Make a Modelers Orbital Sander Out of a Toothbrush

28,744

108

44

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. 

Unusual Uses: Bathroom Challenge

First Prize in the
Unusual Uses: Bathroom Challenge

Share

    Recommendations

    • First Time Author

      First Time Author
    • Big and Small Contest

      Big and Small Contest
    • Toys Contest

      Toys Contest

    44 Discussions

    0
    None
    RandolphD

    3 years ago

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

    0
    None
    Mihsin

    4 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    None
    Clayton H.

    7 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    None
    chosenangelx

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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

    0
    None
    retrotimelord

    7 years ago on Step 4

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

    0
    None
    retrotimelord

    7 years ago on Step 4

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

    0
    None
    abadger1

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    0
    None
    janet777

    7 years ago on Step 4

    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.

    0
    None
    sanjay117

    7 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    None
    theartist09

    7 years ago on Step 4

    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.

    0
    None
    the poodleo

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    None
    the poodleo

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    0
    None
    confu

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    0
    None
    metlcutter

    7 years ago on Step 4

    I wonder how this would work with a needle file?

    0
    None
    richms

    7 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    None
    ilpug

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    0
    None
    Darwinfish

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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.