I don’t know any other project that can be as satisfactory as refinishing an old or cheap or leftover furniture and make it a work of art. It is even better than home renovation or making actual furniture. However, refurnishing is tricky and takes a lot of consideration to give the piece a makeover without causing damage.
Finding a good quality sander is the first and foremost part of starting a refinishing project. I would say, the success of achieving the result you want out of your workpiece mostly lies in the sander and its proper use. This article is posted just to give you a hint about which type of a sander to use, how to use it and the best sanders to use for such projects. Hope this will help you out to make your refurnishing project more enjoyable.
Top 5 Sander for Refinishing Furniture Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
1. Makita 4-½ -Inch Finishing Sander with Case
No matter how perfectly furniture is made, if the finished look is not flattering, the seller will be losing the deal. In contrast, a piece of furniture can be sold at a good price for its look only, no matter how cheaply it was made. As the importance of finishing sanders in such business is quite obvious, so it is best to invest in one that will serve flawlessly for a really long time.
Our top pick in this list is Makita sander. Along with its workmanship, comfort and convenience are also considered making it the winner. Its 2 amp motor creates an oscillation movement of 14,000 OPM to finish its job a lot faster than other competitors. Its soft and contoured grip won't leave any stress on the hand. Besides, you will barely feel any vibration or noise while working with it.
The included dust bag is not so impressive, but useful for small projects. For large projects where you need to sand for a long time, make sure you use an additional vacuum to keep the workpiece clean.
- Fast sanding;
- Minimal noise and vibration;
- Effective dust collection;
- Comfortable grip;
- Super smooth finish.
- Needs additional vacuum to collect all dust.
2. Bosch ¼ inch Orbital Finishing Sander
Any kind of sandpaper fit this orbital sander. You will not have to stress on what type of paper you need to place and not to place on it. Its features are close to our top pick, Makita sander. The main difference in the paper size and included accessories. This one arrives with less expensive accessories than Makita one.
The good news is, it is a budget sander; which makes it a top choice for beginners and DIY ers on budget. The machine provides very high speed for fast sanding. Even though the speed is not variable, it is really helpful to remove any splinter and sand any surface.
The dust collection is a lot better than even the pricier models. Anyone can use it whether a beginner or professional. But I recommend this one for craft persons, professionals should choose more durable ones.
- Cheap price;
- Low vibration;
- Easily reaches corners;
- Fits different types of sandpapers.
- No cons.
3. DEWALT ¼ Sheet Palm Sander
This Dewalt sander comes with the most powerful motor among all the finishing sanders we have reviewed. However, its highest speed is not higher than the others. The reason I liked this unit is, it’s durability and warranty. No matter how cheap an item is, your hard-earned money should be spent on the more promising ones like this model. It doesn’t cost much, but the long warranty makes it more convincing.
Like any other sander, you will surely have issues with its dust bag. Because it comes with a design flaw. It does not fit well to hold its content while sanding vertically. But the good thing is, its built-in adapter will fit your vac to eliminate the possible issues regarding dust collection.
- Backed by long warranty;
- Built-in adapter for vacuum;
- Low vibration.
- Problematic dust bag.
4. SKIL ¼ Sheet Palm Sander with Pressure Control
This machine is the best choice for people who work with delicate materials. Its pressure control notifies the user when the applied pressure is too much for the material. Besides, its micro-filter captures even the finest particles and keeps the air clean. A clear dust canister saves your downtime of repeatedly checking whether it is full.
Skil palm sander comes with the most convenient features so far. But the price is so low, that you can easily purchase several at a time of the same model. With all the convenient features and an affordable price, I have a feeling that it may not be long-lasting like the Makita or Dewalt palm sanders.
However, the convenience it provides is absent in other machines. So, there is no harm in ordering one of these for DIY projects. For professional use, you may need to order this item more often.
- Comes with pressure control;
- Transparent dust canister.
- No cons.
5. Milwaukee 1/4 Sheet Orbital Compact Palm Sander
The weight is slightly heavier than that of other palm sanders, but its lock-on button and pressure-free operation is ideal for large projects. Even for several hours long constant operation, your hands will remain fatigue-free.
You can choose to use your shop vac or the attached canister to collect debris depending on your project size. The dust collection adapter is built-in, hence you will get ample options to choose from. No matter what type of dust collector you are choosing, I have some tips that will enhance this unit’s dust collection capacity.
After punching holes in the paper, make the holes a bit larger using a screwdriver or pen. This way, the canister will be able to extract dust more effectively, leaves no trails behind. The finishing result of this sander is flawless, it won't leave any mark on the surface.
- Lock-on button;
- Various dust collection solutions;
- Flawless finish.
- Sandpaper clips can be flimsy.
Read more: 5 Best Sanders for Kitchen Cabinets Reviews
Select the Type
Refinishing of wooden furniture can be done in many ways with different means. So, when it comes to sanding the furniture, there are several options as well. Broadly, refinishing is done with three types of sanders. Those are Palm Sander, orbital sander, and Detailed Sander.
It is a triangular-shaped sander which is perfect to reach is hard to reach areas. It is also great for retaining a smooth finish. For stripping paint, this may seem underpowered as its pressure is limited and its performance is for delicate pieces. Besides, the surface area of the triangular pad is small. So, it takes longer to complete entire furniture with this alone.
Orbit sanders are multitaskers. There isn’t anything you can’t sand with this. But when it comes to refinishing, the circular pad of orbital sander is less appropriate. If you wish to use your already purchased orbital sander to refinish an old piece of wood, take mental preparation that, the corners will need to be sand manually afterward. However, the orbital motion is best for swirl-free sanding.
Palm sander/Finishing Sander
This is a combination of the detailed sander and an orbital sander. It is a squared shaped sander but creates orbital motion. Palm sanders have all the advantages of the former two sanders minus the disadvantages. For its square shape, it reaches the corners easily (unless it is too narrow), the larger surface makes the sanding process quick and the orbital motion ensures a flawless finish. Hence, I chose this for refinishing furniture.
Power and Vibration
The best sanders are those which has moderate power, but the least vibration. The reason is, for refurnishing, you won’t need to remove a lot of material unless you want to regret it. Only stripping paint and varnish will be required and a decently powered sander is enough for that.
When it comes to less vibration, it is necessary because refurnishing requires time, concentration and patience. You have to hold that little devil the entire time. The less the vibration, the more comfortable the work will be.
Size matters in this case. The palm sander needs to be fit in ‘your’ palm. Our palms are different sized like our feet. So, take time to check out the dimension of the sander before ordering. If it won’t fit in your palm, you may end up returning it or not use it at all.
Refurnishing is done carefully so that, the precious material under the paint is not scored by mistake. That is why a sander with a pressure control mechanism is useful. This rule applies for beginners only. After using the sander for two or three projects, you will get the idea of refinishing and won’t need this feature at all.
If you already own a shop-vac, then congratulations to you! Because most palm sanders can be attached to it to keep the area dust-free. If you don’t have one, then consider spending your money on those sanders only, which dust collection is praiseworthy; even if its performance is not up to the mark.
Before ordering, any power tool needs to be checked for its warranty options and repair/replace policy. Besides, enlighten yourself with the additional accessories the tool brings to you. This may save you in the long run from regret for not knowing the services you could get for free.
Do’s and Don’ts while Refurnishing Using a Sander
Never ever run the sander in the opposite direction of the wood texture. It applies in the case of sanders that do not run in orbital motion. This mistake can create severe damage to the workpiece by leaving groove, marks or scratches.
No matter which sander you are using, don’t apply pressure during refurnishing. Use the right paper for the right purpose, that is enough. Applying pressure will cause the machine to slow down and the motor may overheat and damage the sander itself.
Chronology of Sandpapers
The use of sandpaper for refurnishing project starts at coarse and drifts to medium to fine grits. Not the other way around. The coarse one is for removing stains and varnish, the medium one is for smoothing and the finer grit paper is for fine fine finishing.
In my opinion, all the sanders we have mentioned here are best for refinishing projects, you just need to discover which one is the best for you. I believe the buyer's guide will help you find the best one for your project. Applying the sander properly will finally ensure its performance. However, over time you and your finishing sander will get to work along with each other and make amazingly artistic furniture in the future.
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