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Choosing the perfect portable electric sander

Electric portable sanders are indispensable to carry out sanding jobs quickly. Each model can be used for different tasks according to its shape, size or operating principles. Find the one that best suits your needs!

Operating principles of electric sanders

The sanding action of portable electric sanders is based on one of the following three principles: oscillation, elliptical rotation, and reciprocal motion.
  • Oscillation: the oscillating motion of sheet sanders is always in the same direction; micro-oscillation is often confused with vibration. This movement is associated with sheet sanders.
  • Elliptical Movement and Rotation: The sandpaper disk spins while moving in an elliptical pattern. This elliptical movement is associated with random orbit sanders.
  • Reciprocal: The motor in a belt sander vibrates in a reciprocating movement, running the sandpaper clamped to a rectangular base in a straight line, backward and forward motion.

Anatomy of a Sander

Understanding a sander's main components and their usage will allow you to make better use of the tool.
Note: Certain features may not be available on all models.

1- Trigger Lock

The trigger lock allows you to keep the sander locked in the ‘on' position without having to manually depress the trigger, freeing up your hands to focus on guiding and controlling the sander.

2- Handle

There are two types of handle: the palm-held and pistol grip. The palm-held fits snugly into the palm of the hand. You'll find this handle on smaller orbital and sheet sanders, and also on detail sanders.

The belt sander and larger-model sanders come equipped with both a pistol-grip handle and palm-held handle or right/left mounted or “D” grip handle in front for a secure two-handed grip.

3- Trigger Switch

To start the motor, you need to depress the trigger switch. Certain sanders have a sealed switch which keeps dust from getting into the switch, prolonging the life of the machine.

4- Dust Collector Container (or Bag)

Most sanders are equipped with an integrated dust collector bag or container, a vacuum connection or both. It keeps the work environment clean and prolongs the life of the machine.

5- Clamping Mechanism

This is the mechanism that holds the sandpaper on the pad; it varies according to model-type.

6- Pad

Finish quality is enhanced on sheet and orbital sanders with the use of a soft backing pad to hold the sandpaper. The pliable pad on sheet sanders in particular ensures a smooth, fine finish on flat or contoured surfaces. It may have a perforated design for use with a dust extractor, in which case you need perforated sandpaper, which you can buy pre-drilled or perforate yourself using the hole-punching plate supplied with the sander.

7- Counterweight System

The counterweight system is found in some models with a palm-held handle; it reduces the tool's vibrations and provides increased comfort and control.

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