Orbital sanders range in noise level quite dramatically, the quietest currently being the Festo and ELU brands (80-82 dB(A)). The noise levels are directly affected by the quality and condition of the tool. The free running noise level of an orbital sander is often higher than the working level. Because the noise levels of an orbital sander can exceed 85 dB(A) personal hearing protection is normally used.
- Check that motor bearings are in good order and that the oscillating mechanism in the base of the tool is sufficiently lubricated in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace sanding sheets when loose or worn.
- Replace rubber base when worn. This will help prevent vibration transmission to the work.
- Clamp down the work being sanded to a bench top. Use a rubber mat under work if possible to reduce vibration.
- Avoid free running the tool for long periods. Switch on the tool immediately prior to contacting the work surface.
- Keep the tool at arm's length. Avoid putting head in close proximity to the motor unit. Use steps or footstools when sanding high level work.
- Purchase quieter orbital sanders. These tend to be made in Europe and are more expensive than the Asian produced tools.
- Hand block sanding is quieter.
- Try to store timber in such a way that it is kept clean to reduce amount of sanding necessary.
Adapted from the Noise Control Manual for Schools with the permission of the Education Department of Western Australia.