How to Choose a Sander: The Ultimate Guide

November 5th, 2014

How to Choose a Sander

It can be tough to understand the different types of sanders and their uses, as there are so many varieties on the market. Belt, orbital, random orbital, palm, detail, and multi-tool sanders all have their own benefits and disadvantages.

But we can help! This guide will:

> Help you to create a list of key criteria that your sander must meet
You can then refer to this list as you read the rest of the guide.

> Describe the different types of sander
This will familiarise you with their names and the different ways in which they work

> Describe the best use of each variety
This will help you to establish what type of sander you will need for the task or tasks ahead

> Help you to decide between the different available models
Make sure that you consider all of the most important factors!

By the end of this guide you will have no trouble deciding what type of sander to buy! So let’s get going.

Man with Sander

You too could be this happy with your choice of sander!

So what do I need to consider when choosing a sander?

Most of us know the basic purpose of a power sander: to finish surface materials. Before choosing between the sander types it is important that you also establish the specific requirements of the task. Ask yourself the following questions:

> What materials will I be sanding?
Most sanders are capable of sanding the most common materials when using the correct type
of sanding paper, but it is definitely worth checking.

> What sizes and shapes are the materials that I will most commonly be sanding?
Sanding a large, flat square is very different to sanding a small object with many curved surfaces
or small corners.

> Do I need particular levels of surface quality?
Some electric sanders are designed to give the best surface quality possible, while others leave
much rougher finishes.

> What compatible abrasive types and backing pads are available?
Consider what you may need in the future as well as what you need right now.

> What is my budget?
Balancing quality and price concerns is often very difficult, but very important. Also consider
accessories, as you will probably be buying them repeatedly for the lifetime of the sander.

Take a note of these questions and your answers, leaving space to add notes and make changes as you go through this guide.

Now it’s time to take a detailed look at the most common types of sander.

Bosch Belt Sander

A Bosch Belt Sander

What is a belt sander?

An electric belt sander uses a continuous loop of abrasive paper called, as you might have guessed, a sanding belt. This belt is looped around two drums that are spun by the motor, which moves the paper continuously in one direction.

These tools have a very aggressive action on wood, and are generally used with coarse grit sanding paper. This results in rough and rapid stock removal, which makes belt sanders ideal for use on very large areas early on in the finishing process.

Finer-grit sanding belts are available and will leave a smoother surface, but there are other sanders that are much better suited to this task.

Although they are most commonly used on wood, electric belt sanders can also be used on plastics. They are available with belts of up to four inches wide, and are usually variable speed to allow flexible usage.

What is an orbital sander?

Bosch Orbital Sander

A Bosch Orbital Sander

Also known as half-sheet sanders and finishing sanders, these tools have a base that moves in very tight circles, or “orbits”, to perform the sanding action. This minimises scratches and leaves a finer finish than a belt sander, but at the cost of a lower stock removal rate.

It may remove material slower but an electric orbital sander is still powerful enough to use on flat, medium-sized areas. It is also idea for smoothing rough materials such as paint and plaster between coats.

Orbital sanders may have declined in popularity over the years due to the emergence of random orbit sanders, but they are still worth considering. They are a very economical solution for performing most general-purpose wood sanding tasks.

What is a random orbital sander?

This tool is known by a variety of other names: “random orbit sander” and “dual action sander” are the most common after “random orbital sander”, whereas the term “eccentric sander” is a Festool-specific term. This versatile tool has become the tradesman’s sander of choice in recent years, and it’s easy to see why.

Festool Random Orbital Sander

A Festool Random Orbital Sander

It has the same orbital motion as an orbital sander, but also spins the pad around a spindle at the same time. This action means that the grit travels in a different path on every orbit, which eliminates the swirl-patterns often left by orbital sanders.

An electric dual action sander can therefore bridge the gap between a belt sander and an orbital sander. It will provide you with a high level of stock removal on larger areas, but is also capable of creating a very fine finish without difficulty. Some models even have a “boost” function, giving a surge of power that enables even quicker material removal.

There is a huge range of different abrasive papers available, to help with faster stock removal or finer finishes. Many of these machines can sand a range of materials including wood, sheet steel and plastic.

What are orbital palm sanders and detail sanders?

DeWalt Palm Sander

A DeWalt Palm Sander

A palm sander is essentially an orbital sander with a smaller baseplate and a design that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. They are less powerful than orbital sanders but much more lightweight, and they can be easily operated with one hand even on vertical surfaces. They also tend to cost a lot less.

Overall, a palm orbital sander an affordable option ideal for light-duty jobs in smaller areas that are awkward to access with the larger models.

An electric detail sander is the same as a palm sander, except it has a triangular-shaped base plate. This allows it to easily navigate more awkward shapes and get right into corners. Awkward sanding jobs like window frames are made much quicker and with better results with a detail sander.

What is multi-tool sanding?

An electric multi-tool (also called a “multi-cutter”) is a small power tool that can be used for lots of different tasks. It works by rotating the attached accessory side-to-side by a small degree, producing a cutting or sanding movement. You can buy both corded multi-tools and cordless multi-tools.

A multi-tool sander is ideal for very small and very intricate jobs, although it has a surprisingly high rate of stock removal. The sanding pad is generally triangle-shaped and smaller than a detail sander’s pad, which allows you to get into very tight corners with ease. There are even accessories that allow you to sand away small areas of tile adhesive and mortar.

Fein Multi-Master

A Fein Multi-Master

It is not worth buying a power multi-tool just for the sanding capabilities, but the wide variety of tasks it can perform may make it a very useful and worthwhile tool to have in your kit. With the appropriate accessory it can be used to saw, scrape, sand and cut materials like wood, metal, plastic, concrete and grouting.

I know what type of sander I need, but how do I choose between the different models?

Not all sanders are created equally, so it is important to consider which and how many features your budget allows for. When choosing a sander model, you should consider the following:

> Power
Different sander types have different levels of power, but consider the power level of each individual
model. The amount of power you need depends on the toughness of the jobs you’re going to
undertake, and how long it will take you on average to do them.

> Durability
Does the sander have particular features that will give it a longer lifetime? This is very important if
your sander will be getting a lot of use.

> Vibration control
Overexposure to vibration can not only be uncomfortable but also very dangerous. It can even do
permanent damage if you do not follow the manufacturer’s usage recommendations. Lower
vibration levels mean you can work for longer in greater safety and comfort.

> Dust extraction
Sanding creates a lot of dust, which is not only messy but can also be hazardous. Does the sander
come with a dust bag, and if so how big is the bag? Will you need a vacuum extractor?

> Ease-of-use
If you’re working on a budget then this is one feature you may have to sacrifice. However, if you’ve
got the money to splash out then comfort-enhancing features light low weight, well-positioned
switches, and ergonomic designs are well worth it.

Sander with HoseSander with Hose

In Summary:

That’s a lot of information to take in, so let’s go over it all one more time.

> A handheld belt sander is ideal for working with very large and/or uneven areas, when a fine
finish is not required.

> An orbital half-sheet sander is a cost-effective solution for creating a nice fine finish on
medium-sized surfaces.

> An electric random orbital sander provides rapid stock removal and a very fine finish, free
from swirl-marks. It can perform a range of jobs at different stages in the finishing process.

> A palm sander is ideal if you will only be performing small, light-duty jobs and want a
lightweight tool that is easy to handle.

> A fine detail sander is ideal for intricate jobs and sanding small, awkwardly-shaped areas.

> Multitool sanding is only appropriate if you are going to perform small sanding jobs, and
will make use of the rest of multi-tool’s functions.

Still got questions? Then just ask away in the comments and we’ll be happy to help.

Otherwise: buy your perfect sander right now so you can go out there and get sanding!

David Hawkins – Paslode Service & Repair – London

November 1st, 2014

The service was excellent. I’ve taken nail guns to my local repairers in South London who have held onto my tools for ages and made poor repairs, it seems crazy that I can send it to Scotland and have it back within a week in perfect working order.

David Hawkins


(View our Paslode Repair Service page here)

David Handley – Paslode Service & Repair – Salford

October 30th, 2014

The service I received from kelvin power tools was excellent the pickup and delivery was fast and service of the paslode nail gun 1st class at a good price.

David Handley


(View our Paslode Repair Service page here)

Introducing: Our New Nail Gun Repair Service

October 9th, 2014

Nail Gun Repair Service for DeWalt Hitachi and Makita


Do you need your Nail Gun Repaired?

Are you having trouble finding a fast, reliable and well-priced repair service for your nail gun?

That’s exactly what Kelvin Power Tools is here to offer!


Paslode Nail Gun Repair ServiceYou may or may not be aware of our dedicated Paslode nail gun service which we’ve been offering across the UK for years now. Well now we’ve expanded on this by offering a nail gun repair service for DeWalt, Makita and Hitachi nail guns too. It provides you with a simple and easy solution which will have your trusty nail gun working at its best and prolong its service life so you’re getting the most out of it.

How does it work?


It is a UK wide collect and return service operated via courier. We can pick it up your nail gun and then deliver it back to you. This makes it as easy as possible for you to use, all you need to do is get in touch with us.

  • We arrange the collection of your nail gun via courier from any UK address you choose.
  • It’s then brought to our service centre in Glasgow where our certified fitters complete a full service on your nail gun.
  • It’s also cleaned and rigorously tested before being delivered back to you, good as new! And usually you will have it back within just two working days of when it gets to us.

Want to know more about our nail gun repair service?

There are more details about our nail gun repair service here.

You can also see all the great feedback our Paslode nail gun service gets from our customers here. We’re proud to offer you a service that is fast, effective and well-priced.

Book Now

We’re taking bookings now so if you have any DeWalt, Hitachi or Makita nail guns you want serviced, call us on 07818 214 483 or email us with details of how to contact you at

Paul Rigby – Paslode Service & Repair – Preston

September 26th, 2014

Ive still not used the 1st fix framing gun as its my spare, and only just used 2nd fixer this week and it seems spot on. The pick up and re-delivering service is 2nd to none. Thanks very much, for speedy turn round.

Paul Rigby



(View our Paslode Repair Service page here)

Calling All Festool Fans: Check out the NEW Festool multi-tool, eccentric sander, and Syslite LED!

September 9th, 2014

It’s been a while since the last new development from Festool, which was the unique Conturo edge bander. Now Festool are back again with two brand new tools, and one upgraded version of a tool that should be pretty familiar to all fans of Festool cordless.

So what are the basic Details of these new Festool tools?

  • The ETS EC 150 eccentric sander. This is a brushless random orbit sander that is available with 2 different orbit sizes. The choice of 3mm and 5mm orbit allows you to choose the sander that best suits your most common applications.
  • The KAL II Syslite work light. This task light uses 12 LED lights with two settings: intense and dimmed. It also features a larger battery, for longer runtime.
  • The Vecturo OS 400 multifunction tool. This multi-tool has been developed to give you the most accurate results possible, and comes with a variety of accessories to help you achieve ultimate precision.

New Festool Products September 2014

Sounds interesting! Tell Me More…

Okay, if you insist! Now that you know the basics, let’s get on with the real detail.

The Festool ETS EC 150: Compact, yet Powerful and Durable

The ETS-EC 150 is a brushless random orbital sander that is available with two orbit sizes: 3mm and 5mm. The 3mm leaves a very fine finish, and the 5mm orbit provides you with both high surface quality and high levels of stock removal.

The EC-TEC brushless motor has already been used in other Festool tools like the BHC 18 SDS-Plus rotary hammer, but is still relatively new to the market. There are several key points to make about this motor:

  • The parts of a brushed motor that wear down quickest are the brushes. Inside the Festool ETS EC 150
    When you remove the brushes, you remove the primary cause of wear. This makes the motor much more durable, and extends its service life.
  • The EC-TEC motor provides you with higher power output for comparatively lower energy consumption than a brushed motor. In other words: it’s much more efficient.
  • If the tool reaches a critical state, it limits the energy flow even further to protect the electronics. I think it’s obvious why a more durable tool is something everyone would like!
  • Intelligent Drive Control uses sensors to ensure the efficient, true running of the motor, as well as accurate speed adjustments. Basically, this system ensures a higher standard of motor.

Other great features of the ETC EC 150 random orbit sander include:

  • Sanding pad break with carbide tip: prevents the pad from rotating too quickly before being applied to the surface. This protects you from kickback when you apply the tool to the material, and also prevents the initial contact from producing grooves in the material.
  • Extraction detection system: the machine can only be started up when a dust extractor hose is connected. This is an optional setting which can help ensure that you work cleanly and safely.
  • Vibration control system: actively regulates the motor speed and automatically reduces the operating life when vibrations are too high. This means smoother and safer operation that is easier on both you and your tool.

ETS EC 150 Covered HoseThis eccentric sander is available in a Systainer case or a simple cardboard box, and comes packaged with an anti-static dust extraction hose that includes a handy cover.

The hose cover is smooth and robust to protect surfaces and edges from damage, as well as to ensure that the hose doesn’t catch. It features an integrated Plug-It cable to allow quick and easy attachment to the tool, and a rotating adaptor and connector. We definitely recommend it!

The Festool KAL II Syslite: More Flexibility, Longer Runtime

This new Syslite shares many features with the original KAL version. It has the same wide scattering angle of 170°, the same shatterproof house, and the same dimensions of 50 x 100 x 150 mm. It still features a 7.2v internal battery, and is still compatible with external 12v to 18v Festool Lithium-ion batteries.

One of the differences is the lighting itself. Instead of six 3w LEDs the new KAL II has twelve 1.5w LEDs, and has two brightness settings: intense and dimmed.

Another difference is the battery capacity. The original KAL featured a 2.2Ah battery, which provided you with up to 240 minutes of operating time. The KAL II features a 2.9Ah battery, which provides you with up to 290 minutes of operating time.

The final new feature is the MA KAL spherical head, which is package with the KAL II. It features a permanently integrated magnet that you can use to mount the Syslite on magnetic surfaces. It also features additional openings for screw clamps, which allow you to attach the KAL II to non-magnetic surfaces too.

Syslite KAL II

The rubber foot ensures that no scuff-marks are left on delicate or coated surfaces, and the rotatable head means that you can shine the light wherever it’s needed.

Overall, this is a very flexible and versatile light that will be of real use to hardworking tradespeople in the dark winter months that seem to come along all too quickly!

The Festool Vecturo: Powerful and Accurate

There are two main features that set this multi-tool apart from the competition.

The first is the 400 watt motor that features electronic speed control, which provides you with fast and controlled work progress. Most multi-cutters from other manufacturers have motors around the 300 watt mark, which means that this Festool model is an excellent choice if you’re after maximum power.

The second feature is really the main difference between this tool and its competitors. The larger of the two available kits includes a range of blades, as you would expect, but also includes:

  • A depth stop. This attachment allows you to quickly and easily make plunge cuts with a precise depth. It is very easy to adjust, and does not require the use of tools.
  • A unique positioning aid. This attachment helps to ensure you saw precisely along the scribe line, which makes it ideal for making scuff-free cut-outs in delicate materials. It is fitted quickly and easily without the use of tools, thanks to the FastFix connection. Both the positioning aid and the blade can be tilted 90° either way in 30° increments, which makes this bit of kit very flexible and easy to use.
Vecturo and Positioning Aid

The positioning aid in action

The Vecturo oscillating tool also has all of the other features that you would expect in a multi-cutter. The tool-free blade changes are performed using a simple lever, similar to Fein “Quick” models. The body is slim and ergonomically designed to fit comfortably and securely in the palm of your hand. The rubber coating helps to dampen vibrations, which is important for anyone who will be using this tool frequently or for long periods.

In terms of accessories, Festool have all of the usual suspects like plunge blades for wood, plastics and metal, segment blades, circular saw blades, and scrapers. They also have a specialist blade that has been designed for tasks such as cutting putty from insulating window panes. We expect to see more blades like this in future that we know will be very useful to Festool customers.

Finally, the Vecturo oscillator kit is packaged in a Systainer. This provides you with full compatibility with the rest of your Festool system, which is definitely important when carting your kit around and between sites!

So how can I get my hands on these great new products?

Visit our shop, either online or in Glasgow!

We have the Vecturo OS400 Plus and the OS400 Set, as well as the KAL II Syslite indivually packaged and packaged with the magnetic head available.

We believe that the ETS EC 150 is best when purchased with the covered hose, and so we have the following options available:

Of course if you require any of the other versions then please do not hesitate to contact us. We’re always open to suggestions!

Are you impressed by the new Festool Vecturo? Or the ETS EC150 Sander? Feel free to comment, we would love to know what your thoughts are on these new products.

Phil Hunt – Paslode Service & Repair – Birmingham

September 8th, 2014

Paslode nail gun just arrived thanks again brilliant service.

Thanks Linda,

– Phil



(View our Paslode Repair Service page here)


Tony Vodden – Paslode Service & Repair – Hayes, Middlesex

September 2nd, 2014

Linda is an excellent service manager. I am a very happy customer!

Thanks a lot,



(View our Paslode Repair Service page here)

Introducing the New Fein MultiMaster 350Q Multi Tool

September 1st, 2014

New Fein MultiMaster 350q Quick in action

More of what you want, less of what you don’t!

Up to 35% more power

Up to 70% less vibration

Up to 50% less operating noise

The New Fein MultiMaster 350Q has arrived and it’s very impressive. Its predecessor was a very popular multi tool and was widely viewed as one of the best on the market. Fans of that FMM 250 Q will know how effective and fast at completing small cutting and sanding tasks it was. Well now the new Fein MultiMaster 350Q has surpassed that high level of performance.

What’s so good about the Fein MultiMaster 350Q?

Boasting up to 35% more power, this multi cutter is even quicker at finishing the vast array of tasks it can do. It has reduced the vibration levels by up to 70% which makes it steadier, giving you better precision. Plus it’s quieter, and noticeably so. Fein say they’ve managed to half the sound pressure from the multi tool.

How has Fein managed to improve their MultiMaster?

The FMM 350 Q Multi Cutter has a 350W motor plus a higher copper content to maximize its output. This also helps keep it performing at its best when you really start to put it through its paces.

It has flexible damping elements which completely disconnect the outer body from the motor inside. This is what minimizes the vibration levels and strain on the outer shell even after long periods of use. It leaves the multi cutter with a vibration class of 0 for most applications, which is less than 2.5m/sec.

Inside the Fein MultiMaster 350Q The Tacho generator it has makes sure it can maintain its speed under load. Plus it has electronic speed control so you can adjust it to suit the type of job you’re doing. All its gearbox parts are made of metal which prolongs the service life of the oscillating tool. It has 2 x 1.7° amplitudes for high sanding capacity and cutting performance.

It works fast with its QuickIN tool change

The Fein patented, QuickIN clamping system is one of the best features on this multi tool. It lets you change the tool bit you’re using without needing a wrench. You flip the lever on the top, slide out the clamping bit and replace whatever tool bit you need. It’s just so convenient and let’s you get on with the work. It adds to its appeal for people who need an oscillating tool that can function very quickly.

A highly versatile multi tool

As you would expect the Fein MultiMaster 350Q is suitable for dozens of applications. Sanding, cutting, polishing on materials like wood, metal and plastic. It comes in a kit with a case and plenty of Fein accessories like sanding plate, sanding sheets, scraper and various saw blades. You can find out exactly what accessories come with the FMM 350Q along with a full specification of the product on our website. And if you decide this tool is too good to pass up, it is available to buy from us now too.

Fein MultiMaster 350Q multi cutter

Mark McNeill – Paslode Service & Repair – Midlothian

August 31st, 2014

Would really recommend Kelvin Power Tool services. Very easy service great pick up and drop off anywhere I want it collected and dropped off anywhere. My Paslodes haven’t worked as well since new 6years ago. They haven’t missed a beat since I got them back.

– Mark McNeill



(View our Paslode Repair Service page here)