March 23, 2022

Can an orbital sander be used as a polisher

Using an orbital sander as a polisher

What is a random orbital sander?

A random orbital sander can be described as a tool to finish your sanding project. This machine is electric-powered and is designed to operate in a circular motion but as a power tool. The sander will achieve this mission by making uniform swirl-free scratches on the surface you are working on. Consumers use these products to get rid of any paint or any other kind of surface coating. 

The material you use will be easy to maneuver because you will create less heat. This benefit makes the sander different from your regular belt sanders. It is advantageous because it will not distort or ruin your wood with unnecessary heat. The product was initially named ‘random orbital sander’ because it has no fixed orbit. This name means it moves in circular motions that appear random.


Can I use it as a polisher?

A random orbital sander will work effectively when eliminating any unwanted coating on a surface. You cannot directly transfer this benefit to polishing a car. If you decide to use a random orbital sander when shining, you will struggle to keep the rotational axis centered. The backing plate will move in a rotation that is not symmetrical, and this will negatively affect your polishing efforts. An inconsistent polishing motion is the last thing any professional wants to see. You can expect to see swirl marks on your paint after using this machine. You will likely damage your car aside from ruining your vehicle’s paintwork.

Polishing compounds operate at a very high level of rotational speed. They move at this rate to quickly break down the compounds. Effectively breaking down the compounds in the paint will create a smooth surface. This motion can be thought of as the polisher burning through the paint. You should not take this information as saying you cannot use a random orbital sander as a polisher. The advantages of doing this do not outweigh the disadvantages. If you want to try out the method, it is good to be careful with the speed and pressure you choose.

Polishing pad for orbital sander

Another aspect to consider with this method is adding a backplate with radial slots. When you use this, it will help you stabilize your hook and loop pad. The extra support is of your choice to be held securely in place while giving the necessary support and movement needed for polishing.

Types of Pads for Polishing

There is a wide range of sizes, materials, and textures available on the market for polishing pads. You can find approximately five types of pads made from different materials.

  • Foam Pad
  • Microfiber Pad
  • Wool
  • Denim
  • Felt

When you look at each polishing pad in detail, you will find different advantages. The main characteristic that they all have is that the material used on them is tough and rigid. The pad you choose will likely be soft enough to avoid damaging your surface while polishing. They design these to handle a hefty amount of polishing wax for easy spreading.

The three most common types:

Microfiber Polishing Pads

Microfiber is the modern option to go with. It has a broader range of benefits and far surpasses the usefulness of both wool and foam. It can deliver a high-quality result because of the delicate soft fibers it comes with. These combine well with a flat face and provide the consumer with a shiny finish.

Wool Pads

Wool has been around for an extended period and has become a standard option. Its robust qualities make it perfect for holding polish. Many consumers choose these types of pads because of the natural wood they are made from. This wood is known to produce less heat compared to the other options available. Lower heating pads have the advantage that they last longer because they don’t get burnt through. 

Foam Pads

Foam is one of the best options for a polishing pad because it’s flexible. Many consumers prefer this pad because of its ability to be manufactured in different hardness (stiffness) and textures.

The option you select will often come down to your available budget. All three options listed here should carry you through safely; however, the microfiber pad comes out on top because of its advanced design.

When you buy your random orbital sander, you must check its polishing capabilities. Check the different modes it can reach and how much space it can cover at a time. Reading the owner’s manual will allow you to learn what it can handle.

Tips for getting the best results

Using a random orbital sander may sound relatively straightforward to do, but there are some vital considerations that you need to take to maintain absolute safety. 

Here are some guidelines you can turn to for better results:

Do a test spot.

Try out the random orbital sander on a small spot first before moving onto a bigger surface. This test should help spare your car if you have chosen the wrong type of machine. 

Start with the least aggressive settings.

It is best to tread lightly when you first begin to use a new sander. This should also apply to second-hand sanders that you do not have experience with. The choice of pad, gel, and sander settings should be at their lowest when you start. You can speed up the machine when you notice the current settings are not performing adequately. 

Take it slow. 

Sanding is an activity that requires a rigorous amount of care and consideration. Avoid rushing because this will potentially damage your car or personal injury. Rushing will only force you to apply pressure to the sander, which can damage it. Be willing to dedicate the time and move carefully.

Use a light coating of polish or wax. 

Use as little polish as possible. A light coating of polish is the best amount. Don’t allow yourself to get carried away and abuse the amount of polish to put on. This motion will only squander your resources and leave streaks in your car’s paintwork.

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