Poly-Fast Sanding Machine for Polymer Clay

Read the review about the Poly-Fast sanding machine for polymer clay. Will it make sanding easier?Sanding polymer clay is one of those chores that few people enjoy. There are ways to make it easier, and you can learn all about them in my Sanding and Buffing eBook. In the course of doing research for that eBook last year, I came across a new sanding tool for polymer clay called the Poly-Fast. Made in Belgium by Jean Vilain and Sofia Baptista, the Poly-Fast sanding machine is the only polymer clay specific machine on the market. Jean and Sofia have been very responsive to the suggestions that I had for improvements in the Poly-Fast. They’ve also worked with focus groups to learn exactly how clayers will use a sanding machine. I’ve been quite impressed with how proactive they are in responding to feedback as well.

About the Poly-Fast Sanding Machine

The Poly-Fast is a hand-held sanding tool for use with polymer clay. It is 8″ long (20.5 cm) and about 1 3/8″ wide (3.5 cm), and weighs just 5.6 oz (160 g). The Poly-Fast is battery operated, using two AA batteries. It is not rechargeable, but you can use rechargeable AA batteries if you’d like.

The Poly-Fast polymer clay sanding tool uses two AA batteries.

The Poly-Fast comes with a removable head that has the hook side of velcro attached to it. The sanding tool comes in a clear clamshell case with holes to hold 8 grits of velcro-backed sandpaper discs. The kit includes 10 circles of each of these grits, ranging from P80 to P1500 grit. You can also buy replacement sandpaper discs in individual grit ratings as well as additional grits in P2000, P2500, and P3000.

The sandpaper disks of the Poly-Fast have velcro on the back so they can be attached to the sanding heads.

In addition to replacement sandpaper discs, you can also buy extra velcro-topped sanding heads. These are not strictly necessary, but it does make changing grits much easier. Just swap out the entire head rather than peeling off wet sandpaper.

The Poly-Fast sanding machine for polymer clay uses interchangeable heads, making it easy to change grits.

The regular sanding heads are not padded, but I didn’t find them to be too hard. The velcro itself does give some cushioning. But if you want a cushioned surface, you can also buy padded replacement heads so you can better sand rounded or curved surfaces.

The Poly-Fast sanding tool for polymer clay can use padded sanding heads, making it easier to sand curved surfaces.

The Poly-Fast box doesn’t come with any documentation, but there is an English manual in the works. For now, there is a section on the website full of informational videos in both French and English. They’re very clear and easy to understand.

How Does the Poly-Fast Work?

Unlike other sanding tools you might have used, the Poly-Fast sanding machine uses a vibrating motion of 65 times per second. The batteries go into the handle, but the motor is in the head part. The handle is separated from the vibrating head by a black flexible shock-absorbing section. This means that the vibrations that the Poly-Fast makes are not felt in your hand. This is especially true if you hold the tool lightly. Also, try a grip similar to how you hold a pen, and not as you’d hold a sword. This vibrating motion is very fast and quite powerful, but surprisingly quiet.

The Poly-Fast sanding machine for polymer clay is held in the hand like a pen, applying smoothness to your clay.

I was pleased to find that the sanding motion is very effective at removing clay quickly. But it doesn’t create ridges or gouges in the clay. When I first saw the Poly-Fast, I assumed that it would skitter across the surface and be difficult to control. But it’s not. In fact, it works better than I expected it to! An added bonus is that the vibration motion somehow reduces sandpaper loading, making the sandpaper last longer than with other sanding machines.

Using the Poly-Fast Sanding Machine

Since the motor of the Poly-Fast is in the head, you can’t completely submerge it into water. But because the removable sanding heads are deep, you can easily submerge the sandpaper without getting the motor wet. To wet sand, just dip the tip of the Poly-Fast into the water, turn on the machine, and begin sanding. You don’t have to turn it off again before you put the tip back into the water, but you might want to. Otherwise the water will fly around a bit. You can’t really sand things while submerged. Because the Poly-Fast motor doesn’t have a cooling system, the manufacturer recommends that you give it a 10-15 minute rest after 30 minutes of sanding.

You can sand round beads with the Poly-Fast by using the cushioned sanding heads and by folding the sandpaper disc a few times to make it more flexible. Because the head is vibrating and not rotating, it doesn’t have to be a perfect cup shape to sand a round bead. Note that I put the bead onto a ball-end tool to act as a handle for the bead. (That’s another trick from my Sanding and Buffing eBook.)

You can sand round beads with the Poly-Fast by using the padded heads and folding your sandpaper before use.

Occasionally, you need to sand things that are awkwardly shaped and you would have difficulty fitting the Poly-Fast into tight quarters. You can address this by attaching the sandpaper to extend slightly beyond the edge of the sanding head. This will allow the sandpaper to reach tight areas. Because of the vibrating action, the sanding happens without the head moving much at all.

You can reach awkward spaces by attaching the sandpaper circle slightly off the sanding head.

Poly-Fast Hacks (or Tips and Tricks)

When you first get the Poly-Fast, open the case and mark the back of all the sandpaper discs with the grit number. Since they all look very similar, this is an easy way of knowing which grit a particular disc has.

Here's a tip. If the sandpaper circle doesn't have the grit marked, write it with a Sharpie before they all get messed up.

There are only eight slots to hold sandpaper, but you can carry extra discs or packages of higher grits by lifting the tray and storing them underneath.

You can store extra sandpaper circles by putting them under the tray of the Poly-Fast.

Be very careful about peeling off the sandpaper when you change grits. The velcro holds pretty tightly and you can peel off the hook side of the velcro when you remove the sandpaper disc. To avoid this, always hold the velcro down with your thumb. You can also try using a credit card to separate the two in one easy motion. There’s a video on their website that shows how to do this. The company knows about this flaw…they say it’s due to the vibrating action and the water…and they are working on finding a solution.

You can use any velcro-backed sandpaper with the Poly-Fast. Use a circle cutter punch (for scrapbooking) to cut the circles. But I have found that velcro-backed sandpaper is difficult to find in small quantities in the US, especially at reasonable prices. For this reason, I recommend re-ordering your sandpaper from Poly-Fast. It supports their business and it’s easier for you. Shipping prices are quite reasonable considering this is overseas shipping for most of us.

If you do have my Sanding and Buffing eBook, then you know about Abranet. Yes, Abranet will work beautifully with the Poly-Fast. In fact, I think that would turn a good machine into a fantastic machine!

Another thing to mention (and this is also explained in my eBook), is that the Poly-Fast sandpaper discs use the FEPA grit scale, which is different from the grit in the US. A P1000 grit is roughly equivalent to a 500 grit in North American sandpaper.

What is My Recommendation?

Do I recommend the Poly-Fast sanding machine for polymer clay? In a word, yes. I still prefer, personally, to sand by hand for a perfect finish. I like having a “relationship” with the piece I am sanding, and I need to feel the clay for that to happen. But the Poly-Fast does exactly what it is designed to do, and it does it well. If you have difficulty sanding by hand and need a sanding machine, then I do recommend the Poly-Fast. I think you’ll like it a lot.

However, I will admit that I do find myself reaching for the Poly-Fast because all the grits and the tool are in one convenient box. When I have a single piece to sand, I often grab the box and head for the kitchen sink. It takes just a few minutes to use and it’s so much less messy than a dozen wet, soppy sheets of sandpaper draped over a box to dry.

Where to Buy the Poly-Fast?

You can buy the Poly-Fast sanding machine from the Poly-Fast website. The Poly-Fast ships from Belgium, but it can be delivered anywhere in the world. The currency is quoted in Euros, but you can find the most current exchange rate here. The prices are really quite reasonable, even the shipping, and with the current exchange rates, the US dollar has a favorable advantage at the moment.

If you’re in Australia, good news! 2Wards Polymer Clay is a distributor for the Poly-Fast and you can order from them.

Learn More About
the Poly-Fast

Disclaimer: I received the Poly-Fast and accessories for review purposes. As always, I don’t have any affiliation with other companies and my opinions are my own! Not sure about my policy on reviews? See my Terms and Conditions.

16 thoughts on “Poly-Fast Sanding Machine for Polymer Clay”

  1. I’m really considering getting one of these. Have been researching it all day. I have a dremel that I planned on buying more pad / collets for and then came across this instead. I really like that it i battery operated, I’m always afraid of the amount of electricity constantly running through the dremel. I sand quite a bit. I also like that the vibrating action looks more gentle than the rotating dremel head. I’ve damaged many pieces with the dremel. Do you think a dremel is still the overall better machine for sanding, or should I keep my dremel for drilling, and go to the poly-fast for sanding/buffing? If so, would you recommend any of the high-grit pads that didn’t come with the kit? Thanks!

    1. A dremel is a pretty difficult tool to use for sanding. If you really do need a motorized tool, the Poly-Fast is a good one. But to be frankly honest, the best investment you can make is in learning how to sand effectively so that you don’t need to use a motorized tool. I have all the sanding tools and I never use them. It’s just faster and more effective for me to do it by hand. Knowing how to sand means you have much less sanding to do. Learn more here: Sanding and Buffing eBook.

  2. As things stand I personally would not recommend this tool. I bought it aproximately 2 years ago and another batch the year after. Why so many? At first I wanted a second one to be able to switch during the cooling down periods. The second set I bought a year later, again two Polyfasts, because I hoped that they may have improved.
    Don’t get me wrong the machine is great and if it works it is really good for sanding Polymer Clay. Unfortunately the “if it works” is the problem here. Of the 4 machines I bought, only one actually is still working. One shut down after a very short time of use (maybe two weeks), the other two keep heating up after 5 minutes and/or are very loud and the motor runs unevenly. Only one is still working and I am happy with the results…
    I keep hoping for them to improve their tool – especially the motors they use – and I have been meaning to contact them for forever about these issues, but could not find the time yet. If they ever get around to adressing these bugs (or even do some quality control before mailing), it will be an awesome tool.

    1. I’m sorry that you’ve had trouble with the Poly-Fast. I do urge you to contact the company, however. It’s a bit unfair to complain about a product before first giving them a chance to solve the problem. If you do contact them, please update us with what they said. Thanks!

      1. Hello all – I did contact them and they are super nice! They did send me a replacement and they are also trying out a new design for their Polyfast Sander with some holes where the motor is to prevent overheating.
        This also means one has to be a bit more careful when doing wet sanding but since it is far up the shaft it should not be too much of a problem.
        Unfortunately I could not do a lot of testing yet because I’ve been outrageously busy but the first impression is very good! They seem to be working great and all is happiness here 🙂 – really so because in itself I find the Polyfast Sander such a great product it is really perfect and easy to use, just what I have been looking for. If the new ones all work fine I will be very happy indeed. I will report back after testing 🙂 Thanks for your support and the great work, Ginger!

  3. Is there a customer service number for the company that make the polyfast. We have used it this past week and it keeps shutting down. Wasn’t even 5 mins when it just stopped. It’s not the battery either. We have actually used 4 sets of batteries already too. Paid 70.00 and it looks like we might have too just throw away. If you have any direct contact info it would be greatly appreciated

    1. I’m sorry you’ve run into trouble. They don’t have a customer service number (they’re a tiny company and the owner doesn’t speak much English), but you can contact them by email at hello@poly-fast.com. In my experience, they’ve been very responsive and I’m sure they’ll attend to this as soon as possible. (This is a weekend, so give them a bit of time, however.)

  4. This is an excellent review, Ginger – thank you! Do you know if it sands flat surfaces well? For example if I had a 2″ rectangular pendant made from polymer clay, could I sand the flat top and the edges with the Poly-Fast Sanding Machine and keep them flat and straight, or is it better for curvy things?

    1. Yes, it does well with both flat and curved surfaces. You might also want to get the extra spongy heads a they have some give to them. You’ll always get the most control with hand sanding, but if you need to use a machine, the Poly-Fast is very good.

  5. I bought the Poly Fast. After the long trip from Europe all the sand papers were all over the box. They do not have the number of grid do is a headache to figure it out.
    What can I do???
    Emma Sezzi

  6. As always, an excellent review! I have been on the fence about buying the polyfast sander. Like you, I prefer hand sanding. However, my production has ramped up. Realistically, I am going to have to look to power sanding methods to keep up with customer demand. So, this review comes at a good time for me.

  7. Pingback: Fanciful Allure’s Review- The Poly-Fast Clay Sander #oneofakind #polymerclay – Fanciful Allure

  8. That was a great review on this product. I had watched Cindy Leitz’s video also last week on this same product. I still prefer my Jool Tool and using my grits in the tumbler because I do so many at one time. However since I became a huge fan of Abranet and bought several sets of it, I might just try the tool and make some abranet sanding disks for it for singular pieces that are one of a kind. As always Doll, I love reading your reviews, I think it’s because you get straight to the point and are very technical about the products you review.

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