A fine sanding
The innovation is in the gaps
What would make your random-orbit sander work better? Most workshoppers would hope for smoother results with less airborne dust; and you can realize this with the European-made Abranet system.
Abranet discs are made of abrasive-coated mesh with a hook-and-loop backing. This open design allows dust from beneath the entire disc to be drawn upward into the sander. You can use Abranet discs on any 5″ random-orbit sander, although you’ll get best results if you upgrade the platen on your machine with one made by Abranet, which has 30 holes distributed across the surface.
For my tests, I sanded Baltic birch plywood with a Porter-Cable 343VSK sander, first with an 80-grit abrasive to refine a routed round-over along the edges, then with 120- and 180-grit discs on the faces for a final smoothing.
Besides being less dusty, wood surfaces were also noticeably smoother. The wood was also free of the kind of swirls sometimes produced by random-orbit sanders.
Abranet discs cost about twice as much as the ordinary kind, but they do last longer on bare wood surfaces. I wouldn’t use Abranet for gummy jobs that would clog the disc quickly.
All in all, I consider the Abranet system the kind of genuine improvement that demanding woodworkers will easily appreciate. For more information, call 800-267-8761 or visit www.leevalley.com. Abranet sanding discs, $1.10 to $1.60 per disc.