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What is an Air Sander?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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An air sander is a device that is used to sand an object smooth—it is powered by an air compressor. There are many types of air sander designs, from random orbit sanders to palm-type devices which can be used to do fine detail work. For large, flat areas, long board-type air sanders will often work the best and provide a flat and smooth surface. The most common type of air sander is a small square model, which works with one-quarter of a sheet of sand paper.

The advantage of an air sander over an electric sander is that the air sander will not overheat. An electric sander will get very warm over a long period of time and require a rest period. The air sander will remain cool even when used over a very extended period of time, which many sanding jobs require. A side benefit of the air sander is the exhausting air from the sander motor will aid in clearing the sanding residue from the work surface.

One of the most critical components of any air-driven tool is the actual air compressor. The compressor should have a large tank to keep a great deal of air on reserve. The compressor motor should also be large enough to keep up with the demand of the air tool. This is important to ensure that the sander is not deprived of air, thus slowing down the progress of the tool.

Once the sander and compressor have been chosen, the next concern will be the actual air line or hose that will connect the compressor to the tool. It is important to use a large enough air line to provide adequate air flow to the sander. An air line that is too small in diameter will choke the air flow to the sander. Individuals should be sure to read all manufacturer's instructions for compressor and air hose requirements when purchasing an air tool.

Perhaps the greatest danger to any air-driven device such as a sander is water. Air compressors heat the air that they compress, and the byproduct of heating air is water. As water builds in the compressor, it makes its way into the air line and into the sander. To avoid potential water damage from contaminating a work piece or the tool, a water filter should be placed between the compressor tank and the air tool.

It is also a good idea for individuals to add one or two drops of tool-specific oil into the air fitting of the sander after every use. By placing the oil into the air fitting and then operating the sander for a few seconds, the oil can be distributed throughout the air sander. This will deter any water damage from occurring.

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