How To Refinish Your Hardwood Floors: Sanding With The Random Orbital Sander

We continue our ongoing series with some instructions pertaining to the orbital sander. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

I believe that this is arguably the most important part of the whole process. At this point your floor should be completely sanded and have no finish remaining besides the small corners of the room which the edger did not reach. Your floor should have a distinctive line where the big machine was sanded and turned around to sand the other direction, as well as the edges being distinctively different from where you had run your edger. We must take care of all these areas before we begin our final sanding with the buffer.

To do this, take your Random Orbit Sander, whichever one it may be, and attach to it a sheet of 80 grit hook and loop sanding paper. We must sand with the Random Orbit sander the last grit that we left off with on our belt sander and edge sander. Start by doing the entire perimeter of the floor. You will need to randomly orbit every single spot that you edged. Having a nice bright halogen lamp is VERY helpful in this situation, it will highlight any edger marks and “swirls”. You must run the random orbit sander over these swirls to get rid of them around the entirety of the room. Anything you do not take out with this sanding pass WILL show up in your floor after it is completed so be sure to take extra time on this step. Next you will need to find your “Connecting Line” of where you sanded the belt sander in one direction and then turned around to start sanding the other side of the room. This should leave a very distinctive line, take the time to also run the Random Orbital Sander over this line until it is no longer visible. Attached are two pictures of what you should be looking for in both areas while doing this. 

random orbit sander
random orbit sander

Once you finish with the random orbit sander, be sure to clean the machine and pack it away safety as you will no longer be needing it. Before we begin buffing the floor for our final sanding pass, you may have noticed the corners still have finish on them and they are not sanded! They should look something like this:

finished orbit sander
 Hand Scrape Tool

Hand Scrape Tool

To get these corners looking like the rest of the floor, we have two options as discussed in prior chapters. We can either A) Scrap the corner or B) Use a multi-master dremel tool. Scraping is an old technique that requires constant sharping of the blade and can be very dangerous so attempt with caution.  It is pretty self-explanatory, pull the scraper across the corner going WITH the grain until you have removed all of the finish, be sure to hand sand the corner lightly with 80 grit sandpaper to blend the rest of the floor well with it.

Another option is our multi-master Dremel tool. This is also very self-explanatory and much easier on the hands. You do not run the risk of cutting a finger while using this machine! Simply stick some 80 grit sandpaper to the triangular head of the sander and sand the corner until all of the finish is removed just like the rest of the floor.

 Dremel Tool

Dremel Tool