Air Tools for Woodworking
Orbital and In-line Sanders
The original air-powered sander, orbital “jitterbug” sanders have been around for decades, used in auto body shops for fine sanding body filler, primer and painted finishes. Their rectangular rubber pads take a standard 1/3-sheet of sandpaper, and their low profile lets them get into tighter areas than most electric orbitals can reach.
Also born in auto body shops, in-line (a.k.a. “long board”) sanders use long strips of sandpaper and work with a back-and-forth sanding action. In-lines are great to use with fine-grit papers for final smoothing of large, flat cabinet sides, panels and tabletops, as well as for fine sanding between finish coats.
Random-orbit and Dual-action Sanders
Compact and powerful, pneumatic random-orbit (RO) sanders come with either 5″- or 6″-diameter pads that take PSA (pressure-sensitive adhesive) sandpaper discs. You can also fit them with a conversion pad that accepts hook-and-loop discs. An RO’s orbit diameter determines sanding aggressiveness: large-orbit models sand more aggressively — best for rougher sanding jobs — while small-orbit models are better for finer finish sanding. Some pneumatic ROs have built-in dust extraction, and they connect to either a vacuum hose or a passive-collection dust bag.
Dual-action or “DA” sanders, long the kings of cabinet shops, employ the same sanding action as ROs, but they have a handle configuration that makes them a better choice for sanding edges, corners and curved surfaces.
Disc and Narrow-belt sanders
Fitted with coarse-grit discs, pneumatic disc sanders are really handy for quickly shaping large surfaces, say to refine a coopered panel into a smoothly curved cabinet door.
Narrow belt sanders run skinny (1/2″) belts on a long wand that can get into areas where even a detail sander won’t work. They’re indispensable for smoothing the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies on a project.