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I prefer using a palm sander, or finishing sander, rather than a more aggressive random-orbit sander. Because a finishing sander cuts more slowly, it gives me greater control over the outcome. Also, finishing sanders can get into corners, which is something the round pad on a random-orbit sander cannot do.
The biggest disadvantage of finishing sanders always has been the time-consuming inconvenience of loading up a new sheet of paper. Bosch has solved that problem with the new SheetLoc system on its No. 1297D sander.
Pushing a large spring-loaded button on the front of the tool makes the sander accept the leading edge of the paper, letting the trailing edge fall where it may. On the back of the tool, a lever system with a pivoting steel bar smooths out the sandpaper and clamps it tightly in place. With this system, it’s not necessary to fold the edge of the paper or to get it lined up exactly right in order for it to fit properly, as I’ve had to do with every other finishing sander I’ve ever used. The device is simple and ingenious.
The Bosch sander isn’t perfect. Its on/off switch is too small, and the dust-bag attachment requires an extra piece if you want to hook up the sander to a shop vac. But for the time and aggravation it will save over the lifespan of the tool, the SheetLoc system alone is reason enough to buy one of these sanders.
—David Sorg writes frequently about finishing topics. His Web site iswww.finefurniturefinishing.com.
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