Roger Bisby tries out the Flex Giraffe sander
I have now tried around five different makes of Giraffe sander and each subsequent model has refinements that have put it up one notch from the one before. This one from Flex has a straight edge on the dust catcher, so you can sand right up to the edges. I haven’t seen that before and it does make it easier to run along corners. Having said that, the round sanding disc still only reaches the edge at one small point, so there is no more coverage. Flex does, however, make a large triangular head, so it is possible to change the head of the Giraffe while still keeping the neck. They also make a really impressive concrete sander, which removes form marks but can also be used for removing paint and graffiti.
The other features – a floating head that adjusts to the angle you are holding it at and perfect balance between head and arm – are common among all makes. The Flex seems a good deal quieter than some I have tried, which is no bad thing, if it were not for the fact that the dust extractor more than compensates for the motor and the self-cleaning filters. Don’t bother turning on the radio when you are using this – unless you have a bit of drum and base music that keeps time with the filter cleaner.
The dust extraction through the open mesh abrasive pad is so effective that, unless you happened to run off an external corner, you won’t see any dust. The Velcro backed pads hook onto a foam backing that allows the abrasive to keep contact over undulating surfaces. It is a dream to use.
Having tested so many sanders I was glad to have the fresh opinion and inspiration of a couple of plasterer friends of mine. The father and son team of Adam and Jordan John–Philip have carried out a fair amount of jointing, but it has never been their favourite job because of the sanding and the dust.
“I come out looking like Father Christmas and you have to ask what all that dust is doing to your lungs.”
They had never used a Giraffe sander with dust extractor, so I was looking forward to letting them have a go. To say they were impressed is an understatement. The way the head adjusts to the wall as you move the angle makes it an instinctive action, and within minutes they had sanded all the ridges off the wall and produced the kind of surface that would have taken hours with the old style pole sander.
“What is that banging noise?” asked Jordan
“That is the cleaning action on the dust extractors. It bangs the dust off automatically so it doesn’t clog,” I told them.
Jordan was so impressed that I had a job getting the tool back from them. I think he would have been happy using it all day long. I think they have put one on their shopping list and at the very least they will be hiring one on their next job. All they need is the right job to justify buying one. It certainly speeds the job up, and keeps the dust at bay, but it also gives a superb quality finish on jointing filler.
Incredibly, the thing that hadn’t really occurred to me before this test is that the potential uses for these sanders goes way beyond drylining. The way it smoothes and flattens walls ready for painting has to be seen to be believed. We ran it over some uneven walls where the paint and filler had been run up to some, now removed, built in wardrobes. There is even an attachment for removing wallpaper and cleaning down surfaces, and you can get short necked versions. Something like a lama.
For further information on Flex visit www.flex-tools.com