So, I plan on dabbling with a little shaping this winter and spring. Last week, I patched up and repaired almost every board in my quiver that had dings and issues. Everything is water tight, but I need to sand off a ton of excess resin/glass etc.... So, I am planning to buy a power sander... Initially, it will just be for sanding down the repairs I have already done... But eventually, I will be using it for more heavy duty shaping....
As a beginning shaper, making one board at a time, can I get away with having just a little one like this:
I'll go from an artistic point of view since shaping is an art form. If the sander feels right for your hand then its the right one. The sander is an extension of your hand. A smaller one will allow you to shape the contours as you feel them and see them.
That one looks good to me especially for smaller repairs. The sander is just for the flats mostly and maybe carefully over the rails. Most sanding on the rails is done by hand other than the initial tapping with the sander. A polisher with sanding pad works best of all. Use the polisher for sanding down the hotcoat on a full board and sanding/polishing the gloss coat. With that little thing it will take forever (just like mine always do).
I 2nd what Zippy said, just make sure the sander/polisher has variable speed that lets you keep the rpm's low. The many rpm's is not a good thing, it creates a lot of heat and can burn thru real easy. Just keep things moving. My Milwaulkee 5540 is an amazing sander/polisher but too heavy for me. Post some pics. when you get some boards done.
1. Variable speed is key 1,000 - 3,000 rpm range. I rarely go over 3000 as you can burn through real quick
2. You get what you pay for. The cheap harbor freight sanders have horrible bearings that wobble and do not sand true. Also they are too light in my opinion, you want a heavier sander. Let the weight to do the work. You shouldn't have to push down on a sander.
3. The sanding pad you use is critical. They come in different sizes and densities for all aspects of sanding boards. Powerpads are best. You can get a 6" diameter / Medium density to start with and it will do the job nicely.
Also, go slow, keep the pad flat, keep the pad moving tip to tail, and use cloth backed sandpaper with 3M super 77 to glue it on.
IMO thats NOT the kind of sander you want for shaping boards. Those sanders vibrate, and you want something that spins. Those little orbital sanders are great for small repairs but dont really cut it for sanding out a hotcoat, which is 95% of the sanding you do in glassing a board. You would burn the motor of that little tool in no time sanding out a board
Look for something like this that spins and like the others said VARIABLE SPEED:
I highly recommend that you use a ROS that has a round pad, rather than square. I've seen them on E-Bay and such for about $50. It's a powerful tool that can get you where you need to be anywhere on a surfboard, from grinding down fin plugs, to sanding down repairs, to mowing through lumpy hotcoats. Get the good Norton 5/8 hole hook and loop disks in different grits, from 50 up to 150 or 220 and your good to go.
But once you get serious, you'll need to go to a bigger, heavier tool as already described. I have a Porter Cable that's the bomb.
I been fixing dings and making boards for a while and when it comes to my tools I always try to buy the best quality at reasonable prices. Greenlight has the right perspective here...you get what you pay for. A friend of mine who was at the same point as you bought a harbour freight grinder/polisher...it worked, but I think that the trigger action (it is a clicking trigger) was totally problematic--interfered with feathering and other techniques that I found are easier on other tools. Also, the quality of the tool was very low...you get what you pay for right? However, the fact of the matter is that this tool will serve you in dual capacities: dings and shaping (nt., realistically I have only seen a few guys successfully use a sander for shaping...he used it for just foiling out the nose...I couldn't image doing it like that...too many variables...). If you decide that shpaing is not your deal...then you will have a quality tool to serve you for a long time. Similar to waterlogged, I have a Milwaukee 5540. Sucker is a beast and I have sanded hundreds and hundreds of dings...despite all the snading dust, foam, etc., it still cranks just like it did when new...I dropped it off of tables, shaping stands, etc. and the thing still just hangs in there... However, It is heavy and after working with it for 2-3 hrs. it sometimes causes me terrible pain (tendinitis). However, there are others out there too...I know for a fact that Brian Wynn uses a makita for shaping--can't remember which one... But my $.02...I'm with Greenlight on this...a quality tool and a sanding pad will have multiple uses and applications for what you are looking for...