Difference between orbit sander and normal sander?

What is the difference in using an orbital sander vs a square type sander? Is one used for a certain task and the other for some different task?
Thanks
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Hi Ken, A normal sander these days is a random orbital sander. The main problem with these is getting into corners. As many woodworkers have just one type of sander (ROS) they hand sand in corners. As a second sander I would recommend the PC Speedbloc. It looks like what I think you think a normal sander is. Go with the sticky (PSA) paper. So just get one of each and you will be set. 8>). JG
Ken Adams wrote:

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A ROS gives a very good finish and is more powerful than a normal vibrating sander and much more controllable than a belt sander. For corners and tight places I'd reccommend a "detail" sander - cheap-ish and very precise. Something ilke a B&D Mouse, perhaps. FoggyTown "Cut to shape . . . pound to fit."
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Well, many ROS give a good finish. The more agressive ones will not. I have a right angle PC ROS that is 15 years old. They are available today. They are VERY agressive and do not leave a finish that I would want to put a finish on.
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As my nickname suggests, I do a LOT of sanding...and I mean a LOT. And because I learn so much in this NG about my first love, woodworking, I am more that happy to share what I have learned about sanding since the days when solid surface countertops only came in 4 colours. (now 400)
Envision this: a 4-ft x 6-ft kitchen island top.
Black
Windows everywhere.
At the point of purchase, the customer signs a waiver.."This is black, ma'm...it will show everything. Do NOT call me if the electrician drags his tool-belt all over it."
But, as it is over 30" wide, I need to make a seam during fabrication. And I get to sand it till the seam disappears. Then I get to make it shiny..semi gloss. And optically flat. Only the guys at Mt. Palomar Observatory have a more daunting task when they polish their mirrors... ok..I embellish..
Having said all that, I agree with JGS. ROS and a Speedblock for the corners. There are ROS and there are ROS.
The most important things to remember, 1) Buy the best you can afford. One can drop a $1000 on a sander/sucker combo. Fein comes to mind. My current favourite is Festool's Rotex 150 with a CT-22 sucker. Not only does the Rotex suck dirt off the work, it also blows air in the middle of the pad. See animation under Products>animation>RO 150E http://www.festool-usa.com /The biggest punch for the buck for the non professional, IMHO and a combo I use all the time, is the Ridgid 6" ROS (Really a Metabo) hooked up to a good sucker with a 1 micron bag. I use a 4.5 HP (Yea right) Shopvac with a 10 gallon 1 micron bag (Sold separately, batteries not included, see you lawyers for details.) 2) make sure it has very good dust removal. See above 3) choose the right paper for the job. I now use, almost exclusively, Mirka Abrinet. Sure it costs money, but lasts, and lasts and no holes to align up on any 6" sander. It's a screen. I also make up a lot of my own pads from Scotch-Brite style hand pads and I glue them on an old sanding disk. 4) clean..CLEAN.. in between sanding steps. The grit from the previous paper WILL keep scratching. IOW.. when you go from 180 to 220, the work is full of 180 size particles...blow it off, wipe it... hell, LICK it.!
I also use a LOT of sanding sponges..fine on one side, medium on the other. Handy little things, those... CAREFUL when you sand along the edge of an oak board along the grain. Large splinters can travel up through the sponge and accordion into your right hand's index finger's second joint, requiring surgery and antibiotic to make a grown man puke. Or so I'm told.
Hope this helps. Rob www.topworks.ca
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Ken Adams wrote:

A pad sander just rotates in little circles, while an orbital sander rotates in little circles, but also the entire pad spins along it's center.
The ROS takes more material off quicker. I rarely use my pad sander any more.
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A ROS also uses more expensive sanding paper... Round and often with velcro or glue.
I hardly ever use mine anymore because it sands too fast. And I use a lot of MDF wich clogs sandpaper really fast. And my square sander (Bosch 1297DK) has a nifty mechanism to put ordinairy rectangular sandpaper on it without folds. Really nice.
--
mare

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my ROS dos most of the sanding and then I use my 1/4 sheet for finish sanding with 400 grit, I have a mouse too but I don't use it that much, a little un impressed, and the pads are pricy
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I don't quite know what you mean by a square sander, but the main drawback to any type of orbital sander, when staining, is that the stain tends to accentuate the orbit marks. I use a cheap Sears "half sheet" sander that has a back and forth setting and go with the grain, but it's only effective when there isn't much material to remove. I've seen some really cool air sanders that are back and forth motion and remove material more efficiently, but don't know of any good electric ones.
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