What Are The Different Types of Sanders?

A good quality sander is a tool anyone who works with wood will need. Whether you only create something from wood occasionally or work with wood on a regular basis, a dependable sander will smooth out all the rough edges and add value and beauty to your wood or metal project.

There are many different types of sanders on the market. This makes it confusing and there’s always the danger of buying the wrong one. To help out,  we have profiled the differents kinds of sanders and the sorts of jobs they can do.

Random Orbit Sander

The Random Orbit Sander is the most popular and versatile hand-held sander type on the market. The wood is smoothed when the round sanding pad moves in a random direction, hence the tool name. The random sanding pattern prevents gouges in the wood. Use for roughing wood or ending with a smooth finish.

Random-orbit sanders come in four distinctly different types; pistol grip, palm grip, right angle and pneumatic palm grip. A pistol grip sander is larger and more powerful, requiring the user to grip it with two hands to ensure more consistent operation.

The pistol grip sander is perfect for working on tabletops and casework. Palm grip sanders are small, lightweight and easy to use, making them perfect to use for smaller projects like smoothing drywall or stripping furniture.

Right angle models are heavy-duty tools that are best used for rough sanding. The pneumatic sander differs from the other three types, which are all powered by either a battery or electricity, in the fact that it’s powered by a compressor. Although this last type of sander does require a compressor to work, this type of random orbit sander is compact, powerful and can handle many different types of sanding tasks.

The different type of random orbit sanders puts this tool in a wide range of price categories as well. The top rated Dewalt D26451 is currently available at almost 50% discount!

Belt Sanders

For large wood surfaces that need to be rough sanded, a belt sander is the perfect choice. Portable, versatile and belt-driven, this type of sander makes quick work of sanding down doors, tabletops and other large or uneven surfaces.

 

 

Detail Sander

A detail sander triangular, interchangeable sanding pads to detail sanding on curves, profiles and in tight spaces. Slots and grooves are easily sanded smooth with this type of tool and is a must-have sander for sanding chair rails and stair banisters smooth.

 

Finishing Sanders

This sanding tool has square pads, but is used by moving in a circular motion across wood. This tool is inexpensive and works well for sanding plywood and veneers.

 

Drum Sander

A drum sander can handle big jobs with ease. A roll of sandpaper is placed inside the drum, which has one or two open ends. When smooth, square ends are needed and the job is a big one, a drum sander is the right tool.

 

Some drum sanders have closed ends and typically provide more power than the open-end version. Either type will work with a variety of grit sandpaper and can handle both large and small boards.

Oscillating Spindle Sander


A spindle sander combines two types of sanders into one: belt and spindle sanders. This one tool easily and quickly converts back and forth between the two types of sanders as needed when working. Ideal for fast, accurate sanding and can handle both wood and metal. This is a good all-around sander to have in any home tool shed. A spindle sander can sharpen your favorite knife and polish certain types of metal objects.

Desired Features

There are certain features which will make any sander safer and easier to use.

  • Look for a sander that has a trigger lock which will allow you to keep the tool locked while in the locked position, freeing up your hands to have better control over the tool while in use.
  • Sanders with dust collection bags or ports that allow you to connect them to a collection system will keep the work area cleaner and safer.
  • Clamps allow the user to transform a portable sander into a stationary sander. This allows wood to be brought to the sander instead of vice-versa.
  • A carrying case and long cord will help make the sander easier to carry from room to room while working.
  • Pad brakes will allow you to lift the sander up off the work surface and place it back down without leaving gouge marks in the wood.
  • Two-handed grips or large front grips will allow the user to guide the sander with more accuracy and ease.
  • Sanders with conveniently placed thumb screws or knobs for tracking adjustments is a plus too.

As a rule of thumb, the larger the sander the more power the tool will have.

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