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I like to do a lot of the little jobs around the house, no, not 'those' little jobs, I leave that up to the dog. I mean those little DIY jobs that crop up every so often. Those jobs that the so called 'trades people' seem to find charging a small fortune to do the same job so funny.
To do that job I like to have the right tools, be it a screwdriver, a hammer, or those more powerful tools that plug into the mains and could drag you along the floor if you let them get away from you. At the end of the day if you have the right tool for the job then that job is a whole lot easier, making less hassles, less mess and less chance of ending up in your local A&E.
So, over the years, I have amassed rather a large, and may I say a fine, collection of tools of all ranges, hand, battery and mains, with some being for one particular type of works.
One of those tools that is designed for one particular type of job is a sander, as you can't use a sander to put up a shelf, although you can use the sander to smooth down the surface of course.
Anyway, one particular sander that can smooth the surface but can't put up the shelf is in fact not only a normal sander, it is in fact what they call an orbital sander, which doesn't mean that it goes into orbit. It means that it is a circular head sander instead of the standard rectangular head sanders that you normally see.
It is one of those orbit sanders that I am going to mention here. One that I have been using for a few months now, quite regularly, with the amount of work I have to do around my house, especially repairing the 'accidental damage that the kids cause. Thi sander is called the KA198 random orbital sander from the well known company called Black and Decker.
Before I go into the ins and out of my feeling towards this sander I firstly want to tell you a few of the facts and figures about it and what it looks like...
It's your normal orange and black colouring that you'd expect from the people at Black and Decker, with the black colouring covering the top section, a bit of the back handle and a ring around the middle, together with the dust bag area and the rubber section where the mains lead goes into sander.
The rest of the machine is that lovely orange colour so you really do know it's from Black and Decker.
It's a good size, being about 260 high by 130 deep and about 175mm wide, (this includes the dust extraction nozzle and the handle area, but not the dust extraction bag as that would add about another 150mm onto it too). The whole things weights in at a mere 2kgs, which is pretty good going to the power this gives.
It has a power kick of 13000 rpm, with no in between. By that I mean it goes from 0 to full power in a split second, or less.
On the top there is a black semi-soft rubber feeling section which is in the exact place for your palm to press down on when you're using this sander. There's also the same sort of textured grip on the handle so that you can get a sort of two prong sanding attack to smooth out that lollipop stick.
Just above this handle there is the mains lead that sticks out of the top so that it doesn't get in the way of the machine when it is doing what it is supposed to do.
Right at the front, nearer the top, and is just the right place to get to with your finger or even your thumb. This switch, or more, these two switches are simple to use, with one having a '0' on it, meaning off , and the other having an '1' on it meaning, yes you get it, meaning on.
There's no in between, no speed selection as it's a single speed machine so it's either on or off.
On the bottom there is the sanding sheet area, being a circular shape, hence the orbital name that this sander has, with this area taking those 125mm orbital sanding sheets.
'Technically', it has three places that you can hold in order to comfortably use this sander, with each area having a black soft rubber feel to make it easier to hold and feel more comfortable in the hand. Those areas are the top, for putting most pressure on the job at hand. Then there's the handle area, to give you more backwards and forwards action for those wider jobs. Finally, the third holding place, there's a black ring around the area just above the sander sheet area, just where the bottom of the sander begins to dome in on itself. This again is for getting more pressure on the job done but not as much as holding the top section.
You'll get used to which way you hold this the more you use it.
The sanding area has several extraction holes which allow the dust to be taken from the sanding area directly through to the extraction bag which is at the rear of the machine.
It has a good 2 metre plus mains lead and two soft grip areas where most hand pressure will be.
On the rear there is a rather handy bag extractor system, which is really a mouth shaped gap that helps suck the dust away as you sand that piece of lolli-stick. The good thing is that you can add a bag to this mouth or, if you really want to suck away the mess, you can attach the straight part of any standard size vacuum cleaner piping section.
Is it easy to use..?
Yes, it's a dream really and can take off either a thin layer of what you don't want to a bit of a thicker layer, smoothing away all the roughness to make that piece of wood as smooth as silk.
It's just a matter of slipping on a new sanding sheet, which is easy than putting on your under pantalooms, although don't be using these sanding sheets as under pantalooms as things my feels a little uncomfortable indeed.
Once it is attached, the sanding sheet, not your under crackers, you then plug the mains lead into the wall socket, take hold of the sander in one of the three black soft grip areas, flick the on switch, the one with the '1' on it, and away you go, you should be sanding away like a beaver with very short teeth.
When the dust is flying about you can then decide which method is best to keep the mess from getting in your eyes. Opting for the dust bag, the vacuum hose or, of you're like me, just let the dust make the mess and get the wife to clean up after you've finished.
That's it. It's as simple as that to use.
It is actually made easier to use with the three grip sections as they offer a different kind of pressure so that you can tackle different types of sanding jobs. The top one does allow you to get more pressure with the rear one giving you a chance to get at the wider jobs, such as large panels. Then there's the lower one which sort of lets you do both pressure and area work. If you get what I mean...
Firstly, I have to say that, to me, it looks like a weird looking kettle that would not look that out of place in s kitchen of the future, although I would not recommend trying to pour water into this as it may just damage the electrical components.
It's like the designers were looking at an orbital sander which was sat next to a sheet sander that was sat onto of a multi sander which had a hose pipe stuck up its rear end. Then, after a few glasses of port, and a lot of head scratching, they came up with this, which turned out to be one of the better sanders in the 'mid size' range.
The power button is in exactly the right spot, right on the top front of the machine, making it so easily accessible even in the most 'dustiest' of places. Depending on which soft grip area you're holding depends on whether you use your thumb or fingers to use the switch, but either way there's no struggle to do so.
As for the actual power. Well, the motor can take some serious hammering, being capable of sanding away for long period without fluffing once.
The rear handle is a good size, even my over sized hand can get through the opening between the bottom and top and grip around the handle itself comfortably enough, and with the soft feel there's really no worries about getting blisters or even cramp.
Changing the sanding pads is nice and easy, being as quick as pulling off a band aid and replacing it with a fresh, clean one. This is what Black and Decker call their Quick fit pad system, which really is quick, using the hook and loop method.
Talk about quick, although this depends on the sanding paper you have slipped onto the head of course, but this can rip through a rough surface in a matter of minutes, unless you hit a screw head, then there's trouble as the paper rips in places.
It does vibrate in the hand a little bit but that's what you'd expect from a sander of any type really, and as the grips are as comfortable as holding a rubber ball the vibrations as the motor spins around doesn't really make you feel as though you want to stop sanding.
The dust bag attachment isn't too bad, but it won't suck all the dust away if you haven't attached your vacuum cleaner hose to the end. Even then there does seem to be a small amount of sawdust floating about in the air, but as long as you wear a dust mask you shouldn't be breathing in any debris from your piece of art.
In all, if you want to smooth out those rough wooden surfaces that you're working on in order to create that perfect piece of work. Or even if you want to get rid of that 25 year old paint that seems to have become embedded on your skirting boards. Then you can't go wrong with this sander as it will happily chomp away at what ever you put in front of it.
It won't cut through wood, it won't shave off slices either. What it will do is gently shift the roughness from the area that this passes over without damaging anything underneath it.
So, how much will it cost to sand away those stubborn rough bits..?
It's as cheap as chips... (where on earth did that saying come from..? Answers on a post card please)... anyway, the cost of this orbital sander is about £50, give or take a fiver or so.
Is it worth the money..?
Yes, most definitely if you want a sander that can handle more than sanding a lollipop stick then this is well worth getting your hands on.
"The beauty of the Black & Decker KA198 Random Orbit Sander is that it will give your work a beautiful finish as the motion of the sander allows you to safely sand across the grain of the wood without leaving ""swirl"" marks. It's not just for wood - it's ideal for sanding/polishing metal PVC and paint on both flat and curved surfaces. The tool features multiple gripping areas for increased comfort and control when sanding while quick fit paper attachment makes for quick and easy sandpaper change."