When using an orbit sander the vibrations often cause scratches and gouges on the bottom side of the piece from the surface it is resting on.

Also, even when I very carefully try to remove debris from the surface, sometimes something still gets under there and does a lot of damage.

What can I set a board on when machine sanding it to avoid marring the other side?

  • 2
    That stuff you line kitchen cabinets with.....
    – Matt
    Dec 21 '15 at 16:58
  • I more have a problem with dirt getting stuck on the pad and them my wood look like a child's Spirograph.
    – Matt
    Dec 21 '15 at 17:05

Clamps would be the way to go but I could see them being a hassle if you are trying to uniformly work the whole surface at once. If you get kitchen cabinet liners like these I would think they do the trick. They are also not a solid sheet so I would think less chance getting clogged with dust.

Traction cloth

Image from organizeit

Note that I am not trying to push the brand but the style of "sheet". One with holes in it. Not sure how well they stand up to dust and cleaning but they should stop your wood from moving too much and lifts if off the table away from dust. Not good against some larger slivers but those could be wiped off by hand first if need be.

  • Oh, I even have these laying around already. Great idea.
    – Jason C
    Dec 21 '15 at 17:23
  • Norm has used these, they must work! :-) Actually I use this very stuff to keep my oilstone boxes from shifting during sharpening and honing and they give an excellent grip, I imagine it would work well during orbital sanding.
    – Graphus
    Dec 22 '15 at 14:06
  • @Graphus.... Who is Norm?
    – Matt
    Dec 22 '15 at 14:24
  • Norm Abram (New Yankee Workshop).
    – Graphus
    Dec 22 '15 at 17:57
  • I have a version of these. they work well as long as you have a solid hold on the orbital sander and do not lift it while running. i even use it for light routing
    – simpleuser
    Dec 23 '15 at 23:55

You should clamp it still. You've said you can't get the worksurface clean (though you should try anyway), so even putting down some sort of covering material won't be perfect. How will depend on the workpiece. You could make a frame round it from scrap which itself is clamped to the bench (you may want to hold the workpiece into the frame with a bar clamp or straps).

If you're making something like a table top you may be able to screw into the workpiece where the screw holes will be hidden by the legs. I'm guessing your workpiece is lighter than this though -- most table tops wouldn't move under a handheld sander.

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