An edge sander is a type of power sander, an electric device used to smooth a surface, usually used on wood. There are two basic types of edge sander. One is a handheld floor sander, which is designed for spaces that are difficult to reach with a traditional wood floor sander, such as the portions of the floor that lie alongside walls or railings. The second type is a belt sander, which is used to smooth out the edges of wood cut for carpentry projects.
The edge floor sander has a good deal of power, like a large drum sander, yet is portable, like an orbital sander. It is rather large and bulky, but relatively easy for one person to work with. It has a handle near the top, and a removable sanding disc on bottom. When the user presses down on the handle, that disc presses to the floor and rotates. As the discs spins, it polishes the wood, removing dings or uneven surfaces.
The belt-type edge sander, often called an oscillating edge sander, usually sits on a cabinet or table, putting it at a convenient height for the user. This edge sander has a continuous belt of sandpaper stretched across two metal drums. As these drums spin, the belt rotates, much like a conveyor belt. All the user has to do is press a piece of wood up against the belt, and it quickly smooths out imperfections. He or she can also employ it to create curves in the wood, such as to make backrests for chairs, by placing the wood against the belt directly adjacent to the drums.
Both types of edge sander can work with many different grains of sandpaper, ranging from very fine to very coarse. Often a user will begin with coarse paper and switch to finer grains as he or she moves forward with the project. The handheld edge sander is sometimes fitted with a dust bag to keep much of the sawdust from the floor contained in the unit. The belt sander does not usually have this option.
Edge sanders are not usually available in consumer hardware stores. A consumer will most likely have to travel to a rental facility, or a shop that caters to carpentry professionals. It’s often much less expensive to rent an edge sander than to buy one, unless the user will need it on a regular basis.