SurfPrep Sander – What you need to get started!

Looking for a new tool? The info overload is real! Don’t worry, I’m here to help you figure out exactly what you need to get started with a SurfPrep sander. Let’s dig in and make sure you can cut through the noise. I’ll share the essentials so you can make an informed decision and add this must-have tool to your kit. Let’s create something great together!

The SurfPrep sander stands out as a versatile and powerful tool that makes managing all sorts of sanding projects a breeze. Whether you’re working on smoothing out rough surfaces, prepping furniture for painting, or giving a fine finish to your woodworking projects, the SurfPrep sander is up to the task.

what you need to get started with a SurfPrep 3x4 sander

If you’ve recently purchased one, or want to purchase one, this will be an invaluable resource for all the projects you have lined up, designed to help you get the most out of your new tool. You’re about to take your sanding game to the next level, and we’re here to help you along the way.

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Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, I will provide you with all the information and tips you need for your new sander. I have the 3″ x 4″ Electric Ray SurfPrep sander with vacuum capabilities. I LOVE it!

And if you’re still on the fence, scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the links to my other posts on the Surfprep Sander with my honest review, and what happened when I put the SurfPrep sander to the test, as well as a cheap alternative if you are on a budget!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I also may earn from other qualifying purchases with other companies or get free product to review and use. All opinions are my own.

surfprep sanding coupon code RAY10

SurfPrep Sanding System

Ready to get your hands dirty? The SurfPrep sanding system right here is your ultimate starting line. Think of it as your all-in-one starter kit packed with everything you need to create with confidence. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s the scoop on what’s inside:

  • the sander of your choice (I chose 3″ x 4″ Electric Ray Vacuum Compatible).
  • a variety pack of foam pads (the 5mm, 10mm and 1/2″ pads in a variety of grits)
  • film Sheets (in a variety of grits)
  • a pad saver
  • and an interface pad.
Surfprep sanding system

Alright, let’s dig in! Below, you’ll find a clear, no-fuss breakdown of each product in the sanding system, plus a peek at the extra goodies I picked up. Everything you need to make sure your next project is a masterpiece. Don’t worry, we’ve got all the details covered for you.

What Is a SurfPrep Sander?

The SurfPrep 3″ x 4″ Electric Ray Orbital Sander with vacuum compatibility is the exact model I currently use. This particular orbital sander is designed for efficiency and convenience, plugging directly into the wall just like traditional sanders, but with advanced features that set it apart.

I specifically chose the 3″ x 4″ size with vacuum capability because of its unique rectangular shape, which is perfect for reaching into corners and tight spaces where round sanders simply can’t go. Also, its compact size was a significant factor in my decision; I was looking for a tool that was easy to move around and wouldn’t be cumbersome during long projects.

Choosing this model was a no-brainer, thanks to its vacuum feature. It cuts down on dust when you’re sanding, making sure your workspace stays cleaner and cleanup’s a breeze.

Over on our SurfPrep Electric Ray 3×4″ Sander blog, we dig into the many features and benefits, (and even the cons) that make it a fan favorite! Check it. It’s all about comfort with its ergonomic design, making sure you don’t wear out while working on your projects.

Plus, the variable speed settings? They’re a game changer, allowing you to have precise control and create exactly what you envision. Whether you’re a pro woodworker or a DIYer, getting to know this sander will definitely up your game, making your work not just easier, but top-notch.

surfprep electric ray sander

SurfPrep Foam Pads

These flexible foam pads are the main reason that I got the SurfPrep sander in the beginning! These hook and loop (aka velcro) pads are made for easy sanding of curvy and detailed objects, creating a smooth finish on even the trickiest surfaces.

They are available in a variety of thicknesses and densities, catering to different needs. The 1/2″ thick foam pad stands out for its flexibility and lower density compared to its counterparts, the 10mm and the 5mm foam pads. The particular thickness makes the 1/2″ pad more suitable for applications requiring a gentle touch and adaptability. On the other hand, the 10mm and 5mm foam pads are designed for more rigid applications.

If you’re sanding cabinet doors, watch this quick SurfPrep video on how the 10mm foam pads really come in handy!

SurfPrep Film Sheets

Dig into the future of sanding with film sheets! They’re a game-changer, way beyond the old-school sandpaper you’ve been using with your orbital sander. This cool material beats regular sandpaper hands down! It’s tough as nails, so don’t worry about it tearing. Plus, it makes sanding a breeze, so you can get your projects smooth and done faster.

Designed with a super handy hook and loop (that’s velcro to you and me) backing, they make sure attaching and detaching from your sander is a breeze. Just like swapping out foam pads. Don’t worry about wasting time; these sheets let you swap them fast, keeping your sanding projects flowing smoothly and without a hitch.

surfprep interface pad, pad saver, abrasives

SurfPrep Pad Saver

When you’re getting ready to tackle your next project with the SurfPrep Sander, make sure not to skip on a super important little hero – the SurfPrep pad saver. This nifty addition is more than just an accessory; it’s your sander’s best friend. Here’s why:

Using a SurfPrep Pad Saver under any SurfPrep Abrasives is like giving your sander a shield. It’s all about keeping the pad in top-notch condition, preventing it from getting ruined. You know how annoying it can be when you’re in the flow, creating something amazing, and bam, your gear starts acting up. Don’t worry, though. With the Pad Saver, you’re safeguarding against those pesky issues like smashed or melted hook and loop systems that can really put a damper on your work.

It’s simple but effective. The Pad Saver takes all the hits, so your sander’s pad doesn’t have to. Plus, it means you can keep sanding smoother for longer, ensuring your projects turn out just as awesome as you planned. Trust me, it’s a small step that’ll make a big difference in the longevity and performance of your SurfPrep Sander.

SurfPrep Interface Pad

I love the interface pad in conjunction with regular sheet abrasives! Basically it turns your film sheets or sanding screens into a foam pad! I’m not exactly sure what the density is compared to the foam pads, but it’s slightly more dense than the 1/2″ foam pads.

You can attach the soft (grey) interface pad to the sander, and then attach an abrasive of your choice to the interface pad. Voila! You have a foam pad with your choice of grit!

The other great thing about the interface pad is that you can attach a foam pad to it! So you can get about twice as much flexibility out of your 1/2″ foam pad! It’s perfect for when you need more flexibility for sanding around things like turned legs.

surfprep interface pads with attached surfprep foam pad

Choosing the Right Abrasives and Sanding Pads

A burning question we’ve encountered is, “What sandpaper and foam pads do I need to buy?” The answer depends largely on your most frequent applications. Personally, I find myself reaching for the 1/2″ SurfPrep foam pads most often in fine, very fine, and medium grits. But I also keep coarse grit pads handy for projects where I need to remove an old finish on curves.

Consider buying the screen abrasives for efficient sanding! Although a bit pricier, they tend to outperform and outlast others. The yellow paper sheets may save you some initial cash, but they quickly clog, while the green SurfPrep film sheets are excellent for standard sanding tasks. Screens, however, seem to be unmatched in quality for most projects.

Having some of the 5mm and 10mm Surfprep foam pads is nice as well, especially for those middle of the road detailed surfaces. But, I personally don’t use them often, so I wouldn’t buy many.

Getting the system kit that includes a variety of abrasives is a smart move, as it allows you to explore which types best fit your needs. You can then order more of the ones you prefer for future projects.

I bought some extra 1/2″ foam pads and more film sheets in the grits that I use the most often. Remember, you can always purchase more accessories later! After you try out the different types of abrasives for yourself, you can always go back and purchase more of what you will actually use.

Also, SurfPrep has amazing customer service, so if you have any questions about any of their products, they are quick and happy to help you make the right choices for your needs. I actually had a couple of extra vacuum parts in my cart, but when I told them what I was about to purchase, they steered me in the right (cheaper) direction that was best for me.

How to Attach SurfPrep Sander to Shop Vacuum

The other awesome feature of the SurfPrep sander is the ease at which you can hook your shop vacuum or dust collector to the sander. If you’re not sure what hose and adapter you need for your shop vacuum, click over to the vacuum adapter and accessories guide and learn which accessories are the best for you and your setup.

For my specific setup, in addition to the sanding system, I purchased a 1″-1.25″ universal vacuum hose reducer and a 4′ flexible vacuum hose. One end of the flexible vacuum hose easily twists into the sander, while the other twists into the hose reducer. Then the hose reducer slides snuggly over my orange RIDGID shop-vac hose.

SurfPrep has a variety of hoses and attachments to fit any shop vac or dust collection system too!

Update: I recently bought the SurfPrep Vacuum POV-8, to review it. Make sure to check out our SurfPrep Vacuum POV-8 review here to learn all about it and if it’s the right investment for you.

surfprep sander with shop vacuum flex hose attachment

the Right Shop Vacuum for SurfPrep Sander

Another question we often hear is, “What size shop vacuum do I need for my SurfPrep Sander?” You’ll want a shop vacuum with at least 6 horsepower. This power is key for strong suction. Sanders generate a lot of fine dust, and a strong vacuum will make sure that it’s properly removed from your workspace. Additionally, look for a shop vacuum with good quality filters to prevent clogging and maintain maximum suction.

To be honest though, do not expect your vacuum to suck up all of the dust. There will still be some dust on the surface of your project. This is completely normal. But you will notice the vacuum removes most of the dust on the surface and in the air, making it possible to sand indoors without making a mess or causing health issues.

If you are still on the fence about purchasing your own SurfPrep Sander, check out

Where to Buy SurfPrep Sander

I’ve linked to all of the products throughout this post. They all lead directly to SurfPrep’s website where you can buy the SurfPrep sander and accessories. You can also find 3rd party sellers who are selling SurfPrep products. I personally would go with SurfPrep over the 3rd party sellers because I know for a fact that SurfPrep has amazing customer service and has double checked that my order is correct for me.

If you want to the the SurfPrep 3″ x 4″ Sander in action, check out this video I made about my honest thoughts.

Can you use a SurfPrep sander without a vacuum?

Yes, you can definitely use a SurfPrep sander without a vacuum! While the vacuum capability is a great feature for keeping dust to a minimum, it’s not necessary for using the sander. You can still get amazing results without it. Plus, you can always add on the vacuum attachments later if you decide you want them.

If you don’t have a vacuum though, it’s best to sand outside or in a well-ventilated area. Sanding can create a lot of dust, so you want to make sure you’re not breathing that in. You can also wear a respirator to help protect yourself.

But I recommend investing in a vacuum eventually, because it really does make sanding with the SurfPrep sander a breeze. Plus, it helps keep your workspace cleaner and healthier for you and anyone else around.

So don’t worry if you don’t have a vacuum right now – the SurfPrep sander is still an amazing tool to use without one. And again, when you’re ready, you can easily upgrade your sanding experience by adding on the vacuum attachments.

Foam Sanding Pads for Other sanders

Yes, you can use SurfPrep pads on other sanders! In fact, SurfPrep has a wide variety of foam pads for other sanders designed to fit different types and brands of sanders. If you have a 5″ or 6″ orbital sander, rectangular sander, or detail sander, just choose from the different thicknesses and hole options to fit your exact needs.

Make sure to pay attention to the hole spacing and size of the foam pad compared to your sander for a perfect fit. So if you don’t have a sander from SurfPrep yet, you can still use their high-quality foam pads on your current sander.

And when you’re ready to upgrade to a SurfPrep sander, you can easily switch out the pads and continue using the same reliable brand for all of your sanding needs!

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  1. Rose Brown says:

    I just got a new 3×4 electric ray sander and a 5.0 rigid shop vac but it suck up very much of the dust. The suction from the shop vac is strong but when the hose is attached it doesn’t seem to suck up the dust although the dust doesn’t seem to fly around like with other palm sanders.
    So far the sander is great but I feel like I wasted money to get vac compatable parts.
    Is there a trick to that part

    1. Hey Rose!
      I don’t think that the shop vac will suck up ALL of the dust the sander creates. I’ve seen claims that it will from other people (not SurfPrep), but my sander hooked up to the shop vac still leaves some dust on the surface. But the huge difference that I’ve seen is that there ISN’t any dust in the air! That is huge to me!
      One tip – there are 2 little plugs on the sides of the sander that can come off and will suck up more dust (I believe mostly just the dust in the air).
      Best of luck!!

  2. Cecilia from Georgia says:

    I have decided to buy the Surf Prep 3′-4′ Electric and appreciate all the information you have provided and the discount! Is the 10% discount still available with code RAY10? I’m delighted to have found your blog and you will be hearing more from me (that could be a good or bad thing!!) I turn 70 this month and sanding furniture by hand takes so much time and energy. So, for my birthday, I’m treating myself to a Surf Prep!

    1. Yay!! Yep the RAY10 discount code is still good! Best of luck on your adventures!

    2. Caroline Narwani says:

      I’m also thinking of buying the 3×4 sander and wanted to know what all did you buy with it. Its quite overwhelming ..not sure to grits and what all is needed to get. Please give me an idea of what you bought.

      1. It depends on what you are using the sander for the most.
        I use the 1/2 foam pads the most. In fine, very fine and medium. But I like to have some coarse on hand as well.
        I like the screen abrasives the best. They yellow sheets are cheaper, but they aren’t as good and they get gunk in them easier. And the green film ones work great for regular sanding. But the screens are the best.
        It’s also nice to have some of the 5mm and 10 mm sanding foam on hand. But I don’t use them as much.

        Getting the system kit that comes with a variety of the different types of sandpaper is super helpful, so then you know what things you will like the best. Then you can order more of what you will actually use.
        Hope that helps!

  3. Jen Taylor says:

    I am soooo happy to have found your page! You answered ALL of the questions I had and helped to eliminate every bit of anxiety I’ve had for the past 2 years. The second I discovered the SurfPrep sander, I knew I had to have it. Sanding is my most dreaded part of being a furniture artist and honestly, I have been unable to even do it anymore due to health issues. I am going straight from this site and finally placing my order! I truly cannot thank you enough for all of the information and tips that you have so graciously shared. ~ Jen

  4. The information you provided was incredibly helpful and gave me the confidence I needed to order the correct SurfPrep sander. Thank you very much!

  5. Jennifer M. says:

    This helped so much! Thank you!

  6. julia de saracho says:

    Hi, I also have another question….
    have you used the dust deputy with your shop vac and SurfPrep?
    thank you

  7. Sandy Hawkins says:

    What size shop vac do I actually need to use? How much suction and what capacity?

    1. The biggest thing to look for when shopping for a shop vac is to make sure it has at least 6 horsepower… I believe that’s what I read from SurfPrep. It needs to be powerful enough to create suction in the sander to pickup the dust. I can’t find the information now to make sure that’s what it was. I don’t believe you have to have a certain capacity.

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