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Planers and Sanders buying guide

Check out the top 5 things you need to know when you’re choosing a brand new planer or sander.

Whether you have a few simple home improvements to make or want to build your own wooden furniture, you’ll need to pick the right tool for the job. If you’re a beginner, it’s essential you know the difference between a planer and a sander. We’ll tell you what they do and how they work, so you can get that perfect smooth finish you need every single time.

Do you need a planer or a sander?

If you want to shape and finish a piece of wood then planers and sanders are great but they both do very different jobs.

Planers – These handy tools are ideal when you need to get a perfectly level surface on your wood. They’re great if you need to take a tiny slither off an oak door to fit a tight frame or get that new spice shelf perfectly even and ready for the kitchen.

Sanders – When you need to remove any tough varnish, stains, paint or rust then you need to bring in a power sander. If you want to give your coffee table a new lease of life or buff up a rusty old bike frame then you need to get your hands on a sander.

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Corded or Cordless?

Now you know what power tool is right for the job, you’ll need to decide whether you need a corded or cordless model.

Corded tools – You can simply plug in and get to work with corded power planers and sanders, which have all the power you need when you want it. They are ideal if you have a smaller workspace and plenty of power sources nearby to keep them buzzing and whizzing along all day.

Cordless tools – If you’re going to be working in the great outdoors or want to get to those tricky to reach spots, then a cordless planer or sander might be for you. All you need to do is charge up your power tool and you can get straight to work without worrying about any pesky cords getting in your way.

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Planer Features

If you need a planer for your next woodwork project, then you’ll want to look out for the following key features when making your choice.

Width capacity – This is the maximum width that the wood planer can cut. The larger the item you’re planing, the wider your planer should be.

Blade speed – Nowadays lots of modern planers come with adjustable planing speeds. That means you can have greater control on how you plane the wood. You can select a faster speed for increased thickness or a slower speed for a final finish of the wood.

Planer blades – Planers usually have between two and five blades fitted inside. If you’ve got a model with more blades then the speed can be increased while you’re planing.

Types of Sanders

There are lots of types of sanders to choose from that will make your next sanding job easy.

Belt sander – This is an essential tool if you want to quickly sand down wood. The continuous band of sandpaper rapidly spins around meaning you can remove excess material really fast. All you need to do is control it with the easy to hold handles.

Random orbit sander – These models can sand through heavy varnish or stains, helping you achieve a smoother finish. The round spinning disk at the bottom will easily glide over those rough wooden surfaces. When you need to change the type of finish you want, just choose a new type of sandpaper.

Sheet sander – If you want to sand materials other than wood then a sheet sander is ideal. It can sand down plastic and metals with a sanding pad that moves in a circular motion at high speed. They’re really handy as they only need a standard sandpaper sheet attached to the bottom.

Detail sander – To be a master wood worker, you’ll need a detail sander to get into all those corners and tight spaces. It is fitted with a vibrating triangle head at the top to get into spaces and corners like no other sander can.

Sander Features

Once you’ve chosen the right type of sander you need, then you need to know what key features will suit the work you’re doing.

Belt speed – The speed is measured in orbits per min of revolutions per minute. If you want more control to refine that special wood finish then a slower speed will be much easier to use. When you need to shift some heavy duty paint or varnish, turn the speed up but be aware the accuracy will be lower the higher you go.

Wattage – The higher wattage your sander has the extra power it will pack when sanding. They can range from 100 Watts up to 1200 Watts, so you can always find the right power level for your wood work project.

Dust extraction – With any real sanding job, you’ve got to expect a little bit of dust. Luckily, there are plenty of dust extraction options that can fit to your sander. These extractors will remove all dust debris as you work, which will make tidying up much easier.

Sand paper types – There are lots of different types of paper for every type of sanding job. If you’ve got a heavy duty power sander then you’ll need something durable like ceramic paper. For everyday jobs you can use a standard aluminium oxide paper, or when a finer touch is needed garnet paper will give a perfect finish. They come in all shapes and sizes as well, so you can get straight to work on that next big DIY project.

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