I’ve been using a new product (new to me at least) for several weeks now, and I now feel confident enough to comment on it.
What I’m talking about is a 5″ stainless-steel sanding disc meant to fit all hook-and-loop 8-hole random orbit sanders. It’s called a “Microplane” sanding disc, and I’ve tried all the grits (40, 80, and 120) and my favorite is definitely the 80.
Basically, instead of using sharp particles of abrasive to sand the surface like regular sandpaper, this product is made of perforated (and probably laser-cut) steel.
As with anything there are pros and cons. Here’s my take on this:
- It cuts a lot faster than regular sandpaper. The best way I can describe it is that it cuts about as fast as you wish sandpaper would cut – not too fast, (like a belt sander), but not too slow.
- It lasts a lot longer than regular sandpaper. See that picture above? That’s my only medium-grit disc that I have right now. I haven’t worn it out yet.
- It’s just about impossible to clog or gum up one of these discs. It has a very open design, which allows the sander to collect a lot of dust, and also prevent any kind of clogging.
- The Coarse (40 grit) and Medium (80 grit) both leave visible swirl marks in the wood, though they usually aren’t terribly hard to sand out. Basically, I disagree with their grit ratings, and would equate their medium grit with something closer to a 50-grit in regular sandpaper. And what they call coarse would be…. very coarse.
- I feel that the coarse is simply too aggressive for all but the most extreme of situations, and depending on what kind of sander you have, it may be difficult if not impossible to control properly (sanders that are high quality, with balanced handling may help). Likewise, the fine (120 grit) isn’t all that different from regular sandpaper anyway. I really like just the medium disc.
- You can’t do the trick where you tilt the sander on its side to focus in on one area. The sander must be kept completely level at all times. (Which can also be a “pro” too, because I like to use these discs for leveling surfaces.
- It is mildly annoying to remove them from the velcro bottom of the sander. You can’t just yank them off like regular sandpaper, you have to be gentle with them so you don’t put a bend or crease in the metal.
So there’s my little mini-review. From looking above it may seem like there are more cons than pros, but I really like this product. The pros I listed are really good qualities to have, and most of the cons are mostly petty small stuff.
I recommend the Medium (80-grit equivalent) as a great way to sand out planer and saw marks, glue squeeze out, pore and grain filler excess, and a lot of other jobs that require fast, somewhat aggressive sanding. These discs last a long time.