If you do a lot of metalworking that involves spot welding, you’re going to come across welds that need to be removed before the project can be completed. Eliminating them can be difficult, especially if you want to preserve as much of the original metal as possible.
Air file sanders are the recommended tool for removing spot welds, especially if they are located in areas that larger and thicker belt sanders can’t reach. In this blog, the team at Red Label Abrasives provides practical instructions for using an air file sander to clear away spot welds that impact the quality of your workpiece.
Air File Sanders- an Overview
Air file sanders have been used in commercial shops and industrial applications for years. Powered by compressed air, they are lighter, quieter, and generally regarded as safer than their electric counterparts, especially when working in an environment where vapors and flammable fluids are present.
Woodworking and metalworking production lines use air file sanders for their rapid and efficient cutting action, which supports overall productivity, and their ability to smoothly prepare rougher surfaces for a high-gloss finish. Both advantages make them appropriate for the difficult task of removing spot welds.
Removing Spot Welds- a Step by Step Guide
Before starting work, you’ll need to assemble the following supplies:
Air file sander fitted with the proper belts - for best results, use ceramic, zirconia, or closed-coat aluminum oxide
Air supply machine or compressor
Safety gear- goggles, face mask, gloves, and earplugs
Step One - Set Up the Air File Sander
Connect the air hose from the compressor or air supply machine to the air file sander. If the piece you’ll be working on is a larger one, make sure that the hose is long enough to allow you to move freely around it. You’ll also want to confirm that the air filter, which serves as the tool’s dust collection unit, is in place as well.
Step Two - Turn on the Air File Sander
Switch on the air compressor before you activate the sander by pressing the operating lever. Most people grip the handle in one hand and switch on the sander with their thumb, allowing them to maintain more control over the tool.
Step Three - Remove the Spot Welds
Carefully press the file sander to the weld, paying close attention to the amount of pressure used. Although lightweight, they deliver significantly more power than other sanders, so more care needs to be exercised during use.
You’ll want to start out with a coarser grit (P36 - P80) to eliminate the thickest part of the weld and switch to a medium grit (P100 - P220) as more material is removed. At Red Label, we sellair file belts in a variety of abrasive materials and grit sizes, and can recommend a combination that gets the best results for you.
Move the abrasive over and around the metal directly above the spot weld, taking care to avoid burning through the panel. Air file sanders can perform a 360-degree rotation, so any portion of the belt can be used to achieve the desired result. Avoid accidentally touching the running belt when you’re maneuvering it to access a hard-to-reach area.
Once you’ve removed enough of the first layer of metal above the spot weld, break the rest of the metal free using a punch or chisel and hammer. If you are unsure of how much metal you have actually removed, simply hit the center of the weld, and its outline will appear.
Do You Have Questions About Abrasives for Air File Sanders?
Air file sanders are versatile and high-performance tools that have multiple uses, including spot weld removal. AtRed Label Abrasives, we manufacture premium quality abrasive belts specifically for air file sanders, so that you get the best results for your particular project. For more information about our products, speak to a technician today byfilling out our contact form or calling 844-824-1956.
David Kranker is a writer and creative maker who has been covering the abrasive and knife-making industries on the Red Label Abrasives Blog since 2020. David spends his time continually researching sanding and bladesmithing to provide readers with the latest and greatest information. In his free time, David utilizes abrasives for many different home and auto projects at his home in Delton, MI.