Best Palm Sander Buying Guide

Power Sander Buying Guide

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Choosing the best power sander to add to your workshop can be difficult. The sander is a true staple of any woodworker’s shop. While the reason that you need one may be obvious (sanding things) the option that is right for you might not be quite as clear.

Shopping for power tools is a complicated process with plenty of variables to consider if you are to get the one that is right for your needs. The power sander is no exception which is why today we will be taking an in-depth look at some of the things that you should consider before making your ultimate buying decision.

Read on for a comprehensive guide on choosing the right power sander!

Why You Need a Power Sander?

Good question. Technically you do not need one as sanding can be accomplished manually, which is actually much more affordable. Trust me when I saw, however, that you don’t want to manually sand your wood, especially if you are an avid do it yourselfer that is often subjected to this chore. It is slow, tedious, and boring.

The power sander makes sanding a little bit more enjoyable. It will save you time, and add a precision and consistency to your work that you just can’t get through manual sanding.

Now, if you don’t find yourself in the position of sanding very often, I would, of course, recommend against investing in a power sander as they can be a little bit pricey. My guess, however, is that if you are reading this article you don’t fall into that category.

Different Types of Power Sanders

As is true of most power tools, sanders come in different shapes and sizes which is why it is important to familiarize yourself with the different options available.

Belt Sander
For many people, the belt sander represents something of a gold standard for tools of this nature. It is powerful, versatile, and great for most sanding jobs. This tool is powered by a rear motor that feeds a continuous sanding belt over two cylindric drums. It is able to operate quickly and with great power making it a really good option for rough surfaces, and for scraping previous finishes off of workpieces.

Due to the design of the belt sander, it is to be used on flat surfaces. To properly operate this tool you must sand parallel to the grain and maintain a continuous motion to ensure that the workpiece does not suffer from sand depressions.

You can find the belt sander in a variety of different sizes. Smaller sanders will be easier to control and for that reason, more consistent than their larger counterparts. On the other hand, bigger sanders benefit from a little bit extra power which depending on to what extent you plan to use your sander can be a pretty big plus.

It’s a good, all around versatile tool that will be a great addition to the shop of any do it yourselfer that finds themselves in the need of sanding flat surfaces.

My recommendation would be for inexperienced DIYers to hold off on investing in the larger models until they have spent some time honing their skills.

Best Belt Sander

Makita 9403

The Makita 9403 is the quietest sander in its class with an operating rating of only 84 decibels. Extended base allows for easy flush sanding while the powerful 1,640 ft. / min. motor makes for speedy stock removal.

  • 11 AMP Motor
    Powerful motor to quickly remove stock using a 4″ wide belt.
  • Large Grip
    Roomy front grip for easy maneuverability.
  • 13 Pounds
    Weighing in at 13 pounds means it’s not too heavy and not too light.

Orbital Finishing Sander
The orbital finishing sander is a gentler tool that is generally quite compact and easy to operate with one hand. They also have the benefit of being on the quieter side which is nice as that is an attribute that very few power tools boast.

The orbital sander definitely is not nearly as powerful as its belted alternative which means that it isn’t going to be great for working through heavier stock removal. If you are looking to smooth over an edge or just put an extremely smooth finish on a workpiece, this tool will be great for you.

It can also be used to clear out chipping paint. If your needs extend beyond these functions you may need to invest in an additional sander—though if your budget allows I would recommend the orbital sander as well as it is very handy to have around.

The orbital sander functions by securing quarter sheets of sand paper between spring loaded clamps that hold the paper in place against the pad of the sander. Upon activation, the pad will then vibrate in the pattern of small circles that will allow the user to sand in multiple directions.

It is worth noting that, because this tool is not extremely powerful, it is a virtual guarantee that you won’t be damaging your workpiece. That being the case it is an excellent option for people that don’t have much experience.

Best Finishing Orbital Sander

Bosch OS50VC

An excellent orbital finshing sander featuring a powerful 3.4 AMP motor along with vibration control and variable speed control. The unique Sheetlock Supreme Paper clamping system allows for flexiblity with sanding paper choices.

  • Vibration Control
    Vibration control suspension system from Bosch minimizes vibration for less hand fatigue and increased comfort.
  • Microfilter Canister
    Twist-off dust canister is durable and compact. Shows dust level and features a microfilter system for trapping tiny particles.
  • Multiple Hand Positons
    Ergonmoic soft-grips found on the front handle, top, and rear handle allow for multiple hand placement options.

Random Orbit Sander
The name might very well lead one to believe that this next tool is the same as the last we looked at and indeed they are in many ways similar, both in appearance, and in the motion in which they engaged a workpiece—with both tools moving in an orbital or circular pattern.

There are two principal distinctions between the orbital finishing sander and the random orbit sander. The first is the fact that rather than using a square pad, the random orbit sander features a round one.

Second, this round pad both vibrates in a circular motion and spins in circles. The result is a tool that can be used in much the same way as a belt or orbital sander. While this tool won’t work through stock with quite the same speed as a belt sander it still gets the job done. As a bonus it is also capable of the ultra sooth sanding that characterizes the orbital sander.

It is for these reasons that the random orbit sander is the most versatile tool on the list. One thing that is worth noting is that it is going to be a little bit harder to control than the orbital sander which may hinder beginners.

That said, it is still the tool that I would recommend to anyone who is presently in the market for only one sander, as this model is able to embody the best qualities of both of the previous tools that we examined.

Best Random Orbital Sander

Bosch ROS20VSC

We've found that the best orbital sander for the money is the Bosch ROS20VSC. Feature packed with variable speeds, a 2.5 AMP motor and microfilter system, this power sander is hard to pass up.

  • Powerful Motor
    A powerful motor featuring variable 7,500 – 12,000 OPM with 2.5 AMP power.
  • Dust Canister
    Twist-off dust canister is durable and compact. Shows dust level and features a microfilter system for trapping tiny particles.
  • Comfort
    Ergonmoic soft-grips cover the top handle and body allowing for multiple hand placement options.

Buying Considerations

  • Inventory Your Needs – Before you decide on anything else, think about what you are going to be using your sander for. Do you need the power of the belt sander? The finesse of an orbital sander? Or something that offers a combination of both? Having a firm grasp of your needs will sharpen your focus and make your ultimate decision much easier.
  • Size – You will find that sanders come in all shapes in sizes. As I mentioned earlier, the bigger the sander, the more power you can expect it to have, while smaller sanders are going to be more precise.You definitely don’t want to pick up a tool that you won’t be able to control but a little bit of extra power is also always helpful.

    Consider your level of experience before deciding on a size. Are you confident in your ability to handle the larger tools, or would something that is a little more manageable be better suited for you? There is certainly no shame in being practical.

  • Price – An obvious but necessary consideration. Everyone has a budget, but the good news is that regardless of what yours is you can still find a good sander for a price that falls within it. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming you can’t get a good tool for a great deal. Do your research. There are plenty of great sanders out there that are available for a bargain price.
  • Warranty – People that have experience with power tools are already well-aware of the importance of a good warranty. With most power tools (and sanders are certainly no exception) there are lots of working parts that make the tool function the way that you want it to. Unfortunately, with all these parts there are also plenty of room for something to go wrong.

    When that happens, a good warranty is the only thing standing between you and an expensive bill so make sure that the sander you select has one.

  • Power Source – This is another consideration that pertains to most power tools. You are going to find sanders that are powered either by a cord that extends to a wall outlet, or by rechargeable batteries.

There are pros and cons to both. Cordless sanders are a little bit easier to move around but they also tend to be not as powerful. Meanwhile, corded sanders do benefit from extra power but they lose out on mobility.


Well, as you can see, there is a lot to consider as you look to purchase a power sander. The good news is that there’s really no going wrong. All three of the different types of sanders that we looked at are designed to turn a tedious task into something that is quicker and easier than it has ever been before. Just do your research, take into consideration our buying tips and use this information to pick the perfect sander. Trust me, your woodwork will thank you for it.

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