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How to use an orbital sander on cabinets like a pro?

use orbital sander on cabinets

If you choose to use an orbital sander on cabinets, then you’ll want to know how to use an orbital sander like a pro. Fortunately, even if you don’t have much experience with sanders, you can get the hang of it quickly.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to sand your cabinets so they look amazing in no time!

What are orbital sanders? An orbital sander is a powerful tool that artisans and DIY enthusiasts use to smooth rough surfaces of wood, stone, or other materials.

Steps to follow to use an orbital sander on cabinets

orbital sander on cabinets

Get your hands on one of these sanders, and you’ll be able to transform rough surfaces into something smooth and beautiful.

But, how do you know which one is right for you? That’s what we’re here for!

To help get your thoughts in order, we’ve put together a list of things to consider when choosing an orbital sander.

Once you decide what type of Sander is best for your project, it’s time to figure out how they work. 

Let’s look at three types of sanders: 

  • Disc-shaped
  • Pad-shaped
  • Belt-sanding machines

1. You will need to set up your work area

You will need some space for your work. An orbital sander is quite heavy, so make sure you have a large and sturdy work surface that you can use for your project.

If necessary, clear out an area in your garage or outdoor shed for all of your tools and equipment. A concrete floor is best, but any solid surface will do if it’s large enough to hold your sanding equipment.

2. Check that your Sander has a soft pad and not just one with paper attached:

Orbit sanders have different levels of speed settings. Depending on how you want to attack that spot, you can go higher or lower. It’s good practice, in general, to start with a slow speed and then increase it as needed.

This ensures you won’t burn through too much wood and make your project uneven over time. Ensure the backing pad is clean and not clogged up with dirt from previous projects.

Be careful when going over seams where the boards meet because this is where you are most likely to create dents.

If you find this happening, stop using the Sander for a few minutes and tap out any excess dust before continuing. Always keep the machine moving back and forth evenly across the surface rather than in just one direction.

3. Choose the right orbital sander for your project

There are a ton of orbital sanders out there, so it’s important to consider a few things before making your purchase.

First, think about what material you’ll use it on—is it wood? Steel? MDF (medium-density fiberboard)?

Does your Sander have enough power for what you need?

Be sure to read user reviews from both experts and other consumers. You can also ask friends or family members if they know anyone who owns one that would let you try it out before purchasing.

4. Always wear safety goggles and follow all safety precautions

If you’re going to sand away layers of your kitchen cabinetry, you must take all necessary safety precautions.

Start by wearing protective eyewear, especially if you have sensitive eyes or wear contacts; we recommend glasses with side shields that meet ANSI Z87.1-2010 standards (look for Z87+).

It would be best if you also protected your lungs by wearing an N95 or better particulate respirator mask rated at 99 percent efficiency against solid and liquid aerosols (and approved by NIOSH).

Do a full face shield whenever possible. Sanding could generate large particles in addition to dust, so eye protection and respiratory protection go hand in hand when using orbital sanders.

5. Enjoy yourself!

The most important part of any project is that you enjoy yourself. If you don’t like what you are doing, your quality will suffer, which is never acceptable.

If at any point you find yourself not enjoying it, then stop. There will be other projects. There will be another chance!

Your job isn’t worth ruining your happiness over it, and that is certainly true if someone else is paying for it – if they don’t care about your happiness, then they shouldn’t be paying for it, in my opinion.

To have the right mindset, I recommend getting as excited as possible before starting. Turn up some music and get ready to rock out because this will be so much fun!

Things to Consider before using an orbital sander on Cabinets

  • Cost: You first need to determine how much your project will cost and how long it will take you to complete it. 
  • Orbit movement: Make sure that the machine’s orbit moves smoothly. If it doesn’t, there are likely loose parts somewhere just waiting to fly off into somebody’s eye socket. – Choose a model with an adjustable speed setting so you can tailor the output to suit different needs. 
  • Noise level: It is another important thing to consider when choosing the best orbital Sander for cabinets. You’ll want one that emits as little noise as possible because having this type of equipment running in your home will create quite a racket if you’re not careful. 
  • Installation Space: Be aware of where you plan on storing the equipment because many models require permanent installation space. In contrast, others have foldable stands which allow them to be stored out of sight under furniture or behind doors until they’re needed again.
  • Electric Version: Another consideration is whether or not you want an electric version, which operates through corded power and an extension cord, or a battery-operated version that can be brought anywhere around the house without wires trailing after it (not ideal if there are many outlets). 
use orbital sander on cabinets
  • Battery: Battery-powered ones tend to be smaller, lighter, and more portable than their electrical counterparts. But the downside is that they only work when charged up and don’t produce nearly as much power as an electrical one. Electric versions produce more noise than their battery-powered cousins but offer greater convenience because of their extended operating range. 
  • Check out reviews: When it comes time to purchase the best orbital Sander for cabinets, always check out reviews online before purchasing anything blindly—this will give you an idea about its quality based on other people’s experience with the product before buying it yourself 
  • Customer Feedback: Look for something with a good amount of customer feedback. Pay attention to reviews about problems customers encountered during the use of the item, as well as how well customer service handled these problems 
  • Size and Weight: Other things to consider when shopping for orbital sanders are size and weight; you’ll want something that won’t be too bulky to carry from place to place. Also, make sure the orbital Sander you choose has a dust collector to help avoid overloading your vacuum cleaner.

You can also check out our other related article Air Orbital Sander Not Spinning:

4 Reasons to use an orbital sander on cabinets:

use an orbital sander on cabinets

Orbital sanders are commonly used in cabinet making and finishing because they allow for fine sanding. 

Nooks and Crannies

They do an excellent job of getting into nooks and crannies. And because they don’t require contact with your work, you have much more control over what you are doing. The large spinning pad means you will probably be using it for heavy-duty projects, so you need one that can handle that extra force. It is also important to look at the speed settings as some orbitals only have a few settings while others have many. 

Weight & Size

The tool’s weight is also important if you are working overhead or upside down, which is likely when sanding cabinets. Finally, the pad size needs to match the size of your project; if you want to get into corners or tight spaces, buy an orbital with a smaller pad or purchase additional pads separately. 

Design of the tool: 

Whether it has a pistol grip or not, how comfortable it feels in your hand, how well-balanced it is, etc. As well as power source: corded vs. battery-powered and whether you want to go cordless. Some features like this might seem small but can affect how comfortable and efficient you are during long periods of standing. 

Pistol grip

Some orbits come with a pistol grip, making them easier to hold without tiring out your wrist. Others may come with variable speeds and two types of sanding surfaces (coarse and fine). Find the perfect balance between power, design, comfortability, and efficiency before purchasing your orbital Sander.

Types of orbital sanders

There are several different types of orbital sanders, and choosing one comes down to what type of finish you want for your cabinet and what area you need to get rid of that finish. The most basic type is a handheld version, which will give you smooth surfaces but doesn’t have much power behind it and isn’t ideal for bigger jobs. However, it might be all you need if you’re doing a small spot.

1) Disc-shaped

An orbital sander looks similar to a traditional handheld cabinet sanding and refinishing cabinet block but has a hole in its center that creates dust swirls. This allows for more surface area coverage and minimizes sanding time. They’re available at most hardware stores, and you can choose from handheld or disc-shaped versions. Most home improvement stores also offer free in-store workshops where you can learn how to make quick work of your project. Just be sure to reserve ahead so they can coordinate with other attendees.

2) Pad-shaped

An orbital sander is shaped like a small pad for cabinet sanding. It uses two discs attached to its center that spin at high speeds, causing friction with whatever surface you’re sanding and removing any bumps and scratches from it. The discs move in orbits around one another but don’t travel around one another. If you want more information about using an orbital sander, keep reading! We’ll help you master your sanding tasks quickly and efficiently.

3) Belt-sanding machines.

There are several variations of belt-sanding machines, including drum sanders and disc sanders. Drum sanders spin a wide sheet of paper or cloth wrapped around a rotating cylinder; disc sanders have small abrasive pads that rotate against each other to scrape away layers from whatever you’re working on. The question you have to ask yourself when buying one is what project(s) you’ll be using it for or if you’ll be using it at all.

4 Advantages of Orbital Sanders for Cabinets

use orbital sander on cabinets
  • One of their biggest benefits when comparing orbital sanders to random-orbit sanders is that they will not leave swirl marks on your surface. Random-orbit sanders vibrate in several directions, meaning they can create an uneven texture. Because orbital sanders only vibrate in a single direction, you can create a smooth finish without creating swirl marks. 
  • Your surface will be incredibly smooth and even. Additionally, use an orbital sander for large projects such as furniture restoration or cabinet refinishing. You can easily apply heavy pressure and still not worry about gouging or damaging your surface. 
  • Random-orbit sanders require care when applying too much pressure because they can easily damage surfaces if used incorrectly. However, this is not the case with orbital sanders.
  • They produce more dust than other sanding machines, which means more clean-up afterward. It would help if you kept moving the machine back and forth at all times so that you don’t miss any spots, which can be time-consuming. These machines wear out quicker than other sanding machines, so they may need replacing sooner than anticipated.

6 Disadvantages of Orbital Sanders

  • The main drawback of orbital sanders is that they tend to be slightly less powerful than belt sanders, meaning they can be used for some types of woodworking tasks but not others. Also, if you have large spaces to cover with fine-grit sandpaper, you may need several sheets to complete each project. 
  • Belt sanders cover more surface area at once and, as such, can reduce paper usage by as much as 50 percent. Whether that makes up for their extra strength depends largely on your personal preferences and needs; if you’re doing small home improvement projects or simple furniture refinishing jobs, an orbital sander may do just fine. 
  • For anything bigger, it’s best to invest in a belt sander. You also need to be careful about the type of orbital Sander you purchase because there are many different sizes, speeds, power levels, and features available. Some have a smaller circumference, which means the power of the machine will go through them faster, so make sure you’re buying one that suits your needs. 
  • Another thing is whether or not you want a benchtop or portable unit–benchtop units typically have better dust collection capabilities. And remember: You’ll need to replace any sandpaper every few months, depending on how often you use it.
use orbital sander on cabinets
  • If you’re not interested in heavy-duty industrial applications and only plan on working on small items, then something with a lower amperage rating should suffice. If you need something for larger surfaces or tougher jobs, consider investing in a heavier-duty model with more horsepower (though these cost significantly more). 
  • It also pays to read reviews carefully before making your decision–some models have design flaws that can prevent them from reaching their full potential. In contrast, others won’t meet all of your expectations no matter what.


Get the answer to your questions.

How do I get my orbital Sander into hard-to-reach places?

If you’re having trouble reaching certain parts of your cabinet with your Sander, there are some helpful solutions. A quick Google search will present many different types of sanding dust catchers that can be attached to your power tool to maximize efficiency while still allowing you access.

What is the best Sander for finishing cabinets?

The best orbital Sander for finishing cabinets is one that can handle both large and small projects. In other words, look for something powerful enough to take care of big jobs (like sanding down entire walls) but easy enough to use with precision, so you can also get into those tight corners.

How do you sand kitchen cabinets?

Sanding wood is messy and time-consuming. While sanding by hand will give you control over how smooth your cabinets feel, it’s not practical if you work with several cabinets or have limited time. Orbital sanders remove material quickly and can reduce your sanding time from hours to minutes. 


The best thing about using an orbital sander is that you get much more accuracy and control. This means you can safely sand up to the edges without worrying about removing too much wood.

Plus, since they have smaller pads that don’t have bumps, they are great for removing scratches. And because they move quickly over surfaces, you won’t spend all day sanding small areas when it comes time to refinish your cabinet doors or drawers.

You should also try and invest in one of higher quality if possible, as these will last much longer than cheaper models and perform better.

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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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