A floor sander is a tool that is used on a wood floor to level out the surface, removing scuffs and bumps. The sander essentially removes a very thin layer of the floor to reveal the undamaged wood underneath it. These tools come in many different types, both electric and manual.
The largest types of electric floor sanders are the drum sander and the vibrating sander. The drum sander is designed for heavy duty jobs and can remove deep cracks, craters, and stains. It can also remove several inches of wood in little time, so it is not recommended for use on thin wooden boards. The vibrating sander is similar in size, but is used for less in-depth work.
The drum sander is usually too heavy for most people to lift alone, while the vibrating sander is more lightweight. Both sanders usually have a dust bag on one side, to help keep the potentially great mess of sawdust contained. They also have large pieces of sandpaper attached to their base. The best place to find either is at a rental facility.
Once someone is finished working with a large sander, he or she often moves on to mid-size electric sanders. The most common of these is the orbital floor sander. The orbital sander gets its name because, instead of sheets of sandpaper, it uses round sanding disks. As the machine rotates these discs, it works very much like a floor polisher, buffing away at the paper thin top layer of the wood. This type of floor sander is found in most hardware stores.
The edge electric floor sander usually comes last. It’s used for areas that cannot be sanded with a large or mid-sized sander, usually because those tools are too large to reach all areas. It’s a good choice for sanding wood that abuts walls or sits in tight spaces. It rotates discs, like the orbital floor sander, to polish the wood, but has the hardiness of the drum and vibrating sanders.
Often a person using an electric floor sander will fine-tune a sanding job by going over trouble spots with a hand sander or pole sander. Both of these manual sanders require the user to push down and forward in the direction of the grain of the wood to get results. The hand sander simply has a handle on the top. The pole sander allows the user to insert a pole and push the sander, much like he or she would a sponge mop, making it good for tight areas.