Just about any woodworking project will require sanding to some degree and there are so many routes to take in achieving a nice and smooth sanded finish. Sanding blocks, belt sanders, sheet sanders, orbital sanders, disc sanders, and just plain old sand paper and elbow grease can all work well to achieve the desired result for a given project. Unfortunately many projects have curves and contours that render many of our convenient modern sanding tools useless in providing attractive finishes. In these cases it is often necessary to spend a lot of time performing labor-intensive hand sanding to get the desired finish as with the bowls of the spoons pictured below.
These very spoon bowls are what lead me to constantly keep an eye and ear out for any sanding tools that can make my spoon carving life easier. After spending a few years trying just about any and every sanding tool that will fit in the bowls of my spoons, I had come to the conclusion that the only acceptable option was hand sanding. It was a time-consuming and harsh reality to accept. Depending on the spoon it can sometimes take several hours to sand the tool marks from the bowls and get a nice, smooth finish. To get a glimpse at the process of making one of these spoons check out this article how to make a wooden spoon with hand tools.
Just as I was about out of hope I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the Arbortech Contour Random Sander.
This tool attaches to just about any 4 1/2 inch angle grinder and transforms it into a random orbital contour sander. The soft pad on the attachment allows the sanding pad to contour to curved and uneven surfaces without cutting into the wood or burning it. The Arbortech Contour Sander has greatly reduced the effort required to sand spoon bowls smooth and has probably reduced the time that I spend sanding the bowls by 80 percent or more. I have already discussed the many uses of angle grinders in this article, but considering that bowl sanding is where 60 percent or so of my spoon making time is spent, this attachment is making me fall in love with my angle grinder all over again.
As handy as the Arbortech Contour Sander is, it is not perfect. The only two issues that I have found with it thus far is that it will get hot after a few minutes of moderate use, and the adhesive-backed sanding disk (pictured above) the attachment uses do not adhere to the attachment’s pad very long due to the heat generated from use. I am not sure if these two issues can be negated, but they can be lessened by sanding slower and applying less pressure to the surface being sanded.
Overall I really like this angle grinder attachment from Arbortech. Any tool that gives better results with less effort is welcome in my shop. If you are a wood carver, worker, or serial DIY’er I would definitely recommend giving it a try and saving yourself time and effort on your projects. Below are a few links to articles containing information on angle grinder use and safety, spoon carving, and Arbortech Contour Random Sander pricing and reviews, as well as an instructional video.
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Jake with tool-school.com