Tools of the studio: SANDERS

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Handheld surface sander
Handheld surface sander

It seems like sanding, polishing and prepping steel takes so much of my time as I work in the studio, making theses tools some of the most valuable: sanders. I use many different types and sizes of sanders and will outline their style and purposes here.

Flap sander used for flat surfaces
Flap sander used for flat surfaces

This flap sander is has a pretty specific purpose, mostly flat plates of steel, boxes, shelves and some use on bar steel. There are many options of flap wheels, and sandpaper covered wheels of any grit making surface sanding an easy task.

Handheld surface sander
4 1/2″ grinder with small flap disc sanding wheel

This it the tool I use the most in my work, a hand held electric grinder / sander. These tools are the most easily adaptable for taking material off at a fast pace with pretty good accuracy. I prefer using a flap disc even instead of a grinding wheel for the smaller work I make. I keep several of these ready at once with differing sizes of grit for faster use and no changing of wheels.

4 1/2″ grinder with small flap disc sanding wheel

Large 3″ x 72″ belt sander / grinder
Large 3″ x 72″ belt sander / grinder

This is my favorite machine for sanding quickly and rough shaping of steel after welding. These large belts take material off quickly and much care must be used as they will also take your fingers off or to the bone in a moment. Belts come in any grit but the 80 and 120 get the most time in my studio. This machine runs pretty fast and is loud, it also sends dust everywhere, so it lives right by the open door of my space.

Handheld belt sander
Handheld belt sander
Air belt sander for fine tuning edges and holes in steel
A most excellent air belt sander for fine tuning edges and holes in steel

This air driven sander is very easy to use, light and able to save me lots of time and energy instead of using a file by hand. The belts come in all grit grades and the more course the faster the cut, you have to have a light touch especially with the heavier grits as they cut fast. I keep a full stock of grit grades and use this machine often.

Palm or random orbital sander (electric)
Palm or random orbital sander (electric)
Palm or random orbital sander (air)

This is a set of random orbital sanders that are constantly used in my studio. To clean the faces of sheet metal for finishing a light sanding with an orbital sander is the first step to a beautiful surface. These sanders can be used on metal or wood, as most described here can and are almost everyday. As you can see both of these sanders have dust collection ports and I always try to have them hooked up to a shop vac when running.

A shot to visualize the span of sanding products