Types of sander
Want to remove a lot of material from a large area sharpish? This electric sander is probably the best tool for the job. Tabletops, doors and edge sections of timber flooring. None of them are a problem for the belt sander. And you'll be impressed when using it for squaring or shaping wood (sanding doors to fit, for example). The belt sander works with a belt of abrasive paper stretched over rollers. You can secure some models to a workbench for stationary use. And look out for a sanding frame - this is a useful feature that limits the depth of sanding.
An orbital sander (also called a finishing sander) is your best bet for getting a smooth finish on large flat areas. Use it for smoothing plaster, paint or varnish between coats too. The base plate, available in different sizes, moves with a tight, rapid orbital action that minimises scratching.
Random orbital sander
This is a handy one. The random orbital sander combines the speed of a belt sander with the smoothness of an orbital sander. It features circular sanding discs that 'orbit' and rotate simultaneously. This leaves the surface virtually scratch-free and spreads wear on the sanding sheets more evenly so they last longer. A flexible backing pad means the sander can cope with gently curved surfaces. This type is also known as an eccentric sander.
Detail or delta sander
These are hand held sanders, sometimes referred to as ‘corner’ or ‘mouse’ sanders; they use a vibrating head with sandpaper attached; usually triangular in shape. They’re great for sanding in tight spaces & into corners.
This sander is pleasingly versatile. Combining features from delta and orbital models, the multi-sander is good for treating both flat and contoured surfaces. You can also use special attachments for working on 'profile' sections such as skirting boards and architraves.