It’s no secret how highly we rank sanders on our list of power tools. After all, their ability not only to polish a workpiece but also prep it for painting or carpentry work is a tremendous relief. Users that have had the chance to use one will surely tell you just how much this tool has elevated their quality of work, seemingly to a whole new level.
Our goal this week will be to discuss what the 8 different types of sanders are. You see, these are all distinctive and have their own set of functions or uses. We want to carefully distinguish each one so that everyone can know when to use them and for what specific type of task. Furthermore, this should help you decipher the kind of sander to buy based on your own needs and lifestyle.
Once we go through this information on our best sander review article, we hope your appreciation for these tools deepens, just like us. Without a doubt, polishing tools like this play a vital role in woodworking. So if you’re currently into this hobby or are seeking a reliable option to invest in, then you’ve come to the right place. Take this stroll with us and we guarantee, your life will never be the same again.
What Are the Primary Uses of Sanders?
As we’ve mentioned above, sanders come into different parts of the woodworking process. Some are designed more powerfully and equipped to handle pre-fabrication work like removing rust or paint. On the other hand, some are constructed especially for wood and metal. Still, their primary function as a tool is to level uneven surfaces and eliminate any rough areas.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of sanders enter when detailing is required. Once a fixture is already put together, this device runs its sanding pad across to get that smooth finishing texture. Additionally, since most workpieces have those hard-to-reach places, sanders have been ergonomically constructed for tight crevices, which is something that other buffing utensils just aren’t capable of doing.
Different Types of Sanders
To push our point on these tool’s versatility, here’s a closer look at the different types of sanders. We’ll also be identifying the best choices for each category to show what the gold standard should be like.
A) Belt Sanders
A belt sander is perhaps the most typically-used of all the types. One reason is its structure, which looks a lot like a mini steamroller. This helps it level wood and create an incredibly even finish. If you’d like to learn more, just visit our review on the best belt sanders on the market. But for now, here are two premiere examples to consider.
The best sanders aren’t always riddled with fancy features. Some, like the Porter-Cable 362V Variable Speed Belt Sander, is created very practically. It may sound ironic, though people may just have a knack for finding value in simplicity. This helps them focus on creating the perfect wooden products in an instant.
Of course, producing excellent outputs are never easy. One needs the right accessories to make this job manageable, and at its very center is a reliable motor. Thankfully, the Porter-Cable 362V Variable Speed Belt Sander comes with a 12-AMP engine that produces up to 1,500-SPFM. Best of all, users can manage the speed and select a setting they are most comfortable in. As a result, controlling this tool, not to mention its quality of levelness, is made better.
Another property that’s very easily overlooked is its dust bag. Most individuals take one look and immediately assume that it is poorly made. Naturally, we would strongly disagree. This receptacle is large enough to collect waste from a whole day’s work, but not too big that it becomes a distraction. In any case, the handle is ergonomically designed enough to maneuver it through almost anything.
These properties we mentioned are only the beginning. Taking a closer look will show just how well-rounded the Porter-Cable 362V Variable Speed Belt Sander is. Needless to say, simpleness has never looked so elegant.
Armed with over a century’s worth of experience, Makita has grown to be the worldwide leader in power tools. Through that time, they have recurrently introduced innovative solutions in the form of their products. One classic example is the Makita 9403 Belt Sander, a machine with impeccable performance and superb efficiency to boot.
Visually, the Makita 9403 looks like your average sander. Except, of course, for its 4-inch belt, the handgrip, frame, and dust collection bag are all pretty standard. The real value of this device, though, stems from a dominant 11-AMP that delivers a speed of 1,640-FPM. This allows you to remove materials faster, saving you both time and money in the process.
At the same time, this unit runs very quietly at only 84-decibels. Workers who choose to stay in enclosed areas like garages or basements should find this beneficial in managing the peace. After all, keeping focus is such a key element, and its lack of noise certainly helps promote that.
All in all, we would recommend the Makita 9403 Belt Sander for serious woodworkers only. Even though it is easy to control, a price of over $200 isn’t practical for newbies. In any case, the value it offers goes far beyond the money you pay for.
B) Belt Disc Sanders
Despite being quite large, belt disc sanders are a popular choice for users who do different types of woodworking jobs. It blends the best attributes from two different tools, saving quite a lot of your time and energy. You can learn more by reading our best belt disc sander review, or through the examples below.
Upon seeing its price, we seriously had to do a double-take. How could the WEN 6502T Belt and Disc Sander cost less, and still offer so much value? That mystery is probably something we’re not meant to know, but as consumers, we’ll gladly accept it with open arms.
Structure-wise, this tool is very well put together. Its sturdy cast-iron base effectively minimizes vibrations and serves as a solid foundation. Additionally, both sanding pads are appropriately sized, making them capable of polishing different materials with varying dimensions. And as a nice bonus, the WEN 6502T Belt and Disc Sander looks extraordinarily stylish too.
However, an aspect we feel this tool slightly lacks in is sanding strength. Its 4.3-AMP motor may be serviceable, but more suited for small-scale jobs than large ones. Manufacturers, though, have made up for it by upping the maximum speed to 3,600-RPM and making both the belt and disc table adjustable. Users can now modify the angles or positions according to their preferences.
Durability and flexibility are perhaps some of the most sought-after qualities in a sander. So for those seeking this, you might want to consider the WEN 6502T Belt and Disc Sander. Best of all, its price is just slightly above $100, so more people can afford to buy one. This is a guaranteed slam dunk and one of the best belt disc sanders for the money.
Ample space to work and weave your magic is an aspect the Bucktool BD4801 Bench Belt and Disc Sander has put a premium on. As such, both its sanding pads have been placed on opposite sides of the machine. Therefore, users no longer have to fold or under extend their arms when working. The cast-aluminum base also lessens tremors, though cast iron – we feel – would have been a better choice.
Nonetheless, we’d consider that a minor hiccup to an otherwise well-conceptualized device. For instance, its sanding belt is linked up directly to the 0.75-horsepower motor, increasing efficiency by approximately 25% versus traditional designs. Passing through fewer mechanisms has maintained the energy’s fullness, which can be seen with how smoothly it runs.
At the same time – and just like most models in this category – both its worktables can be tilted up to 45-degrees. This gives greater freedom to place materials in the positions most comfortable to you. Moreover, these structures are quite durable for bearing the weight of heavier workpieces.
One minor downside we noticed, though, is the Bucktool BD4801 Bench Belt and Disc Sander costs slightly more than its competitors. New or fair-weather hobbyists might be hesitant to spend so much. However, given its wide range of uses, serious users may very well consider this deal a steal. Either way, you can’t go wrong with the benefits it provides.
C) Orbital Sanders
Orbital sanders are more compact tools that emit a suitable amount of power. They are occasionally used for sanding floorboards, ceilings, and other completely flat surfaces. Yet as we’ve mentioned in our recent best orbital sander review, they cannot remove materials in rough areas, making them better for simple finishing projects.
The Bosch OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander, despite its hefty price, is a selection that offers excellent value for the money. Professionals have long been impressed by its combination of functionality and ergonomics, making it an ideal option for more complicated projects. Nevertheless, newbies needing a dependable power tool could look to invest in it as well.
What sets this instrument apart from other units lies in its construction. Firstly, the sander is shaped very strategically to be as close to the workpiece as possible. At the same time, a cast-aluminum body eliminates shaking significantly, reducing the risk of errors as you work. And best of all, the Bosch OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander weighs barely 1.0-lb. Its lightweight frame leads to very little stress on your arms and body. Additionally, the device becomes so much easier to control.
The simplicity of attaching sandpaper is another clear benefit. Unlike other models, it uses a SheetLoc Supreme Paper Clamping System that connects the pad almost instantly. And it will remain fastened for the entire duration of each buffing session. This pairs perfectly with a micro-filter dust canister and vacuum hose adapter, which both help maintain a clean workspace.
You see, the Bosch OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander might be a little bit costly, but it sure is worth it. Its wide range of functions certainly proves that it is undoubtedly one of the best orbital sanders around.
Those seeking a cost-friendly option – without compromising the overall quality – would be wise to consider the Dewalt DWE6411 Orbital Finish Sander. The power and level of performance it provides shortens the time needed for sanding. And the fact that an incredibly reputable company manufactured it only solidifies this claim.
This unit comes with a 2.3-AMP motor that is equipped to deliver up to 14,000-OPM of speed. Not to oversell anything, but this perfect for removing rough edges in wood as well as polishing it to create an amazingly smooth finish. The force it produces isn't exactly top-of-the-line, though users can easily roll it out for a lot of different applications.
The Dewalt DWE6411 Orbital Finish Sander has also been made slightly bigger and with an improved paper clamp scheme for better retention. Its maneuverability, despite an increase in size, has remained the same. Some could even argue that this aspect improved considerably after the change. Either way, it can be deemed as a big win for any potential user.
Finally, we absolutely love how its power switch has been thoroughly sealed keeping particles of all sizes from entering. Given its affordable price, it would be easy to box the Dewalt DWE6411 Orbital Finish Sander as a poorly-made piece of equipment. But this advancement shows the manufacturers have really put a premium on extending its life span. Consumers will surely be glad about this.
D) Random Orbital Sanders
Much like the previous type we discussed, random orbital sanders, too, have a circular shape. But that’s about the extent of their similarities. Both tools move very differently, deliver contrasting levels of power, and are used for distinct projects. If you’re interested to learn more – and we know you do – try checking out our review article on the best random orbital sanders. We’ll be discussing some examples here as well.
Not to be mistaken with another model – the Dewalt DWE6411 – but this model is a totally different animal. And we mean that in the best possible way. The Dewalt DWE6421K Random Orbit Sander, in spite of its smaller size and slightly weaker polishing strength, is well-loved because of a distinct ability to produce smooth textures. As such, you’ll rarely find those swirl marks that are a complete and utter eye-sore.
The structure is one of the best things about this tool. Instead of using cheap handles, the Dewalt DWE6421K Random Orbit Sander is instead designed with a rubber over-mold for better maneuverability, increased comfort, and of course, minimal stress on your body. Furthermore, several of its openings have also been dust-sealed to prevent harmful particles from entering. Dewalt has made an effort to extend its product’s life expectancy, and this is just one of the ways they did it.
Lastly, interested buyers will be happy to know that owning this tool won’t cost more than $60. Its affordability is yet another reason to love the Dewalt DWE6421K Random Orbit Sander, especially since it runs splendidly and comes with a limited 3-year warranty too. We would recommend this for beginners or professionals working with a strict budget. This tool should serve as an asset for several years without fail.
Makita, through over one hundred years of service, has built a brand whose products are almost synonymous with excellence. Power tools like the BO5041K Random Orbit Sander have served as a reliable source of strength and service for woodworkers all over the globe. Here are a few reasons why.
Investing in a unit like this only means that sanding prowess is a necessity, and this certainly provides a lot of it. The 3.0-AMP motor is a driving force behind its ability to complete different tasks and perform at such a high level. Users can likewise select a speed from 4,000 to 12,000-OPM, depending on the project’s prescription. Fine-tuning these settings should help in controlling the machine and putting it in positions most favorable to you, not to mention get that perfect coating.
The Makita BO5041K Random Orbit Sander is also mechanically sound to combat the rigors of polishing lumber. Not only does the two-finger trigger switch and lock-on button facilitate speed changes, but an oversized ball-bearing construction design also increases durability. Moreover, a fully-functional pad control system manages the energy used up to prevent short-circuiting.
These pretexts have made the Makita BO5041K Random Orbit Sander worthy of its name. A full range of functions, coupled with an affordable price, has made it a darling among users and cemented its status as one of the best random orbital sanders on the market.
E) Palm Sanders
The best palm sanders available aren’t only compact, but also efficient. This ensures that they maximize every second, space, and watt of electricity while you work. Users constantly on the go will likewise benefit from owning this little bundle of power for all their detailing responsibilities. Learn what other advantages it offers by browsing our palm sander review article, or simply reading through what we’ve written below.
Another tool that shouldn’t be confused with the Dewalt DWE6411 is its close relative, the Dewalt DWE6411K Palm Grip Sander Kit. Both models offer similar size and potency, but the latter, in our opinion, is just slightly more ergonomic. This difference in height has given users the ability to work closer to the workpiece, increasing accuracy while minimizing errors.
One aspect we appreciated is how well-put-together this device is. Besides the soft yet solid grip that eliminates pressure almost completely, it comes with an improved dust collection system for faster clean-up as well. The exhaust’s locking function keeps the hose firmly in place when getting rid of waste. Unfortunately, though, it does not come with a vacuum, unlike other types of sanders, so you’ll need to provide one yourself.
Users in need of something portable and affordable should consider buying this unit. The Dewalt DWE6411K Palm Grip Sander Kit, without a doubt, is one of the best palm sanders available you can get.
Those seeking power packed in a portable tool are going to love the Bosch ROS20VSC Palm Sander. Its 2.5-AMP motor is adept at creating that soft texture. It utilizes an integral pad dampening system that almost eliminates any swirl marks. This output is what every aspiring woodworker must strive to reach.
Production quality, as you may know, isn’t only determined by one facet, which is why this tool utilizes a variable-speed motor. The Bosch ROS20VSC Palm Sander offers users a maximum speed of 12,000-OPM, though they can choose to lower it anywhere up to 7,500-OPM. This flexibility should not only lead to fewer errors but also improvements when controlling the machine.
Bosch’s trademark hook-and-loop disc attachment is another feature on display and one that perfectly complements those we previously mentioned. With this setup, sanding pads stick to the base like Velcro and remain fastened all-throughout. And when the time comes to replace these sheets, all you have to do is peel them off.
Overall, the Bosch ROS20VSC Palm Sander is considered an extremely comprehensive model. Its blend of supremacy, simplicity, and straightforwardness has users drooling at the mouth. Add in an affordable price tag, and you instantly have a device built for any occasion.
F) Detail Sanders
A detail sander is a perfect tool for finishing up projects. It is shaped almost like a flat iron and fits perfectly into those hard-to-reach spaces. Some examples of this are the corners, edges, and crevices found in wood. As a result, users should enjoy an even coating all-throughout the workpiece. Interested can learn more by reading our best detail sander review article or the top options below.
The Meterk Mouse Detail Sander is possibly one of the most compact models ever. At 2.55-lbs and measuring approximately 12.6 x 9.8-inches, it easily gets into tight spaces without any trouble. Not only that, but its small size fits perfectly in an average person’s palm for better maneuverability. Even new users won’t have trouble controlling it, let alone seasoned hobbyists.
Besides being ergonomically-designed, the Meterk Mouse Detail Sander is versatile as well. On paper, a 1.0-AMP motor may not be quite as appealing as other models, but we can assure you, it is more than capable of accomplishing various utilities. These include removing paint, buffing metal, and even polishing small furniture items. And the fact that this tool costs only $35 helps to increase its desirability further.
Another prominent function that’s worth mentioning is the heat emission hole. Sanders, by design, are known to run very intensely. Therefore, when being used for long hours on thick materials, overheating becomes an increasing possibility. The presence of an exhaust port, if you will, releases pressure to maintain a low internal temperature, while keeping all major parts free from damage.
Operating the Meterk Mouse Detail Sander is perhaps as easy as things get. We love how every feature is intended to make life simpler. You will be hard-pressed to find a machine more straightforward than this, which has made it a popular choice among all kinds of woodworkers.
Something that’s slightly more mainstream or known to the public eye is the Black & Decker BDEMS600 Mouse Detail Sander. And it has undoubtedly proven its worth by introducing a wide variety of qualities that will surely leave you impressed.
The Black & Decker BDEMS600 Mouse Detail Sander, not unlike others, is built very compactly. Its proportions not only make it easier to control but also built for tighter areas. This combination of narrowness and mobility is, after all, a key ingredient in producing items that look exquisite. Individuals who often take extra time to refine their handicrafts should find greatly beneficial.
We’ve likewise observed that its 1.2-AMP motor is quite formidable and runs fairly smoothly. Reaching a speed of up to 14,000-RPM is another benefit, especially when compared with models in its category. However, in spite of this added muscle, the Black & Decker BDEMS600 is still only appropriate for simple projects at home. Those that require a tool for the jobsite would be wise to search someplace else.
Having said that, it’s really hard to nitpick given everything else this sander provides. Besides all that we mentioned, the presence of a three-position grip and high-efficiency dust collect port only rounds out what it offers. Thus, there is very little skepticism that the Black & Decker BDEMS600 Mouse Detail Sander is one of the best detail sanders one can find.
G) Disc Sander
Arguably the most prevalent sander in woodworking is the discus or disc archetype. Its round sanding sheet, sturdy worktable, and powerful motor allows its users to accomplish more complicated commissions with greater ease. In particular, professional or otherwise seasoned individuals may want to check out our best disc sander review. To create a better understanding of these types, here are some examples of the best options on the market.
Are you seeking something stable and reliable for all your daily projects? Do you want to save money while achieving that goal? Well, if these are things you desire, try checking out the Delta Power Equipment Corp 31-140 Disc Sander. It just might be the machine that elevates your skills to the next level.
The main difference between this device and other tools is its durable cast-iron frame. Users have shared that this design has greatly minimized shaking to the point that it is almost non-existent. So even if you're working on large workpieces or under harsh working conditions, the Delta Power Equipment Corp 31-140 Disc Sander should remain stable at all times. Moreover, this endurance has also helped it last longer and with less issues. As a result, even if you end up spending more initially, this paired with a robust 5-year warranty package ensures that your investment is protected.
Sanding strength is another aspect the Delta Power Equipment Corp 31-140 Disc Sander excels in. A 0.5-horsepower ensures that it runs effortlessly, even when working on thicker kinds of materials. The worktable is both hard-wearing and adjustable as well to offer you a better overall work experience. Best of all, it helps put your subjects in the best possible positions.
Besides its 80-lbs frame and lack of speed settings, there’s not much we can complain about. So serious hobbyists looking for a reliable machine would be wise to consider the Delta Power Equipment Corp 31-140, one of the best disc sanders out there.
Disc sanders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are petite, while others, much like the Shop Fox W1828, are designed with an enlarged circular sanding pad. As a result, users can now buff a wider variety of objects, and do so with extreme precision.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, its 12-inch disc is one of our favorite things about the Shop Fox W1828 Disc Sander. It gives you more freedom to move the workpiece around and uses pressure-sensitive adhesive technology to create a smoother texture across the wood. Those who need that incredibly delicate finish will be very pleased with what this tool offers.
Another aspect that caught our attention is its wider worktable. We love how it pairs nicely with the sanding disc, offering users the ability to support heavier materials. This way, you aren't limited to planks, but plywood and hardwood as well. Additionally, a deluxe miter gauge likewise allows you to adjust the platform at certain angles. Having this function means you'll no longer need to carry it for prolonged periods, while also placing it in prime positions.
All this blends perfectly with a solid powder-coated body, a sizeable power switch, and an above-average motor to create the best working conditions possible. Choose the Shop Fox W1828 Disc Sander if you desire one of the best disc sanders at a reasonable price.
H) Bench Sanders
The final category we’d like to discuss is the bench sanders, which are another popular choice for woodworkers everywhere. However, it isn’t much different from other types in terms of features. The characteristic that sets it apart, though, is an ability to be placed atop tables or workstations. As its name suggests, bench sanders are portable, but also offer superb durability and sanding prowess. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to read through our best bench sander review; but for now, here are the top models you should be targeting.
Having more space is always a good challenge, especially in this industry. The JET J-4002 Bench Belt and Disc Sander agrees, too, and has clearly prioritized it through its construction. A broader frame has positioned both sanders on opposite sides, giving users the ability to sand more sizeable objects.
Of course, roominess isn’t the only value this unit provides; well-roundedness is another. The JET J-4002 Bench Belt and Disc Sander has a reliable 0.33-horsepower motor that may not seem potent on paper, but it produces a beautiful finish on a wide range of items. In particular, the abrasive belt sanding pad can perform the roles of a jig-saw, copying saw, or hand file without skimping on the quality. Additionally, detailing work and leveling rough surfaces are a cinch for this device.
Interested buyers likewise shouldn't worry because JET offers arguably the best after-sales service of any company. Several companies might offer a lengthy guarantee, too, but only a few come close to their level of aid. Customers can visit any service center for routine maintenance and repairs, not to mention assistance in the replacement of parts.
These three attributes are what make the JET J-4002 Bench Belt and Disc Sander a world-class option. Anytime you're given a chance to take home a unit of this caliber, trust us; you should consider it.
Two amazing tools in one, is that even possible? Yet, with the Porter-Cable PCB420SA Benchtop Belt Disc Sander, this illusion has now become a reality. And as an added treat, we love how enduring this tool is for all sorts of different situations.
Even upon the first glance, you know this tool means business. A solid cast-iron frame doesn't only look exceptionally appealing, but it also eliminates shaking and noise almost completely. Even though it costs north of $300, your initial investment is still maximized, given its proven durability.
Furthermore, both stands can be adjusted to fit the varying needs of each project. Sanding corners, edges, and rough areas should also be much easier considering the flexibility the Porter-Cable PCB420SA Benchtop Belt Disc Sander provides.
The only downside we saw with it is that its motor only delivers 0.75-horsepower. So interested users who need something built for the jobsite may have to think twice. But if all you’re planning for a simple projects at home or refurbishing old furniture, then this machine could be an ideal choice. Its combination of solidity, versatility, and a portability will prove advantageous for almost any task.
Needless to say, the Porter Cable PCB420SA Belt Disc Sander is one of the best bench models to own.
Things to Consider When Buying a Sander
With so many types and models to choose from, there must be a way to simplify this decision. One way is to make a decision based on the following key elements. If you’re looking for something more specific, though, you can check out our reviews for each. But for a macro-level guide, kindly read our insights below.
It’s always best to start with a why because it can determine what path you’ll take. Each of the sanders we discussed plays a specific role in the woodworking process, so identifying how you’re planning on using it can simplify this conclusion.
For example, the best benchtop or disc sanders are more robust and suited more for professional jobs. On the other hand, palm sanders are better for every tasks like renovations. Match your action with the chosen tool to maximize how you spend your money.
2. Gripping Design
Everyone dreams of having a comfortable tool, and the easiest way to achieve that is by investing in the grip. It has to be soft enough to relieve tension, but also firm when being held. This may seem like a minor detail, yet it can make all the difference when working eight hours per day.
Please, avoid going over budget and regretting it later on. Instead, set a fixed amount you are willing to spend, then look for option within the range. Factor in other aspects also so you won’t go wrong. Needless to say, the bottom-line is to know your limitations. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend more than you can afford, right?
Don’t ever overlook this; you might just regret it. The warranty is your insurance policy in case something goes wrong. Even if you have to pay more, it’s an assurance from the company that they are there in case a part gets damages or the unit malfunctions. Just make sure it includes both the product and service.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
We know you have a lot of things to ask so here are the most often asked questions by consumers, for consumers. You can also submit some inquiries of your own in the space below.
1. What is the difference between a benchtop sander and a belt disc sander?
Based on our understanding, belt disc sanders are comprised of two sanding tools while a benchtop is a generic category for units you can place on top of a table. Don’t be confused. The easiest way to put it, though, is that one is based on size while the other stems from the design.
2. How much does a sander usually cost?
This is a very broad question, but if you set a budget of $300 – regardless of the type – then you should be able to take home a quality tool. That is a safe estimate of how much you are projected to spend.
3. Is a sander really needed?
Yes, because not all wood comes to you smoothened. There are cases when after the production process, you notice rough and uneven patches. A sander, given all its abilities, can solve this problem within minutes. Moreover, a smooth finish in this industry is a sign of high quality. So if you want your products to look elegant, get a sander and maximize what it does.
By now, you’re probably already fed up with us, right? So allow me to leave you with one last thought. Sanders are an amazing piece of equipment that offers a lot of value to our lives. Please amplify their strengths by choosing one that best fits your needs. Start with the end goal in mind. Ask yourself why you are getting this tool in the first place. Then, once you’ve given yourself a plausible answer, the rest will follow and your decision will be so much more simple.
Of course, read our other reviews to know what else the best sanders can do for you.
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