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It can be a real pain sanding and finishing wood. Thankfully, life can get a whole lot easier for you for your DIY projects with a little bit of help from a palm sander.
A palm sander is a must have for any woodworker, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to get one!
You may be wondering what to look for when buying a palm sander. It can be hard to know what to look for without breaking the bank. Thankfully, we’re here to take the guesswork out of getting the best palm sander for you. Read on to find out about some of the best palm sanders on the market.
You can also read our handy buyer’s guide to help you to know what things to look out for.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick!
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Palm Sander – Comparison Table
Best Palm Sander – Reviews
Best Palm Sander – Buyer’s Guide
So those were the best palm sanders on the market (in our humble opinion after hours of testing!). The question remains though, what makes a good palm sander. You may have noticed some recurring features crop up that make these products great, but if you missed it we’re here to break down some key selling points to look out for when buying a palm sander.
Questions to Ask
Before you even start looking for a palm sander, you will first of all need to know what exactly you need the sander for. This will be covered more in depth later on, but as we all know the whole purpose of a palm sander is to smooth and finish surface materials, right? Well, yes, but there’s more to it than that!
The first question you need to ask yourself is what kinds of materials you’re going to be sanding. The vast majority of sanders are able to sand common materials as long as you use the proper type of sanding paper but you should always check before buying.
The next question to ask is what kinds of shapes and sizes the materials you’re going to use are. The technique you use for sanding a flat and large square is going to wildly vary from what you do to sand a smaller object that has curved surfaces.
Also consider if you’re going to need a certain level of surface quality. Some sanders are going to give you a nice smooth surface, whereas others are going to provide a rougher finish. Different projects are likely to need different things, so consider this before you buy. In addition to that, consider what kinds of abrasive types and backing pads you can use with it too.
Finally, consider your budget. Your budget is often going to determine what you get with the tool, for example if you’ll get accessories or if you’ll have extra functionality. Consider what things are important to you so you don’t end up spending money on a product where you won’t even use half of the functions and accessories.
Things to Look For
It can take a lot of time to sand a DIY woodworking project, so it’s not ideal to be holding a vibrating, potentially heavy rotating piece of plastic and metal for hours at a time.
It’s not initially clear whether a palm sander has comfort features, but the main difference between a tool designed for comfort and one that isn’t is that you’ll most definitely notice is after holding the tool for a certain amount of time. You may not notice after a few minutes but after hours go by you will see a huge difference.
Some things you should keep an eye out for include a padded grip, an ergonomic handle designed for being held comfortably, and a vibration reduction design. More often than not in more recently made power tools you’ll find these little ergonomic elements, but they are not present in every power tool so if this is important to you, you will need to factor that in to your consideration.
While palm sanders don’t experience quite the same degree of wear and tear as saws or drills do, they do still need to be durable to be used for any DIY project. Your sander is going to be constantly in contact with your project, so you need to make sure it will be able to withstand some significant wear and tear.
A decent palm sander should also last a much longer time than tools that aren’t so rugged. It can be a little difficult to test out how hard wearing a tool is without actually using it though, and some manufacturers can say their tools are rugged but it isn’t in the consumer’s mind. This is why it’s so important to read up on customer reviews first as they will point out any problems.
Dust is an irritating element of woodworking, so it’s important to make sure that the tool you get has some form of dust collection! For sanders especially a good dust collection system is essential. To start with, when you’re using a palm sander you’re likely making the final touches on your project. Your results aren’t going to be as smooth if you have lots of dust remaining on your workpiece.
In addition to this you also have the issue of health problems. Sawdust is a carcinogen, so without proper dust collection you will be breathing in all of these carcinogens, which, suffice to say, will not be good for your health.
The vast majority of palm sanders will come with a dust port, and some even come with a collection pouch. Much like you wouldn’t go without using goggles and gloves to do a woodworking project, it’s just as important to make sure that you have a dust extraction strategy.
So we already mentioned the importance of dust collection for your health, but proper dust management is also important to ensure that your tools don’t get damaged too. The problem with dust is as it’s moving through the air it can get into the inside of the sander, causing the motor to clog up. It can even make the tool break entirely.
A lot of tools on the market these days actually come with dust seal designs to help combat this issue. They are designed to stop the dust from getting into the inner workings of your palm sander so that you will get more longevity out of the tool.
Orbits Per Minute
The type of surfaces your palm sander is able to interact with will largely depend on the orbits per minute that the sander is able to make. You’ll need a lot more power in order to work with harder woods.
With that being said not everyone needs high orbits per minute for their projects, but it’s worth remembering that some projects will require that. Getting more OPM in your sander can be very useful if you want to branch out into using some more varied materials.
This is another incredibly useful feature that is definitely a game changer when you’re looking for a palm sander. A Pressure detector essentially lets you know when you’re pressing too hard with the tool. So, when you do press too hard the sander will vibrate to let you know, or on some models you will get a sensor light that will do it instead. If you have more experience this may not be necessary for you.
If you’re just starting out with woodworking this can be a pretty handy feature to have. Your project is going to experience a bit of damage if you’re overzealous with pushing on the tool, so this safety feature means you can navigate your project without the worry that your hard work will go to waste.
Battery Operated vs Corded
There are a number of benefits and pitfalls about both battery operated and corded palm sanders, and ultimately what you choose to get is going to come down largely to your personal preferences and circumstances.
It’s often easier to work with battery powered sanders because you don’t need to operate around a cord, but the issue here is that they don’t run for as long as corded devices. They need to be plugged in to recharge them. Another issue is that battery operated devices don’t always have the same kind of life expectancy as corded models, because the batteries will eventually stop holding charge. Your options here are either to buy a new sander or get new batteries, both options that are very expensive.
You don’t have this same issue with a corded model, as they can operate for many hours as long as the cord is still plugged into the mains and the device. Sadly, you also have fewer ways to move around, and you can only use them when you’re in reaching distance of a plug socket. This can be problematic when you’re working outside.
As we said, it depends on what you want and your needs. Just assess both options first to find out what will be the best fit for you.