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Tips & Tools

We do alot of drywall sanding. My technique is getting better, so it requires less sanding now, but I absolutely hate the white dusty film that it leaves on everything in sight.

I thought about purchasing one of those $20 vacuum hose attachment deals, until I talked to a guy at the hardware store – he recommended a nice finishing sander with a dust bag. I wasn’t convinced that a little dust bag would collect (and keep) such fine powder, but I thought I’d give it a try. Armed with gift cards from our wedding shower, I bought a Makita finish sander with a dust bag and a handy blue case. It was pricier than some of the other models, but I chose to pay a little extra because it fit best in my hand – most of the others were way too big, making them uncomfortable to hold.


Thirty seconds into sanding, it was obvious that the bag was NOT helping. It collected about 10% of the powder, if that. Using a power sander made a much bigger mess than hand-sanding, of course, so I ended up with a living room full of white residue. Lucky me.

After hand-sanding the rest of my patch jobs, I took the Makita sander into the kitchen to wipe it down. I tugged at the dust bag’s zipper, and the dust bag ripped away from the rubber that connects it to the sander! Now it’s useless AND broken. Grrrr.

I’m hoping to return it to Home Depot tonight – just wanted to pass this story along so others won’t fall for the same trap!

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Jess had this to say on 04.19.05:

Oh, that’s so sad! Especially because it was teal and pink. :-(

Derek had this to say on 04.19.05:

I’ve had people recommend the vacuum attachment. I think it’s a lot of work to clean the vacuum filtre every few minutes though, it doesn’t take long to clog it up with dust. I don’t sand until the third coat, and try to get it as smooth as possible. I’m sure you know that already. I hear some people use a wet sponge to feather the edges, I’m sure that’s not easy though. I was reading about a technique, where you mix plaster or paris, drywall compound and primer, and coat the whole wall. You apply it with a 3/4″ nap roller and smooth it with a plaster trowel. There’s no sanding, it’s like doing plaster, only easier. I haven’t tried it yet. I may try it on some scraps.

Gary had this to say on 04.19.05:

The palm sander isn’t designed for drywall. It is for sanding wood. There is a hand tool and special 120 grit paper for drywall sanding. They are in the drywall section of Lowes or Home Depot.
If you don’t rush and apply joint compound in four passes there should be very little sanding to do.

Brian had this to say on 04.19.05:

the last time i cleaned up after drywall sanding, the filter was AJAR. i have a 20 ft hose and the vacuumme was in the living room. when i got done sanding………. sucked to be me. but it soooo sucked to be pam for weeks.

im glad to see you guys getting so much done. usually you got is SO under control that i cant even offer a suggestion. you guys are so well equipped to get the job done.

teil color was the bomb 20 yrs ago then red then yellow then red then yellow… i go for black. the cost is so there, and the quality us usually yellow or theil sometimes ornge but never red. but with the warrenty you cant beat it.

I have a craftsman sawzall. its 10 yrs old. some of those years seen day in day out pounding. its the industrial series. it would have been yellow. now its like i wish it would die so i could get one with quick blade change.

i guess your already drywalling in the kitchen. wow thats along way from where you were.

i dont recomend black paint tho. maybe theil or yellow. those are high energy colors.

there are alot of ‘salix’ “willows” wich are not weeping willows. some of them may be a better fit for your side yard. french pussy willows or contental willows…….


Alex had this to say on 04.19.05:

There is a simple way to correct this. I have SOOOOO Much experience with drywall dust (as I’ve shown in pictures from previous posts) and now I have it down to a science. So please, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, trust me on this. Get a 10 Gallon Shop Vac (mine was $80), then get a HEPA filter for the vac ($30), and then get drywall dust filter bags ($17 for 2). All you will then need is an adaptor for the area on your sander. I have hooked it up to my large drywall sander, small orbital sander, miter saw, table saw, and even just recently used it on the floor sander I rented from Home Depot to redo the kitchen floor ( cut down on the dust by about 95% at least. Don’t worry, the floor is still wet in that picture, it is not nearly as glossy now. Then, when the bag is full, you just pull it out of the vac and throw in a new one, no cleaning of the filter because 99.9% of the dust was collected in the bag, the filter is just there to prevent harmful things like lead getting into the air. Bags are not cheap at $8.50 each, but it is well worth it with the amount of mess you save. I’ve sure you can hook it up to your sander, and yes, you are correct, sanders cause more dust than by hand when you do not have a good dust collection method.

Graham had this to say on 04.20.05:

Too bad!
I have had good luck wet sanding with a sponge made just for wet sanding of plaster. The only problem is that you have to be careful not to remove too much plaster it works so fast.

mindy had this to say on 04.20.05:

Hi all,

Thanks for the tips – I tried wet sanding and did have some luck with that. Make sure the sponge is not too wet though, or you’ll, umm, make a mess and have to redo part of your patch. Not that I did that or anything ;)

Brian – That’s hilarious. Not funny at the time I’m sure, but now you’ve got a good story, right?! We are borrowing an older sawzall from Teague’s father, and I LOVE that tool. We use it all the time. You’re right, it’s definitely worth investing in.

Home Depot was going to do an exchange for me, but then didn’t have another Makita finish sander so I ended up with a refund. Fine with me – we already have two palm sanders (minus dust bags) so we’ll get a good wet/dry vac instead. We have one already, but it’s an old model that’s missing a wheel and is clogged up with gunk so we’re registered for a new one.

Alex – Great tips, I’ll go with your method next time! It sounds like you’ve got it down to a science :)

We’re not drywalling in the kitchen yet, though Teague is hoping to start framing up the back wall today. I have been repairing some MAJOR plaster problems in the living room walls. Will be posting with photos soon!

Scott had this to say on 07.07.05:

I have the identical sander and have used it for sanding light patches on the walls before with great success and little mess. The trick is to make sure you puncture the sandpaper with the steel plate provided in the case. It places 6 small holes into the sandpaper allowing air to go into the bag, thus sending the dust in.

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