Best sander brands
How to buy a sander
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How to buy a sander
There is a wide range of sanders, all suited to different tasks – we’ll help you choose which is best for you.
The right sander can make smooth work of your DIY project. As sanding is a repetitive activity, it makes sense that a power sander will save time and leave a better finish than if you tackled the job by hand.
Prices can start from as little as about £10 and range up to about £250. Power sanders can help with many projects, including decks, furniture and bookshelves. They can be hand-held or mounted on a table, powered by electricity, air compressors or batteries.
Read on to find out about the different types of sander, and once you know what you're looking for you can find out the best and worst sander brands according to our research.
Types of sander
Belt sanders, which have a section of sandpaper stretched over rollers, can tackle large jobs quickly. They are particularly good for tabletops, doors, removing old paint and sanding the edges of timber flooring. They are aren't so well suited for furniture or work that needs a sparkling finish.
The size of the belt is expressed in terms of the width and circumference. Common sizes are 3 inches by 18 inches, 3 inches by 21 inches, 3 inches by 24 inches, 4 inches by 21 inches, and 4 inches by 24 inches. Generally, a larger belt means it can get through the job more quickly.
Belt speed is shown in surface feet per minute and ranges from 900 to 1,600. The higher the speed, the faster the sander works. Some belt sanders can be attached to a workbench for ease of use. Belt sanders tend to cost more than finishing sanders (see below) and weigh from 2.5 to 10 kilos.
Orbital sander (or finishing sander)
This type of sander gives a smooth finish on large, flat areas. It is also good for smoothing plaster, paint or varnish. Base plates come in different sizes and move with a tight, rapid orbital action.
Random orbital sander
Random orbital sanders have circular rotating sanding discs and are good at giving a scratch-free surface. They can also be used on gentle curves. They combine the speed of a belt sander with the smoothness of an orbital sander.
Key sander features
Picking the right sandpaper is key, as the wrong sandpaper can damage or ruin your project.
Sandpaper comes in sheets or as sanding discs. Look out for the grit, which refers to the number of abrasive particles in each square inch of the paper. This ranges from 40 to 600. The lower the grit, the courser the sandpaper.
Very coarse sandpaper can be used for big jobs, stripping paint or varnish, and for roughing up wood. A medium grit - of about 80 to 120 - will leave a smooth surface and remove imperfections. Meanwhile, very fine-grit sandpaper can remove scratches and help prepare the wood for painting or staining.
The sandpaper is held onto the sander using clamps - some are operated by a spring-loaded action, others by levers and some by screwdrivers.
Dust collection system
Sanders create a lot of dust, and it's important to have a good way of getting rid of it. Dust-collection systems can include dust bags, filter canisters or hoses attached to a vacuum.
This is a useful feature that limits the depth of sanding.
Prolonged and excessive vibration can be exhausting and lead to injury, so it's crucial to get a sander with a good grip. Soft grips reduce vibration. If possible, try turning on hand-held sanders before you buy to see how comfortable they are for you.
Speed is dictated by the length of the sanding strokes. Shorter strokes mean a glossier surface. Some sanders have variable speed control, which is particularly good for soft wood such as pine. Controlling the speed also helps you switch easily between rough sanding and finishing work.
This locks the sander in the 'on' position so you don't have to keep your finger pressing the on button.
Pad brakes protect the surface from being gouged when the sander is moved.
Brands to consider
Key brands of sander include Black & Decker, Bosch, DeWalt, Mac Allister, Makita, Performance Power, Ryobi and Wickes. See our table of best and worst sander brands.