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What is an Edge Sander?

An edge sander is a powerful tool designed to smooth and refine the edges of woodwork pieces, ensuring a professional finish. Its precision allows for intricate work on various materials, making it a favorite among craftsmen. Curious about how an edge sander can elevate your woodworking projects? Discover its full potential and expert tips in our comprehensive guide.
Kathy R
Kathy R

An edge sander is a type of power sander, an electric device used to smooth a surface, usually used on wood. There are two basic types of edge sander. One is a handheld floor sander, which is designed for spaces that are difficult to reach with a traditional wood floor sander, such as the portions of the floor that lie alongside walls or railings. The second type is a belt sander, which is used to smooth out the edges of wood cut for carpentry projects.

The edge floor sander has a good deal of power, like a large drum sander, yet is portable, like an orbital sander. It is rather large and bulky, but relatively easy for one person to work with. It has a handle near the top, and a removable sanding disc on bottom. When the user presses down on the handle, that disc presses to the floor and rotates. As the discs spins, it polishes the wood, removing dings or uneven surfaces.

Belt sanders can be used with any grain of sandpaper.
Belt sanders can be used with any grain of sandpaper.

The belt-type edge sander, often called an oscillating edge sander, usually sits on a cabinet or table, putting it at a convenient height for the user. This edge sander has a continuous belt of sandpaper stretched across two metal drums. As these drums spin, the belt rotates, much like a conveyor belt. All the user has to do is press a piece of wood up against the belt, and it quickly smooths out imperfections. He or she can also employ it to create curves in the wood, such as to make backrests for chairs, by placing the wood against the belt directly adjacent to the drums.

Both types of edge sander can work with many different grains of sandpaper, ranging from very fine to very coarse. Often a user will begin with coarse paper and switch to finer grains as he or she moves forward with the project. The handheld edge sander is sometimes fitted with a dust bag to keep much of the sawdust from the floor contained in the unit. The belt sander does not usually have this option.

Edge sanders are not usually available in consumer hardware stores. A consumer will most likely have to travel to a rental facility, or a shop that caters to carpentry professionals. It’s often much less expensive to rent an edge sander than to buy one, unless the user will need it on a regular basis.

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Discussion Comments


How hard is it to use a sander to refinish your own floors?

The floors in our house need to be sanded and resealed, but we'd really like to do it ourselves if it wouldn't be too hard. My husband is really good at fixing a lot of things around the house, and I'm not bad myself. I just don't want to get drug into something that will be more than we can handle.

How much work is involved, and how much would it cost to rent something like an edge sander for a few days?


@stl156 - That sounds like a great present. I have used Bosch sanders in the past, and they have worked well. I've heard good things about Ryobi sanders, as well. At least in my experience, as long as you buy power tools from one of the more widely known brands, you should be okay.

What I would do is try to look around his workshop if you can, and see what he has now. Some people swear by certain brands. If all of his power tools are from the same company, I would get a sander from them, too.

There are tons of options and sizes. While you're in the shop, try to take a measure of the size of his current sander and all of its features. Besides the rotating belt portion, some sanders have disc and spindle sanders attached. He may like those options if he doesn't already have them.


@Izzy78 - At least in my experience, an orbital sander is a handheld tool with a round sandpaper disc on the bottom that is use to sand large, flat faces of carpentry projects. They are much less durable than the edge sander described here, and would not work well if you were trying to sand a hardwood floor.

Does anyone here have any experience with buying a benchtop edge belt sander? My father-in-law is big into woodworking, and he has been complaining lately about needing to buy a need edge sander. His birthday is coming up, so I thought that might be a present he'd really like and be able to use.

What are the different specifications for the sanders, and what should I be looking for? Are there different features on various models? Maybe the most important part, what are the best or most popular brands? I want something that is high quality and will last.


I knew about the edge sander that is the larger, floor-based type and is used for carpentry projects, but I didn't know there was another type used for sanding floors. I've even seen them used before, but I had always heard them called orbit sanders.

What is the difference between the edge sander used on floors and an orbit sander?

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    • Belt sanders can be used with any grain of sandpaper.
      By: Sean
      Belt sanders can be used with any grain of sandpaper.