Lisa here. I apologize now for this lengthy post review with so many pics, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible.
I was working on a project recently and had to rest quite often while sanding. I broke out my Dremel but quickly put it away. It just isn’t the tool for delicate sanding and it vibrates so much my hand always goes numb. I also have a shoulder injury I’m currently in PT for that makes working with clay difficult as it is right now, and the Dremel made it hurt something terrible, not to mention the arthritis pain it stirred up.
Unfortunately, this is not unusual for me. You see, I have osteoarthritis. Believe it or not, my disease is one of the reasons I love to work with clay, it is soothing and good exercise for my sore hand joints. Well, usually, but warming and working the clay to begin any project and sanding hurt more than help. Because of the pain I have tried to use my Dremel for sanding and buffing. My Dremel only has two variable speeds; fast and very fast. Neither work for sanding or buffing clay because it will cut the piece if not done just right. I don’t have a “just right” setting.
Then, I ran across this awesome-looking tool on a couple of different blogs that caught my attention. One blog is Ginger Davis Allman’s, and you can read her review here: The Blue Bottle Tree. She reviews a lot of Polymer Clay products and tools and shares her findings in great detail. She did an in-depth review on the tool, as did the other artist, which I seem to remember was a video on YouTube. On presentation, both reviews made me think I need this tool.
What am I talking about?
It’s called the Poly-Fast Sander, and it’s the only tool of it’s kind at the moment. Specially created for Polymer clay! It comes out of Belgium.
Now, I know me enough to feel the buy-it urge creeping in, and not so stealthily, either. LOL I also know me well enough to know I have purchased tools I “had to have” in the past, only to discover I couldn’t use them efficiently with arthritis. Thankfully those tools haven’t costed very much, so I didn’t mind giving them to my daughter. But the Poly-Fast Sander was a fair bit of dollars that I can’t afford to spend unless I can use it. The problem was that in order to use it…I had to buy it first. Then, if it turns out incompatible with arthritis I’d have to go through the hassle and cost of shipping it back, getting my money back, etc. Folks, I don’t know what it costs to ship to Belgium, but it was another expense I wasn’t willing to take on blindly.
I offered to review the Poly-Fast Sander from an arthritic’s point of view. You see, I have not seen many, if any at all, actual reviews on tools or products that address real issues for those of us with painful arthritis. Maybe I just haven’t found those and they are out there. If you know of any, I would love to check them out, so leave a link in comments, please. This review is from me to others suffering, wanting or needing tools that others take for granted.
At this time, I have to apologize to Sofia and Jean. I was supposed to have done this review a few weeks ago, but life intervened, as it usually does at the least inopportune moments, and it’s terribly late. I was pleased with the members I dealt with at Poly-Fast.com. Sofia and Jean were prompt in their response to my concerns as a handicapped clayer about their tool and immediately agreed to let me test it and some of the products that go with it. Thank you!
Now, on to my review of the Poly-Fast Sander tool! https://poly-fast.com I’ll break the parts down in two categories; what comes in the kit and what I thought of each part.
The Kit-I inspected all the pieces sent to me and read the full instructions on the back of the package first. The kit comes with various sandpaper discs, the hand tool and a tip attachment—that I call a nose.
Noses-Three of the noses I received have a hard top and three have a half inch foam sponge tip, all are equipped with very short- looped Velcro that does not remove. Each and every disc has the soft Velcro side to attach onto the tool nose, then you simply stick the nose onto the body of the tool. All noses are available for order.
Sandpaper Discs– the kit includes 10 discs each of 80, 150, 320, 500, 600, 800, 1000 and 1500 grit. You can also order 2000, 2500 and 3000 grit discs in 25 count packs. All disc grits are available for reorder.
The tool– is constructed of hard plastic with a flexible section that separates the nose from the hand part. It has a slide on/off switch and uses two AA batteries. They also have a professional’s two-pack tool kit. This is worth the cost because the tool needs to rest ten minutes after every thirty minutes of constant use. You can switch out and not have to worry about wasting time while your tool sits idle. I would seriously consider purchasing a second kit for that reason alone.
I have some vases I need to t make, so the Poly-Fast Sander arrived in perfect timing. I cleaned the stickered label off my Starbucks coffee bottle and got to work. I prepared my clay and decorated this Independence/Veteran’s Day vase. You can see that creative process in an upcoming post.
Once I had the clay on the bottle, and (most) fingerprints smoothed out, I baked and was ready to play with the new tool. I was as excited as a kid in a candy store as I opened the package and held my Poly-Fast Sander for the first time!
Noses– I used both types of noses for this test project. I began with the hard nose and lower grit disc, then switched to the foam nose and higher grit paper. I’m not sure why I did it like this, other than because the foam end retains water.
You’ll want to be careful and don’t get in a hurry when removing the discs from the foam attachments. I suggest holding the foam end with one finger while peeling the disc off with the other hand. I didn’t do this at one disc change and almost ripped the foam from the nose. I don’t know, because I was cautious, but if you rip the disc off the hard attachment to quickly or roughly, it might possibly tear the Velcro off it too.
The positive is that you can reorder more attachments. The bad news is that it could take a week or more to get the new pieces from Belgium (if you are in the US). If you are down to near desperate need of a replacement, I advise ordering before you are left with no foam noses at all. I’m actually considering ordering another full set of each, just to be prepared because I liked working with them so much. 🙂
Sanding discs-I used about four different grits, starting with the 80 grit, to start, but for this project that was too rough and left deep scars that I wasn’t able to fully remove without doing more damage. I switched to 150 and that was better. I used the foam-topped nose with water and the higher grit paper to get a polished end result.
I might reorder more of these as well, just because each disc only goes so far before I had to replace it with a fresh disc which means I went through several of each grit. On the other hand, these discs are just over one inch in diameter, so it’s understandable I’d need to use more than a couple, especially when smoothing out deeper scratches.
One thing I recommend is to write the grit on the backs each disc to keep from mixing them and spending unnecessary time sorting them (yes, I did), or using a wrong one accidentally. Funny enough, I doubt I need to add this tip, when doing research I discovered Ginger and Poly-Fast also give this same suggestion. The only thing I will add is to use a felt tip or a fine tip marker of some sort. I started with a regular Sharpie and you can see what a mess that turned into before I grabbed a felt tip marker to finish.
The Tool– Now, for the real reason I reviewed this tool. I was prepared for the vibration to make my hand numb or my shoulder to hurt. IT DID NOT. Sure, I felt the vibration but the flex section broke the vibration down before it reached my hand. But it didn’t bother my injured shoulder, nor did it aggravate my arthritis in any way and the cylindrical shape is just right for my small hands. I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased to find a sanding tool I can use without pain or unpleasantness.
I knew the machine worked through vibration before I got it, but I wanted to know how much vibration, how it would affect my arthritic hands. I’m happy to report that this tool works well on clay, as expected, is easy to hold and use for a long length of time and without concern.
If you’re wanting an aggressive sander, this may not be a tool you want. It has a gentle vibration; gentle being the key word. After all, it is a strictly AA battery powered tool—batteries NOT included. I did ask about ordering, since I’m in the US and their prices are all in Euro. I was told that you’d pay through PayPal and the currency is automatically converted for you. They do ship all over the world.
As is the case with most experiments, this one did not turn out as smooth as I would have preferred, but the overall sanding process was nice. I am very happy with how the Poly-Fast Sander works.
The batteries lasted longer than I thought they would, completing this project and left with plenty of battery life for the next piece.
After having sanded only one project with this tool, the only real negatives I found so far: the sponge tips and Velcro are somewhat delicate when removing the discs. In my honest opinion, I feel this is a negative only because it’s necessary to change discs so frequently that tearing one is imminent unless you have several tips to rotate various grits, therefore, needing less changes. You don’t get all of these tips I have for review with the initial kit.
On the other side of that coin, you get three when you order the tips and there’s a video for tricks to change tips without tearing off the Velcro. Check it out and go ahead and Like their page. https://www.facebook.com/polyfast/videos/883852095079920/
Okay, so that is the only negative of this fun tool, and even that can be avoided with the proper how-to knowledge! I might do another review at a later time as I try this tool on other projects, smaller ones that require a delicate sanding. Of course, there are just some things there is no way to sand, like the delicate flower in honor of veterans and the vase lid.
All-in-all, I would and do recommend the Poly-Fast Sander. I mean, who wouldn’t like to save the wear and tear on our fingers by using plain sandpaper? Especially, when you don’t have to. Who wouldn’t choose to avoid unnecessary pain if you have a joint disease like I do? Maybe you have one? I’d love to hear about your experience in comments.
We are a small family company based in Belgium, with a department and suppliers in Portugal. We started to develop Poly-Fast when we noticed that some artist friends were having trouble with the sanding process since it required much effort and ruined their hands. Jean Vilain, the owner of the company, had already previous experience in inventing tools, so he co-invented and patented the Poly-Fast. We started our website in the end of 2015 and during 2016 we established important partnerships and retailers. We currently ship to the entire world and have clients from all continents, and the business keeps growing steady. ~Sofia Baptista
Will you be looking for one of these little tools?
Thank you for joining me today to find out about this tool.