By: Fix-It Club

An electric sander can cover a lot more ground than sanding by hand.See more pictures of power & work tools.

Sanding blocks are handy tools for simple home maintenance and repairs. Power sanders are useful when preparing surfaces for painting or when making or repairing furniture.


What Is a Sander?

Sanders use abrasives to remove surface material. The simplest sander is a hand or a block moving sandpaper across a surface to smooth it. Power sanders are available that move sandpaper over surfaces in various patterns. Belt sanders rotate a continuous band of abrasive; disk sanders rotate the flat abrasive disk in a circular pattern; drum sanders turn a cylindrical abrasive surface; and vibrating sanders move the abrasive material back and forth in short motions. Wood floor sanders are either disk or belt sanders with powerful motors.

How to Safely Use a Sander

To safely use a power sander, first choose the appropriate tool. Belt sanders are used for larger surfaces with vibrating sanders better at finishing. Disk and drum sanders are useful for smaller surfaces. Then select the abrasive material. Flint is used in common sanding materials, garnet is for hardwoods, emery and other materials are used to finish metal. Abrasiveness is identified by the grit with higher numbers (320, 400) indicating a finer grit than lower numbers (150, 220) of coarse abrasive material. Coarse grit is used to remove material faster and fine grit is for finishing or smoothing a surface. Wear eye and breathing protection when sanding.

Power & Work Tools Image Gallery

How to Maintain a Sander

Sanding blocks require no maintenance beyond replacing the sandpaper when it is no longer abrasive. Power sanders require additional care to maintain the motor and other moving parts. Because sanders develop fine wood dust, periodically clean the sander so the dust does not damage the motor.

Tools Related to the Sander

Sanders remove material by abrasion. To remove more material, use chisels or planes.


Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Home Repair Tools: Whether you prefer to use the Yellow Pages for anything that needs fixing around the house or consider yourself a regular do-it-yourselfer, there are a handful of tools that everyone should have in their tool box. Learn all about them in this article.
  • Hand Tools: Learn about some of the most common tools you'll want to have around the house, most of which are used by hand, in this helpful article.
  • Plane: Planes are more often used by woodworkers than your everyday homeowner, but they can come in handy in some home repair tasks. Learn all about them at HowStuffWorks.