A sheet sander is a handheld power tool that uses standard sheets of sandpaper to smooth out the rough areas found on wood products. Sheet sanders can also be used to smooth plastic and metal surfaces when used with the specified grade of sandpaper. Sheet sanders and orbital sanders perform a similar function, in that they are used to smooth down rough areas, but they operate differently. Sheet sanders move in a circular motion, at a high rate of speed, while an orbital sander moves in random directions, using an elliptical pattern.
Sheet sanders are used in several job fields, to include home construction, woodworking and drywall installation. They are also used by the average homeowner for home improvement projects. The average person is likely to use the small handheld model for chores around the house. The larger, two handed, models are most often used with industrial projects.
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Standard sheet sanders use 1/4 inch (0.635 cm) sandpaper, which attaches to the sander at each end using clips. The biggest advantage to using a sheet sander is that sandpaper is available at any do-it-yourself store for a reasonable price. Many of the newer models of sheet sanders come equipped with dust extraction bags to capture fine dust particles. A majority of sanders have a handle in the front and rear of the tool to help the user provide firm, but even, weight distribution. The average sander rotates at 120 RPM, or revolutions per minute.
The type of sandpaper a person uses with the sheet sander is determined by the original condition of the wood. If the wood has really rough areas, the user should begin with a coarse grade sandpaper. The user should continue using progressively finer grits of sand paper until the desired smoothness is reached. The grades of sandpaper are very fine, fine, medium and coarse. Coarse is used with the roughest woods while most woods require the use of medium grade to start with.
As with the use of any power tools, proper safety precautions should always be taken when using a sheet sander. Even with a dust extraction bag, fine dust particles will be released into the air, meaning that goggles and a dust mask should be worn with every use. Always plug the sheet sander into a circuit breaker and make sure the cable can't be tripped over. Firmly clamp the material being cut to a workbench to prevent it from slipping during the sanding process. Read and follow the instruction manual before use.