Excited to start that latest woodworking project but you aren’t sure which type of sander for wood would be best for the job? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. We have a complete rundown of all of the facts and specifications you need to know about all types of wood sanders, so you won’t be left in the dark anymore about all these great tools.
From grit type to composition of paper, to some of the top-selling sanders, we’ve got all you need to purchase your next wood sander in confidence so you can tackle your new woodworking project with no hiccups at all.
Do I Need a Wood Sander?
If you’re asking yourself if you need a wood sander, odds are you do need a wood sander. Wood sanders are used for so many different jobs, it’d be odd if your woodworking job didn’t require a sander to help you along the way. If you want the wood project you are working on to have a fine finish, you’re going to need a wood sander to help you achieve this sleek and smooth look.
With the help of wood sanders, these nifty tools cut the job of sanding in half and will provide the best finished product you could ever want or expect. The task of traditional sanding can take hours, if not days to get to the final smooth finish that you want. Electric sanders make all the difference in time, finish, and effort.
Different Types of Sanders and Their Uses
Not all sanders are built alike. There are so many different types of sanders for all types of jobs that will help you get your project looking its best. Here are some of the most common sanders that you will need for DIY projects or household projects.
- Palm Sander – A palm sander is also sometimes referred to as an orbital finishing sander. This type of sander is a handheld tool that allows you to sand surfaces to remove the finish so you can replace it with another finish. It is also used as a general sander to smooth out surfaces and get rid of surface blemishes. You can control this sander easily, often simply by using one hand as it lacks too much power to ruin anything because it is set for more delicate work.
- Orbital Sander – An orbital sander is a popular sander due to its versatility. Anyone who works with wood on a regular basis either owns or knows about orbital sanders because these tools won’t remove wood as abrasively as a belt sander, but polish woodwork to a gleaming finish. These are fine sanders that are easier to work with as they don’t blast out too much power. These sanders leave no scratch marks and will present instead a finer polishing job on all types of wood.
- Disc Sander- Disc sanders can be used for multiple projects, which makes them so popular. These sanders use a disc-shaped abrasive surface that gives these sanders their name and distinct look. Disc sanders are best if used for more abrasive, rougher work where a lot of material needs to be scraped away in order to provide a finer or smoother surface. A disc sander can easily strip paint or remove old varnish with ease, and it will save you a lot of time compared to trying to do these tasks manually.
- Finishing Sander – A finishing sander is ideal for finer works such as delicate furniture or intricate woodworking. These sanders will make sure whatever the job is at hand, it will be done with delicate care and will leave your wood as smooth as possible. These sanders use sanding pads that require sandpaper. You can find a sander that takes multiple types of sandpaper from ultra-fine to fine.
What to Look for in a Good Sander for Wood
There are a few key features to pay special attention to when it comes to finding a good wood sander. Here are the most popular ones:
Grips for Your Hands
You may not consider it at the time but having a stronghold on your sander is going to save you a lot of work and safety worries. Being able to hold on to your sander in a well-controlled motion or motions will make your sanding job so much more fun and risk-free. Whether you are using a high-powered sander or a finer, delicate sander, soft hand grips will make it much easier to hold on to.
Does It Collect Dust?
One of the downfalls of using a sander is having to deal with all the dust it produces. Many sanders come with built-in dust-catching bags that are even compatible with shop vacs or other dust collecting systems. IF you don’t want to have to spend hours sweeping up more dust than you have to, you may want to look into whether or not your sander has some built-in dust bags to help.
Just as important as strong hand grips, you are going to want to make sure your sander has adjustable speed settings. Most sanders will have adjustable speed control switches that will let you control the speed of your sander from low to high. For easier sanding, this may be a feature that you will require once starting your woodworking jobs.
Trigger locks are another important feature as they let you lock your sander in motion and allows you to free up your hands. This will help with the overall wearing out of your hands and you can even use some sanders as stationary sanders if you hook them up to a clamp, so there is some extra freedom to move around if you have to.
No one should buy any type of power tool without a warranty and wood sanders are no exception. To make sure your tool has proper protection, check out the warranty before making a final purchase. Wood sanders can have a year warranty up to about five or six years, most commonly.
Best Types of Sanders for Wood
Type: Random Orbit Sander
Best for doing: Woodworking
This random orbit sander by Makita is cordless and great for sanding and fast material removal. And it offers a swirl-free finish. This sander delivers increased efficiency and mobility over the use of so many different projects. With 40 minutes of run time, it allows the user to complete large projects without running out of juice. And speeds can be switched with a single-touch electronic control button. A pad brake is included with this sander to offer a better overall finish and a great control system.
- Ergonomically designed
- Pad brake included
- Pad control system for controlled speeds
- On the expensive side
Type: Palm Sander
Best for Doing: Cabinet making, intricate woodworking
The Bosch Palm sander brings in an optimized combo of pad orbits and a rotation that provides fast removal of materials, and a super smooth finish. It’s a tool that’s ideal for cabinet making and will complete all tasks to your liking without annoying swirl marks. You can easily control your ideal speed for any task with an onboard system to filter out fine dust.
- Great for delicate sanding
- Helps filter dust
- Comes with 8-foot chord
- 5-inch disc size
- Not cordless
Type: Random Orbit Sander
Best Used For: Removing paint, varnish from wood, metals, and abrasive surfaces
Black & Decker is known for its prestige in producing high-quality power tools, and this random orbit sander is no exception. This tool features a powerful 2.0 amp corded electric sander that is strong enough for sanding, smoothing and paint removal. It is compact enough to work in hard-to-reach areas. It comes with a paddle switch function to turn on and off easily, a comfort grip to enhance control and create less fatigue, and an onboard dust collection bag to help you reduce cleanup.
- Comes with paddle switch function
- Has comfort grips
- Has onboard dust collection bag
- Not for large jobs
Type: Palm Sander
Best Used For: ultra-smooth sanding on wood, plastic, or metal
The DeWalt palm sander comes with a powerful 2.3 AMP motor that sands 14,000 OPM with a rubber overmild texture to offers a smoother and more comfortable experience when sanding. The tool features an updated paper clamp, so it holds the paper better. And a dust port system that locks allows you to attach vacuum hoses up to the sander itself for better dust removal. This palm sander comes with a reduced overall height so you can get really close to your projects. And you get a flatter sanding plane with the nifty foam pad.
- 3 AMP motor
- Foam pad for flatter sanding plane
- Separate counterweight for reduced vibration
- Improved paper clamp
Type: Belt Sander
Best Used for: woodworking, rougher surfaces
Available on: Amazon.
With a powerful 7.8 motor for faster material removal, the Makita belt sander comes with an extended base to allow flush sanding and has an innovative design for sanding flush to a wall with the nose and side of the sander. You can get into especially tight spaces with this sander, and it comes with an extra-long cord for easier maneuverability. This sander comes with an easy release belt lever for quick belt changes and all-ball bearing construction for longer tool life.
- Powerful motor
- Extended base
- Innovative design
- Long cord
- Not for small projects
Understanding Sandpaper Grit
Just like actual sanders, sandpaper grit is not all the same. From finer sandpaper for delicate projects to ultra gritty sandpaper for more abrasive projects, sandpaper is a crucial element to your sander. Here are a few specifications of sandpaper grit to help you on your way.
The grit type of sandpaper will tell you exactly how abrasive it is. The finer the sandpaper the finer the outcome will be, so an ultra-fine sandpaper grit means and ultra-fine polished finish. Ultra-fine sandpaper has about 600 particles per square inch.
Compared to very coarse grit, which has 40 particles per square inch. You can see how abrasive the 40-grit sandpaper is, as these types of sandpaper are commonly used for more abrasive jobs that require a lot of scratching or scouring.
Composition of The Paper
The composition of the paper refers to what exactly the sandpaper grit is made out of. Aluminum oxide is a common grit that is widely popular, but garnet sandpaper will create the smoothest finish overall. Silicon carbide sandpaper is ideal for wood, metal, and plastic while ceramic sandpaper is for rougher work that could include some cutting.
Size of The Sandpaper
Most sandpaper belts or loops range from three inches to four inches wide and up to 24 inches long. Most sandpaper can be found in easy-to-use square or rectangle sheets that can be folded over to achieve the appropriate size.
Common Projects to Use a Wood Sander On
While wood sanders are really nifty to use, there are a few projects where wood sanders are absolutely needed to make things safer and just better looking. Here are a few of the most common projects that require wood sanders, to give you an idea.
Any job that requires a person to sit on or place their hands on is going to require help from a wood sander. The last thing you’d want is for someone to sit on a handcrafted chair only to have their arms pick up some splinters from the arms of the chair. You need to smooth out areas like this to make sure that your wood is sleek as possible.
A wood sander will easily get rid of all the rough areas of furniture, making it much more aesthetically pleasing and safer to use on a daily basis. Simply running your sander over the wood of these items will make your project a sleek, smooth piece of furniture.
Just like how important it is to make furniture as smooth as possible, the same goes for custom-made cabinetry. The last thing you want is unsightly grooves or uneven wood in any part of your cabinetry, so using a fine wood sander will help you even out the edges and get your wood finish to a smooth and glistening product. Smoothing this type of wood as fine as you can, and then adding in a stain or paint will make this project soar to the next level of home improvement jobs.
Probably the number one household project that needs a wood sander when building or sanding stairs. It is so important that your stairs are even and perfectly sanded. Since there is so much foot traffic on stairs, you do not want to leave this project in a rough cut or raw form since feet will constantly be touching it.
It’s important to smooth out your stairs as evenly as possible to create a better path and to protect anyone from going up or down it from splinters or possibly even falling. The smoother the stairs, the better they will look and the safer they will be for continuous use.
Projects Using a Hand Sander
With so many great projects that sanders can help you with, the possibilities may seem endless. Here are just a few examples of what exactly these sanders can do and how they can help.
Twine Heart String Art
A super cute idea for kids, this twine heart string art can be a really nice valentine’s day gift or even a happy birthday gift for some friends or family members. Using your palm wood sander, you can easily buff out all of the abrasive areas and rough edges to make this project soft to the touch.
Rolling Storage Cart
Using your orbital sander, you can easily create some DIY rolling storage carts that can be used for so many different things. From gardening to collecting toys to keeping the pet’s toys or leashes in, you just can’t go wrong having some extra storage carts around the house, and your orbital sander will help you buff out all the rough edges to make this cart soft to the touch.
Wooden Candle Holder
A handmade gorgeous table centerpiece awaits you with this wooden candle holder project. Using your palm sander or finishing sander, you can easily buff out the harder edges of this project to make your candle holder as soft as the glow of the flames of the candlesticks. This would make a great holiday project for a fun craft for the kids to do at home.
DIY Stair Handrail
Whatever you can set your mind to, odds are a wood sander can help. Get your finishing sander or orbital sander ready because this project is so beautiful that you are going to want to try it for yourself. These sanders are perfect for working with more delicate corners, edges, and wood to make your handrail absolutely gorgeous to look at and super soft and smooth to touch.
Modern Toy Box with Lid
This gorgeous toy box may look like something you picked up at your local home furnishings store, but once your friends or guests realize that you made it yourself, you might just get some custom-made orders. For this project, your hand sander or orbital sander would be your best bet as they are powerful enough to work on larger planks of wood but delicate enough so you can have full control of the speed levels.
Contemporary Hairpin Leg Desk
Whether your need to spruce up your daughter’s dorm room or you simply want a side desk for any projects, you can’t go wrong with this contemporary hairpin leg desk. This smooth and sleek desk would look great in any room, but due to the delicate leg areas, your best bet in a sander would have to be a palm sander or a finishing sander, so you don’t accidentally apply too much pressure and break the delicate legs.
Related: Sand And Finish The Projects With A Bench Sander
Yes, you can build that redwood deck all by yourself, with the help of your orbital sander, of course. This project is wide scaled enough to have plenty of room to use your orbital sander and get through sanding a lot of wood at a very fast rate. Before you know it, your deck will be all laid out for you to stain and afternoons sipping lemonade on the deck will just be a few days away.