Every single project I do requires sanding!
It’s the curse of woodworking and the sawdust is my wife’s arch nemesis. I do a lot of work with a black wood filler which also requires sanding, and the dust is really fine, like automotive dust. A good sanding setup is key to my shop’s success.
I have found what I consider to be the BEST sanding system for my business.
It all started with a 6” Random Orbital Sander https://amzn.to/3l5tHgC. Then as my projects got bigger and more detailed my collection grew with a 3x5 Rectangular Sander. I also added a Detail Sander to get into more corners and weird angles.
Let’s break down some key points of the Mirka Dustless Sanding System https://amzn.to/33bintc that has me considering the task of sanding actually kind of FUN!
Mirka started in Finland in 1940 and they were mainly in the automotive industry, dealing with a lot of really fine dust. 20 years ago they invented the Abranet sandpaper and they’ve done nothing but refine their equipment.
The Mirka comes ON when you hit the paddle and it stays on a few extra seconds after you turn it OFF. This extra suction clears the line so sawdust doesn’t settle back down the hose and on to your project or floor. One cool thing with this Mirka is if you set the sander down adjacent to a pile of sawdust on your board, it will suck sawdust in from around the edge of the sand paper.
I can sand with one finger with this unit! I kid you not! This sander is balanced and lightweight making it easier for me to sand for longer periods of time. I do large projects like boardroom tables, kitchen islands, and multiple barnwood doors at a time. I can be sanding for hours straight sometimes. Normal user fatigue from sanding happens by pushing down to get more done, plus burning more calories by fighting the sander in all directions.
This Mirka has significantly decreased my burnout to sanding.
With 7 settings and speed control, I have greater management of the sander and am confident that I won’t accidentally over-sand my project! Sometimes you just need that light touch, other times you want to get right in there and dig out a ton of wood. This system also has tool sensing that can be adjusted to control how much the system sucks.
Something I looked for in a sanding system was how well the vacuum cord hooked up to the sander. There’s nothing quite like the heartbreak of a disconnected hose in the middle of a project. This Mirka doesn’t wabble or come lose like other systems. The cord and hose are hooked in to one deal and all the dust is sent through in one shot.
I have used many sanding units that could not keep up with dust creation. A good system needs to be able to stand up the amount dust created by the sander. There needs to be a balance between holes in the sandpaper and enough grit left to get the job done. The dust created needs to travel THROUGH the sandpaper and into the vacuum to fulfill a “dustless” environment. One way to increase extraction is by putting more holes in the sandpaper, but at some point, additional holes begin to weaken the sandpaper to its tearing point.
I prefer to use this Mirka Abranet Sandpaper https://amzn.to/373TyR1. These are made for vacuum-assisted systems! They are basically a net which allows for dust-free sanding as the dust created is immediately sucked through the paper into the vacuum. The grits are woven into the net so there are not as many tiny circular marks left behind creating what I consider to be a nicer finish.
Something I didn’t even know to look for in a sanding system was a cleaning setting. To clean this Mirka I put my hand over the vacuum hose, turn the vacuum ON, and push the cleaning button 3 times which clears the filter out with blown air. When I notice a loss of suction I first assume the filter may be plugged. This cleaning function helps open up the vacuum and clear the build-up out.
One con with this system was that I sustained a small injury when I first got it. Like I'm use to with other sanding systems, I had left the unit running while I pressed a new sandpaper on. With the paddle upside down, I lightly pushing to adhere the sandpaper which activated the sander, and it nipped my fingers. Lesson learned! I recommend turning off the entire system when you need to apply a new sandpaper. This is the only negative thing that has happened during the hundreds of times I’ve used this system.
I can attest that when it comes to sanding it is worth spending the extra money to buy high quality equipment like this Mirka. These guys are in the dust collection game and have mastered their craft. Sanding is one of those tasks that sucks! Literally! It is normally exhausting, and straight up not that fun.
But now, for me, it sucks less. I would almost say that it is fun. It feels like I’m cheating on the GRIND that is sanding. I actually LIKE sanding now. 2 thumbs up from me.