How to Use a Disc Paint Sander

What You'll Need
Disc Paint Sander
Sanding Discs in Assorted Grades (P80 to P320)
Dust mask
Masking Tape

Using a paint sander takes much of the hard work out of paint removal and material preparation. Because disc sanders work on a random orbital axis, they are also ideal for feathering out problem areas such as flaking paint, leveling wood or body filler. Disc paint sanders also provide an adhesive key over larger areas in much faster times.

Step 1 – Using the Sander Correctly

Paint sanders can be powered in a number of different ways. Most workshops will use either an electrical sander or a cordless model while automotive body shops tend to use air-powered tools. When sanding down any surface, it is vital that you wear a protective dust mask and gloves even if the paint sander comes pre-fitted with a dust extraction unit.

Because a paint sander operates on a random orbital axis, control can often be difficult. Thankfully, most paint sanders have a speed control option that will allow you to slow down the pace at which the sander operates. Not only is this vital for operator safety, but it also helps to prevent damage to areas of your work that do not require any sanding.

Step 2 – Surfaces

Any surface that requires sanding must be secured firmly into position so that it won’t slip during the sanding process. Always fix loose items into a vice or workbench. Any surface that is fixed into a permanent position should be outline masked with thick tape so that adjacent areas do not become scratched if you lose control of the paint sander

Step 3 – Abrasive Discs

Always select the right grade of abrasive disc for the job you are carrying out. Coarse discs ranging between P80 to P180 grade are ideal for removing paint but always finish with a finer grade of around P320 to ensure a smoother finish, particularly if a surface is going to be painted again at a later stage.

Step 4 – Sanding Technique

Never turn on the paint sander until it is already resting on the work surface. Two hands should be used to control the sander at all times. Switch controls should be operated with one hand while the other rests on top of the sander to establish solidity. This will prevent the sander from scuffing across the surface you are working on and causing additional damage.

A controlled speed must be maintained at all times and the switch of paint sander should always be released while the disc pad is still in contact with the work surface. Always keep paint sanders moving because concentrating it on a single area can cause wood to lose shape. Additionally, the excessive heat caused by holding the paint sander on metal for too long can also cause distortion.

Step 5 – Finishing

Bear in mind that a disc sander won’t always be able to reach awkward areas on a surface with multiple shapes or angles. Trying to wedge the sanding pad into tight areas will quickly cause it to deteriorate and a replacement will soon be needed. Always finish hard-to-reach areas by hand to prolong the life of your paint sander.