Palm Sanders fall in the smoothening family. There are many Sanders out there. Examples of these are the belt sanders, orbital sanders, and random-orbit sanders. For today, our primary focus will be determining the best palm sander to help guide in buying this product.
In this article, we’ll be learning how to distinguish palm sanders from other types. More importantly, we’ll also discuss the proper applications of each sander. That will give us a clearer idea on how to use it, which in turn will make for a better investment!
Last update on 2019-07-20 at 08:57 PST - Details
The Three Types of Sanders and What’s Best for You
Some of you here might think of getting a palm sander without actually knowing it. It’s pretty much a typical case, considering that other types of sanders are very confusing.
However, depending on your project, you’d have to know what type you’ll need. Using a wrong kind of sander can damage your project, making it worse instead of polishing it.
With that, here are the three top types of sanders that you should take into consideration:
1. Random Orbital Sanders
Random orbital sanders can be confused with original palm sanders. That is because the palm sander became its sort of the second name. The reason for this is because of two subtypes that fall below it.
These two subtypes are the palm sander and the pistol sander. These names are taken based on how you grip the sander, as well as how you operate it. However, you should take note that the random Orbital's “palm sander subtype” is different from the actual “palm sander type.”
As you’ve guessed, the subtype palm sanders get their name because you palm the sander with your hand. On the flip side, the other palm sander that we’ll be discussing is the same in this regard.
On the other hand, Pistol Sanders have a design that is similar to a gun. Thus, it has a snout and a handle, with the sanding pad attached to the muzzle.
So, why is it also called random orbital sanders? Well, to begin, it’s important to be aware that there is a type called orbital sanders. These are the tools that go in circular motions but are limited to it.
With the random orbital sander, you’ll have more freedom on how to manipulate the sanding pad. That is because not only does it go in circular motions, but you can also go freestyle with this product. It’s great all around because of its versatility.
2. Palm Sander/Finishing Sander
Now we’re here on our primary focus for this article. It is the actual palm sander type, not the previous one we’ve discussed. Now, you might get confused already, but the best way to differentiate this from the random orbital one is to look at its sanding pad.
Random orbital sanders are strictly limited to circular sanding pads. On the contrary, palm sanders have boxed sanding pads which give it its uniqueness. Moreover, these palm sanders are also known as a finishing sander. That prevents further confusion.
So, what’s the use of this square shaped pad? The palm sander is primarily used to smoothen complex projects that have tight spaces, edges, and corners. This square sanding pad helps you reach corners because you’re working with a pad that has edges as well.
With that said, it’s also used single-handedly with one hand, thus its name. Buy the palm sander if you’re looking to work on projects such as cabinets, desks, countertops, and even automotive to some degree.
3. Belt Sanders
Belt sanders are the last on our list, and it’s also the most powerful. These sanders are the monsters of the sanding family, and that’s because it’s designed to meet industrial standards.
To begin explaining the belt sander, it starts off with a large housing that’s as big as chainsaw’s housing. It works by having a set of pulleys that help operate the belt. These pulleys motion the belt which is almost as wide as the body. Thus, it smoothens a larger surface than the others.
Because of its heavy build, the belt sander’s motor is the strongest. The body itself measures between 18-21 inches depending on how big the belt sander is. On the other hand, the sanding pad reaches a minimum of 3 inches in width.
Coupled with the full belt-type sanding pad, it polishes sturdy material in an instant. This kind of heavy-duty machine is best for professionals who handle large-scale projects with full bodies. However, its main weakness is it doesn’t reach tight spots at all. Thus, the palm sander greatly complements the belt sander.
Our Top Picks
Dewalt is a staple in manufacturing power tools and other industrial equipment. It’s arguably one of the most famous ones out there. When it comes to its palm sander,Dewalt boasts a complete set. This palm sander set gives you a lot of benefits such as reduced vibration, dust collection system, and more.
One of the highlights of Dewalt’s product is the overall design. If you look carefully, the product has reduced height. That allows the user to get a closer look on the workpiece. The best thing here is that it has gotten smaller, but the power and efficiency remain!
- Comes with a locking-dock port system that allows you to lock up a hose to the palm sander with ease
- Has a rubber dust boot that prevents any sawdust or unwanted particles from building up near the switch
- Good performance
- Runs at 2.3 Amp and operates at 14,000 OPM
- Has a separate counterweight that reduces the vibration when sanding
- Has nifty body-bag-like case lets you easily carry it around
- You might have problems with the vacuum attachment that it supposedly comes with
- Dust catcher can sometimes give off a leak
- Make sure to secure it or look for damages before using tightly
Makita’s Finishing sander looks sleek in its paint job along with the heavy-duty case that comes with it. Makita, a long-time company in industrial equipment, gives utmost importance to the design and engineering of this product.
One of the main features that you’d want to look at is Makita’s all-ball bearing construction. This engineered bearing primarily focuses on efficient sanding, but with reduced noise and vibration. It gives you maximum comfort and efficiency when sanding.
- Rubber sealed switch
- Like the previous product, Makita designs the sander’s switch with high-quality rubber to lockout sawdust and other dirt
- One-hand innovation
- With this sander, you’re guaranteed to use it comfortably with only one hand thanks to its newly designed grip.
- The rubberized grip is contoured to fit in your palm, giving you better control and comfort.
- Has a dust collection system that is designed to be through-the-pad
- The dust catcher comes with a high-quality rubber
- Heavy duty build made it quite cumbersome to use
- Weighs in at 7.2 pounds, more than half of the previous product
- The base could use better material as it only has a plastic material
Hico enters our list with its versatile and light orbital palm sander. Although not necessarily a real palm sander, it deserves credit because it functions similarly as one with excellent performance.
It weighs only 3.2 pounds, which makes it light and very ergonomic to use. That is an essential for any palm sander since you’re dealing with delicate surfaces of various projects.
Moreover, convenience is a key here for Hico’s palm sander. It comes with a dust bag made from cloth, which will quickly catch sawdust should you be working on a wood project. Overall, you’ll get efficiency and practicality with this palm sander!
- Comes with a motor running at 2 amp
- High motor that operates at 12,000 OPM
- Six-inch sanding pad gives it a broad scope when polishing
- The sanding pad provides good speed and a nice clean finish
- It has a controlled finishing system which regulates the rate of the sanding pad
- Dust-sealed switch extends shelf life
- That blocks any potential sawdust or dirt from accumulating near the switch areas
- The motor is fan-cooled and comes with a dust bag, providing extended convenience and durability to this palm sander
- The size dimensions of this product may be a bit iffy for some
- It’s relatively short in build which can be uncomfortable for some
- The sanding paper that matches with the pad can be hard to find
Porter Cable is another known company when it comes to manufacturing power tools. Their orbital palm sander presents a sleek gray matte finish with a black dust collector. One of the best-selling points of this product is how it prioritizes the comfort of the user.
Porter Cable engineered their sander by giving it a dual plane and counterbalanced design. The combination of these two features significantly reduces the vibration in the palm sander. As an effect, Porter Cable proudly states that this reduced vibration will lessen the overall fatigue of the user.
- Works well while running at 2.0 amp and 13,500 OPM
- There is minimal vibration with this palm sander which enables you to be more precise and accurate when sanding
- Compact size but very strong
- It only measures 13 cm or 5.5 inches in height
- Notably, it works well with ¼ sheets given its small frame
- Its orbital operation is smooth
- It shies away from any oscillation, providing fewer scratches on your project
- The dust bag it comes with is not that efficient in collecting dust compared to other products reviewed
- Doesn’t come with a vacuum hook up
Black+Decker boasts their tri-colored palm sander with rubberized handles and a top-notch dust collection system. This dust collection system looks to be the best one by far, as its material quality resembles that of a radiator in cars.
Besides the aesthetics, Black+Decker’s sanding receives high marks in performance. It gives you a 270-degree clearance when sanding, which gives it a lot of versatility. Furthermore, the soft grip paddle switch of this sander provides a good feel which increases precision.
- Superior dust collection system
- Besides the radiator-like material, it also has a triple layered filtration system which ensures a clean working environment.
- Very convenient to use
- Engineered to be compact and easy to use with one hand
- It also has a paddle switch feature for easy on and off switching
- Versatile and efficient in smoothening
- The clearance gives you a lot of leeways to operate this sander
- It’s perfect for those who are looking to sand tight spaces and corners
- It’s not the most noise-free sander
- Doesn’t have an innovative system that reduces vibration
- Only great if you’re working on smaller projects
- Not ideal to use on bigger projects because of its weak OPM at 1,600 only
Now that we’ve reviewed all five products, hopefully, you have already decided on what’s best for you. Each product has its benefits and disadvantages, the keys here is to know how you’re going to use the product.
Will you be using it for small projects only? Or are you planning to use it in bigger projects like that in automotive applications? Still, if we’re to judge overall power, efficiency, convenience, and durability, we’d give it to Makita’s finishing sander.
Makita’s sander has a good rubberized housing that prevents the buildup of sawdust. Further, its dust collection system coupled with its sanding capacity makes this the best all-around sander in our list.
Feel free to comment if you have your winner! Remember, the important thing is to know your preferences and do research. Good luck!
Thomas Roberge is a Pro himself, who has been in the business of home renovation and construction, working with various tools. He used to be the owner of 2 local construction companies with over 18 years experience. His works also include writing inspiring Do IT Yourself Tips and Tricks.