Equipment Type: SANDER DRUM with ORBITAL & EDGER
Surface Type: All types of wooden floors
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An orbital sander is a small handheld device sander that oscillates. This means that rather than the whole disk spinning on its center access, it oscillates in a pattern. This makes it a lot easier to control as a spinning disk can kick out in every direction. An orbital sander will create a scratch pattern of little swirls.
If your floor is in relatively good condition and you have plenty of time, you may be able to start with an orbital or finishing sander. In most cases, it is necessary to start with a drum sander to remove the old finish and the top layer of wood.
Orbital sanders are much easier to control. They can sand both the field or ‘body’ of the floor and the edges, which a drum sander cannot. Once you work up to the finer grits, orbital sanders produce a much smoother, less scratchy surface. They are cheap. You can store them easily or put them up for sale on second-hand sites. I think every household needs one, they cover an array of different jobs.
A drum sander (or big machine as they are affectionately called within the industry) is a large machine that you operate from a standing position. It usually weighs in excess of 50kg and has a large spinning drum which holds the sandpaper.
The drum is applied to the floor, by dropping a lever that lowers the drum onto the floor. Some very rudimentary sanders (such as those often for hire) apply the drum but ‘rocking’ the machine forward until the drum is on the floor. Just to explain a little better. The drum is always in contact with the floor, but in order to change the belt or turn the machine on, you have to rock it back or ‘lean it down’.
A drum sander can remove 1mm of wood from the surface of the floor over 200sf in approximately 30 mins. This can vary due to different types of woods and different finishes on the surface as well as types of abrasive. An orbital sander might achieve this in a day. You can learn more about how long it takes to sand a floor here.
So a huge amount of time saved here. Aside from the time savings, it’s also a ton easier. Now don’t get me wrong, floor sanders are fairly hard work, they are pulling away from you all the time and you are walking up and down the room many times. However, the comparative ease with which you can get the job done with a drum sander compared to a random orbital sander is night and day. Luckily we have never tried sanding 200ft² with an orbital sander but we can imagine arms dropping off by the end of the day.
Also, the constant vibrations through the orbital sander might end up giving you vibration white finger (be sure to take regular breaks if you do decide to do this)
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