When should I replace my orbital sander pad? Budget Woodworking.

Getting the smoothest finish on your project is always the last and most crucial step on your latest project, whether it’s a giant solid wood table or just one small guide to your table saw. Getting the smoothest finish using your orbital sander is the best way to achieve your sanding goals. Unfortunately, you will be using many sanding pads, and knowing when to replace them is essential.

Replace the sanding pads when there are bold spots, inconsistent sanding, or the sander becomes less effective. Placing a new sanding pad on your orbital sander will enable you to create a consistent and smooth finish on your woodworking project, giving you a satisfying finish and delivering a suitable product.

There is more to using an orbital sander than just having a fresh sanding pad. With some orbital sanders, the changing of the pad requires a few tricks. Estimating the cost of new pads, choosing the right brand, having good pads, and figuring out why your brand-new pack of sanding pads won’t stick to your orbital sander are all challenges that you will face. 

Here’s how to get the right pads, how to stick them on, when to stick them on, and where to get the best pads for your orbital sander.

Why won’t my sandpaper stick to my sander 

There are many reasons why a new pad of sandpaper won’t fit onto your orbital sander, ranging from the wrong brand to worn down Velcro. Figuring out what exactly is causing your pads from not sticking correctly can be a challenge. There are dangers to not placing the right pads as well, which can cause damage to your orbital sander, or worse, damage your project beyond repair.

  • Wrong Pads: There are many brands of orbital sanders out there, and most of them have unique shapes to their pads. This means that you can’t put brands of different types onto your sander. Incorrect pads may not stick to an orbital sander, the finish they give could be wrong, or you might damage your orbital sander.
  • Worn out: Like all tools that you use in your workshop, the Velcro or clips that connect your pads to your orbital sander to your pads. You can luckily replace these Velcro pads on most orbital sanders, merely unscrewing the entire pad or just pulling off the Velcro. Just be sure to buy the right replacement parts before disassembling your orbital sander.
  • Wrong shape: This is something that many new orbital sander owners accidentally do when they start using their new tool. There are many shapes and sizes to orbital sanders, meaning that you can quickly grab the wrong size of pad when you buy replacement pads. Only making sure that the packet of pads you are grabbing will fit your orbital sander will save you many trips back to the hardware store.

How to change the orbital sander pad

Easily one of the easiest things you can do with an orbital sander, there are two types of ways that orbital sanders hold onto their pads. The newish Velcro method and the older clip method function perfectly well, but the preferences of many woodworkers may differ. 

For more massive jobs and with older sanders, you may find that the orbital sander uses a clamp system, allowing for larger pieces of sandpaper and a more secure grip on these pieces. Switching these pads is a simple three-step process of unclamping the old pad, putting the new pad on, and making sure it is adequately clamped before you start sanding. 

The second and much more popular way of having pads on orbital sanders is a light Velcro on the sander. This means that the pads adhere to the bottom of the orbital sander. This means that replacing the pad is as simple as pulling the old one off, ensuring that the vent holes are aligned correctly, and sticking on the new pad.

How much does a new pad cost

The new pads you are getting for your orbital sander will have varying prices, starting as low as only $2 or going above $20 for a packet of them. The deciding factor for your pad pricing will never be the brand. While that can affect the costs, it is the grit of the sandpaper you are buying. 

Rougher grits of sandpaper will cost significantly less than finer grits, which lets you quickly calculate how much you will spend. Rougher grit sandpaper wears out a lot faster than smoother grits. This is because you will be using the coarser grits of sandpaper on much tougher pieces of wood, while smoother grits of sandpaper are used on pieces that are already smoothed out. 

The cost of your new pads won’t break your bank, and you will get several pads in each packet that you buy. This means the overall cost of your pads can be calculated over a more extended period, with more projects in mind. 

What is the best brand of pad and is it compatible with other brands?

One of the trickiest questions, when you need to buy pads for your orbital sander, is what brands you can use, which is one of the most complicated questions you can have with your orbital sanders, owing to each brand trying to ensure that you only buy their brand of pads.

Orbital sanders have individual holes in them, which act as vents for the cooling of the sander, which means that you need to ensure the holes are correctly aligned. Luckily, orbital sanders with clamps can easily use third party pads, while Velcro sanders need the exact right pad. 

You cannot switch brands with each other; however, you can find third party pads that will fit on specific models of orbital sanders. The only extra step will be to remove the right holes from the pads and ensure that everything works correctly once installed.

Can you use normal sandpaper on a sander?

You cannot use standard sandpaper on Velcro orbital sander owing to regular sandpaper not having the right lining to stick. However, you can use regular sandpaper on clamp based orbital sanders, merely cutting the sandpaper into the right shape, punching in holes as required, and clamping the sandpaper in will deliver the same result as specially bought pads.

This is owing to sandpaper not being directional bases, unlike saws and files, you can use sandpaper in any direction, and it will always deliver the same results. Once you have used your orbital sander enough, you will quickly learn the proper way of using it, and making custom pads may be the only way you get the same grit of paper on the sander you need. 

Many older woodworkers prefer to create their pads from extra sandpaper they have lying around, seeing as sandpaper has this sneaky way of becoming stockpiled.


There are many tricks and tips to using orbital sanders properly, and finding the best ways for your orbital sander will ensure that you can consistently deliver good work. Having an orbital sander that works properly and makes your finishing smooth requires replacing the pads regularly. 

Your pads will let you know when they need to be replaced, now to get the hang of the proper sanding technique with a machine that vibrates your teeth!

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