We now have three types of sanding machines, the original petrol engine backpack, the electric backpack and the electric “stick” machine.

The electric machines are lighter and so, in some respects, are easier to use.  The electric backpack compared with the electric “stick” is constrained by the length of the flexi-drive but the weight is carried on the backpack.  The “stick” machine is much more maneuverable,  and although not overly heavy, you will probably want to use it for 2-3 hour “bursts” at a time. It does come with a shoulder strap.

The tips for successfully using each machine are the same. The disc must be kept flat on the surface being sanded at all times.  If you inadvertently scuff the edge of the disc on the surface you will cause a “gouge ” mark.  You get these sort of mistakes with all types of stripping techniques – it is not the machine but the operator that causes the damage.  These gouge marks should not be sanded out as this will cause undulations on the boards.  Leave them, and when dry, prime the damaged area with an oil based primer and once the primer is dry, apply a good quality filler or even “high build” paint.  Sand and repeat if necessary.  Never use automotive body filler as this very quickly absorbs moisture, expands then falls out.


  • Make sure there is a good flow of water.
  • Always keep the disc flat of the surface being sanded – never work the disc on its outer edge.
  • Do not push too hard- let the machine do the work.

We recommend that you learn how to use the machine by starting with an Acrylic sanding 80# or 100# disc which will not cause any significant damage if you make a mistake while you get used to keeping the disc flat on the surface being sanded.

  • Hold the machine close to your body and “lock” your arms and the machine together, move the sanding head by swaying your body from the hips rather than swinging the machine with your arms like you would do with most dry sanders. This is essential in helping to keep the disc flat on the surface.
  • Use a sweeping motion swaying your hips to help keep the disc flat – do not “nibble” at the surface like when using an orbital sander.
  • Do not push hard on the surface being sanded – let the disc do the work.
  • All painted surfaces are different. You will need to experiment with different discs to see which ones work best.
Generally it takes about 15-30 minutes for a person with reasonable “hand – eye skills” to master the techniques required.