Transform Your Grinder Into An Orbital Contour Sander

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.

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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.

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Just as I was about out of hope I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the Arbortech Contour Random Sander.

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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.

Angle Grinder Uses/Safety

Spoon Carving for Beginners

Arbortech Contour Random Sander

Arbortech Replacement Sanding Discs

Arbortech Replacement Sander Pad

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Jake with tool-school.com

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A Workshop’s Best Friend

The angle grinder is one of the most versatile tools in any workshop.  Part chop saw, part grinder, and part sander, there are no metal working projects in my shop that do not rely heavily on this tool.  Angle grinders come in a variety of sizes and with numerous power output and rpm ratings.  The most common sizes are 4 1/2 inch, 7 inch, and 9 inch grinders, with the 4 1/2 in being most common,  and these numbers reference the diameter of the disc, or wheel, that can be run safely by them.

Disc types for angle grinders are numerous and although some discs are multipurpose, many times specific discs are designed to perform specific functions or for specific materials, like the metal grinding disc pictured above.  Not only can other discs  be bought to cut, polish, sand, and grind metals, but wood working attachments have become more common for angle grinders as well.  With the introduction of wheels designed specifically for carving and sanding wood, like the carving attachment pictured below, the ever-useful angle grinder has managed to become even handier.

The angle grinder’s usefulness stretches even farther than wood and iron working, there are also discs sold specifically for concrete and masonry applications like the one pictured below.  Whether cutting into a brick wall, concrete slab, or mortar, this tool definitely comes in handy for those DIY stone and masonry jobs.

If anyone knows the value of an angle grinder it would have to be welders.  Primarily used in metal fabrication, the angle grinder is just as important as a welding machine itself in insuring a quality weld.  From material preparation and beveling to grinding down a weld, the angle grinder definitely beats hand filing to accomplish the same task.

For anyone looking to begin welding as a hobby or career I would strongly suggest buying a good angle grinder such as this one and learning how to use it before even buying a welding machine.  I have learned from personal experience that buying a cheaper grinder will only find you on the market for another grinder in the near future.  My DeWalt 4.5 inch angle grinder cost a little more than $80 when I bought it close to a decade ago, and after hundreds of hours of use it is still going strong today.  The cheap $35 grinder that I bought from a well known big box store prior to purchasing my DeWalt did not even make it through its first job.  I would also encourage any beginning welder to check out this article on how to get started without spending a fortune.

Below I have linked to a few useful angle grinder attachments as well as a few sources on angle grinder use and safety.

OSHA Angle Grinder Safety

How To Use an Angle Grinder

Metal Cutting Discs

Paint Stripping Discs

Metal Grinding Discs

Sanding/Flap Disc

Wood Carving Attachment

DeWalt 4.5 inch Angle Grinder

Thank you for reading!  Please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share on social media.

Jake with tool-school.com