What is a Dustless Sander?

Jessica Bosari

A dustless sander is a type of power tool used in many trades for many purposes. Depending on the application for which it was designed, the sander can vary in size and shape. A dustless sander is essentially any orbital or belt sander that has been designed or modified so that suction removes the sanding dust before it can be breathed by a worker or settle in a room.

Many contractors use dustless sanders when finishing drywall.
Many contractors use dustless sanders when finishing drywall.

Dustless sanding is not just helpful for worker health and safety. It is also beneficial in work areas that are already furnished. This keeps sanding dust from falling into electronics and other delicate equipment. In a home setting, dustless sanding creates less cleanup time for homeowners.

Some orbital standards also have a dustless feature.
Some orbital standards also have a dustless feature.

Drywall sanders help installers and other drywall professionals to cut down on dust while maximizing reach on tall walls. Drywall dust is especially fine, making it hard to clean and harmful to breathe. A drywall dustless sander often has a rectangular head and uses standard-sized drywall sanding sheets or sanding paper. It can be hand held, with a drywall vacuum hose adapter, or it can help reach high places with an extension pole and attached pivoting head. This type of sander is always an orbital sander, rather than a belt sander.

Gas-powered dustless sanders may be used on a construction site.
Gas-powered dustless sanders may be used on a construction site.

A dustless sander can also be a portable power tool that is used by carpenters and home improvement enthusiast on wood or drywall. It can run on batteries or have a power cord. These small handheld units typically have a circular or triangular orbital head. Such a dustless sander requires special sandpaper with hook and loop backing to fit onto the non-standard orbital head. Some handheld models are belt sanders, but these are often larger and heavier than handheld orbital sanders. These handheld models typically come with a small collection bag, rather than an adapter for a vacuum hose.

The largest type of dustless sander is the floor sander. This large, heavy-duty sander usually works in the same way as smaller orbital sanders, but on a much larger scale. In some cases, floor sanders are belt-sanders instead of orbital sanders.

The most powerful dustless sanders are run by a gas-powered motor located outside of the construction site. A long vacuum hose is attached to the vacuum motor and trailed into the work area. The sander is then hooked up to the vacuum hose. The gas-powered motor ensures greater suction, and therefore better dust collection.

Sanding concrete, wood and other materials creates a lot of dust.
Sanding concrete, wood and other materials creates a lot of dust.

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@matthewc - I doubt that a shop vac would connect directly to the belt sander, but I'm sure there is a way you could fashion some sort of connection between the two that would work.

You might have noticed that there is a round open "port" at the back of the sander. That is where a normal collection tube would go, but these are usually wider than what a normal vacuum's nozzle is. I've never really looked, but if you go to your local home improvement store, I would bet that they have some sort of adapter that you could stick on the end of the shop vac to connect to the sander.

If that doesn't work, I'm sure you could find something laying around that you could put in between the vacuum and sander to make it dustless. I'm not sure exactly what you would use, but maybe someone else here will have a suggestion or two.


I know that some sanders, especially portable ones often come with their own little bag that can collect sawdust. If you have a larger, stationary sander like a belt sander, can you hook a normal shop vac up to it somehow to collect the dust, or do you have to have some sort of special dust collection system for it?

I have just started woodworking, and I don't have a good dust collection system set up yet. For now, I have just been using a vacuum to clean up sawdust after I get done using a tool. The belt sander makes a huge mess, though. Just wondering if there is someway to tame the dust in my shop.


@andee - Tell me about it. When we had drywall installed in our garage, it was amazing how much dust there was. Fortunately for us, there was nothing in there yet, so it wasn't like there was a lot of cleanup.

I have never seen a dustless pole sander, though. How does one of these work? I can imagine the orbital sander on a pole, but how would you control it? Any time that I have ever used an orbital sander, it kind of has a mind of its own, and it is kind of hard to control. Is there some sort of way to guide where the thing goes, or do you just have to rely on strength?


When we were having our hardwood floors refinished, the workers brought in a dustless floor sander. Even though it picked up most of the dust, there was still a lot of it that got spread over the room. Luckily they put up plastic around the doors to stop the sawdust from getting into the rest of the house. They suggested we take anything out of the room that we didn't want sawdust getting on.

Even with the suction there was a fine layer of dust left that they had to vacuum over several times to make sure the new stain covered the wood correctly.

The job itself didn't take a real long time, but it is definitely not something I would ever want to have to do. I'm sure I would end up ruining the floor.


I am not much of a woodworker, but have refinished a few pieces of furniture. I was working on a large church pew and my friend must have felt sorry for me when she saw what I was doing.

I had been doing the sanding by hand, and the next day she stopped by with her dustless hand sander. What a difference that made! Not only did it make the job of sanding go faster, but it didn't leave so much dust everywhere.

She works on projects like that all the time, so she gets a lot of use out of her dustless sander. If I was going to be spending as much time working with wood as she does, I would have one too.


I wish I had a dustless drywall sander when we were putting drywall in our basement. We worked on this project over the course of a few weeks, and I never thought my house would be the same again.

Everywhere I looked there was dust. At first I thought most of the dust would stay downstairs, but every morning there was a fine layer of drywall dust on everything upstairs and downstairs.

There is no way to get by without a sander when you are working with drywall, and if I do it again, I will think about getting one that is dustless.

Post your comments
Forgot password?