Today's tips and tricks are about finding the right sander as this is probably the most used tool for any furniture refinishing enthusiast.
After bringing home what I believed to be "the perfect dresser" from Goodwill, I got right to work on searching for a sander that would be both affordable and functional long term. Any beginner who attempts to buy a sander will soon find out that it's no simple process. There are dozens of great sanders out there with high reviews. So which one do you buy?
I started out with the Porter Cable PXRA2676 Multi Surface Restoration Tool Kit for $119.00 because it had such high reviews on Amazon.
As a beginner, of course they had me at "multi surface." I didn't really know what that meant but I soon came to find out that it would be wayyy too powerful for what I needed it for. Although it was an amazingly powerful tool, I didn't find it to be very user friendly. After only about 2 hours of usage, the sanding disc started to puncture the plastic encasement which caused very uneven sanding. So I ended up sending it back to Amazon and I headed to Home Depot so I could actually see and feel what I was working with. Looking back now, I chuckle at the fact that I thought that a belt sander would be a good idea for furniture, but that's all part of the learning process right?!
Tip #1: Buy your first sander at a physical store so that you can see and feel your product. There are lots of great sanders out there, it's about finding the right one for your specific needs. Home Depot makes it so easy to return tools that you try out at home so they definitely earn major brownie points from me!
Once at Home Depot, one of the retail associates there told me that I should go with the Ryobi 2-Amp 1/4-Sheet Sander as it was a "favorite" among many and got the job done well. He also told me that it was easy to use and great for "DIY'ers." So I brought that one home for $29.97, only to find that it was a total dud as far as power goes. It took way too long to sand (1.5 hours for only one drawer!) and the dust collection bag kept falling off as I was working which was a major pain. It also lacked variable speeds.
So I took THAT one back and bought the Makita 3 Amp 5 in. Corded Random Orbital Sander. I absolutely loved this one and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to restore a piece.
Tip #2: Home Depot has better prices than Amazon, and returning things are a breeze!
Benefits: 1) Hook and loop sanding sheets are a breeze to switch in and out with while sanding! 2) Easy to use and maneuver. 3) The variable speed option is a great advantage when working with different types of projects. 4) At $79.00, it's a great bang for the buck. 5) It has low vibration which makes extended sanding actually bearable.
Disadvantage: The only con I have for the Makita sander is that it is very hard to find an attachment that allows me to attach it to my Shop Vac. I had to improvise and use Duct tape to secure it to my hose attachment.
So there you have it! If you want to take my word for it, I would go with the Makita 3 amp 5 in. Corded Random Orbital Sander. Don't be afraid to try out a few sanders to see how they feel in your hand for an extended amount of time. It really does take getting your hands on one to really see what works for you and your needs.