The Sonic Scrubber is one of the finest tools available for its unintended purpose. As a cleaning tool, it’s very bad. Just bad. But as a plastic model sander, it’s amazingly good. It takes all of the drudgery out of sanding a model, and that’s something that I really, really appreciate. “Rubbing down,” when we’re taking about the scritch scritch scritch of sandpaper on plastic, is anathema to me. In other words, it’s as bad as The Star Spangled Banner, and that’s saying something.
I first saw a Sonic Scrubber on a TV infomercial that was as corny as it was compelling. I knew this thing might be a good sander, but I had to get one to find out.
Enter the “As Seen on TV” store at the Mall of America. I got one of these things in my hot, sweaty little hand mostly because it was at the store at the mall. I would never send off for something from an infomercial, but this was, well, it was right there, where I could get a good look at it.
So I took it home and started experimenting with making sanding pads for it. Let’s get one thing straight, if cleaning a Dorito crumb from an Xbox controller would save the world, the Sonic Scrubber would destroy the world. Okay? But as a sander for plastic it can’t be beat. Most power tools are just too darned powerful for plastic. They melt it or slash away a huge hunk before you can cut the power.
The Sonic Scrubber gently scrubs away nasty putty and paint and bad joins and smooths out anything on a plastic model so painlessly that you’ll go off your meds by mistake. It’s that good. The secret is that it is woefully inadequate at grinding or cutting. It just gently sands. This means you don’t have to worry about cutting too deeply or fouling up the job with a moment’s inattention. You have to be pretty drunk to not pay attention for the amount of time this thing would take to do serious damage.
But if it’s so slow, how can it be good? Well, in this case, slow is good. You choose how fast you want it to “cut” by choosing the grade of sandpaper, just as you would for manual sanding (shudder). And any type–any kind of sandpaper can be used because you can make the sanding pads yourself.
You start with some self-adhesive velcro pads.
These are 3/4″ diameter or 1.9 centimeter royale. I got them at the world’s greatest man store, Ax-Man. Ax-Man is the be-all and end-all of weird “surplus” stuff in Minnesota and if you don’t have a similar store where you are then you need to move.
The little round fuzzy pad is simply peeled off and stuck to the back of the sandpaper.
Then you cut it out with scissors. It’s so easy it feels like it should be illegal. You now have a little sanding pad.
The Sonic Scrubber has a velcro “hooks” pad BUILT IN! It’s like some kind of divine plan coming together!
You can make a whole bunch of different sanding pads,
These things are on sale for twenty-five dollars American from Amazon. Worth every penny, in my humble opinion. One thing to keep in mind is that you will develop a “feel” for the tool over time. You will know when it is biting in and when it’s just riding over the surface. It’s not quite as easy as it looks, but with a little practice you’ll be abolishing old records for fastest time to sand down a filled wing root seam or carve a nosecone to shape.
Maynard, this too is good stuff.