, or maybe not, Sioux doesn't make electric drills.

Interesting, Steve......

I no longer have any of the Sioux 55° angle drills I had. I think there were two of them. and they both have been retired. Off hand, I don't remember why they were retired, but of those that have, including the Milwaukee drills, the reasons for retiring them have mostly been bearings wearing out.

-o-
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2023
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Columbia, TN
I use an air sander. They are about $35-50 on Amazon. Why air? I just always wanted one. ;) In hindsight, though, it's loud. I always wear ANC ear buds when sanding so it's not that big a deal. I have just ordered a second air sander and an electric angle drill. I want to compare the air to electric. Plus, with three sanders, I don't have to worry about changing mandrels from 3" to 2" and back again. Call me lazy.
 
Joined
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I arrived at my main chosen tool, corded close 1/4 drill, through the process of elimination. Inertia are dependent on surface speed, and useless for spot/area sanding. Battery op is too expensive (need several batts). Air sanders just use too much air, requiring an oversized compressor.

My 2nd favorite is a relatively small var speed automotive polisher that becomes an ros with the right mandrels. Mainly used with higher grits, to remove scratches from the previous grit.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2009
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Crossville, TN
I bought a Souix angle drill 25-30 years ago and used it for several years, tried rebuilding when bearings went out but that didn't work out well (don't recall why). Since then I've bought the cheap HF knockoffs, they seem to last as long as the Souix did; I've burned through one and have two now (one 3", one 2") and one of those is probably getting on it's last legs. I no longer use these as much since getting a pneumatic from WoodturningWonders a year or so ago. Now I just use the electric angle drills for any course sanding needed (up to 220) and use the pneumatic for 220 and above. Hand sanding has it's place too. I still sand too much but the good news is that as I've gained skills at sharpening and use of my tools I sand **way** less than I did when I burnt out that original Souix :)
 
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I use an air sander. They are about $35-50 on Amazon. Why air? I just always wanted one. ;) In hindsight, though, it's loud. I always wear ANC ear buds when sanding so it's not that big a deal. I have just ordered a second air sander and an electric angle drill. I want to compare the air to electric. Plus, with three sanders, I don't have to worry about changing mandrels from 3" to 2" and back again. Call me lazy.
I used air tools when I worked as a mechanic. Fine in summer but jeez were they cold on your hands in winter!
 
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I use an air sander. They are about $35-50 on Amazon. Why air? I just always wanted one. ;) In hindsight, though, it's loud. I always wear ANC ear buds when sanding so it's not that big a deal. I have just ordered a second air sander and an electric angle drill. I want to compare the air to electric. Plus, with three sanders, I don't have to worry about changing mandrels from 3" to 2" and back again. Call me lazy.

I got my electric angle drill the other day. I haven't been able to test it out on a bowl yet, but I did sand the bottom of a couple. On first impression the electric sander is WAY more grabby than the pneumatic. That's due to the slow speed, I assume. That should also mean it's working better than the air sander I have been using. I'm eager to take one of my once-turned natural edge bowls and sand it from start to finish with the electric. I hope it's a revelation. Could be the air sander is just too fast and I've been wasting time using it. I can slow it down, but then it bogs down immediately. Anyway, I'll report back once I have some time with the electric sander.
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
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Minneapolis, MN
As a hobby turner, I just sand by hand. I use 3" Klingspor J-weight cloth rolls (about as flexible as new denim jeans), 120 to about 600. I sand forward and reverse. I also keep a rubber sandpaper cleaner block next to the lathe to clean the paper. If needed, I grab a piece of the rubbery foam stuff used to pack boxes for computers and similar, and use it as a backer for the paper. When I'm done sanding to the grit that seems to give the surface I need, then I grab a handful of shavings and buff/burnish the surface of the wood.

I have a Sorby inertia sander- pfft. I should just toss it. I have used a 5" ROS on the outside of a bowl with 120 then 220 grit.
 
Joined
Apr 11, 2014
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Dallas, TX
I took Steve Worcester's advice about 20-years ago and bought AirVantage pneumatics from Bruce Hoover, aka The Sanding Glove - haven't looked back - still using the original two. They are expensive but less than half the price of Dynabrade. The lightness and 3/32" orbit are perfect when coupled with silicon carbide.
I use the sander with paper-backed silicon carbide to remove orange-peel and then go to hand sanding which I find both faster and more uniform.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
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North Ogden, Utah
I'm surprised no one here has mentioned the good ol' Harbor Freight right angle drills. I love them. In 25 years of turning I'm on my fourth one. My first two were the orange ones with the keyed chuck, then a blue one with the keyless chuck, and now a red one with a keyed chuck. They change the brand name every few years, make them in different colors, but when you tear them down they're all the exact same inside. When the bearings start wearing out, they sand even better with a little wobble. But I push them til they won't go any farther. I just can't make myself buy a $80-100+ drill just to ruin it with dust. And dust will kill them all. Watch for the sales and coupons and buy a couple while their cheap(er). Save your money and spend it on good quality sandpaper, change it often, don't skip grits.
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2009
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Midland, MI
I'm surprised no one here has mentioned the good ol' Harbor Freight right angle drills. I love them.
Me too. I have three of their old style, corded, right angle drills, with 1", 2", and 3" mandrels installed. Kind of like having enough chucks so you don't have to change jaws. My oldest is 12 years old and still going strong.

Sadly, they are no longer available. HF sells a corded model with the approx 45 degree angled head, similar to the one that Ken at Woodturners Wonders sells. Also some battery powered models that are true right angle. Neither type is as comfortable to hold (for me) as the old style.
 
Joined
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Many do say that the dust is what kills them. Maybe, but I never blow mine out. I used to need one rebuild a year, or two. I don't turn as many bowls now, and current ones have been going for several years and maybe 500 to 1000 bowls. I probably did 1000+ bowls each year. The thing that kills them is that we use them for grinders and they are drills. Slow sanding speeds like no more than half speed/600 or so rpm, and light pressure. I can not sand bowls without my articulated arm for bowl sanding.... I can easily spin a bowl by hand since the support takes all of the weight. Best use for the Oneway inside tool rest I have found....

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnhdZh2Ens8


robo hippy
 
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Jul 9, 2010
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Here are my thoughts on sanders. When I started turning, I bought a couple of the angle sanders. I hated them. There were three problems. First, the noise was unbearable but that was reduced with ear plugs. Second, holding the hot and vibrating drill was really hard on my hands so I ended up wearing heavy gloves. After sanding a bowl, my hands really ached. And third, because of the heat, dust and vibrations, the ball bearing seats melted and the drills ran rougher until they died.
My solution was as follows. I had lost faith in my sump pump and bought a new one. I took the old sump pump motor (unfortunately it's 1750RPM) and mounted it on a board and hung it from the rafters. See the photo below. When hanging, it was essential to insulate the motor's vibrations with a bungee cord. I bought a five-foot long flex drive with a drill chuck on the end. Using it is a lot easier than with the hand drill. I use the tool rest to anchor the drive although Robbo Hippy's articulated rest might be better. The flex drive is the weakest part and if you sand gently they last for several years. Also the 3" pads are much harder on the flex drive than the 2" pads. I've initially used the sump pump switch but then switched to a foot switch and I'm now using a light switch mounted above the lathe.
In the photo you can see my velcro strips that hold my sanding discs. Depending on the wood, I can use them a couple of times before they are tossed. Since I normally turn green to finish, I've found that the Abranet grits work great on green wood since I can blow out the particles that fill in all the holes.IMG_5312.jpeg
 
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Me too. I have three of their old style, corded, right angle drills, with 1", 2", and 3" mandrels installed. Kind of like having enough chucks so you don't have to change jaws. My oldest is 12 years old and still going strong.

Sadly, they are no longer available.
yep - one of two things that I can honestly say are a great buy at Harbor Freight (the 2hp dust collector is also great as a base for the Wynn filter and a cyclone). Been using their cheapest right angle drills for many years. Blow out every now and then and they keep on going.

So sorry to hear they’re not selling them any more…
 
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