Sanding at 13000 RPM – the Rotabrade

We’ve all done it- using sandpaper as a stock removal tool, as a shaping tool. And an effective tool it is too! Woodturners joke about having used the 80 grit chisel to finish off a profile.

Three Sixty Innovative have taken that concept to new heights with the introduction for the Rotabrade.

I first saw the product on the New Inventors and as I am always particularly inspired by new products that are made, or at least developed down under, decided to take a closer peek. At $20, it is a very cheap investment.

It fits onto your angle grinder using a captive nut to secure it, and a guard made especially for the job. The guard as seen here, and on the New Inventors is still in prototype and not yet available.

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The guard serves two purposes. First, it keeps your fingers away from the sandpaper. At these speeds, at the rate it can abrade wood, it would have no problem at all in causing a real injury. In saying that however, if used in a normal manner there is no real likelihood that you should be at risk. It isn’t like a tablesaw where you can find yourself in very close proximity to the blade if not being careful and vigilant.

Secondly, the guard acts as a fence, maintaining the tool perpendicular to the edge you are shaping. I did find that this wasn’t critical for the operation, so will be interested to see what the guard design ends up like when out of prototype.

So onto the tool function- this thing can really generate some sawdust! And in doing so, you have the ability to really do some serious shaping. For example, if you have just used a jigsaw to cut out a shape (such as a circle), the the Rotabrade will very quickly run around the inside of the circle (or the outside, depending on which part is important!) and remove all the jigsaw cut marks. It can also be used to shape the work, as the rate it can sand is significant indeed.

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I can well imagine using it to form some complex shape which will then be a template for a copying bit on the router table.

It is not unlike a spindle sander, although operating at a much higher speed and stock removal rate, and you bring the spindle to the workpiece, and not the other way around (and it’s a LOT cheaper!)

You do need some serious dust collection on hand – this can create a mushroom cloud of dust in no time flat. There is no provision for on-tool dust collection – it would get in the way, but it might be worth considering as part of an optional additional guard, perhaps sucking through a perforated guard with a hose connected to the back of the angle grinder head? (Design suggestion for the manufacturer). For the operator, bring your 4″ hose in close, and wear breathing (and eye, and hearing) protection. Those new dust masks from YHS would be perfect 😉

It is a fun tool to use, that raw destructive power (insert a Tim the Toolman grunt), the ability to be as subtle or as aggressive as you want/as the job warrants.

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Attaching the guard was very simple on the Dewalt – it used exactly the same holes and screws as the angle grinder’s own guard. I did try attaching it to the Triton angle grinder (yes, there was once such an animal), but unsurprising, the Triton angle grinder (probably a rebadged GMC) didn’t use the standard guard fitting arragement, or at least not the same as the Dewalt. I don’t have any other brands to compare it to, but I can well imagine the inventor of the Rotabrade has considered that for maximum compatiblity.

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I haven’t tried changing sandpaper yet- it comes with 3 sleeves, and it uses a standard size, so available from any decent consumable supplier. From what I gather (didn’t find any instructions), the tool that comes with the Rotabrade loosens the core of the Rotabrade, allowing the sandpaper to slip off. Should prove to be an easy operation.

So that is the Rotabrade in a nutshell. Cheap, Australian, effective, destructive (he he he), and did I mention cheap?

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Available from the inventor’s website Three Sixty Innovative

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