bosh random orbital sanderEvery good woodworker knows that keeping your tools in good shape is paramount to good turning out good results. That is why we keep bits and blades sharp, why we make sure parts are installed correctly and why we do routine maintenance from time to time. And if you are like most other woodworkers, you will be doing most of that work yourself.
The latest tool to fail on me was my Bosch Random Orbital Sander. I love this little sander, it's quick, easy to use and it does a good job. I also happen to like the dust catcher actually works, despite the fact that I do almost all of my sanding out-of-doors to help cut down on the fine dust in my workshop.

It seems that in time, all tools will fail, wear out or cease to work, and in my case the hook and loop base of the sander all of a sudden stopped holding sanding discs. I knew right away what the problem was, the little plastic hooks that form the bottom of the base had become brittle over time and and many had probably broken off to the point that there were not enough working hooks to hold the loops in the sandpaper discs.

This sander is about 7 years old now and other than changing sanding discs and cleaning out the dust catcher from time to time, it has given me hundreds of hours of use, so it was time to do a bit of a re-furb on it ...

If you have a random orbital sander, there will come a time when the pad needs to be replaced and pretty well all of these types of sanders are the same. The pads  can wear out, but more than likely the hooks get brittle over time and break off, so it's time to replace the pads, which are readily available from any fine woodworking dealer.

While you are replacing the pad, now is a good time to give the sander a good cleaning as well. The first thing is to make sure you have a CORRECT replacement pad on hand before you begin the work.Regardless of the manufacturer, Makita, DeWalt, Porter-Cable, Craftsman or whatever brand you have, make sure you have the correct replacement part. AND - While you are getting the right part, also pick yourself up a small tube of thread locking compound, and it needs to be the BLUE version. Blue is designed to lock nuts and bolts on machinery where vibration is an issue, which of course it is on a random orbital sander.

The only thing you need to do to get stated is to remove the old sanding pad, and very likely there will be some sort of a special bolt that is holding the pad to the router. In my case, the bolt needed an Allen Wrench. Some sanders have a locking pin device while others, you simply need to hold the pad with your hand and twist out the bolt that is holding the pad on. I does take a bit of force, but it will come off.

It is very likely that they manufacturer has used some sort o a bolt locking fluid to help make sure the bolt will not wiggle loose on it's own with constant use.

One you have located and removed the bold from the bottom of the sander, the pad should come off in your hands. If not, look for something that is holding or catching the pad.

BEFORE you install the new pad, check to make sure it is exactly like the pad you just took off. They should exactly the same, if not double check to make sure you have the correct version ... there can be many to choose from with some manufacturers. The next thing to do BEFORE installing the pad is to thoroughly clean the sander. You will need to remove the dust collection feature if it is installed.

Using an old tooth brush to clean the sander, particularly the the fanning mechanism underside is a good idea. Although there is not a lot of dust coming off during the cleaning, it is still best to do all of this out doors, if possible.

Remove the dust collector and unless it has a special clean-out technique, you will probably need to clean it by simply lightly bumping it with a piece of wood to dislodge the impacted sawdust inside. Tapping on all sides of the dust collector should do the trcik for that. DO NOT use your air compressor to clean your sander until almost all of the dust has been removed by hand AND you are now out doors with a good quality dust and face mask. Blow-back of fine dust particles should not be inhaled as this can pose a health risk over time.

Once you are satisfied that the sander is clean, now is the time to install the new pad. It basically goes on opposite of the the way you took off the old pad.

CHECK the instructions of your thread locking compound for any application instructions before you proceed.

You may need to check the thread orientation of the bolt BEFORE you try fitting the new pad. I understand some versions of some random orbitals use reverse thread.

When you are happy the new pad is ready to go on, simply install with finger tight pressure on the pad, or with the locking pin if your sander has this, then tighten the bolt until you are satisfied it is firmly attached.

And with that, your sander just needs a new sanding disc to test it out and it should be almost like new again and ready to give you more sanding time. Changing sanding pads is pretty easy, but it does help to give a woodworker more confidence in maintaining their power and hand tools, and the rewards of using them after they have been cleaned up and sharpened, is worth the effort.

Copyright - Colin Knecht