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    What sort of sander do I need to buy?
    • #1
    • 9th Jun 08, 5:30 PM
    What sort of sander do I need to buy? 9th Jun 08 at 5:30 PM
    In the midst of house renovations, I need to start painting all our old pine bedroom furniture white.

    This will involve sanding down large areas of wood to get the old varnish off (there is a bed, 2 bedside tables and a very large chest of drawers).

    I will also need to sand down a built-in alcove cupboard, and the skirting boards in all of our rooms.

    I am looking to buy a power sander to help, but I am completely baffled by the different types (palm, belt, random orbital, orbital :confused so I wondered which sort was best?

    I thought about getting this one from Homebase as it offers 4 types in 1, as a way of hedging my bets!

    x (useless girl when it comes to DIY.....)
Page 1
  • TimBuckTeeth
    • #2
    • 9th Jun 08, 7:55 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Jun 08, 7:55 PM
    A palm or detail sander is small so can be used in corners and for small parts, it usually uses triangular sandpaper on a vibrating pad.

    A sheet sander uses a rectangular sheet of sandpaper on a vibrating pad, it is similar to a palm sander but for larger areas.

    A belt sander uses a loop of sandpaper (the belt) that is rotated around rollers at each end of the machine, it is more powerful, quicker and more effective for large flat surfaces but not much use for smaller areas. You can get machines with different width belts, but 3 inches is quite common.

    An orbital sander uses a rotating sandpaper disc, it can leave circular marks on surfaces. A random orbital sander moves the whole sanding disc in another circular motion (eccentric) as well as the main rotation so gives better coverage an fewer problems with surface marking.

    Choosing one type would be a big compromise for the variety of areas that you need to sand. I would get a belt sander for the large flat surfaces and a detail or palm sander for the smaller areas. The vibrating palm and sheet sanders can become uncomfortable to use for long periods.
    The black and decker one you have seen would be OK for smaller areas but slow for the larger surfaces.

    Here are a couple of reasonably priced sanders :

    or a budget detail sander :
    Last edited by TimBuckTeeth; 09-06-2008 at 8:13 PM.
  • Peartree
    • #3
    • 9th Jun 08, 8:45 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Jun 08, 8:45 PM
    Over the years I've done more sanding than I care to recall. I've got a big orbital sander and a belt sander in the garage but I always fall back on my Black and Decker Mouse. I'm a girl too (well if you stretch the definition agewise!), I'd call myself a pretty good DIYer but I find some of the bigger power tools a bit difficult to handle. And it is when sanders start running away with you and 'skittering off' on their own that you get the marks in the wood and so on, I find.

    I've done what you're trying to do many times with painting furniture. If it is the lacquered type pine you don't need to get all the finish off, just 'key' it and get a smooth surface then look at the right primer. The Mouse (or similar) is also just fine for getting the lumps and bumps out of painted surfaces. I'm now on my third Mouse and have even used it to sand a flight of stairs.

    On my fourth house renovation, I like to think I'm capable of most DIY tasks but I admit that some power tools defeat me. They are designed for male sized hands and strength! Unless you're the supervisor of a willing male helper on this job, you need to factor in the type of tool you can comfortably manage if you're going to have to use it for a long time. (Feel sure there is some sort of double entendre in there.....)
  • DirectDebacle
    • #4
    • 9th Jun 08, 10:17 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Jun 08, 10:17 PM
    Depends on the quality of finish you are looking for and the amount of time you are prepared to spend on it. In general you don't need a power sander at all in furniture refinishing. not unless the surface is in poor state of repair. The lazy way is to paint over the varnish after keying it by hand with sandpaper. 120 grit should be sufficient for this. Make sure the varnish is in very good condition. If not it will lift and bring your paint up with it. Best way is to remove it. not with a sander. Use a chemical stripper e.g. Nitromors or Strypit. Clean any residue off and then wash and scrub thoroughly with meths. This neutralises any stripper in the grain and it won't attack your new paint. Neither will it raise the grain. Now sand it. If you must use a power sander then use a random orbital sander. Make sure the machine is running before you put it on the material. Having it on the wood stationary and then starting it can cause it to gouge out wood. Causes more work. This applies to all power sanders. These machines are good for large flat surfaces, drawer fronts etc. Do harder to reach places, mouldings etc by hand. Remove door furniture, knobs, handles etc before sanding. Gives you a clear run and even finish. Don't go higher than 180 grit.

    As a rule for the sort of work you are doing I would recommend a detail sander and a random orbital.

    Belt sanders are difficult to control and are best at removing large amounts of material quickly with not much regard to the quality of finish.

    Orbital sanders are ok but inferior to the random. Orbital sanders leave marks that have to be sanded out, usually by hand.

    On skirtings use the large sander for the flat area and the detail sander or sand by hand for the moulding.
    Last edited by DirectDebacle; 09-06-2008 at 10:20 PM.
  • feesh
    • #5
    • 10th Jun 08, 10:57 AM
    • #5
    • 10th Jun 08, 10:57 AM
    Oh thank you thank you thank you everyone these are just the sort of helpful replies I was hoping for

    I think I will get a random orbital and a palm sander.

    Now just one more quick question - what do you actually do with them? I.e. what grades of sandpaper do you start and finish with?

    The bed and bedside tables are shiny pine, presumably with some sort of lacquer or varnish? I'm not keen on chemical stripping, so shall I just sand the lacquer/varnish off with coarse paper?

    The drawers are just "raw" pine (doesn't appear to be any varnish on them or anything) so presumably this will be a similar method, but with slightly different grade of sand paper?

    And then you put primer on and then paint?

    Sorry - I am being a bit thick and girlie I know but I want to get it right!
  • DirectDebacle
    • #6
    • 10th Jun 08, 11:52 AM
    • #6
    • 10th Jun 08, 11:52 AM
    Your furniture should be a smooth finish to start with so use anything between 120-180 grit for 'keying the varnish. If the drawers are nice and smooth use 180. Your skirtings will not have a good finish if they are still bare wood so go from 100/120 working up to 180 for a really good finish. If they are painted 'key' the paint with 120.

    To paint over the 'keyed' varnished surfaces first wipe it with a clean rag dampened with white spirit. this will remove all traces of dust and won't raise the grain. It will evapourate off in a few minutes, no need to dry it. Apply 2 coats of undercoat and 1 of gloss.

    For the bare wood drawers you need to seal the grain. So after wiping with the rag treat with wood primer first. then 2 undercoat/1 gloss as before.

    If you ever decide to varnish wood then do it this way. If it is polyurethane based dilute 60/40 with white spirit. i.e. every 100ml = 60ml white spirit to 40ml varnish. It will dry very quickly. Give it a very very very light sanding by hand to de-nib it. Do not use a machine. Next coat is 40/60 white spirit to varnish, slightly thicker. Will dry quickly. De-nib as before. Final coat is pure varnish straight from the tin. You will only need a thin coat. Reason for the two diluted coats is so that the varnish penetrates the wood. If you use it straight out of the tin it just 'sits' on the surface, you won't get a good finish and it is prone to premature peeling and chipping.

    Guide to sandpaper grits
    100 and below for rough work. Initial sanding of floorboards you might start with 24 or 36 grit. for example.
    100-120 final finish for floorboards/stair treads and risers, initial sanding of neglected furniture

    120-160 use on furniture to remove previous sanding marks
    180-240 final finish for furniture. 240 really only used when the surface is going to be polished.

    400 Wet and Dry. Used dry to de-nib varnish etc.
  • lostsoul25
    • #7
    • 10th Jun 08, 9:45 PM
    • #7
    • 10th Jun 08, 9:45 PM
    hi sorry to jump in, but seem to be some sander experts in here

    I stripped my bedroom walls of paper, some bits need bit of filling. I was going to sand the walls down. then put up Lining Paper for painting, rather than getting them skimmed, as not that bad.

    Which sander would u recommend, iasked around but cant find anyone who got one.

    I lookd on argos and bnq website. cudnt decide how much best to spend, think belt is what i after right?
  • DirectDebacle
    • #8
    • 10th Jun 08, 10:48 PM
    • #8
    • 10th Jun 08, 10:48 PM
    Done exactly that with the walls in my 150 yr old house with the original plaster still on the walls. If the holes are relatively small I prefer Tetrion in powder, not ready mixed. You can mix up just the amount you need and to the consistency you prefer and little waste. Cheap for a quality filler too. Prepare the holes first, brush out loose debris and 'undercut' the bottom of the hole. By this I mean with a screwdriver or similar gently make the bottom of the hole wider than the top. Lightly dampen the hole with a little clean water before applying the filler. When you press in the filler it will form a cone shape and be difficult for it to fall out. Apply filler using a broad flexible scraper or trowel. Overfill it and then using the scraper/trowel with its edge firmly pressed against the surrounding plaster draw it over the hole to finish the filler more or less flush with the existing level. Allow to thoroughly dry. Should be hardly any sanding to do. If holes are quite large you may have to build it up and not try to fill all in one go. If you haven't left too much proud you won't need an electric sander. A block of wood with some sand paper wrapped around it will do and filler is easy to sand. Another reason to steer clear of an electric sander on this type of surface is vibration. You won't believe how disappointed you feel when you are sanding your filler down and see an 18"x12" piece of your old plaster fall on the floor a couple of feet away. Don't forget to size your walls before papering. I usually seal them with PVA mixed with water.

    Belt sanders are not really for fine decorating preparation. They are designed for more for heavy duty work e.g floors, stairs, rough sawn timber, removing rust etc. They are difficult to control.

    Random orbit is aboout the best you can get for all round finishing (apart from hand sanding) palm and detail sanders are good too, but for smaller surface areas. If you are thinking of sanding large areas of a wall then also think fatigue. Sanders are heavy and get a lot heavier when not resting on a flat horizontal surface.
    Wear a dust mask and make sure you have any open cuts covered. If you have old plaster like mine it will be lime based and it can hurt like hell if you get any in a cut.

    Looked at your links and personally I wouldn't buy any of them, but then you aren't me.
    Last edited by DirectDebacle; 10-06-2008 at 10:52 PM.
  • swake
    • #9
    • 11th Jun 08, 1:02 AM
    • #9
    • 11th Jun 08, 1:02 AM
    Some good advise above from Debacle.
    Like Direct ive done more sanding than anyone should do in a lifetime.

    If your doing walls/ceilings the ultimate cheap option is a block of wood. But to make your life slightly easier you might want to consider something like this pole sander.;jsessionid=XPPXKJ1CAIU4ICSTHZOSFEY?_dync harset=UTF-8&fh_search=pole+sander

    I own/run a building company and a lot of my work is drylining and all my guys keep one of these in there tool kit.

    You will defintely need a pack of dust masks for any type of work like this.

    It gets EVERYWHERE.

    Good luck

    It makes a horrible job far easier.
    Last edited by swake; 11-06-2008 at 1:35 AM.
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