Table of Contents
Palm Sander FAQ/Buying Guide
An electric sander is a power tool used for sanding applications on a wide range of surfaces, from wood to metal, plastics, drywall, tiles, and even concrete in certain industrial scenarios.
A palm sander is a compact version of this powerful tool. It gets its name from the kind of grip design it has: You can hold and wield a palm sander with the palm of your hand resting on top of the body.
Also check our latest review about the best air hose reels on the market.
What is the difference, if any, between a palm sander and a random orbital sander?
In sanding, the desired effect is created by pressing and moving the sandpaper on the wood surface. All electric sanders do not use the same motion during the sanding process.
- Palm sander (original): The first palm sanders were “sheet sanders,” meaning they used rectangular abrasive sheets, usually of a smaller size. To use these palm sanders, users had to cut the regular size sheets into smaller pieces (most commonly quarter or ¼ size). These palm sanders are instantly recognizable due to the square or rectangular pads on their bottoms. These pads have a circular motion, also called an orbital motion. If you move these sanders against the wood grain, you will see telltale spiral patterns marring the finish. This is one crucial disadvantage of a regular palm sander.
- Random orbital palm sander: Now, orbital sanders are larger and more powerful than quarter size palm sanders. They also have a unique motion system which is a combination of the orbital motion and a spinning feature. To add this spinning capability, designers use a circular disk pad instead of the usual rectangular pad we see in sheet sanders. A random orbital palm sander is easy to recognize as it has a circular disk on the base. The more complex, random motion of these pads helps the sander avoid those infamous spiral patterns of the original palm sanders. With the advancements in miniaturization technology, we now have compact versions of random orbital sanders. This led to the addition of the word “palm” to the name of these sanders. Basically, any compact sander with a palm grip can be considered a palm sander. Random orbitals are often more powerful and suitable for final finish jobs as they help deliver a flawless result. Sheet palm sanders are more suitable for intermediary jobs like stripping.
What are palm sanders used for?
A palm sander is most commonly associated with woodworking, both professional and amateur.
Often, pros will have multiple sanders in their workshop, including a small palm sander for the light-duty tasks.
The main purpose of a palm sander is to strip off the top layer of the workpiece and give it a smooth and polished effect. It is generally used for adding the final finish effect to wood. It can also be used to strip off layers of paint or varnish, as well as to remove dirt, grit, and grime.
Due to their compact size and low capacity motors, palm sanders are not recommended for constant use on larger workpieces. You might want to use a larger belt sander for that purpose. A palm sander is generally considered to be an ideal tool for amateur woodworking hobbyists and small scale home improvement projects.
Palm sanders are extremely useful woodworking power tools. These days, it is easy to find an affordable palm sander for both the woodworking pro as well as the DIY enthusiast.
Portable electric and corded versions are available. Random orbital designs offer a bit more finesse and performance than regular sheet based models.
In our palm sander reviews, we have highlighted a broad selection of tools with varying price points and features. We hope you found our guide informative and useful, and we wish you good luck in finding the best palm sander for your needs!
- 2.3 AMP motor of the electric sander sands at 14,000 OPM
- Rubber overmold texture will provide a smooth and comfortable control while sanding
- Improved paper clamp of the 1/4 sheet sander features for better paper retention
- Locking dust-port system that allows the user to lock vacuum hose up with the sander
- Reduced overall height of the sander to get the user closer to their work
Best quality Palm Sander With Linear Orbit Motion
If you are even remotely familiar with power tools, you will probably be able to identify a Dewalt. The trademark yellow and black design is a legend.
And thanks to the colors (and prominent labeling on the body!), there is no mistaking this compact palm sander. It is a straight line sander, not an orbital one.
This is a true quarter sheet palm sander, snug enough to be used with one hand. It weighs just 2.8 pounds. The grip is coated with textured rubber for superior traction and control during use.
Despite the compact size, this palm sander can really rip into that wood surface, in a good way of course! The 2.3 Amp motor has enough power for most small woodworking projects. The performance of this 14,000 OPM sander is comparable to an orbital sander.
Fatigue is a common complaint when using power tools with a penchant for vibration. But unlike many of its peers, this Dewalt sander has a more gentle vibration. The counterbalance inside does its job quite well, and you could keep sanding all day if the job demanded it.
Feeding the machine with fresh sandpaper is also quite easy. It uses the standard hook and loop Velcro system which seems quite durable.
This sander accepts ¼ size sanding sheets with hook and loop system. It uses those square papers, not the circular discs.
You will have to buy a Dewalt quick connector adaptor (like the 9000 series) for the dust port. It might not work with other brand/generic vacuum hose adapters.
While the sanding performance is satisfactory, the same cannot be said about the dust port. For starters, with a proprietary design, Dewalt is forcing us to buy their adapters for the dust port.
We could forgive that if the whole system did a good job, however it doesn’t. It may not work with all shop vacs even if you buy the adapter. For best results, you have to buy a Dewalt shop vac, which is a bit much for most users.
Also, this is a simple palm sander. It lacks advanced features like a variable speed setting, so it may not be the best option for very fragile workpieces.
If reliable performance and build quality are your prime concerns, then the Dewalt DWE6441K might be the best electric palm sander for you.
But the dust collection system is a can of worms unless you invest in a Dewalt shop vac system. So if you don’t mind dust collection issues, this Dewalt comes highly recommended.
- Excellent build quality
- No vibration
- Solid performance and reliability
- Replacing grit sheets is easy
- Compact size and lightweight
- You must buy the Dewalt dust port adapter separately
- Dust collection may not work with non-Dewalt shop vac systems
- No variable speed setting
Best Value Refurbished Sander For DIY
Given the state of the economy in the last decade or so, demand for certified refurbished items has increased a lot.
So, we had to include at least one refurbished item in our review list. This blue and grey Bosch palm random orbit sander comes with a one year warranty.
It might be a refurbished item, but the Bosch ROS20VSCRT model that we reviewed looked brand new, with minimal to zero visible wear and tear.
It is cheaper than a brand new item, yet comes with a carry bag, dust adapter, and instructions. It is almost as good as a brand new kit.
The soft-grip top part feels very comfortable in your hands. There is also a marked absence of vibration, and we didn’t feel much fatigue while using this sander. There are multiple spots on the body of the sander you can hold and get a good grip. This is a very nice feature.
The Bosch sander does have advanced features like variable speed control. You will find this useful on softwood and other fragile materials.
The 2.5 Amp motor delivers between 7000-12,000 OPM. The random orbital technology also helps reduce the risk of those telltale swirl marks. Other features like grit paper replacement and dust removal also work very well.
As this is a random orbit sander, you will be using those circular sanding discs with hook and loop attachment.
There are two dust collection options: You can either attach it to your shop vac using the adapter or use the twist-off dust canister. But be warned, though, the canister is small and you will have to pause every couple of minutes to empty it.
We were rather surprised by the bulk of this Bosch sander. Not everyone will be able to use it as a regular palm sander.
It is also rather heavy at around 3.5 lbs., and the controls are a bit all over the place. The pitch from the random orbit and variable speed add to the controlling woes.
If you are an amateur DIY enthusiast, the Bosch sander has enough average performance to keep you happy.
But if you want more quality and perfection from your finished workpieces, you might need to look elsewhere. But this Bosch is a steal overall, especially at the refurbished rates.
- Looks brand new
- Powerful motor and variable speed
- Comes with 1-year warranty and kit
- Outstanding value for money
- Not very compact or lightweight
- Has control issues
- 2.4 amp motor sands at 14, 000 OPM, providing a superior finish
- Textured anti-slip top and body grip provides ultimate comfort and control during use
- Dust-sealed switch protects against dust ingestion for longer switch life
- Sealed 100 percent ball-bearing construction provides longer life
- High capacity dust bag with built-in vacuum adapter provides maximum dust collection with or with out a vacuum dual plane, counter-balanced low-vibration design reduces user fatigue
Most Reliable Palm Sander With Dust Collection Bag
This Dewalt sander looks almost identical to the one we reviewed above. It is a quarter sheet sanded, with a similar build quality.
However, this palm sander has some different features under the hood. It has a slightly more powerful 2.4 Amp motor (max 14,000 OPM) and weighs around 3lbs.
This is a fantastic sander for small sanding and finishing jobs. It is compact and has enough power for such tasks.
Though it lacks variable speed setting, you will probably not miss that feature. It is also very low on noise and vibration. You can easily use this palm sander for extended sessions.
Due to the square base, this sander works extremely well in tight corners. The overall and fit and finish levels are excellent, and you get the same tried and tested Dewalt reliability here.
Replacing the sandpaper is a quick and easy process. They have included a hole punching device for the vacuum, which is very convenient indeed.
This device does not use Velcro to attach the paper. Instead, it comes with metal clamps at the base. You can attach any regular ¼ size sandpaper to this sander. You also get a dust collection bag with this product.
The dust collection bag is a highlighted feature on the D26411. Sadly, it is pretty useless. It does not collect dust very well, and often gets in the way if you are trying to get into tight areas. You are better off using the adapter to connect to your shop vac instead.
The clamping system is also on the weaker side, and at times it allows the paper to slip off.
If you don’t mind the extra cleanup involved, the D26441 is a fantastic little palm sander for smaller finish sanding jobs.
It is lightweight, vibration-free, and packs quite a punch. We have no problem recommending this product, just be aware of the minor quirks and niggles.
- Reliable build quality
- Compact and lightweight
- Perfect for finish sanding
- No vibrations or loud noise
- Dust bag does not work well
- Sandpaper clamps often malfunction
Porter Cable 380
- 2.0-amp motor of orbital sander moves at 13,500 opm, providing a superior finish
- Dual plane, counter-balanced low-vribation design reduces user fatigue of the palm sander
- Dust-sealed switch protects against dust ingestion for longer switch life of the hand sander
- Sealed 100% ball-bearing construction
- 2.0 Amp motor moves at 13,500 opm, providing a superior finish
Most Affordable Palm Sander For Beginners
The 380 from Porter Cable comes decked in discreet grey and black casing.
This is an ultra-compact palm sander, tipping the scales at a paltry 2.3lbs. The corded tool is powered by a 2 Amp motor that delivers a peak of 13,500 OPM.
Palm sanders don’t come much cheaper than this little fella from Porter Cable, and that is one of its main draws.
The performance is adequate for fine finishing, taking care of corners and minor tasks like that. If you are into small scale home improvement and DIY projects on a budget, this is a decent option indeed.
The small size allows this sander to attack tight corners with ease. You will feel no fatigue at all. It is very light and has little vibration as well.
You can use standard sandpaper sheets cut to one-quarter size on the Porter Cable 380. Using adhesive backed paper is not recommended. This device uses clamps to keep the paper securely in place.
Where do we start with the flaws of the 380? It’s got a fair amount of issues, which is not surprising given its price point.
For starters, the 2 Amp motor is underpowered, so if you want to do any serious sanding, you have to consider at least a 3 Amp motor.
Overall, the build quality and durability are also somewhat suspect. Though we could not use the sander for an extended period, user feedback online does indicate that the model has a high rate of failure.
The dust collection system is also quite useless, and it does not even provide a hookup to a shop vac.
The 380 is only recommended in a few specific situations: if you are on a budget, if you just need to use it sparingly, and if you only need it for very light-duty sanding tasks.
In all other scenarios, you are better off looking for a more powerful Dewalt, Bosch or Makita.
- One of the cheapest options
- Very small and lightweight
- Can work in tight spots
- Not very durable
- Dust collection is non-existent
- New version, high strength, wear resistant, long service life
- Air Inlet:1/4", hook and loop sanding pad:5", Free speed: 12,000 revolutions per minute
- Rear exhaust. Built-in regulator for speed control
- Lighter air-motor assembly, ideal for vertical and overhead sanding applications
- Average air consumption: 10.5 CFM;Air Pressure: 90 PSI
Best Off-Brand Air Powered Palm Sander
This sander is strictly for folks who want an inexpensive, off-brand product. We could not find much info about the brand, but we can safely assume that it is from a Chinese manufacturer.
The power tool in question is a 5” random orbital sander, which runs on pneumatic power and NOT electricity or batteries.
One distinct advantage of a pneumatic powered sander would be in situations where you already have a big air compressor in your workshop. However, this is probably not a realistic scenario for the average DIY enthusiast.
Another conceivable advantage (and we are reaching here!) could be the silent operation. This sander does not make much noise, unlike one with an electric motor. So if you want something quiet, this might be worth a try.
The Gedu sander has a predominantly plastic body, and that helps keep the weight low. The light pneumatic device could be a good choice for working on walls and ceilings as well.
The power is also there, with the device being capable of hitting a peak of 12,000 OPM. It even has a regulator for variable speed control.
You will need an air compressor to power this pneumatic power tool. This device accepts circular 5” sanding pad discs with hook and loop attachments, and it consumes around 10.5 CFM at a recommended pressure rating of 90 PSI.
Okay, there are problems galore with this device. It is a rather niche product in an age where portable and corded electric tools provide maximum utility, and we know next to nothing about the brand or manufacturer. As far as support is concerned, your guess is as good as ours.
The device looks cheaply built, and the plastic pieces do not inspire much confidence. Reports also indicate that many of these devices were delivered DOA. Overall this is not a very durable or reliable device.
We cannot recommend the GAOA124-1-US in good conscience. It is an off-brand tool without any great redeeming features to make it worth the price.
If you want to play around with that air compressor in your workshop, this might be the best hand sander for that. But for the asking price, you can get far more reliable palm sanders from known brands, and they will be easier to work with as well.
- PR Silent operation OS1
- Can work on ceilings and walls
- Has variable speed controls
- Poor build quality
- Not durable or reliable
- Not good value for the money
- Unknown brand with questionable support
- Pressure control technology warns user when excessive pressure is applied
- Micro-filtration captures and contains fine dust particles
- Clear view dust canister removes guess work of when to empty canister
- Dust-sealed switch for extended tool life
- Pressure Control Technology warns user when excessive pressure is applied
Best Affordable Palm Sander With Pressure Sensor
The Skil palm sander is in the same power class as the Porter Cable we already reviewed. A 2 Amp motor powers this compact quarter sheet palm sander. The black and magenta body design gives it a very distinct look, and it is a corded electric device.
This sander is very inexpensive, which is one of its main attractions. If you want a small sander on a budget for low-intensity tasks, this might be the best choice. Beyond the cost, it also has a couple of other redeeming features.
The dust collection system here deserves at least a passing mention. It comes with a clear-view transparent canister to hold the dust, so you don’t have to guess when it is time to empty the canister.
Another useful feature is a sort of warning system that alerts you if you exert too much pressure on the workpiece. This could be a great feature for newbies, as they are the ones most susceptible to such mistakes.
The Skil palm sander accepts regular sandpaper cut down to quarter sheet sizes. Since this device uses clamps, you do not need adhesive or Velcro backed sandpaper.
The main issue we encountered with this device was related to those clamps because they are not well designed. The paper can slip off with alarming regularity.
Attaching the sandpaper is also quite tricky. Overall, this is a flaw that really hurts the value of this otherwise decent device.
This sander is not recommended if you have to do a lot of sanding. It will give you a lot of grief, as the paper will not stay in place for long periods of time.
If you restrict the usage to minor touch ups here and there, this could be a good palm sander for you. But otherwise, please consider other options.
- Compact and easy to use
- Comes with a pressure sensor and warning system
- Affordable pricing
- Transparent dust canister
- Paper clamps do not work properly
- Poor dust extraction
- Not the best build quality