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Can You Use a Polisher as a Sander? You Bet!

can you use a polisher as a sander

In a nutshell, the answer is Yes. If you’re wondering whether or not you can use a polisher as a sander, then the answer is yes, so long as you know when to use each one.

Polishers and sanders aim to remove paint or varnish from wood, furniture, and other household items. In this article, we will see when it makes sense to use a polisher as a sander.

How Can You Use a Polisher As a Sander?

A polisher is one tool with multiple uses around your home. It can often be used in place of other tools. For example, instead of using an electric sander to sand wood, you can use a polishing tool like a buffer or orbital sander. This allows you to change speed settings and lower them while you work.

Now, like most homeowners and DIY enthusiasts, you’re probably wondering whether or not it’s safe to use such high-speed tools on your paint jobs and furniture pieces. Well, there are ways to protect the surfaces of your projects without compromising the quality of your finish.

Don’t try this with finishes made from lacquer:

First, don’t try this with finishes made from lacquer because they’re highly volatile and may release toxic fumes when exposed to heat. Next, always consider the type of surface you’re working with. For instance, if you have some laminate countertops at home, it’s best not to use a machine with brushes because they’ll scratch up the surface before even finishing anything.

Always consider the type of surface:

Next, always consider the type of surface you’re working with. For instance, if you have some laminate countertops at home, it’s best not to use a machine with brushes because they’ll scratch up the surface before even finishing anything.

Use a polishing tool:

In other cases, however, a polishing tool may be an excellent option for your job. For example, if you’re working with wood that’s been stained and varnished, then you might want to take advantage of some of those high-speed settings because they’ll help to remove any smudges or areas where more stain has been applied than intended. Of course, it’s best always to read your manufacturer’s manual before you start working, and always keep safety in mind.

What you need to know using a polisher as a sander?

A polisher is a tool with an abrasive pad that spins at high speeds. It can polish and buff your vehicle or, more importantly, smooth out rough finishes on wood and concrete.

In reality, many people don’t know how to properly use their polishers because they aren’t knowledgeable about what it does or how it works. Below, we will explain exactly what you need to know about using your polisher as a sander to make the most of this tool in your garage.

What do I need?

To transform your electric polisher into a powerful sander, you only need some coarse-grit sandpaper (a 60-grit should do).

How should I cut my sandpaper?

When cutting your sandpaper to size, measure twice and cut once; it doesn’t take much effort or time but could save you from headaches later on. Your sandpaper should always be wider than the surface area that needs to be sanded so that there are no gaps between the edges.

Next, attach one sandpaper end to your dust mask and the other to the electric polisher. Now turn on your electric polisher and let it run for about 10 seconds before applying any pressure. Then slowly start moving it back and forth over the surface until you have achieved the desired finish.

How to use a polisher as a sander? A step-by-step guide:

can you use a polisher as a sander

As car enthusiasts, we always look for new and exciting tools to add to our collections. That said, there are times when one tool can do it all or close enough, at least. One of those times is using an orbital polisher as a sander. Not only is it possible, but it also might be your best option in certain situations.

We won’t tell you that it’s ideal or even better than other options, but we will tell you why you may want to try it out. How to use a polisher as a sander successfully. 

Here is the Step by step guide

  1. Start with the finest grit paper.
  2. Set the power regulator dial to 2 or 3.
  3. Begin sanding with light pressure over small areas until the paint starts coming off and wet sanding marks appear.
  4. Continue sanding with increasing pressure until dry sanding marks appear and all paint has been removed from the surface.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 if necessary to remove any stubborn paint residue left behind.
  6. Finish up with high-quality or paste wax, depending on what you need.
  7. Buff the surface to leave a smooth finish.
  8. Apply two coats of protective paint sealant if desired.
  9. Remember not to apply too much pressure while sanding (we recommend between 2000-3000 RPM).
  10. If desired, clean after every use so that dirt doesn’t accumulate and damage the machine’s pads.
  11. Store it properly so dirt doesn’t enter the chamber through dust ports.
  12. Remember that even though this tool isn’t designed for sanding, it will still perform well, provided you follow these tips.
  13. Before tackling big projects with this technique, test first on a hidden area to ensure everything goes smoothly.
  14. The finishing touches are crucial: A good buffing job leaves no rough spots or ragged edges and makes surfaces look brand-new.
  15. Protect polished surfaces with appropriate products such as Waxoyl®, Klasse® KlearKote®, or Meguiar’s Ultimate Quik DetailerTM Spray Wax before storage to keep them looking their best year-round.

Why should we use a polisher as a sander?

A random-orbit sander has several advantages over traditional sanders. For starters, they tend to be more powerful than their fixed-orbit counterparts, which means you can get projects done more quickly. In addition, using a random-orbit sander allows you to control your workpiece better; with fixed-orbit sanders, there’s less room for error (especially with projects like table tops).

But arguably, one of its greatest advantages is that it doubles as a polisher which means no time lost swapping out tools and devices. Change out your attachment, and you’re good to go! Here are some reasons why you should use a polisher as a sander:

1: It takes less time

There’s nothing worse than being halfway through a project when the battery dies on your sander. With a polisher, however, you’re never left in the lurch. Swap out attachments and continue working without interruption.

2: It’s versatile

A random-orbit sander can act as both a buffer and an orbital sander, which means it’ll take care of all your needs at once.

3: You don’t need a large surface area.

Random-orbit sanders have much smaller contact points, so you don’t need as much space to do your work.

4: They have fewer dust particles.

Random orbit sanders produce very little dust compared to other electric or pneumatic grinders and won’t leave any pesky residue behind either.

5: They last longer

Random orbit sanders will last much longer because they rotate slower than other types of grinders other than electric or pneumatic grinders.

6: They’re easy to store

We all know how cumbersome electrical appliances can be when it comes to storage. Fortunately, these electric or pneumatic grinders are lightweight and fold neatly for convenient storage. So whether you’re looking for convenience, versatility, longevity, or ease of use, a random-orbit sander may be what you’ve been looking for.

You can also check out our other related article Can you use an orbital sander for polish?

What are the types of polishers that can be used as a sander?

A standard electric drill is one of the most powerful, versatile polishers that can be used as a sander. A polishing machine with only one speed allows you to control its power by slowing down or speeding up your stroke, just like a normal sander. The advantages of using an electric drill for sanding purposes are numerous:

It’s lightweight and mobile; it has fewer moving parts; it’s cheaper than traditional sanders; it can handle large amounts of material quickly, and you don’t have to worry about hooking up cords and hoses if you need to move around while sanding.

Two types of polishers that can be used as sanders are given below.

1: Floor buffer polisher

The first type of polisher is a floor buffer. These tools should be hooked up to an air compressor to function properly when used as a sander. Floor buffers produce more heat and pressure than standard electric drills, so they may not be the best choice for delicate materials such as fine wood.

They are also more expensive than standard electric drills but make sense if you need more intense pressure on specific areas of your work surface. One advantage of using a floor buffer as a sander is that it doesn’t create sparks which could lead to fires when working with certain types of wood. In addition, you can always lower the intensity and use the tool as a polisher if needed.

2: Orbital hand-held tool

These come in three different shapes: round (like old-fashioned egg beaters), rectangular (like kitchen spatulas), and triangular (similar to old-fashioned ice cream scoops). Orbital hand-held tools operate at higher speeds than their electric drill counterparts, so they’re better suited for flat surfaces rather than deep cuts in woodwork or furniture repair.

What is a dual-action polisher, and how does it work?

The dual-action polisher, also known as an orbital sander, is an excellent example of how technology has advanced in recent years. Dual-action polishers are versatile tools that can perform sanding and polishing tasks with amazing results. They are great for removing oxidation and scratches from surfaces, including paint, clear coat, and glass.

If you’re interested in automotive detailing or restoration, you may have wondered if you can use a polisher as a sander. The answer is yes! A dual-action polisher can sand wood floors and other surfaces, just like an orbital sander would be used on cars. For the best results, switch out the pad on your polisher when switching between the two purposes.

Various pad styles are available depending on what type of surface you’re working with – this will vary by model. For instance, a black pad is designed for flat surfaces such as wood floors, while a grey pad will work better for shiny surfaces such as cars.

What Else Is a Polisher Good For?

While, at first glance, it might seem like your polisher is strictly for buffing and polishing, it’s useful for other tasks around your home.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

●     Use in place of a sander when removing old floor finishes or stripping furniture; be sure to protect surrounding surfaces with paper or plastic.

●     To grind off weld seams and smooth tool marks after cutting metal, place sandpaper on top of your polisher’s backing pad.

●     Remove the oxidation from chrome, copper, and brass with sandpaper attached to your polisher’s backing pad.

●     Even out small scratches in laminate countertops by hand-sanding with medium-grit sandpaper placed on top of your polisher’s backing pad. For tough jobs, use coarse sandpaper. If you don’t have any large pieces of sandpaper available, tear pieces into smaller sizes that will fit the area that needs smoothing.

So Will a Dual Action Polisher Work as a Random Orbit Sander?

Dual-action polishers such as Milwaukee’s Random Orbit 3 In. Random Orbital Sander (639-21HD) and Porter-Cable’s 690LRVS random orbital palm sander have their place in every workshop, but many people also want to know if these tools can serve double duty. 

Can you use one tool for sanding and then switch it over to polishing? The answer is yes, so long as you don’t do too much of either job at once. As with most power tool-related things, pushing your machine too hard or using it for its intended purpose will break it.

Key benefits of using a Polisher as a Sander

Following are the key benefits of using a polisher as a sander.

 ●     It’s cheaper

 ●     It’s portable

 ●     It doesn’t create dust

 ●     It will leave your surface smooth and shiny

 ●     You’ll be able to reach hard-to-get spots with ease.


7 Mistakes beginners make using a polisher as a sander:

When considering purchasing a polisher for automotive use, it’s easy to assume you can use it for other applications too. But can you use a polisher as a sander? While most users think that yes – you can use one as both – there are some mistakes to avoid. A few simple steps will help ensure success and safety whenever using your machine in either application.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Using too much pressure: Most people see they have something small they want to polish, such as an emblem or watch band, and assume they don’t need to apply any pressure when using their polishing machine. The more pressure you put on the job, the quicker it will be finished. Don’t be afraid of putting force behind the pads! Mistake
  2. Not paying attention to the direction of rotation:
  3. Forgetting to clean up afterward:
  4. Failure to read manual/safety warnings:
  5. Trying To Polish Everything With One Pad Or Attachment:
  6. Getting Too Close To The Surface Your work area should always be well-lit, so you can see what you’re doing. That goes for being close to the surface too. Get out of your arm’s reach from your project so that if anything goes wrong with the polisher, you won’t get hurt by accidentally brushing against it.
  7. Not turning off before changing attachments: This is about protecting yourself from accidents by turning off the power while changing attachments on your tool. It takes just a second but could save you hours (or even years) later if there is ever an accident with this tool in your hand.

What Is the Correct Polishing Technique?

The correct polishing technique requires patience and focus. Work slowly and steadily until you’ve polished out a certain area. Don’t worry about what other areas look like right now – you can go back to them later if necessary. Most of all, remember that it takes time to polish out deep swirls in the paint. If you try to polish them out in one session, the chances are that your final result will be poor and inconsistent.

5 Things to Know Before Starting Buffing

If you’re reading, can you use a polisher as a sander and still aren’t sure how it works or how to use it, don’t worry, we can help. But before we start talking about polishers in general and different sanding pads in particular, there are some important details to consider:

1) Different materials require different types of tools. 

2) Different abrasives and polishes create different finishes.

3) Prepping is just as important, if not more so, than buffing.

4) Invest in good tools (not all of them are expensive).

5) Knowledge is power! Before attempting any do-it-yourself project, learn how to wield your weapon.


Do you have questions about Can You Use a Polisher as a Sander? You’re not alone! The Answer to Your Most Frequently Asked Question

1: Can you use an orbital sander as a buffer?

Before using an orbital sander as a buffer, it’s important to understand why you shouldn’t and how to avoid temptation. Using an orbital sander as a buffer is bad for two reasons: It exposes your flooring material (such as hardwood) directly to potentially damaging heat and risks marring or burning through your finish.

2: Can an orbital sander be used for polishing?

It is possible to use an orbital sander in polishing operations. However, you may find that using a random orbit sander for polishing is not practical or easy because of some important differences between sanding and polishing. For example, sanders are designed for fast removal of material, so when used for polishing, they tend to leave scratches.

3: Can you buff with an orbital sander?

Yes, it is possible. This is often used on door frames and similar curved surfaces where you need to maintain an even stroke. However, it can be difficult because you cannot control how fast you go with these machines. They’re very powerful and quickly wear down your workpiece if you’re not careful! If you decide to use an orbital sander instead of a polisher, start with slow strokes and gradually increase speed until you’ve reached your goal.

4: What other applications can I use my polisher for?

There are many applications that you can use your polisher for. Typically, most people will apply it to using something like a buffer. This is what most people assume it would be used for. However, you could also use it in more professional settings, such as when buffing concrete floors or marble countertops.

5: How do I choose the right pad for the job?

There are tons of different options for sanding pads. When trying to decide which one is right for your needs, it’s important to consider what sort of job you’re tackling and whether it will require pressure from above (e.g., an orbital sander) or horizontal pressure (e.g., a stationary belt sander). At first glance, pad thickness may seem one of your most straightforward considerations, but it’s not nearly as simple as comparing differences in foam density.

6: What grits are used on a dual-action polisher?

First, if you want to do some wet sanding with micromesh pads, you’ll need between 1500-2500 grit paper. I recommend beginners start with an orange or brown pad and do most of their work at 2000-2500 grit. If they’re working over paint, they can finish by doing some hand sanding with an orange pad (make sure it’s fully cured!) or even use a machine at 3500 grit.


While there’s no doubt that you can use a polisher as a sander, it’s important to remember that not all buffers are created equal. Knowing what you need your buffer for and purchasing accordingly is vital. If you only want to work on smaller items, you might want to opt for an orbital or pad-style polisher. If you plan on tackling larger surfaces, it will be more convenient to use an orbital air sander instead of switching between machines.

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Why Trust About Sanders?

When it comes to the world of sanding and sanders, you need a trusted source of information and guidance to ensure you achieve those perfect finishes. That's where I come in – I'm Martin, a dedicated sanding enthusiast with a relentless passion for attaining flawless surfaces. With years of hands-on experience in the sanding industry, I've honed my skills and expertise to provide you with the most reliable and accurate insights. What sets me apart is my commitment to excellence. I meticulously handpick each sander after rigorous testing, ensuring that only the best tools make it to your hands. My goal is to empower you with the knowledge and recommendations you need to tackle any sanding task confidently. When you trust About Sanders, you're putting your faith in a seasoned expert who shares your passion for perfection and strives to deliver top-notch information and reviews for every sanding challenge.

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