How to Use an Orbital Sander? A Complete Guide

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Orbital sanders are widely known for satisfying sanding and smoothing needs. These tools are effortless to use, lightweight, and provide a swirl-free finish on surfaces like plastic, metal, and wood. However, you need to know how to properly operate this piece of machinery to get the best out of it. We have outlined everything you need to know below to help you correctly use an orbital sander.

How Do You Use an Orbital Sander?

Before you learn how to use your orbital sander, you need to understand the various elements making up this tool. We have broken down everything you need to know from an orbital sander’s anatomy and loading the sandpaper to turning the device on and sanding your desired surface.

Learning the Tool’s Anatomy

You should start by identifying the various elements making up this tool. Firstly, you can find the power switch, which is used to turn the unit on and off. Another element is the housing motor. This powers the sander. The sanding pad is one of the most noticeable features of an orbital sander and is used to buff or smooth a surface.

Many sanders include a dust bag in the design. This is a useful feature, as it helps catch the excess debris. Moreover, a dust bag is well-liked for helping keep your workspace’s air clean. The battery is housed inside the sander’s body and is used to power the motor. Finally, the palm grip provides easy handling. 

Learning the Basics

Before you can begin using your orbital sander, it’s vital to understand the basics of this tool. Firstly, safety is always key. Ensure you’re wearing a dust mask and protective glasses when you use this sander.

Sandpaper grits are available in different varieties. Any sandpaper with a lower grit number is coarser and is used for the initial sanding. Whereas, sandpapers with a higher number come with finer grain particles.

  • Coarse sandpaper typically comes with a grit of 20-36 and is best for smoothing a rough surface or removing an existing finish.
  • Medium-grit is between 40 and 60 and can be used to remove stains or paint from various surfaces.
  • Fine-grit sandpaper is typically 150-180 and is used to refinish or finish a surface.

Loading the Sanding Paper

After you’ve selected the right grit level for your specifications, you can load this sandpaper on the base of your sander. From here, you can use the loop system and fast hook to peel off and replace any new sandpaper pieces. Ensure this new pad is properly aligned with the sander’s base.

Turning on the Device and Testing It

After successfully loading your desired sandpaper, you can switch on the unit and perform a quick test. When testing your sander, you should move the tool in a circular motion across some scrap board to make sure the device is working the way you want it to for the project you’ve planned.

Sanding the Surface

Once you’re satisfied that the sander is working correctly, you can begin using it. As the orbital sander can be used with any type of motion, you can begin sanding the surface in whatever direction works best with the materials you’re using. The beauty of using this orbital sander is that the finished product is consistent and swirl-free when handled correctly.

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Tips for Using an Orbital Sander

Along with correctly using this device, you can also employ a few tips and tricks to ensure you get the best finish. Here are some straightforward, yet valuable, tips you should use the next time you have a project that requires sanding:

  • If your project has quick sanding needs, this orbital sander would be the best option. This is especially the case if you want to smooth surfaces like rough plastic, wood, or metal. An orbital sander is bound to provide you with the best results.
  •  If you want to remove any rust or paint on materials, an orbital sander is the most effective tool.
  • If one of your projects requires you to cover larger surfaces, you should rather use a belt sander. This tool is going to work best for bigger projects than an orbital sander, as it saves time and better utilizes your sandpaper.
  • You should consider using a sheet sander rather than an orbital sander for more delicate tasks.

Wrapping It Up

Like most tools, you should employ safety measures when using an orbital sander. This includes safety goggles or glasses and a dust mask. It’s vital that you don’t misuse this device, as it can bring dangerous repercussions. Luckily, the tips outlined in this article can help ensure you get the most out of your sander. 

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s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Itamar Ben-Dor has been in the home improvement business for over 25 years. Itamar Ben-Dor is a jack of all trades. He's worked in the renovation field for years, doing everything from locksmithing to carpentry. He's a small repairs specialist. But his true passion lies in furniture construction and renovation - he loves seeing old pieces come back to life with some new woodwork or a fresh coat of paint.

He has taken courses on many topics in these fields at professional colleges in Israel. Over the years, Itamar has also become quite skilled in gardening, carpentry, and renovations. He's worked on projects of all sizes, from massive renovations to small repairs. No job is too big or too small for him!

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Itamar Ben Dor
Itamar Ben Dor

My father is a practical engineer, and as a hobby he was also involved in construction, renovations, carpentry and woodwork at home; So there was always tools, saws, drills and more at home. Already I was a little kid Dad and I would renovate the house. Once we built a shed for garden tools, once we did flooring for the garden, once we renovated the bathroom and that’s the way it is. Long before there was an internet, directories and plans. We would build things, kitchen cabinets, install electrical appliances, do flooring, pour concrete and more ... I in this blog want to pass on to you the experience I have gained over the last 20 plus-minus years since I was a child to this day and give you information about the best tools, project plans, guides and more.