Most of the time I hate sanding – especially when faced with a large wall (or sometimes more than one) that needs to be pristinely smooth before rolling on the paint. It is the dust, the effort, the reaching up and the odd angles your arms have to get into that makes sanding a chore.
On the other hand, sanding pieces of furniture I have made, usually involves a random orbit sander and vacuum extractor. This is quicker, less dusty and it makes for a much more pleasant experience. So, anything that helps to minimise effort, time and mess when sanding big areas is worth a look as far as I am concerned, and the box of goodies that I got from National Abrasives looked very interesting in that regard.
The first set I looked at was the Multi-Purpose Sander Quick Change System. It consists of a pole, a large 220mm diameter sanding disc, a handle and a pole adaptor. Each of the pieces is able to be used in a variety of combinations according to need and circumstance. I started by attaching the pole via the strong acme screw thread to the pole adaptor. This in turn is clicked onto the back of the circular disc and with a 220mm diameter sanding sheet attached it will tackle quite large areas. It is actually amazing how quickly the disc will sand down quite large areas of rough paintwork or plaster. If you need a softer backing for more sensitive areas of plaster, and a must for Drywall, a 15mm thick foam disc can be hook and looped to the backing disc and the abrasive attached on top of that.
A quick word about the pole – it is made of a quality glassfibre and is very strong and rigid. Apparently, the aluminium pole on the prototype split because of the amount of effort that could be applied to the target sanding area! The pole means that even a short mortal like myself can reach up to a standard height ceiling without strain. Because of its flexible universal joint, the adaptor allows the user to sand in every direction and follow junctions like skirtings and covings with ease. Should you then need to reach other areas maybe lower down, simply remove the pole adaptor and attach the handle – complete with comfy rubber overmould – to have a big area of sanding literally at your fingertips.
Of course, the job is not done until all the dust is wiped off the prepared surfaces, and users have the option to attach wipe down sponges or microfibre cloths to the disc (with pole or handle) for the final step.
• Very versatile – used on a pole or by hand
• Reaches to ceiling height without a ladder
• Sands right up to edges
• Easy to control
• Different surfaces sanded with different discs
• Easy to swap abrasives via hook and loop
• Economical way to sand big areas.
But it doesn’t end there. By using either the gold or the aluminium oxide optional disc, you can sand fillers, wood, paint and metal quite aggressively. I tried it on a wood floor around an edge where the big belt sander doesn’t reach and it worked amazingly well because the disc allows you to get right up against the skirting.
By attaching the tungsten carbide disc, concrete and masonry can be smoothed – not a job I fancy – but the small trial piece I did worked well. I think doing a large masonry area by hand might be very tiring! All of the pieces of the kit can be replaced, including interface pads, thus making for a kit that can be added to as well as renewed as necessary.
The Multi Use Corner Sander is a similar concept to the development of the disc sander and they complement each other very well.
The main part of the kit is the right-angled ABS plastic corner sander. Sanding sheets can be attached to either or both of the arms of the right-angled legs so you can have the choice of what bits you need to sand. When sanding right up to the edge of a floor for example, you can leave the abrasive off the angle facing the skirting so that it is not sanded.
For a softer touch on the sanding, again a must for Drywall, there are additional foam pads with hook and loop surfaces that can be easily stuck on.
Of course, there is also the ingenious option to attach either the handle or the pole adaptor. Using the handle I found it really easy to sand right up to doorframes for example since the abrasive reaches right up to the corner and maintains its right- angled shape.
Using the pole allows easy reaching into coving, corners or ceiling/wall junctions. Again, I was surprised by how much sanding action I was able to apply where I needed it and how quickly the sanding proceeded. Just like the sanding disc set, there are some excellent accessories that are worth considering. A set of wipe down sponges makes it easy to get the dust out of corners and attaching a made-to-measure microfibre cloth gives a good final wipedown in preparation for painting etc. Obviously, these will wear out with use, but these too are available as “spares” to keep the system in good-as-new nick.
Having used powered wall sanders with built-in dust collection I was fully prepared to find that these two sanding kits would be a lot like hard work, but I found them a lot easier to use than I thought. The pole sanding options were actually much more efficient and easier to control than I thought because the backing discs are rigid and the hook and loop fixings are secure. The universal joint on the adaptor allows really flexible movement of the pad and discs, without losing control or accuracy.
Also, it really helps to have several thicknesses of disc backing to enable you to get the right finish on various materials. Highly innovative and great multi purpose tools. If I was a professional plasterer/decorator I could easily find a place for these two kits in my tool collection – in addition to a powered wall sander.
The powered sander would still be needed for very large jobs, but it could actually be quicker, simpler and cheaper to sand and prepare smaller areas by hand using the National Abrasives disc and corner sanders. Keen DIYers would also be able to get full value from them as well as improving the quality of the job. A Good Idea indeed!