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Using an Orbital Sander to Polish Your Car

You may not know, but it is possible to polish your car without making a trip to see a professional. An orbital sander is a tool that you can use to get great results polishing your car. There are different kinds of orbital sanders; therefore, there are different essential factors that should be evaluated when determining which product is the best orbital sander for the job.

An orbital sander is a handheld tool that is used for both polishing and sanding surfaces. Orbital sanders move in one direction circularly and utilize a waxed pad to polish and buffer your car.

How to Polish Your Car With an Orbital Sander?

Using an Orbital Sander to Polish Your Car

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To polish your car with an orbital sander, you will need to use a random orbital sander. The name’s random orbital sander is due to the tool moving in a random pattern while spinning. If you want to use a random orbital sander to polish your car, you need to make sure that it has variable speed settings.

The random orbital sander need’s to be equipped with a polishing pad, on which you can apply your finishing polish. The variable speed settings will allow you to control the sander well and avoid leaving swirl marks on your vehicle.

There are different important elements of orbital sanders, and while some factors will come down to preference, others are more important and will dictate the results of your polishing job. Let’s talk about some of them.

Different Types of Orbital Sander

There are two different power types associated with orbital sanders, electric and air. Neither of the two is necessarily better, but they both have their pros and cons.

An electric orbital sander is a great option for a beginner who needs a good tool to sand or polish their car. All you have to do is plug it in, and you’re good to go. Just keep in mind that the vibration that electric sanders give off can be unpleasant. Electric orbit sanders also tend to be fairly harsh in terms of the pressure they exert on the surface, so if you are looking for a really smooth finish then a pneumatic sander may be preferable.

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Air orbital sanders (or pneumatic sanders) are ideal for auto body shops and professionals. The cost of running one is higher, due to the fact that you’ll need to spend money on a decent air compressor. These orbital sanders hardly give off any vibration and they will provide excellent results.

Air sanders also tend to have additional features that are geared up for bodywork sanding. For example, air sanders often have multiple planes of movement. Not only will they spin in a circular motion similar to an electric sander, but they will also “wobble” to provide an additional plane of movement. This “wobble” is what helps to provide a smoother finish and also helps to avoid harsh abrasions on the surface. This feature is often referred to as “dual action” and although you can find some electric sanders that have dual action, the best DA sander for bodywork will invariably be a pneumatic one. Because sanding the bodywork of a car often demands a super smooth surface, these features are particularly important when choosing a sander for polishing your car.

Combining Water With Your Orbital Sander

In addition to the different types of sanders and the features they each come with, there is also the option of adding water into the sanding or polishing process. This can be particularly beneficial when polishing your car as the water will help to provide a very smooth finish. Water helps the sander to glide over the surface, it also adds some lubrication to the sanding process and in turn prevents harsh abrasions from occurring on the surface that is being polished.

Once again, water is very commonly used when polishing or repairing car bodywork because of the smooth finish it allows. Whilst you can use either an electric or air tool when wet sanding with an orbital sander, it tends to be a better idea using an air sander when water is involved. There are two main reasons for this, the first one is that water and air go together far better than water and electricity. With the later, there is always a risk of electrocution. The second reason is that air sanders tend to be built in such a way that they are fully water-proofed. Electric sanders, on the other hand, aren’t always fully water-proofed and you tend to find that when you add water into the sanding process, some of the moving parts in the orbit sander are susceptible to water damage and likely to seize up.

Variable Speed of Orbital Sanders

When polishing your car with an orbital sander, controlling the speed becomes very important. There are single speed orbital sanders, but those won’t be effective for polishing. All air sanders are typically variable speed, but there are single-speed electric sanders.

Usually, a speed fluctuating between 1500-4000 OPM is ideal for polishing a vehicle with an orbital sander. If you do notice any visible swirl marks from the sander, you can try increasing the OPM.

The Bottom Line

You can use an orbital sander to polish your vehicle. You need to make sure that it is a random orbital sander, and that it has variable speed settings. The power type of the random orbital sander comes down to your preference and the budget that you’re working with.


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