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The gift of true love...
My Bosch sander has recently been put into semi-retirement - To my dismay I've finally overdone it with too much over-enthusiastic, over-ambitious sanding tasks. I love a bit of amateur diy - minor jobs - and sanding is one of my favourite tasks. Hence this may have been seen by some as an odd gift of love from my partner a couple of years ago, but to me he couldn't have bought me anything better!
Design, Ergonomics & Spec-y bits
The first thing was that I loved the design - it just looks so neat and tidy. It's rounded, resembling a "mouse" in shape, but fairly chunky, and ergonomically designed. My concern, however was that being a power tool it would be designed with mens' hands in mind so it could be too big for me to use. I have to say, it wasn't perfect for me, but nevertheless it was definitely not too big to use, they have been careful in their sums at the design stage. It did give me cramp in my hands when I used it for long periods of time, although that isn't really what it's designed for, as we'll see later!
Your hand sits over the handle and body in a comfortable and comfortingly reassuring grip and the on-off switch is conveniently positioned at the top towards the front. The switch clicks into the on position and stays on, so you can concentrate on controlling the sander, not holding a switch down. The main grip area is also topped in rubber for an extra secure grip.
It works brilliantly without excessive vibration and very little noise. At the back is a dust collector which is effective in normal workload although I always found it a little tricky to get off, so needed to be standing squarely over the bin when emptying. It has a generous length power cable, its power is 80W and it weighs 900g. It's currently selling for around £40 at Screwfix and £35 on Amazon, and replacement sheets can be picked up as a large pack for a few pounds at local diy stores.
The sander comes with a "starter pack" of sheets. The sheets are shaped to fit the base and whilst they are a single sheet, they are perforated so the front triangular tip can be separated from the rear half. Initially I couldn't see the point of this, but it means that you get more value from your sanding sheets. For most detail jobs I found that the very tip of the mouse was getting the most use and the sheets would wear there quickly - so a quick tear-off, a 60 degree turn, a refix and you had a new area of hardly worn sheet to work with. The sheets are fixed with a Velcro-type fixing, nice and securely - I never ever had a problem of any sheets coming away or slipping with this design, and that includes using non-Bosch branded sheets for the job.
Happy sanding times...
By far my favourite application for sanding is finishing jobs - rubbing down edges of sawn wood and sanding doors down. This mouse was perfect for getting into corners of window cills and mouldings on doors.
And now the weepy bit...
My downfall came when I decided I would try to save myself the cost of a replaster of my bedroom - I stripped the walls and bought some filler. I filled the (ample) gaps and uneven bits and sanded. Then filled again. And sanded. And again. And sanded. And so on and so on. My problem is not knowing when I'm beaten. Unfortunately I was beaten when my sander gave up the ghost. Enough was finally enough and the fixing plate (Velcro bit) started to come away from the body of the tool. Not only did that decision cost me nearly a hundred pounds in filler, it also cost me my beloved sander and the cost of a plasterer in the end anyway.
This sander is NOT designed for that type of job, and it was a big error of judgement to tackle such a large scale job with this totally incorrect tool. It doesn't say anywhere what type of jobs this should be used for but common sense would tell an averagely sensible person (!) that an 80W sander was not the correct tool for such a major and large-scale task. In view of what I put it through, I actually consider it to be a really robust piece of kit and in hindsight it coped a lot better than it really should have!
Respect your tool!
This is a brilliant tool when used correctly, it's an excellent design which has been well thought through and well executed. It comes in its own rigid plastic power tool case which will live on long after it's contents have left us. It does still work, although the jobs take more time because I need to be much more careful and exercise a lot more control, but I will hopefully replace it very soon, and promise to give it the respect it deserves!!
I've a bit of a thing for DIY, mainly due to the fact that I begrudged paying a wedge of cash to a fat bloke who turns up at my house, hisses through clenched teeth then tells me that he can't start the job until next Thursday as his wife's uncles, sisters, mates, dogs owner has two bunions on her left toes and needs a lift to Asda. But he'll still have to charge me a bundle for what he called a 'call out fee', whinging that he had to drive through the rush hour traffic to get here, although deep down the truth is that he has to miss his third helping of fried bread, (you know who you are? With your YMCA moustache and a body odour that would keep rats at bay). Grrrrrrr.
Anyway, (now I've calmed down), after this sort of situation sort of kept happening, (although not all workmen are fat blokes may I add), I decided that if a job needed doing I'd do it myself. And since then I've been doing exactly that, doing it myself, and over the years I have amassed quite a nice collection of tools, both manual and powered, some good and some not so good... but at the end of the day, it's all trial and error until you find the right tools for the job at hand.
One particular type of tool I tend to use, more for finishing wood work than anything else, is a tool they call 'sanders', which are designed to gently, or roughly, take a fraction of a layer off the tops of wood in order to make the wood as smooth as possible.
There are many different types of 'sanders' on the market, electrical ones where you plug it in to that mains, and even battery operated ones which hold fewer restrictions, and they come in all shapes and sizes, each one with their own selection of power. In fact, for the more manual of person, there's even the good old sanding block, which, as the name suggests, is a block which you wrap a piece of sandpaper around and manually sand off the wood until it's smooth. ( I tend to use this method on small jobs as it can be arm aching after a while).
Anyway, back to the automatic 'sanders' in hand, with a certain mains sander that I have owned, and been using for quite some time now, and it comes with a brand name that most people will know. That name is Bosch and this lovely little sanding machine I am going to tell you about now is the Bosch PSM 80 A - Multi Sander.
Firstly, I always like to begin with a bit about what things look like, so here goes...
This little sander, and I mean little, is shaped a bit like one of those new fangled helmets that those cyclist or bob-sleigher's wear in order to be more streamline when racing around at the speed of light, only this is a lot smaller, small enough to to be gripped in one hand without any trouble at all, but it looks like the helmets anyway. Although it could look like a small travel iron, if you look at it from a different angle.
It weighs in at a mere 800 grams and measure about 200mm long, (from it's pointiest bit to the end of the rear section), by a mere110mm wide, (at it's widest part), and about 120mm high, up to the lovely soft grip handle, with a sanding area of about 104 cm2, being
The on/off switch is right at the front, in a position so that your finger can activate it whilst holding the sander in one hand, without having to become a contortionist to do get this one going. All you do is slide the red button forwards, or down as it actual goes down the front of the sander, the to turn if off you pull the switch back up, again this can easily be done with your finger.
The sanding pads on the bottom of the sander are split into two parts, a rectangular one at the rear, which is fixed, and a triangular one at the front, which can be turned around.
Then there's the filter container, which is housed at the rear of this machine. This takes the small particles of dust and sucks most of them from the area you're working and into the removable dust container ready to be emptied into a bin.
Initially though this dust container was a little bit hard to open, but after a few times it soon loosened up and now takes a matter of seconds to empty.
So that's about it's looks, what about its performance..?
It comes with around a 2 metre mains cable which sticks out of the back like a tail and is long enough for getting to a nearby plug socket, but there's always an extension lead if needs be. And with it having 80 watts of power it designed more for the smaller jobs rather than finishing off all the doors in your house, although there's nothing stopping you from actually using it on the doors of course. It's your choice.
The sanding pads are small yet very versatile, as the front ones can be turned around so that they last three times longer, although the rear, smaller' pads are 'fixed' but they still 'vibrate' as much as the front ones.
The sanding pads themselves are more 'stuck' onto the bottom of this sander, rather than being 'trapped' by grips or the like, with the help of a hook and eye, (or better known as Velcro), fitting feature and the fact that each sanding pad can be turned around, with three corners of the triangular pad being at the front on each turn, it saves a bit of money when buying new pads.
Then there's the filter unit which can hold quite a bit of 'dust', but when it's full it's just a matter of sliding the container out of the rear of the sander, emptying the 'dust' into a bin, giving the filter, which is inside the container, a bit of a brush over to get rid of any excess dust, then slot the lot back together. This is achieved by the 'dust' being 'sucked' through the little holes in the sanding pads and being dragged into the container where the filter keep it there.
This is one nice little tool which has spent many hours in my hand doing what it's designed to do, smooth down any wood that I've just cut or that feels very rough when I touch it.
For the bigger jobs I tend to use a larger sander, which takes less time to complete the job, but if a job needs that fine sanding, with some corners that you just can get at with the larger sanders, or even sanding blocks, then this triangular shaped sander is there for the job, doing a cracking job without any trouble at all.
As you'd guess, with most modern Bosch equipment this one is designed so that the user, (you and I) can use it without any trouble at all, with its comfortable soft grip for both one handed and two handed use. And it's this soft grip that makes this so simple to use without any real loss of feeling in my hand, even when it is vibrating as it does its stuff.
I really do like the marvellous little addition to this sander that sets it out above some of the other sanders of it's size, that is the rather useful little micro filter dust collection unit which is at the rear of the machine, which manages to grab quite a bit of the sanding 'dust' that the pads stir up.
It may look a little funny, in a sander sort of way, but it certainly gets into most corners with the triangular point.
As for the sand paper itself, or sanding pads, these really do grip on firm with the hook and eye system, which was a bit of a surprise to me as I have expecting them to fall off at the first hurdle, but then again, I'm used to the old fashioned sanders that have those big chunky ways of gripping the paper to the sander. In fact, as the front sanding block is shaped in a triangle fashion, it's great that it can be turned around three time when the front, or point, gets a little worn out. Thus, giving you three time more sanding than a standard sanding block.
As for the price, this nice little sander is on the market for between £40.00 and £50.00, which for what it can do is certainly well worth paying that little bit extra for, especially as it can really get into those nooks and crannies, so to speak.
Then there's the sanding pads, which come as a pair, one rectangle for the rear and the triangle for the front, which cost between £5 and £10, depending on the roughness, or grit as it's called, but as the pads last a long time under normal usage this is not too bad a price either.
Would I recommend this sander?
Yes I certainly would, even for the £50.00 price tag.
I know there are a few sanders which are a similar style to this one, with some having a well known name etched on the side, but this one seems to perform a little better than some of them, even though the price for this one is a little less than some others.
© Blissman70 2012
"Orbital Sanders Type: 1/4 Sheet / The Bosch PSM80A Palm Sander with Micro Filter is ideal for sanding and polishing, even in hard-to-reach areas and on small surfaces / Features include ; - 80 watt motor / - Integrated dust extraction - up to 80% of the dust is collected / - Oscillations 22,500 rpm / - Two-piece sanding plate: for optimum utilisation of the sanding paper / The delta tip of the sanding paper and of the sanding plate can be effortlessly detached and rotated / Technical specifications : Power input : 80 Watt / Sandi"