What is an Oscillating Edge Sander?
An oscillating edge sander is a sanding machine that has a large belt of sandpaper mounted on two spindles that moves repeatedly up and down. They are made to do exactly what their name implies… sand edges!
These sanders are great for forming or sanding contours that are difficult to do with a regular orbital sander.
Basic Parts of an Oscillating Edge Sander
This sander is a pretty straightforward and simple machine compared to some of our other machines in the shop.
Like most woodworking machinery, it has a base that supports the entire machine and protects the inner workings from saw dust and damage. It also has a table that supports the material being worked during the sanding process that runs parallel to the belt of sandpaper that does the sanding.
The electric motor drives the whole machine and is what powers the two spindles. The spindles are what make the belt of sandpaper move. They spin the sandpaper horizontally and they also move it up and down.
The belt of sandpaper can be interchanged for different grit, but we generally maintain the same grit belt for most of our projects.
Our Oscillating Edge Sander
We purchased our edge sander in 2003 and have used it on a regular basis ever since.
For many of our projects we need to build custom cabinets, and part of the process involves designing a door to attach to it. This is where our edge sander comes in to play. Sanding the edges of a cabinet door is a must, but doing so on such a narrow surface can be difficult when working with an orbital sander or by hand.
Instead, we place the material to be sanded on the table of the sander and slowly apply pressure until the material is sanded to our liking. But it is not just as simple as pushing a piece of wood into a rotating piece of sandpaper.
The craftsman must use his experience and skill to carefully apply the correct amount of pressure in the correct location to ensure the material is being sanded evenly throughout its entire length. The skill needed to operate this machine increases yet, when a curved or irregular edge must be sanded.
As an example, a few weeks ago, we were presented with a unique request to come up with a simple design for a wooden cookie press, which is comprised of two disk-shaped pieces of wood with a handle on each. Here, we had a completely circular piece of material that had to be edge-sanded.
Not only did our craftsman have to mind the pressure he put on the material as he was sanding it, but he also had to take extra care to make sure the force and speed of the belt wouldn’t spin the round piece of material and send it flying off the end of the machine. A mishap like this could be enough ruin a project and instantly remove the end of a finger!