Can I Use an Orbital Sander as a Buffer? A Comprehensive Guide for DIY Enthusiasts

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a buffer but all you had was an orbital sander? Don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many DIY enthusiasts and professionals find themselves in this predicament. The good news is that you can use an orbital sander as a buffer in a pinch. Using an orbital sander as a buffer can save you time and money since you don’t need to purchase separate tools for different tasks.

Plus, with proper technique, you can achieve professional-grade results. So, if you’re wondering how to use an orbital sander as a buffer, keep reading!

Understanding the Difference

If you’re wondering whether you can use an orbital sander as a buffer, the short answer is no. While these two tools may look similar, they serve different purposes. The main difference lies in their speed – buffers operate at a much lower RPM, usually between 1,000 and 2,500, while orbital sanders can reach up to 12,000 RPM.

This higher speed makes orbital sanders ideal for sanding and removing material quickly, while buffers are designed to give a high shine to surfaces. Additionally, buffers have pads with softer heads to avoid damaging the surface being polished. Using an orbital sander as a buffer could lead to uneven polishing and even damage.

Therefore, it’s best to invest in a buffer if you need one, as it will give you the desired results without compromising the safety of your project.


When it comes to programming, understanding the difference between function and method is crucial. While both are used to group a set of instructions that can be called upon, function refers to a standalone procedure that can take arguments and return a value, while method is a procedure that is associated with an object. In simpler terms, a function can be used independently of any particular object, while a method is specific to the object it is attached to.

Another difference between function and method is the way they are called – functions are called by their name, while methods are called by their name as well as the object they are attached to. By knowing the difference between the two, developers can use them more effectively in their code and create efficient and concise programs.

can i use an orbital sander as a buffer


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Style, pattern, and form, on the other hand, are all aspects of design that contribute to its overall aesthetic value. Style is the visual appearance of a design, pattern is the repetition of a particular element, and form is the shape of an object. Understanding the difference between design and its related terms can help us appreciate the complexity and intentionality that goes into creating the world around us.

Pros and Cons

While it is possible to use an orbital sander as a buffer, there are both pros and cons to this approach. One of the benefits of using an orbital sander is that it can create a smooth finish on a surface, especially when combined with a polishing pad. However, it is important to note that the orbital sander is not specifically designed for buffing, so it may take longer to achieve the desired results.

Additionally, using an orbital sander as a buffer can lead to overheating, which can cause damage to the tool or the material being worked on. If you do decide to try using an orbital sander as a buffer, it is important to use caution and to always follow proper safety guidelines. Ultimately, while an orbital sander can be a useful tool to have on hand, it may be worth investing in a specialized buffer for best results.

Pros of Using an Orbital Sander as a Buffer

When it comes to buffing, an orbital sander can certainly be a useful tool. One of the biggest advantages of using an orbital sander as a buffer is that it can cover a larger surface area quickly and evenly. However, depending on the project, there could be some downsides to using an orbital sander in this way.

For instance, if you’re working on a delicate surface or intricate design, the sander might be too powerful and damage the surface material. Additionally, the angled head of the sander could make it difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. Overall, while an orbital sander can be effective as a buffer, it’s important to consider the needs of your specific project and whether or not this tool is the best choice for the job.

Cons of Using an Orbital Sander as a Buffer

When it comes to polishing and buffing, an orbital sander seems like a versatile tool. But can you really use an orbital sander as a buffer? Yes, you can. However, it’s important to understand the cons of doing so.

One of the main drawbacks is that orbital sanders lack the necessary speed for buffing, meaning you won’t get a showroom-like finish. Additionally, the round pad on the sander isn’t as effective in polishing tight or curved areas. Moreover, heavy and prolonged use of the sander can lead to swirl marks on your paint, which will require further polishing to remove.

So while using an orbital sander as a buffer is possible, it’s not ideal. You’ll be better off investing in a proper buffer for the smoothest finish possible.

How to Use an Orbital Sander as a Buffer

Many people wonder if they can use an orbital sander as a buffer. The answer is yes, you can! However, you will need to purchase a polishing pad to attach to the sander’s hook and loop system instead of the sanding pad. Buffing with an orbital sander is a great option for those looking for a budget-friendly option, as it is cheaper than purchasing a specialized buffer.

Orbital sanders are typically lighter than traditional buffers, making them easier to maneuver. Keep in mind that if you are going to use an orbital sander as a buffer, it is important to use the appropriate speed setting and take your time to avoid damaging the surface you are working on. With a little practice, you can easily achieve a professional-looking shine on your car, boat, or other surfaces.

Step 1: Choose the Right Pad

When it comes to using an orbital sander as a buffer, the first step is to choose the right pad. The right pad will depend on what task you are trying to accomplish. For instance, if you are trying to remove scratches from a surface, you will want to choose a pad with a more aggressive grit.

On the other hand, if you are attempting to give a smooth finish to a surface, you will want to choose a pad with a finer grit. It is important to also consider the size of the pad and how it will fit onto the sander. A larger pad will cover more surface area, but may not be as maneuverable in tight spaces.

Conversely, a smaller pad may be more versatile, but will take longer to complete a larger area. Ultimately, choosing the right pad will dictate the success of your project. So take some time to consider your options and make sure you choose the right one!

Step 2: Attach the Pad to the Sander

Now that you have selected the appropriate pad for your orbital sander, the next step is to attach it securely to the sander. Start by making sure the sander is turned off and unplugged from any power source. Then, depending on the model of your sander, you may need to remove the existing pad before attaching the buffer pad.

This can usually be done by unscrewing the retaining screws or clips. Once you have removed the old pad, simply align the new buffer pad onto the backing plate of the sander and lock it in place. It is important to ensure that the pad is centred and securely attached before using the sander to avoid any potential accidents.

With this step done, you are now ready to start buffing your surfaces and achieving that professional finish you desire. Remember to take your time and maintain a consistent speed and pressure when using the sander as a buffer to get the best possible results.

Step 3: Choose the Right Speed

When using an orbital sander as a buffer, choosing the right speed is crucial for achieving the best results. The speed of an orbital sander is measured in orbits per minute (OPM) and can typically range from 6,000 to 12,000 OPM. Lower speeds are generally better for buffing as they allow for more control over the process and less chance of burning through the surface being buffed.

Higher speeds can be used for heavier-duty sanding or for removing deep scratches, but caution should be exercised to avoid damaging the surface. It’s important to note that different materials and products may require different speeds, so it’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before getting started. By choosing the right speed, you can ensure a smoother and more effective buffing experience with your orbital sander.

Tips for Using an Orbital Sander as a Buffer

If you want to achieve a mirror-like finish on your car or any polished surface, you may wonder, “Can I use an orbital sander as a buffer?” The answer is yes, but you need to know some tips to do it correctly. First, you need to use a polishing pad instead of a sandpaper attachment. A polishing pad is softer and gentler, and it won’t cause scratches on your vehicle’s surface.

Secondly, choose the right polish compound that matches your determination level. Use a heavier compound if you want to remove significant scratches and swirl marks. Thirdly, apply the compound to the pad sparingly, and spread it gradually over a small section.

And lastly, run the buffer machine at a lower rpm, and move the buffer in a circular motion, gradually overlapping the area you just polished. Keep in mind that using an orbital sander can give you an excellent result, but you need to control the speed and movements you use to avoid damaging your automobile’s paint finish.

Tip 1: Keep the Sander Moving

Using an orbital sander as a buffer can make your woodworking projects smoother and give them a professional finish. However, it’s essential to follow some tips to avoid damage to your workpiece. Tip 1: Keep the sander moving.

It’s easy to get caught up in one area, hoping to remove a stubborn stain or scratch. However, if you leave the sander in one place for too long, it can lead to sanding marks on the surface. Instead, keep the sander moving at all times, hold it steady but do not apply too much pressure.

Remember, you are buffing, not sanding. A slow and steady pace will give the best results and prevent damage to the wood surface. To be sure, test it on a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding.

With patience and practice, you’ll be using an orbital sander as a buffer like a pro!

Tip 2: Use Minimal Pressure

When using an orbital sander as a buffer, it’s important to use minimal pressure. If you’re new to using an orbital sander, it can be tempting to apply a lot of pressure to try and get the job done quicker. However, this can actually cause more harm than good.

Too much pressure can lead to swirl marks and burnt spots on the surface you’re working on. Instead, let the sander do the work for you. Use light pressure and allow the sander’s weight and orbital motion to do the heavy lifting.

By doing this, you’ll be able to achieve a smooth, even finish without damaging the surface. So, remember to take it easy and go slow – the results will be worth it. Happy buffering!

Tip 3: Practice on a Scrap Piece of Material

If you’re planning to use an orbital sander as a buffer, you need to keep in mind that practice makes perfect. One of the most useful tips I can give you is to practice on a scrap piece of material before you start buffing your car or furniture. It’s important to get a feel for the tool and understand how it works.

Even if you’ve used an orbital sander before, taking the time to practice can help you avoid mistakes and get the best results possible. Plus, it’s much better to mess up on a scrap piece than on your prized item! When practicing, start with a low-speed setting, and move the sander in a circular motion. Keep it moving at a steady pace, and make sure to cover the entire surface evenly.

You can also experiment with different types of pads to see which works best for your project. As you become more comfortable using the orbital sander, you can gradually increase the speed and start buffing your car or furniture. Remember, taking the time to practice can pay off in the end, and you’ll be more confident and efficient with your work.

So, grab a scrap piece of material and start practicing!


In conclusion, while you may be tempted to use an orbital sander as a buffer, it’s important to remember that just because something looks the same doesn’t mean it functions in the same way. Using the wrong tool for the job can result in damage to your surface, uneven results, and a whole lot of frustration. So, while an orbital sander can certainly sand down your rough spots, leave the buffing to the buffers.

Trust us, your surfaces (and your patience) will thank you.”


What is an orbital sander?
An orbital sander is a power tool used for sanding and smoothing surfaces.

What is a buffer?
A buffer is a tool used to polish or wax surfaces to give them a shiny finish.

Can an orbital sander be used as a buffer?
While an orbital sander can technically be used as a buffer, it is not recommended as the two tools have different functions and designs.

What are the differences between an orbital sander and a buffer?
An orbital sander uses a circular motion to sand surfaces while a buffer uses a spinning motion to polish or wax surfaces. Buffers also tend to be heavier and have softer pads than sanders.

Can using an orbital sander as a buffer damage surfaces?
Yes, using an orbital sander as a buffer can damage surfaces as it is not designed for that function and can apply too much pressure or heat to the surface.

What type of buffer should I use for my project?
The type of buffer you should use depends on the surface you are working with and the type of polish or wax you are using. It is best to consult with a professional or the manufacturer of your polish or wax for recommendations.

Can I rent a buffer from a hardware store instead of buying one?
Yes, many hardware stores offer buffer rentals for those who only need it for a specific project or do not want to purchase their own.

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