Make a Modelers Orbital Sander Out of a Toothbrush

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Introduction: Make a Modelers Orbital Sander Out of a Toothbrush

I make a lot of models and since I am always short of cash, improvisation is the norm. So trying to sand a new coat of primer in the tiny crevices of a model I had the brain wave to use an electric toothbrush as an orbital sander. 5 minutes later, success!

This works so well and with disposable toothbrushes being so cheap, I have several of them with different grades of sand paper pre-bonded for different jobs.

Step 1: What You Need.

An old toothbrush (preferably your own)
Some form of contact adhesive
Heavy duty scissors
Sandpaper
Coffee

Step 2: The First Cut

I tried various methods of getting the "Mat" that holds the bristles off, even tried burning them first but have now settled on this method as the quickest and least smelly. The bristles are mounted on to a mat that is easy to pull out in one go if you can just gain access from one or more sides. Make your arrow head shaped cuts to the head of the toothbrush and peel the mat off and discard. 

Step 3: Glue and Grit

Once you have achieved the desired shape of the head for the project that you are busy with, liberally coat the head with contact adhesive and allow to dry. Coat the non-grit side of the sandpaper as well.

Once both surfaces are dry, clamp together with clothes pegs for 5-10 minutes.

Job done!

Step 4: Sand Away!!!

You can now get in to those little nooks and crannies to do the work that can be the difference between an okay model and a really good model. Once the batteries are flat, then you can throw away the toothbrush. 

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    44 Comments

    Congratulations! And reading other comments below it is easy to see all the ramifications this idea will generate :)

    Now I can proudly tell my wife why I saved those brushes.

    I absolutely love this project. Excellent work.

    wouldn't be best if you slapped a piece of foam between the sandpaper and tooth brush so it handles better on contours?

    I tried this for one of my models a couple years ago... and it really didnt work... any idea why?? is your toothbrush the kind which does a quick rotation? or one that just vibrates?? this idea would only work on toothbrushes that vibrate.. and not ones that rotate. Good Job though!
    Cheers,
    R

    Even MacGyvar would be pleased with this one.....Genius

    But i stiil give it 5 satrs YOU BLOODY GENIUS!!!!!!

    dont you think it would be better to some how take the flat battery out and replace it with 2 AA battery's

    I JUST thought about turning an electric toothbrush into a sander to get out the paint that hides in the divots of a weld (On bicycles and such), and cruised over here because I knew for certain someone else would think the same. THX man!

    You have a very handy idea there! This will really help with my clay sculpture, in those impossible areas. I am going to try wet sand paper in order to make the tool last longer. Thank you for posting this very clear tutorial.

    hurrrayyyy!
    its a great idea
    can anybody make hand grinder of simillar type?
    keep it up!

    how would this work using velcro and the hook & loop sandpaper? Have you tried this yet? I really like your idea, but i just thought of that when i saw what you had made.

    Oh, im making an instructable about filling the seams on models, can i just put a link to this in it because it would be a great tool.

    thats a great idea! i mean, you can get small sanding sticks and stuff, but it is definetly hard to get the proper leverage without damaging you're model. i never thought of using anything to make it vibrate though. It would definetly be great for airplanes, because when teh have the raised panel lines, you need to sand them.

    Very, very great idea! If U didn´t notice yet, it made it to the makezine blog recently:

    http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/05/how-to-detail-sander-from-disposable-electric-toothbrush.html

    Since I do not have amounts of one-way brushes hiding in my flat, I´m now thinking about a quick-release / quick change mechanism for using different "tools" (?) on my my worn out sonicare toothbrush. Which wasn´t that cheap, but it´s down and that would be a really cool repurpose for it.
    Detail work with "ultrasonic" power :D

    I already thought about velcro and double sided tape as mentioned in the other comments, this may work for sanding but I think that would not be sturdy enough to attach a file or maybe even a tiny sawblade or cutting disk...
    With a sonicare I could imagine that its powerful and/or fast enough to do even finer metalworking...
    We´ll see. If I can afford a new one and hack the old, I will post it here, promised!
    Keep on!

    I wonder how this would work with a needle file?

    Did you try double sided tape at all? Would be faster than the glue, but I dont know if it would hold well enough.

    If i could make patches, you would get one. i am a pro at making miniature terrain, and this will help in so many ways. simple and genius. i wont go on forever, but this is awesome!

    If necessity is the mother of invention, cheapness is the father. :D I did something similar with a rotary brush, only I wired it to a model train transformer. Works great.