Innovative Sanders and Abrasives for Restoration and Refinishing

Published: 10/1/2014
By: Jerome Vernon
About the Author: Jerome Vernon is a software developer/project manager and an avid antiques enthusiast. When Jerome’s not busy creating business related software products for his clients he’s restoring antiques and writing articles for Restoration News.
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Innovative Sanders and Abrasives for Restoration and Refinishing

I recently posed a few question regarding abrasives and sanders to an antique furniture restoration group and found the responses strikingly diverse. For many restoration and finishing professionals, the use of abrasives is an intricate subject. Obviously, the first preference for restorers is to preserve. Restoration involves using original materials and techniques wherever possible to accomplish various non-destructive repairs, including restoration of the actual finish. On the other hand, refinishers are often faced with bringing a severely damaged item back to useful service. Refinishing involves finish removal, surface preparation and applying new coatings. Each of these scenarios requires a totally different approach with respect to abrasives.

Among the approximately 25,000 restoration/refinishing shops in the United States, many express concern about the utilization of abrasives and sanding equipment in their daily work. Some common issues related to both machine and hand sanding are excessive material removal, non-uniformity, introduction of unintended imperfections and exposure to harmful sanding dust. All of these issues tend to stem from the utilization of incorrect abrasives, inadequate equipment and improper usage technique.

Over the past several months I’ve been tasked to find the best sanders and abrasives available for antique and fine furniture restoration and refinishing. With literally hundreds of sanders and abrasive types produced by dozens of manufacturers, the task of sorting through all the features and functions has been challenging. However, one company did emerge as particularly innovative and unique.

The CEROS Sander

MIRKA’s revolutionary compact electric random orbital sanders and space-age abrasives offer dust-free sanding along with exceptional control. In fact, I believe MIRKA’s high tech and award winning approach has gained considerable attention and is currently leading future trends throughout the abrasives industry. Let take a closer look at a few of the features that make this sander and suite of abrasives so extraordinary.
  • Lightweight Ergonomic Design
  • Leading Edge Motor Technology
  • Dust Free Sanding
  • Innovative Abrasives

Lightweight Ergonomic Design
 MIRKA’s compact electric random orbital sanders combine 400 watts of power with precise adjustable speed control. Weighing in at about 2 pounds, it’s also among the lightest available. This, along with the ergonomic design, provides its operator with an exceptional level of control and comfort. With MIRKA CEROS there’s less fatigue and consistently better results.

Leading Edge Motor Technology
One of the most notable features is the motor itself. Being a brushless DC type, it provides distinct and fundamental advantages. Brushless DC motors provide unmatched dynamic response with precise speed and torque control. They also deliver far more power per frame size than traditional AC motors. This means that an amazing level of power along with precision control comfortably fits within the user’s palm. Additionally, brushless motors have fewer moving parts so they produce less noise and vibration while providing greater reliable and longer operating life.

Dust Free Sanding

You can’t buy a sander, pack of sandpaper or just about any other abrasive without noticing the health warnings on the packaging labels. Wood, being a plant, ranges from a mild allergen to totally toxic. In addition, after the volatile compounds evaporate from the coatings what remains is a toxic brew that should never be inhaled as dust particles. In recent years, MIRKA has come up with some ingenious products including the lightest weight compact sanders along with auto-start vacuums. MIRKA has also developed revolutionary abrasives that actually pull the dust particles directly through the abrasive material itself.  In fact, MIRKA’s ultra-modern “Net” abrasives far outlast traditional paperback abrasives while simultaneously protecting the health and safety of workers.

Innovative Abrasives
MIRKA is a long established leading manufacturer of abrasives offering customers a comprehensive suite of sanding solutions. Their innovative ‘Net’ sanding concept is unlike any other; consisting of a dense network of polyamide fabric threads onto which the abrasive grit is bonded. With thousands of holes they provide phenomenal dust extraction. Since dust is continuously being sucked away it’s always possible to see exactly what is happening at the sanding surface. This gives the user greater control over the job and avoids problems such as over sanding.

Now that we’ve had a chance to review just a few of the features,
let’s get to the workbench and take a closer look.
As you can see, there’s quite a bit to choose from so, we’ll start at the beginning…

Upon opening the MIRKA CEROS case you will notice the sander is divider in two parts; the sander itself and its companion power supply.

MIRKA CEROS has a powerful brushless DC motor and the power supply provides the DC voltage to run the sander. This keeps the sander lightweight and easy to control while delivering ample torque for the toughest of sanding tasks. The circular-locking power receptacle on the power supply keeps the sander from inadvertently detaching.

Aside from the sander, power supply and impact resistant case, you will also find some additional items; a generous sample of MIRKA’s high-tech abrasives, a package containing operating instructions, an instructional DVD, a full 3-year warranty and a wrench for removing/replacing the backing pad.

Here is lineup of MIRKA CEROS sanders versions with available orbit options:

  • 150mm (6”) sander with 2.5, 5 or 8mm orbit
  • 125mm (5”) sander with 5mm orbit
  • 77mm (3”) sander with 2.5mm orbit

I have both a 77mm sander and a 150mm sander with 5mm (3/16 inch) orbit. The 8mm orbit is primarily intended for coarse sanding while the 2.5mm orbit is well suited for fine sanding. I find that the 5mm orbit of the 150mm sander is perfect for all-around usage. The 2.5mm orbit of the 77mm sander provides incredible finish and control, particularly in smaller hard-to-reach locations.

Before getting any deeper into the features of the sander, let’s first take a quick look at the companion dust collector.

This MIRKA dust collector is equipped with an auto-start function. With the control knob set to the auto position, the sander automatically controls when the vacuum starts and stops. For auto-start mode, the MIRKA CEROS power supply plugs directly into the power receptacle located on the dust collector’s control panel.

When running in manual or automatic modes, the dust collector’s speed is fully adjustable. It’s also quite powerful; pulling 250 mbar of vacuum pressure along with an impressive 3700 liters-per-minute of air flow.

Inside are a thick fleece dust bag and a high-volume air filter. The vacuum hose connection is earthed to eliminate static electricity buildup within the hose.

On the rear of the dust collector there is a convenient location with several mounting studs for attaching the MIRKA CEROS power supply. This really comes in handy. Keep in mind that you should order the optional power supply mounting brackets along with your sander and dust collector.

The power cord on the sander is slightly longer then the dust extractor hose so the connection to both hose-port and power supply is neat and tidy. The dust collector’s heavy gauge power cord is 25 feet in length. 

Getting back to the sander; you’ll find a vacuum port for attaching the hose. The threaded port spins freely to tighten the hose securely to the sander. Optional hook-and-loop straps can be used to secure the power cord to the hose. This was my option. Along with my sanders I ordered two hoses and the optional strapping kits.

With the sander resting on its back, notice all the dust collection holes on the backing pad.  This backing pad has 52 holes for extremely efficient dust collection. Dust collection is particularly effective when combined with MIRKA’s extensive line of NET (mesh-type) abrasives. This is a significant feature that has clearly set MIRKA ahead of the competition. It’s also a feature that enables its operator to consistently achieve fine finishes in a highly efficient manner while avoiding mistakes such as over sanding.
Resting the sander on the backing pad reveals the pushbuttons, indicator light and paddle switch. The red pushbutton controls the power to the sander. With the power switch located on the power supply in the ON position; pressing the power control button will cause the indicator light to glow green. This indicates the sander is fully powered and ready for operation. Pressing the power control button again will cause the indicator to turn off and disables the sander.

The MIRKA CEROS features precision adjustable speed control. The + and – buttons control this functionality. By pressing the + or – button, the sanders maximum speed is set between 4000 to 10,000 RPM. The sander has 6 incremental maximum-speed-levels. Each time a speed control button is depressed, the indicator light will flash from green to red. The sander will remember its previous settings even when power is switched off. When unplugged from the remote power supply the sander will revert to its default settings.

Pressing the paddle switch will apply power to the motor causing the backing pad to spin. The paddle switch has two modes of operation; on/off or, variable speed. To set the paddle for variable speed mode, press the + and – button simultaneously for several seconds. To revert to on/off mode, repeat the process once again (by pressing the + and – button simultaneously for several seconds). When both the + and – buttons are pressed simultaneously, the indicator light will flash rapidly from green to red.

There are a few accessory items for the MIRKA CEROS sanders that I should mention.
Mirka Pad SaverThe first accessory is the Pad Saver. These low cost items will not only save money but much frustration as well. Pad savers prevent the hook-and-loop (GRIP) fastener on the backing pad from wearing prematurely. The thin and flexible pad saver has a GRIP fastener on both sides and resides between the backing pad and abrasive disc.

Mirka Interface PadsThe next accessory is an interface pad. Interface pads are recommended when sanding contoured surfaces. Using an interface pad may also help prevent over sanding of delicate surfaces. An Interface pad is a relatively thick cushion with GRIP fastener on both sides. They reside between the backing pad and abrasive disc. Interface pads are available is several densities from soft to firm.

Mirka Hand SanderHere’s another great product from MIRKA that is worthy of mention. For many projects there is often a need for sanding by hand. Fortunately, MIRKA offers an extensive series of hand-sanding blocks that feature integrated dust collection. Various interface pads are also available for the dust-free sanding blocks. These lightweight and ergonomically designed sanding blocks fit comfortably within the operator’s palm. The dust collection vacuum hose for the sanding blocks is smaller in diameter than those for power sanders. This makes it easier to maneuver within limited areas.  When the need for sanding by hand arises, you can continue to use MIRKA’s extensive line of NET (mesh-type) abrasives for a uniform finish throughout.

I have found MIRKA sanders, polishers and abrasives to be instrumental in achieving the professional results that discerning customers demand.

In my shop, MIRKA products are used so extensively that I constructed this dedicated abrasives service trolley. It’s actually quite a handy workstation that can be conveniently rolled right next to the items being restored or refinished.

Reflecting back to the 1970’s, I recall admitting to only using fine wire-wool and sharp cabinet scrapers for restoration and refinishing. Because of the potential for over sanding and unintended damages, I actually advocated to avoid sandpaper altogether. I do concede with respect to restoration and wood finish repair, that the least amount of materials possible should be removed and/or applied.  However, by using MIRKA’s high-tech sanders with their extensive line of revolutionary abrasives, an unmatched level of accuracy is now achievable. Even the most delicate of finishes can be easily finessed.

For restoration professionals, MIRKA abrasives provide the level of accuracy and control required for achieving the most undetectable finish repairs possible.

Pictured left are a couple of aged mahogany panels. The right-hand panel received a multi-step finish. MIRKA equipment and abrasives were utilized through each step. 

I will refinish several remaining panels and demonstrate how these amazing abrasives and sanders are used to achieve beautiful and professional results in the next companion article.

MIRKA® Distributors

MIRKA sanders and abrasives are available world-wide through an extensive network of distributors. Here is a link that has a listing of distributors within USA: [MIRKA CEROS USA Distributors].

Restoration News accepted no monitory award, support or payment from MIRKA Abrasives for the development and publication of this article and its content. The content, usage guidance and, general opinions regarding all products mentioned here are the sole opinions of the Restoration News staff; as determined by their independent interpretation, analysis and testing.  In addition, Restoration News assumes sole responsibility for all content contained in this article as defined by Restoration News limitation of liability and website disclaimers.

MIRKA Website (North America)
   Sanders, Polishers and Abrasives
MIRKA Woodworking Website (USA)
   Explains MIRKA Sanders and Abrasives for Woodworking
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Comments and Discussions
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Timothy R.
10/23/2014 4:12 PM

Good Info!

I’ve been using mirka abrasives for years in the marine interiors (yacht) industry. I have a 6” and 3” ceros sanders and dust collector. I use abranet for wood and abralon for finishing. Sanding without all the problems with dust is a BIG PLUS in my business. Nothing else matches up to those  ceros sanders. I want to get one of those hand sander setups you show.

Thanks; Tim

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