Orbital sanders, also known as ‘finishing sanders’, are any type of sander that has a fixed vibrating sanding plate. These are the most common type of sander available. They come in a variety of different styles/shapes including rectangles, squares and pointed bases to easily get into corners.
First orbital sander by Festool in 1951
– This sander scrubs the surface of the wood, moving its base plate in small orbits to give a very fine, scratch-free surface finish.
– ¼ Sheet Sanders (Palm sanders)
– 1/3 Sheet, and ½ Sheet Sanders
– Corner and Detail Sanders (also found as osc tools)
Beginners Should Go Orbital
An orbital finishing sander is the most forgiving of all power sanders. Models like this one from Ridgid are lightweight, easy to control and relatively quiet. It’s also virtually impossible to damage the surface with this type of sander. Orbital sanders are sometimes called quarter-sheet sanders because they accept one-quarter of a sheet of standard 9 x 11-in. sandpaper. The tool uses two spring-loaded clamps to hold the sandpaper against its flat, square pad. In use, the pad vibrates in tiny circles–or orbits–allowing you to move in any direction, including across the woodgrain.
Use for the Finishing Touch
Because the orbital is so tame, it is not useful for heavy stock removal. On the other hand, it is ideal for ultrasmooth sanding and for knocking down dried coats of paint or varnish.
Two Shapes, Two Jobs
There are two specialty sanders that use orbital action: First there’s the contour or profile sander, which comes with several interchangeable rubber pads of various shapes and sizes. This tool is designed for sanding moldings, carvings and other small, intricately shaped surfaces. The second specialty orbital sander is the detail sander. It has a triangular or pointed pad that permits sanding in corners and other tight areas.
What To Buy
– Make sure the sand paper is properly fitted to the sanding base
– To assist with securing the sand paper to the base, roll the edges over a flat surface before clamping to the machine
– Do not press your weight on the tool; let the sand paper do the work.
– Use a coarse grit paper to remove the stock and a fine grit paper to obtain a smooth finish
– Always sand wood surfaces strip by strip parallel to the grain – do not move in circles
– To avoid scratch marks on the material, ensure that you use an unused sanding sheet for your final smooth sand. Also advisable that you do not make contact with the sanding surface until the machine is running
– Not suitable for use on plaster without total dust extraction. Air blowing of tool after such use is essential after every use
– For longer life it’s advised to use an air blower directing air into the side bents. This will prevent dust build up on the motor
– Use of vacuum dust extraction is advised
– Always unplug the sander when replacing sanding sheets