Which Power Sander Should I Use for My Job?

Which sander should I choose? The problem is that there are many kinds and you may wonder which one you should buy. With a wrong one, you end up having another tool for next year tag sale. What is not helping is even one type of sander can be called by a different name depending on people who use. Through a simple guide and a few sander reviews here, you will be getting a sander that best fits your needs.

A sander uses a flexible abrasive material, usually sandpaper, attached to a tool to smooth surfaces. Even a best handyman can get easily worn down by a tedious time-consuming sanding work and there are nothing like these power tools to get the job done fast and ensure a good finish. Let’s go over each sander one by one.

Belt Sander


If you spend considerable time in woodworking, belt sanders are one of most versatile tools. Belt sander can take a lot of material very quickly. It uses a sandpaper belt which rotates over two drums. It is good to use on a first stage of job which does not need a super perfect detail but need to remove material aggressively. Typical jobs would include leveling rough or uneven surfaces, trimming parts flush, removing paint or varnish and sanding large area over relatively flat surface like cabinet faces.

Orbital Sanderorbital-sander-small

An orbital sander is also called as a pad or finish sander. The pad shape is either square or rectangular and most common sizes are ¼ sheet (square) or ½  sheet (rectangular). Some people call it as a palm sander because of its size. The square shape pad makes a tiny circles or orbits, which resulted in the lateral motion. Because of its small movement and size, it is easy to handle but not good for heavy removal of material. When you want a smooth finish, this is the sander you want. It is good for silky-smooth wood finish like furniture, sanding off drywall finish or hardened woody putty and so on.

Random Orbit Sander

random-orbit-sander-smallSome people call it a random orbital sander and many people confuse a random orbit sander with an orbital sander because of the name. With similar size, both can be called as a palm sander. It is a most common sander someone’s going to buy if they buy only one power sander. With different grade of sandpaper, you can use it for rough sanding and finish work. A random orbit sander is named because of its motion. The round shape pad moves in orbits and also spins, therefore generating random orbits on surface. The round shape pad makes it difficult to reach corners.

Detail Sander

detail-sander-smallDetail sanders are used to finish surface smoothly much like orbital sanders. However, its triangular shape makes it ideal for reaching tight corners and grooves other sanders cannot fit. They are also good for sanding areas that should have been sanded pre-assembly like the inside of a chair leg between stretchers.  Using various attachments, you can tackle different applications. Because of its small size, it is not suitable to cover large area or heavy duty sanding and it usually does not come with the dust control.

Drum Sanderdrum-sander-small

Drum sanders can be used in various works but the main reason you want to have this tool is being able to finish sanding wide boards. It can work efficiently and be a real time saver of big jobs. It is not suited to remove a lot of material like a planar but a drum sander can work well to sand the weathered topmost layer from a piece of wood and make thin pieces of wood thinner.

Spindle Sander

spindle-sander-smallIf you need to smooth out curvaceous surface like in furniture, a spindle sander will do much better job than any other sanders. To sand curves of different radii, each machine has its own set of interchangeable spindles and you can choose the diameter you need. Among different types of spindle sanders, oscillating spindle sanders are most popular. They have a long standing drum which rotates and moves up and down at the same time. This oscillating movement serves two purposes. It makes more contact area, so it will not wear out the narrow area of spindle. Also this dual action will prevent gouging in one area.


Now you have an idea on the most common types of power sanders and which jobs they are most suited for.  When you use proper tools, you can finish jobs quicker and better. Not to mention that using the tools for the wrong jobs can result in the damage on the tools and products, and even injury. You are now ready to buy sanders you need and tackle the work you have in mind. When you work with your power tools,  keep in mind that safety should be most important than any other things.

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