Can An Electric Drill Be Used As A Sander?

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Modern electric drills are loaded with features and are designed to take a hammering but can an electric drill be used as a sander? While most are first and foremost intended for use of drilling or boring holes or driving screws, with the right attachment, you can even turn your electric drill into a versatile sander. 

Using an electric drill as a sander is a great way to quickly and easily sand curves and arch features in your woodworking or DIY project. It’s easy and inexpensive and there are plenty of sanding attachments available and you don’t need a special drill make or model. 

How to Use Your Electric Drill as a Sander

First, make sure you understand the limits of your electric drill and the various settings available. Combination drills offer different drilling modes, and not all are ideal for sanding purposes. Also, be mindful of the amount of time you’re sanding using an electric drill, as long sanding sessions may overload the electric drill motor, causing it to overheat.  

Set Your Electric Drill to Drill Mode

Many modern electric drills are ‘combi’ drills, allowing you to select a drilling, driving, or even a hammer action. For sanding, you’ll want to use drill mode, as the other modes will negatively affect the amount of control you have while sanding using an electric drill. 

Drill mode will not have torque control, and this allows for a steady amount of torque to be applied that is ideal for sanding purposes. 

Use the Right Drill Speed

It’s also important to understand when it is best to use different drill speeds, as a slower speed is better for removing larger amounts of material. Use a faster speed for finishing or polishing work. Also, take your time when sanding, as rushing a job is the main cause of inferior finishes and blemishes on your work. 

Use the Right Sanding Attachment for the Job

To use your electric drill as a sander, you’ll need a sanding attachment that will fit into your adjustable chuck. Depending on the type of sanding and the material being sanded, there will be a few options available to you. 

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Using Your Electric Drill and a Sanding Drum Attachment on Wood

The most common material for sanding is wood and using an electric drill and a drum sanding attachment is a fast and easy way to sand curves or arches. 

Drum sanding attachments are available in a variety of sizes and interchangeable sanding bands in a variety of grit types. You’ll want to choose the right sand grit coarseness for your intended project.

Sanding Drum Grit Types and Uses

Use a coarse sanding band attachment of 40-60 grit and a slow drill speed to remove more material and prepare your project for the finishing stage. Once you’re ready to do more detailed sanding or finishing work, simply remove the coarse sanding band and use a finer grit sanding band. 

An 80-120 grit sanding band is perfect for smoothing. Finally, use a fine sanding band of 360 to 400 grit to finish your sanding project. If you’re looking to polish, use a wood polishing drum sanding attachment and a higher drill speed to achieve the desired polish level. 

Don’t rush this final stage of the job. Always maintain slight circular movements of the sander slowly around the finishing surface. If you hold the sander or polisher on wood for too long, it will burn and start to blacken.

You Can Also Use A Sanding Drum With An Electric Drill Press

You can also use a sanding drum with a drill press. After all, the drill press is just an electric drill  held in position by a stand. Using a sanding drum like this often very helpful and makes your project work much easier.

If you want to try this, it might be a good idea to use a piece of plywood to raise the level of the drill press table. Drill a hole through the plywood so that the drum can fit into it. Then, you can clamp the plywood in place. 

This allows the drum to spin and be off the actual drill press table surface.

Using a Disk Sander and an Electric Drill

Another attachment that easily fits into your electric drill’s chuck is a sanding disk. These disks are usually made from metal or hard plastic and are ideal for sanding flat or smooth surfaces such as wood, metal, or plastic.

The sanding discs accommodate different grit-rated sanding pads and attach various sanding pads to the disk, with most using velcro. In the same manner as drum sanders, use a coarser grit sanding disk on a low drill speed for smoothing applications. Use 120-400 grit sanding disks on a higher drill speed for detailed smoothing, polishing, and finishing work.

Conclusion

Converting your electric drill into a sander is inexpensive and easy to do with many various sanding attachments available on the market today. It’s important to choose the right drill setting and speed. Always take your time when sanding using an electric drill, as rushing your job may not only cause blemishes in your work but also puts unnecessary stress on your drill motor. 

Sanding your project is a task no one enjoys. So, it’s nice to know that the electric drill can also double as a sander. It can help make your woodworking task easier. Also, it’s clear that the drill is an extremely versatile power tool!

Did you enjoy this article? If so, you might want to see my boards on Pinterest. The pins there cover woodworking tools, DIY items, crafts, and similar material. 

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