It seems okay to just go into a store and reach for the nearest detail sander, because hey, they’re just assemblages of metal and plastic, plus they all make that sound, right? Wrong. There are good, bad, and ugly tools out there, and you would do well to be carefully picky. But, how do you choose which ones are worth your money given the confusing array of sanders on the market?
Here is a list of 8 of the best detail sanders your money can buy.
- WEN 6301
The WEN 6301 comes with the added efficiency of 13,500 opm of vibrational power making it a precise sanding tool in your hands. It comes equipped with a vacuum adaptor which makes attaching dust collection devices pretty easy, and an able 1 amp motor which effortlessly eats away all the roughness from your work pieces. The sander weighs a comfortable 2 pounds, making it easy to carry and manipulate with one hand.
- Genesis GMT15A
The Genesis GMT15A comes with a weight of 2.8 pounds, which is paltry given the punch this machine packs. The most striking thing about the Genesis GMT15A is its multi-purpose nature. It can be used as a close-quarters saw, grout remover, and power scrapper.
As a detail sander, the Genesis GMT15A spits out all your money’s worth. Its 1.5 A motor puts 21000 opm of sanding vibration in your hands. If you like your machines robust and durable, then put your money on the Genesis GMT 15A. It comes with a sturdy aluminium housing for added shielding.
One drawback with this machine, though, is the noise. The motor can be a little too loud. But it’s DIY day, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
- Proxxon 28594
Now detail sanders are for smoothening the details on your woodwork projects. But, when things get really “detaily”, you might want to bring the Proxxon 28594 on the scene.
It is a small sander built for those small elements on your carvings, and the really intricate decorations on your wooden articles. The sander weighs a feathery 0.64 pounds, making it really easy to handle. If you can hold a pen, chances are you can comfortably work with this tool.
The Proxxon 28594 does its magic in linear motions as opposed to the rotary or orbital action in most sanders.
- Genesis GPS080
The Genesis GP080 is lightweight yet powerful enough to do the job it was built for – smoothen all those nooks, crannies and tight spaces, which normal sanders can’t reach. The machine is durable enough to come with a two-year warranty, and it’s compact and easy to use. What’s more, it won’t injure your bank account as much as other detail sanders in the same class.
The Genesis GPS080 is powered by a 0.8 amp motor pumping out 14000 oscillations per minute. It’s hook and loop accessory fastening system makes for easy and quick attachment of sandpaper.
- The Black & Decker BDEMS600
Black and Decker is known for its high quality and durable products, and the Mouse Detail Sander upholds this reputation. It comes armed with a 1.5 Amp motor delivering 14,000 oscillations per minute of sanding vibration.
The mouse lives up to its name, being able to sneak into tight spaces like a rodent. Its weight and size make for easy manoeuvring, weighing only 2.8 pounds and measuring 10.2 x 4.6 x 5.4 inches.
Speaking of manoeuvrability, the Black and Decker BDEMS600 is built with three different holding positions for comfortable handling in different angles.
- Bosch 1294VSK 2.3 Amp Corner Kit
Whether you’re a weekend woodwork ninja, or you’re in the field as a professional, you would never go wrong with the Bosch 1294VSK. It is a sturdy machine with a 2.3 amp motor which, with its 6-speed selecting dial, can give you 13, 000 to 19, 000 oscillations per minute. This makes the Bosch 1294VSK suitable for a wide array of materials without harm.
While most sanders will wear the sand paper while there still are patches of usable grit, the Bosch 1294VSK changes the game with its triangular pads that can turn a full 120 degrees, to put the whole sheet to use uniformly.
With its micro filter dust canister, your work will generally be cleaner and your lungs won’t have to suffer just to get some timber smooth. Even more comfort is delivered by its soft grip handle and its low vibration – after all, the action should be at the sanding pads, not your hands.
- Festool DTS 400
The Festool DTS 400 comes with a rugged compact design which makes one-hand handling easy. It comes with a well-designed turbo dust extraction system for healthier, cleaner, and more comfortable worksites.
The sander can be safely used on different materials thanks to its adjustable speed, which can range from a humble 6000 oscillations per minute to a fierce 14 000 oscillations per minute.
When the Festool DTS 400 does its job, it leaves the surfaces smooth indeed, leaving no swirl marks. This is made possible by its fine, smooth orbital sanding motion.
If you have any projects that involve sanding overhead, the Festool DTS 400 should be in your workshop. Its light 2.4-pound weight allows easy and comfortable handling. Its hook and loop attachment system enables quick changing of sandpaper, enabling you to work faster.
- Proxxon 38520 Delta Sander
The Proxxon 38520 Delta Sander measures 4.5 x 7.8 x 13.19 inches, and weighs only 2.4 pounds. But, don’t be fooled – this is a little versatile beast in your hand. It comes with an electric speed control system which affords it continuously variable speeds, ranging from 3000 oscillations to 10000 oscillations per minute for tougher materials. It can be used on wood, steel, non-ferrous metals, plastic and glass.
The sander’s oscillating motion makes it suitable for multiple tasks including finishing, roughening, paint or silicone removal. This oscillating motion also prevents the sandpaper from clogging.
There are other good machines on the market, but this list is a good place to start whether you’re just a weekend DIYer or you’re in the trade for the long haul.
How to Use a Detail Sander
For an all-round good woodwork job, the finishing is just as important as any other stage. And, if a particular job happens to involve lots of decorative corners, curves, nooks and crannies, then a detail sander would be an indispensable addition to your arsenal of tools.
But, having a tool in your hands is one thing. Knowing how to use it correctly is another ball game.
These machines are typically used for smoothening hard-to-reach spots in preparation for coating with the desired finish. They come with a wedge-shaped sole to which sandpaper with the same profile can be attached. Some detail sanders have accessories of different sanding profiles.
Detail sanders are smaller and weigh less than ordinary power sanders. This makes them versatile enough to be used for different applications.
So, how do you use one to achieve the finest results without wasting time and energy, or possibly harming the integrity of the material itself?
- Know Your Tool
The best detail sanders come in different sizes, with different power and durability. Knowing your sander’s specifications will enable you to put it to use correctly, without the risk of harming it, your work pieces, or even yourself. All it takes to do this is simply reading the manufacturer’s manual.
- Use the Right Grit
There are different grades of sandpaper and the right one depends on the nature of the job. The finer grades leave a smoother finish, but take longer to do the job. The coarse grades, on the other hand, eat away all the unwanted roughness in what seems to be a couple of strokes. However, you risk compromising the smoothness of the finish by going for the rougher sandpaper.
Sandpaper comes with numbers on the back indicating the grade. The finer the grit, the higher the number, and vice-versa.
- Keep It Moving
While the detail sander is among the smallest of power sanders, it is still a machine and will eat away more than its share of your material if kept in the same position. The sander has to be kept moving and, should there be any need to pause, make sure to keep the sander off the work pieces. Any stoppages will result in uneven marks and depressions.
- Use Light Controlled Touches
It’s tempting to summon as much force as possible and bear down on your sander all in the hopes of getting the job done faster. The job will be done faster, of course, but when all is said and done, all you’ll have will be marred surfaces.
Use light, uniformly-flowing touches. It is also important to move the sander at a slow pace. Even when faced with a patch that seems stubborn, it’s better to go over it a couple of times than with one furious pass. Beyond that, the small sander’s motor is not built to handle extreme pressure, and applying too much might damage it.
- Change the Sandpaper
Change your sandpaper when it becomes smoothened with continued use. Even if you need a smoother paper, just apply a fine-gritted one instead of using one that has lost its abrasiveness. This only takes up more time and energy.
Further than that, sandpaper that has become smooth due to over-use is seldom uniform. It usually has patches of roughness which will leave irregular marks on your surfaces.
- Use Different Angles
As you smoothen your wooden article, you will come across spaces that need to be attacked from different angles. On some spots, it will be clear which angle to take it from to get the best results. On others, you just have to experiment with different angles to see which one gives you the best surfaces. This applies best when it comes to sanding nooks and crannies.
- Adjust the Speed
Detail sanders, like most power tools, can be operated at variable speeds. Adjust the speed depending on the hardness of your wood, and how rough the surfaces are. Hardwoods might need more speed and slower passes, especially if the surfaces are really rough. Slower speeds and faster strokes will work perfectly on soft wood without marring the surface.
Intricate decorations, which might easily lose their defining edges, should be approached at lower speeds and less pressure.
- Don’t Forget Your Safety
‘Safety first’, they say, and this still applies when it comes to using a detail sander. Inevitably, these guys produce fine wood dust which might harm your lungs and eyes. It is important to keep on a pair of goggles and a mask to avoid inhaling the dust. This especially applies if you have to work on pieces above your head where you have to face up to do the work.
- Use Premium Sandpaper
Cheap Sandpaper might be, well, cheap. But the extra dollars you have to fork out for premium sandpaper will add to the efficiency of your sanding, and ultimately bring out a better finish. On the really cheap end of the spectrum, you have sand paper whose grit falls off as you make passes. Sometimes, the grit itself may be made of a weak material which loses it abrasiveness easily.
- Follow the Grain
One of the golden rules of sanding is to try as much as possible to go along the grain. It sometimes seems more convenient to go against or across, but this does no justice to the final product. Going across will tear the fine wood fibre, resulting in unsightly scratches on the surface which might be difficult, or even impossible to remedy without disfiguring your fine decorations.
- Start with the Coarse Grit
If the surfaces are too rough and there’s a somewhat thick layer of material to be sanded away, use a rough-gritted sandpaper first, then once the surface is smooth enough, finish it off with a finer grade of paper.
Although some choose to ignore it, the detail sander is necessary if you have an eye for perfection. It’s lightweight and specially shaped sanding profile enables it to reach where ordinary sanders can’t. It is important to understand how to apply this small power tool for the best results.