Review and photos by Andrew Potocnik
Marketed in the US as either ‘sanding mops’ or ‘preassembled sanding mops’ (PASM), these sanding attachments have been retitled ‘Uni-Sanders’ for our market. They can be used on wood, steel, aluminium and stainless steel and come in 80, 120, 180 and 220 abrasive grits in each of the sizes available. I received 50mm, 100mm and 150mm
Uni-sanders (the larger two of these were 50mm wide) all of which arrived shrink wrapped. A Uni-Sander straight out of the pack may measure 70mm but expands to 120mm once ‘broken in’, so it would be good if each item was labelled with eventual size and grit. Each grit is colour coded but those I received were all of the same colour, which made grit identification a little awkward, especially as ‘breaking in’ takes some sharpness off the strands of abrasive.
Put to use these sanders worked beyond expectation. Breaking in each on a piece of redgum took away a lot of wood and divided the tight strands into separated curls of abrasive, almost like a flapwheel, ready to find its way into crevices and tight spots most other sanding implements wouldn’t be able to access.
I tested each sander via a Jacob’s chuck fitted to the spindle of my lathe. You could fit it into any other machine that has a chuck, providing it is able to grip the 6mm shaft of the larger sanders, or the 3mm shaft of the 50mm sander. A vertical drill could do this as may a flexible drive. Uni-Sanders can also be used on Sand Flee drum sanders.
Once fitted and ready to go, it’s good to have an efficient dust extractor and air filtration system on hand as these sanders remove lots of wood quickly. They get into tight spots, depending on the size you use; however, don’t think the larger ones are stiff – the stripped and curled ‘tentacles’ wrap themselves around sharp angles and expand to flick back into some pretty tight spaces, all without strain on the wood you’re sanding. These sanders are not difficult to work with, even though they can remove some serious quantities of wood!
I was able to quickly sand off high points of a burl, rounding over sharp edges that led into voids and make all surfaces flow. Woodcarvers will love these sanders for shaping and sanding freeflowing forms, whether convex or concave, either way these sanders mould to contours without catching and causing undue pressure on the operator.
The smaller 50mm diameter sander obviously enables access to tighter voids and with its 3mm shaft can be fitted to a flex drive or a Foredom or Dremel-type machine. I did try the larger diameter sanders in a flex drive expecting them to catch but they didn’t. It would however be advisable to attach wood you’re sanding firmly to a solid surface so two hands could be used to hold and control the flex drive. Likewise, you could grip the sanders in a power or cordless drill.
Testing these Uni-Sanders in a variety of situations and materials, including mild steel and aluminium, I found them to be very versatile in shaping and smoothing a variety of forms, concave or convex. They mould around curved surfaces and reach into tight spaces leaving few sanding scratches irrespective of grit (even 80 grit), due to the curly configuration of the strands. This is a tool I’m very happy to add to my arsenal.
Available from Woodcraft Supplies (07) 4129 4644, www.woodcraftsupplies.com.au
This review is republished from Wood Review issue 84.