Palm Sanders: Buying Guides, Best Palm Sanders and More

The palm sander is a hand-held tool that allows you to sand surfaces to remove the finish in order to add another finish or smooth the surface of something.
Palm Sanders: Buying Guides, Best Palm Sanders and More

The sander that brings most of the DIY rookies into the sanding world, the palm sander. This is often the type of sander most non-professional people purchase for their projects. It gives the user freehand control to sand most small at-home projects to give them a much needed update.

Typically a palm sander is used on things at your local house, like furniture, cabinets or removing paint.

If you already know what you’re doing, just find the right tool. Skip ahead and take a look at our reviews of the best palm sanders for each type.

What is a palm sander?

A palm sander is essentially a smaller orbital sander that spins a pad around a spindle but has a smaller baseplate and design. These are meant to fit in the palm of your hand for quick at-home jobs but can be used in a professional setting.

Most palm sanders tend to have less power than a true orbital or belt sander but are much more lightweight and easier to use, especially when doing vertical surfaces. These are great introductory sanders for anyone looking to refinish wood since they are cheaper and have very little upkeep.

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Is the palm sander the right choice?

The key difference between buying a palm sander and an orbital sander is the usage. If you’re a DIY enthusiast looking for a sanding device for your next big project, a palm sander is probably best for you as it will give you the freedom to sand however you see fit.

If you’re in the market for a palm sander, consider these pros and cons:

  • They typically cost less than other sanders.
  • They are great for smaller projects and DIY projects.
  • Not all are considered professional grade.
  • Not always the best choice for non-wood projects.
  • They are not good for large projects.
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What to look for when buying a palm sander?

The thing to keep in mind is that a palm sander typically is used to replace manual sanding for smaller projects and not large projects. If you want to refinish a deck railing, table or fence – a palm sander may be right for you. Many of these sanders also come with a dust collection bag which helps with cleanup and debris in the air that you shouldn’t be breathing in.

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A palm sander will come either corded or cordless as is typically somewhere around 3 amps (A). You’ll want to choose the right one that meets your project and desires. If you’re going to be moving around a lot you’ll probably want to get a cordless one that’s battery operated.

A corded palm sander will come with a cord to plug in the outlet and is great if you want unlimited power and will be working for a longer period of time. You won’t have to worry about having to recharge the battery after a couple hours of use. However, the “problems” with a corded palm sander come with the mobility. If you’re tied down to a single spot you can’t readily move to work through your project.

A cordless palm sander, or battery-powered palm sander, uses batter packs that you can buy to attach to the sander. These types of sanders are usually more comfortable to use and offer you complete freedom in where you use it and how. These allow you to get into those tight areas that you wouldn’t normally be able to with a corded sander. Unfortunately, the downside to using a cordless is making sure your battery packs stay charged so you always have power for your sander.

As you can see the only major difference between the two is mobility. If that’s what you’re after you should look for a cordless palm sander.

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The best part about a palm sander is that it’s meant to literally fit in the palm of your hand. These tools usually weigh less than 3 pounds making it fairly easy to use for extended periods of time. You won’t see too much variation between models as most stay relatively small with the grip being only around 6 inches in width.

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The most important part in how a sander performs and the quality of the finish is how fast the sander moves. A palm sander is measured in orbits per minute and most sit around 7,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute.

You should look for a palm sander that has variable speed settings allowing you to adjust or the project at-hand. Many will only have a single setting making it a bit more difficult to get the right speed for your project. Typically you’ll find some with either a high, medium or low setting while others have a dial to adjust the speed while the sander is in use.

In some palm sanders, especially higher end ones, you’ll have a thing called pressure detection. This tells you if you’re pressing down too hard while sanding wood and ensures you’re not leaving grooves in the wood.

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What do you use a palm sander for?

A palm sander is primarily used on wood materials. It is also known as a finish sander since it works with wood material that’s not that rough. If you’re working with rough material you will want to typically use something more powerful, like a belt sander. It can be used for many projects but mostly focused on smaller tasks, like if you wanted to sand down a door to refinish it. You most likely won’t see people using a palm sander to sharpen tools or sand down metal.

You’ll find that many use palm sanders for:

  • Furniture
  • Doors
  • Decks/Patios
  • Trim
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Palm Sander Maintenance

The key to having a palm sander stand the test of time is maintenance. One of the best perks with a palm sander is that they require minimal maintenance. You’ll still need to take off the paper and clean out the system but overall as long as you clear out the dust with compressed air that didn’t make it into your dust collection bag you should be perfectly fine.

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Safety Tips for Using a Palm Sander

A palm sander is a relatively safe tool if you’re using it appropriately and have the right protection gear you should almost never get hurt. However, it’s very easy to neglect basic safety precautions and wind up hurting yourself or others. You should take these safety steps before using a palm sander:

  • You should wear hearing protection.
  • You should always use dust collection devices and wear a mask.
  • You should always wear protective eye wear.
  • You should unplug the tool before doing any maintenance if you have a corded sander.
  • You should make sure the trigger or switches are off before plugging in the sander.
  • You should make sure your work is secure before applying the sander or any pressure to the sander.
Sander Guide