3 sanders

Welcome to another tool tutorial. Today I’m going to save you time and effort by teaching you how to use a sander.

How to Use a Sander

How to Use a Sander

If you don’t have a power sander, you’ll likely recognize this contraption below. That’s a manual sanding block. It’s great, but personally I like to move quickly through the sanding phase of a project.

Reclaimed Lumber Farmhouse Table | Pretty Handy Girl

Especially because I feel like I’ve grown out of the hand sanding phase of my life. LOL.

When to Use a Sander:

Using a power sander can speed through the process of smoothing wood and other materials. It’s typically used to either prep a surface or finish a surface before applying paint, stain, or a top coat.

  • A sander can also knock off splinters and round over sharp corners.

  • It’s also great for prepping surfaces to paint (especially pre-finished or raw furniture.)

How to Get a Smooth Paint Finish without a Paint Sprayer | Pretty Handy Girl

  • A sander can also be used to give a beautiful aged finish to any project you are working on.

Chalk Painted Wooden Stool | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Or help eliminate imperfections from a surface.

  • Sanders can also be used to remove rust from metal.

Upcycled Metal Rolling Cart Plant Stand | Pretty Handy Girl

When NOT to Use a Power Sander:

A power sander should never be used when working with materials that would be hazardous when airborne, like asbestos or lead paint. If you suspect these materials in your home, it’s best to consult with a professional abatement specialist. Learn how to test for lead paint in this article. If you have a house built in or before 1978, you might have asbestos. Learn everything you wanted to know about asbestos here.

Need to remove lead paint? You will be much safer if you use a chemical stripper. Learn how to strip paint here.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Personal Protective Equipment for Sanding:

  • Dust Mask
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection
  • Optional: Gloves

When using a sander, it is essential that you wear a dust mask to protect your lungs. Eye protection needs to be worn to protect your eyes from sawdust or splinters. And finally, wear hearing protection because exposure to the noise of power tools over time can damage your hearing.

Finally, gloves are not essential, but sanding can dry your hands and make them rough.

Different Types of Sanders:

There are several types of sanders, but today we’ll stick with the most common power sanders used by DIY enthusiasts because of their portability.

  • Sheet Sander
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Detail Sander

Sheet Sander:

The first is a sheet sander. This sander is named because you cut a sheet of sandpaper to attach to the sander.

How To Replace Sheet Sander Sandpaper:

When the sandpaper gets torn or shows wear, it’s time to replace it (or if you need to switch the sandpaper grit.) Look for the clamps on each side of the sheet sander base and release them to remove sandpaper.

replacing sheet sander sandpaper

Mark the size of your sander’s base on the sandpaper.

Cut a piece of sandpaper to size (add about a 1/2″ on each end to be able to clamp to.)

Feed one end into one side clamp and depress the lever to hold the sandpaper.

Feed the other side under the clamp and secure.

When sanding a lot, I like to load several sheets into my sheet sander. This way I can quickly tear off a layer when it’s worn or when I need to move to the next grit.

Random Orbital Sander:

The second most common type of sander is a random orbital sander. Named because the base moves around in a random elliptical motion. Personally this is the type of sander I use most for handheld sanding. It’s lightweight and allows me to get the majority of the sanding done quickly.

How to Strip Paint Off a Door | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Replace Sandpaper on a Random Orbital Sander:

The random orbital sander saves you time when it’s time to change the sandpaper. The sandpaper discs are held on with a velcro-like hook and loop system.

To remove, simply pull the sandpaper off the base of the sander. Then replace it with a new sheet being careful to line up the sandpaper with the vent holes on the sander.

removing worn orbital sander paper, replacing hook and loop sandpaper

Easy and quick. Now you can continue sanding.

Detail Sander:

Most sanders lack the size to get into tight corners or grooves. Those tasks are best left for the detail sander.

Rustic Pallet Serving Tray | Pretty Handy Girl

Smaller in size, and usually with a pointed head, detail sanders typically use a hook and loop sandpaper system for quick changes.

How Much Do Sanders Cost?

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

3 sanders

A good power sander shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Prices will range from $20 to over $200 for brand name sanders. But, you can purchase a good sander for $50-$100.

Personally I have a cordless sander and a corded sander. I love the ability to use the cordless sander in the yard without needing to pull a power cord with me. But, I usually prefer the longevity of sanding with a corded sander. My sheet sander is old and gets less use because the vibrations are much stronger leaving me with numb hands after sanding for a while.

About Sandpaper:

Sandpaper comes in a wide variety of colors and grits. The colors do not mean a specific grit across brands, but within a brand they help easily identify the sandpaper grit.

  • Coarse Grit: 40 – 60
  • Medium Grit: 80 – 180
  • Fine Grit: 200-600
  • Super Fine Grit: Over 600 grit

When sanding a raw piece of wood or something that needs aggressive sanding to remove a finish, start with a rough sandpaper with a 40- to 60-grit. For smoothing out imperfections and scratches, you need to move on to a 80- to 180-grit sandpaper. The final finishing of a wood piece requires a fine-grit sandpaper with a 200- to 600-grit. Super fine grit is usually reserved for metal, glass, or other non-wood surfaces.

How to Use a Power Sander:

Sanders are either battery-powered or corded. If using a battery-powered sander make sure you have a charged battery. Plug in your corded sander.

SKIL orbital sander

Attach the appropriate grit sandpaper to the base.

Look for the on/off switch on your sander. Turn the tool on and gently set it on the material you need to sand. Use slow sweeping motions to methodically sand your workpiece.

How to Fill Holes and Knots in Wood | Pretty Handy Girl

Once you have a uniform finish, switch to a finer grit sandpaper. Repeat the process above. Continue sanding until you have a super smooth surface (or desired finish.)

sand all boards

Wipe off sanding dust with a damp rag or tack cloth. Empty the dust collection bag on your sander if you have one.  Now it’s time to finish your project! Add stain, paint, or a top coat to protect your project.

Video Sanding Tutorial:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you want to see a video of using a sander, watch how I finished a branch to use as a towel bar in my sons’ bathroom:

Happy sanding!

Organize Your Sandpaper and Sanders:

Once you find a love for sanding, you’ll probably want to store your sandpaper and sanders neatly. Learn how The Handyman’s Daughter built this simple sanding station.

Get the plans to build this sander and sandpaper storage unit at The Handyman's Daughter!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy GirlHow to Make a Long Clamp with Shorter Clamps

When you are trying to outfit your workshop with equipment it can be tempting to skip purchasing more expensive long clamps. After all, how often do you really need to clamp something longer than 12 – 18″? Luckily, I’m here to justify your decision to purchase two short clamps in place of one long clamp, because here’s How to Make a Long Clamp with two Shorter Clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

When it comes time to clamp that extra long project, grab two of the same brand clamps (this may also work with different brands, but you’ll just have to experiment). I use Irwin Quick Grip clamps. 

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Open the two clamps to the full extension. Set the grip handle side of one clamp on one side of your item to clamp.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Take the second clamp and flip it toward the opposite side, resting the handle side on the opposite side of the item.

Then set the two middle clamp pads against one another to form an “S” shape as shown below.)

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tighten the two clamps and you have one long clamp made from two shorter clamps!

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Tell me the truth, did you already know about this clamp hack? I debated whether to write this post because the idea is so simple, I figured it may be nothing new.

If you didn’t know how to make one long clamp out of two smaller ones, I hope this tip helps you one day. I know it really helped me this weekend when I was trying to clamp a larger picture frame.

How to Make a Long Clamp with Short Clamps | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you have any helpful workshop tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

Table Saw Safety Guidelines | Pretty Handy Girl

Friends, it’s Nick from over at The Sawdust Maker! A site devoted to helping others take their woodworking skills to the next level. While I am in the middle a joint series on my website, I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about table saw safety.

The table saw is the most used tool in my shop. It also happens to be the most intimidating tool for most beginners to use. So lets get a grasp on these basic safety guidelines to follow.

Before we dive into this, I want to urge you to find your table saw manual and read it. Wait, what? Yes people… actually read these things. It will cover the basic safety rules as well as any safety features specific to your saw.

Now, before you turn your saw on, do the following:

  • Make sure you’re not wearing loose fitting clothes. This doesn’t mean you need to wiggle into your skinny jeans… just make sure nothing is accessible for the blade or work material to catch.
  • If you are wearing long sleeves, roll them up past your elbow’s.
  • Keep shirt pockets free of items.
  • Remove any jewelry.
  • Wear non-skid, well fitting shoes… last thing you want is to slip or trip into the blade!
  • If your hair is long, pull it up into a ponytail.
  • Wear ear and eye protection.
  • Don’t operate while tired or under the influence. Keep those creative juices for your design process!
  • Unplug your machine and do the following:
    • Visually check your saw for damaged components:
      • Check the power cord
      • Check the Blade
        • Look for Gum or Pith on the blade, clean it if it is dirty.
        • Check the carbide and make sure it isn’t chipped or missing teeth.
        • Keep it sharp. It is a lot cheaper than replacing them and will help keep those burn marks down!
      • Check to make sure that the guards, splitter, riving knife are in place and free of damage.
    • Check the alignment of the fence, ensuring it is parallel with the blade. A quick reference is to line it up with the t-slot and visual check to see if it is aligned.
    • Ensure the blade is tight.
    • Check the belts for excessive wear.
    • Check the alignment of the splitter/riving knife.
    • Is there enough room around you for the board you are wanting to cut? There is nothing more annoying than getting part way through a cut and realizing that you don’t have enough room to finish the cut!

DIY Table Saw Stand and Collapsible Off Feed Table

Now we are almost ready to cut a board! Here are some things to keep in mind when stepping up to the whirling beastly hunk of iron.

  • Keep the splitter and riving knife in place at all times to help prevent dangerous kickback.
  • Use a table saw blade guard whenever possible, this will help keep your fingers out and dangerous wood chips/knots in.
  • Lower the blade below the table surface when the saw is not in use.
  • The table saw blade height should be set so that the carbide teeth of the blade extend a little beyond the height of the work piece. Between 1/4 – 3/8”.
  • Don’t reach over or behind the table saw blade.
  • Never position your hands or fingers in the path of the table saw blade.
  • Keep a 4-6” margin of safety all the way around your table saw blade. This is a DO NOT ENTER zone!!!!
  • Never back a board out of a cut.
  • Cutting a bevel? Place the rip fence on the side opposite of the bevel cut. (see below)

Table Saw Safety Guidelines | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Know what you are cutting into to avoid nails, loose knots, etc.
  • Always have additional out feed support in place at the back of the saw table.
  • Don’t release the work piece until it is all the way past the back of the table saw blade.
  • Don’t cut stacked material.
  • Keep your work area clean. It would be a shame if those scraps sitting in front of your saw caused you to face plant into your saw.
  • Unplug the saw when you are changing the blade.
  • Do not stand behind the blade or the work piece. Trust me, if a board is going to kickback, it will come out of there like a bullet. Last thing you want to do is stand in its flight path!
  • Use a push board, stick (GRR-Ripper) when making rip cuts narrower than 6 in.

Ways to Prevent Kickback

  • Don’t use the miter gauge and the rip fence together. This is a guaranteed invitation for the board to bind and kickback.
  • Use the miter gauge or a sled for all crosscutting and the rip fence for ripping.
  • Never rip wood that is twisted, warped or doesn’t have at least one straight edge.
  • Don’t saw a piece freehand.
  • Use a sliding table for cutting large sheet goods or cut down to a manageable size with a track saw, panel saw. There are several ways to accomplish this. You can clamp a board down to the sheet good and use that as a straight edge for your circular saw.
  • Use feather boards when ripping.
  • Use zero clearance inserts not only will this help keep your cuts crisp, it will also help keep small pieces of wood from meeting your pretty face. Again trust me, getting hit in the face with a loose knot is not fun.
  • Use the proper blade for the job, Most of us use a combination blade. which is good for both ripping and cutting boards. Don’t know your blades? Check out my post here. I did an in depth tutorial on selecting blades.
  • Don’t overfeed your blade. If you are bogging down your saw, you are probably pushing your workpiece through your saw too fast. This is another way to have a board kick back.

Pantry with Coffee Bar and Hidden Wine Storage | Pretty Handy Girl

I found that a lot of individuals are nervous to operate a table saw for the first time. I get it… there is something about hearing the motor start, seeing the blade spin and feeling the wind off the blade. If you feel this way, find someone knowledgeable to supervise and practice!

I know this is a lot of information all at once. But if you respect your investment, keep it tuned up, keep your body parts away from the blade and get out of the way from those flying parts… all that’s left is to go out have FUN!!!! and build something today.

Thanks, It has been an honor to borrow Brittany’s platform today!

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Read these Table Saw Safety and Guidelines to help keep you and your fingers safe! | Power tool safety | Pretty Handy Girl #prettyhandygirl #powertoolsafety #tablesawsafety

I finally finished installing the Flow Wall in the arts & crafts studio. And I had some help from this little guy:

This is the Black & Decker GYRO, it’s a cordless screwdriver, but it has one amazing feature. It is smart enough to sense which direction you want  to turn and will begin to move in  that direction at the slightest tilt of your hand. (I wish I had a tool that could sense the direction my mind is going on this kitchen remodel, but that model might be more complicated than rocket science.) Read more

 

Wheee, it’s another episode of Tool Tutorial Friday! Do y’all miss TTF? I do too, but this handy gal only has so many tools in her toolbox. I added a new one a few weeks ago, a soldering iron. Let’s learn How to Solder Metals Together!

When I was in college, I took a stained glass elective (one of the benefits of going to art school.) I really enjoyed the course, but once the semester was over I didn’t pick up a soldering iron again. That was 20 years ago. Just this month, someone in our neighborhood posted online that they were selling a soldering iron. I immediately jumped on the chance. But, this time I didn’t have stained glass in mind, I had these DIY farmhouse lights on the brain!

As promised, here is the tutorial on how to solder. Read more