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The vibrating sander is equipped with a large sole on which sandpaper sheets are attached. It sanding flat surfaces to obtain a neat finish of the supports.

Choose a vibrating drill

To prepare a surface to paint or strip to renovate, the vibrating sander is the easiest power tool to use by all DIYers. There are no particular settings and the grip is quite intuitive. This machine can sand wood and its derivatives, metal or coatings, even if it is not specifically designed for them. It is generally used for heavy sanding and consists of a lightweight rectangular plastic or aluminum tray (Mac Allister and Skil), equipped with a foam sole on which is attached an abrasive sheet. The electric motor is equipped with a cam at the end of the shaft which transmits to the plate a very strong oscillating movement of small amplitude.

Efficiency and comfort

The efficiency and the quality of the work depend on the number of oscillations (26 000 mvt / min for the Black & Decker) and the margin of oscillation of the plateau (here between 1.5 to 2 mm). The higher the number, the faster the work and allow the machine to work without forcing.
The six sanders in our test offer a good compromise between power (from 150 to 300 W) and handling, with weights ranging from 1.3 to 2.3 kg. The width and length of the tray determine the sanding area. A large tray allows you to work faster on large areas. The most common sanders have on average rectangular trays of 93 x 185 mm (115 x 230 mm for the Skil).
Designed for the comfort of the user, these trays are connected to the housing by rubber mounts that limit the transmission of vibrations, sources of fatigue and tingling. In our test, Black & Decker and Bosch are the ones that best filter vibrations. The sanders we have selected are more commonly used with both hands. One is placed on the front handle as a guide and the other holds the sander on the back. The handles are all sheathed with non-slip materials.

Sanding without dust

All sanders in our test (except the Dexter) have a turbine that sucks dust through the holes in the soleplate and directs it to a machine-integrated filter canister.
The suction prevents dirtying of the abrasive, which remains effective longer and ensures cleaner sanding and better control of the work. On the majority of models tested, the foam sole is equipped with a Velcro type gripping coating that allows to fix the abrasive directly and quickly at the touch of a button. They are also equipped with clamps to receive conventional abrasive sheets.
The Skil only offers clamp attachment. Finally, four sanders (Black & Decker, Bosch, Ryobi and Skil) are equipped with speed variators that modulate the oscillation of the plate to adapt the speed to different materials.

Placement of abrasives

Install sanding abrasives

Five of the six tested machines offer a rudimentary clamping system reduced to a simple pin acting as a clamp and spring. That of Skil, more advanced, is handled by two levers integrated into the housing.

Hook and loop belt for sander

The self-gripping strap on the sole (absent on the Skil) offers the advantage of fixing the sheet faster. The downside: with time it loses its effectiveness and that of the Dexter is particularly fragile.

abrasive sheet for sander

Depending on the sanders, the size of the plate varies. It corresponds to one third or half of abrasive sheets sold commercially. Cutting them yourself makes small savings on consumables.

belt sander and abrasive

The leaves to be cut do not have holes to facilitate the aspiration of the dust. Mac Allister is the only manufacturer to solve the problem by providing an easy-to-use drilling template with its machine.

Efficiency at work

belt sander and dust filter

All sanders equipped with dust collectors have opted for a pleated filter system that retains dust. Placed in front, it is very easy to access on the Black and Decker.

connect a belt sander to a vacuum cleaner

Three test sanders (Bosch, Dexter and Mac Allister) are connected to a vacuum cleaner, which contributes to better dust evacuation. But the machines lose in maneuverability and the noise quickly becomes painful.

Using a vibrating sander

The principle of using a sander is simple. Just hold it firmly without pressing down on the machine. In general, the weight and oscillations are sufficient to achieve effective sanding.

Our tests

For this test bench, we have chosen sander well represented in GSB and whose prices are between 22 and 80 €. Our tests first focused on performance. We did the sanding of an old oak beam. Each sander was equipped with a coarse abrasive of 50 and 60, then finer grained leaves of 100 and 120 for finishing. Then we sanded a varnished oak table. We were also interested in the ease of fixing and holding abrasives on the sole, the suction quality of the dust and their filtration. Finally, the comfort of use, the ergonomics as well as the accessories were sifted.

Check the guarantees!

If the sanders are often guaranteed between 2 and 3 years, it is necessary to even examine the conditions. The machines we used here are not necessarily guaranteed if their engine was destroyed by the plaster dust. This information is not always indicated in the instructions. Inquire with your dealer. Manufacturers consider that gypsum dust limits the service life of mechanical parts.

The results of sanders tests

All tested machines can be found in the DIY toolbox. The real differences are in filtration accessories and comfort of use.

  • Black & Decker takes first place. With a rather modern design, it is the most efficient in all areas.
  • It is closely followed by the Bosch. Very pleasant to use, it has lost points on the filtration of dust.
  • Third, the Skil is practical for supermarkets, but its plateau has not lived up to our expectations.
  • The fourth place is occupied by the Ryobi, whose sanding work is effective, despite a filtration system that allows too much dust to pass.
  • The Mac Allister comes fifth, disadvantaged by its lack of comfort of use. It is therefore one step below the others.
  • Finally, the Dexter closes the march without being ridiculous. This machine, which gives the impression of being fragile, is very suitable for a casual handyman.

The choice of System D

At the end of this test bench we chose an efficient, comfortable machine that offers an integrated filtration system with the possibility of adapting it to a vacuum cleaner. The Bosch, beyond the qualities mentioned above, gives an impression of robustness for the handyman who wants to keep his machine as long as possible. In addition, its weight (1.6 kg) helps to make it more manageable. As for the vibrations, they are practically imperceptible. In the end, a good sander that demonstrates the Germanic seriousness!

Comparative table of 6 vibrating sanders

See the comparative table of the six vibratory sanders tested by our editorial team.
(The tests were first published in December 2013, prices and machines may have evolved).

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