Wednesday, April 13, 2005

DIY Electric Toothbrush Sander

Been awhile since I touched modelling as I continue to sort out my room and belongings, I’m finding it hard to get the space to work on models.

After going through a couple of articles and receiving some feedback from modellers making their own sander using an electric toothbrush, I decided to give it a try and start a mini-project.

I remember reading one such article by a Japanese modeller a few months back but thought, these electric toothy brushes must be really expensive, it’ll be crazy to use them to sand stuff. Well, I was wrong, many electric toothbrushes now are dirt cheap( ‘except fro the Oral B ones). On a trip to Guardian pharmacy I found them selling an in-house brand electric toothbrush for only SGD9.90 and it came with an additional head that I just have to mention was compatible with Oral B’s electric toothbrushes as well. Please do not get the cheaper brushes for kids as those do not have sufficient power for it to be a decent sander.

So here’s the low down on what you need:

  • An electric toothbrush (circular rotating motion)
  • Sandpaper
  • Double-sided tape

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Now here’s how the toothbrush looks right out of the box.

STEP 1 – Remove Bristles

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A brand new brush head

Use a plier or pincer of sorts to pluck out the bristles. I find that plucking the bristles by bending them sideways is much easier then trying to remove them straight out (perpendicular to brush head surface). Note, i did not cut them, I removed them from the root. You don’t want any bristles left remaining.

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Ouch.. that must hurt.

STEP 2 –  Attach sanding head

Now this step is real simple. In fact if you’ve got step 1 done, you’ve basically done like 90% of all there is to this sander.

Take double-sided tape and sand paper and measure accordingly to the brush head.

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Cut the correct size and stick tape onto sand paper.

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Next peel the tape and stick it to the brush head.


Now, you’ve done it! Sorry, I got too excited and just had to try it out first. The sanding was excellent and that just made me wonder how did I put up with all that crap hand sanding all this while? Every modeller is a lazy modeller (but that’s not our fault, I think kits are just too hard to prep before we get all crazy with the colouring and fixture). If you’re a lazy modeller like me, do spend that short amount of time to DIY one such brush yourself, you’ll never want to look back at the days w/o it.

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Additional thoughts

  • Use rechargable batteries. Cheaper in the long term. Last longer per charge then alkaline. And higher voltage = stronger sanding POWER!! mmm… good :P
  • Some Japanese modellers are replacing the generic motor with Tamiya hyper/Ultra dash motors. These motors will definitely upz your sanding power by lots. Something to consider in the future.
  • Try out more permanent sanding discs? Not tried, but sounds worth trying if it means I dun have to keep changing sand paper. Okay I’m darn lazy, i admit it.


Dumex said...

just curious.. what kind of models do you make? planes, ship???

btw, how the hell do you post so many photos?? I can only post one..

Quinton said...

mainly, anime figures. I got 1 car model and 1 gundam tho. But not touched yet :)

I used photobucket to store my photoes and den jus cut and paste the link in HTML :P

Cram Complex said...

Impressive! Kudos to you for finding a solution to eliminate one of the hobbies' most time consuming part!

CheeseBall said...

OMG! This is incredible lateral thinking.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!

majeral said...

NICE BLOG, I do doll house miniatures, and have been a manicurist and did fake nails. I have a very powerful drill and it can go very slow or very fast. If you look around on craig list you may find one cheap. May of the manicuring tools work well for models etc.

LeftAngle said...

Years ago I'd given my expensive miniature power sander to a friend. Now, it turns out I need it. I was searching to replace it when I came across your brilliant hack. Thank you for saving me $200.