The Best Types Of Sanders For Your Next Project

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Wood sanders are an essential tool to have if you’re invested in turning your old furniture into something new and interesting. Better yet, these power sanders essential if you’re building your own furniture or remodeling your home.

If you are sanding wood or a number of other flat surfaces, you want a power tool that can smooth any wood surface, removing any scrapes or scuff marks on the way.

As a beginner, it can be overwhelming to find the right wood sander for your project. You may not know where to start finding the right power sanders and you don’t want to throw a good chunk of money at the wrong sander.

You also have to consider which sanding pad or grit pad is right to tackle the surface of your project without creating too much sanding dust or noise. Sanding is also such a tedious task, and you want a sander that will make your work run as smoothly as possible.

This guide will describe each type of wood sander available and what they do. This is to help you determine what sander fits perfectly with your needs. Before starting, have you seen types of wood sanding tools article? check it out.

4 Major Types of Wood Sanders

Each type of wood sander has its own qualities and features. These features will help you decide which sander is best for your purposes. Each sander is made for specific projects.

Belt Sanders

Belt Sanders - Wood Sander

Belt wood sanders are the most popular sanders used by the majority of woodworkers and remodeling crews. This wood sander is perfect for smoothing large wood surfaces at a super-fast speed.

These sanders remove wood surfaces quickly, but they don’t always produce the nicest looking finish. It varies on the type of wood and how fast you were using the sander.

Belt sanders use sanding belts to smooth the wood down. Sanding belts are basically reinforced abrasive cloth.

These belts loop around 2 cylinder drums on the belt sander. Once the belt sander is powered up and switched on, the motor turns the back drum, which in turn turns the front drum. The drums rotate at this pace, turning the sanding belt with it.

These wood sanders come with a knob adjustment. This knob keeps the sanding belt dead center. You may need to adjust the belt a few times as you work since spinning for long periods of time can loosen the belt and move it around slightly.

The sanding belts will need to be replaced periodically. After too much use, the belt will wear down and won’t smooth nearly as well as a new belt.

Who Should Use a Belt Sander?

Belt sanders are perfect for projects with large wood surfaces that need to be finished quickly. Belt sanders work best at sanding and smoothing down doors, tabletops, and, in general, they’re used for renovating homes. They can also be used on wooden floors.

They’re also a favorite for painters. These wood sanders have the ability, as they’re great with bigger surfaces to remove old paint or old varnish and stain. What is the best belt sander? Interesting to find out.

Orbital Finishing Sanders

Orbital Finishing Sanders - Wood Sander

Orbital finishing sanders will create the smoothest wood surface with the perfection of a finish. They work perfectly for smoothing down sharp edges of wood and tough abrasions.This sander also goes by the name of the 1/4-sheet sander as the sander generally uses 1/4-sheets of sandpaper.

These sanders are easy to hold with one hand and easy to carry as they’re very light. The biggest bonus? You’ll make very little noise while sanding away at your project, perfect if you’re working late into the night or early in the morning.

Orbital sanders are either powered by electricity, or they can be battery powered. They come with pads and plates that you will need to replace after a lot of use. The sanding pads hold a 1/4-sheet of sandpaper in place with 2 clamps.

When the power sander is on, the power makes the square sanding pads vibrate in smaller circles, moving the sandpaper against the wood.

Who Should Use an Orbital Finishing Sander?

Orbital finishing sanders come in handy as a backup for several woodworking projects. Whether you’re refurbishing or building, you’re going to come across areas that are more difficult to sand down or difficult to reach.

These sanders will smooth down those places that are hard to access with ease. They also work well for odd surfaces. This can include hard-to-smooth abrasions in the wood that other wood sanders would have trouble sanding. Check out other best orbital sanders reviews.

Random Orbit Sander

Random Orbit Sander - Wood Sander

An orbit sander moves at random orbits, or in random directions with no set pattern, which explains the strange name of this sander. The orbit sander vibrates and spins, giving you the finish of both a belt sander and an orbital finishing sander.

Most of these wood sanders are easy to hold with one hand like a palm sander as they include a palm-shaped grip, freeing your other hand to stabilize the wood you’re working with. This will also prevent hand cramps from holding a sander for long periods of time.

Unfortunately, these sanders vibrate at quite a slower rate than the belt sander. The plus side to this is that you’ll be focused on precision.

Like the orbital finishing sander, the pads on the random orbit sander hold a 1/4-sheet of sandpaper that moves when the sander is on. The difference—which also creates a unique finish—is that the pads are small circles instead of square-shaped.

Who Should Use a Random Orbit Sander?

People who want a sander that can do several jobs in one will love the random orbit sander, especially beginners. As stated before, this sander can give you both the finish of a belt sander and an orbital finishing sander.

This sander also works well for any fragile pieces of wood you may be working with. The random orbits the sander doesn’t apply too much pressure to the wood you’re working with, preventing fragile wood from breaking.

A random orbit sander can also do amazing work on sanding the trimming projects in your home.

Oscillating Spindle Sander

Oscillating Spindle Sander - Wood Sander

Oscillating spindle sanders are mostly used for smoothing over the edges of a board or piece of wood. They’re a tabletop sander that gives you stability while sanding that you don’t always get with a handheld sander.

These sanders are sold in different sizes, and the bigger oscillating sanders are able to angle around 45 degrees at ease. There’s a variety of sizes you can choose from.

The oscillating sander creates a finish without those annoying grooves you can get from other faster sanders. However, as this sander is a tabletop sander, it’s not portable. It will have to be stationed in your workshop.

This sander includes a sanding drum that sticks out of your workbench. When the sander is powered on, the drum will move up and down on the spindle. This lets the sander drum and the piece of wood get direct contact for a groove-free finish.

Who Should Use an Oscillating Spindle Sander?

The oscillating spindle sander should be used for curious curves or angles that standard sanders can’t get to.

Since it’s a tabletop sander, it also works great for projects that can be dangerous if you’re forced to use a handheld sander. Stability can be important if you have unsteady hands.

Other Sander Types

In addition to the sanders we have already touched on above, there are a couple of others you should familiarize yourself with when trying to find the best types of sanders for your next project.

A detail sander features triangular pads and interchangeable sanding pads. The sand allows you to curve and profile shapes easily. A detail sander is ideal if you are working with tight spots like you would around chair spindles. The finger-shaped pads also work well in the slots and grooves.

A drum sander uses interchangeable rolls of sandpaper. It is a single-drum, open end unit that takes up little space and is often more powerful than other sander types. The double drum units can cut your work time in half.

A drum sander allows you to work more efficiently and quickly and can easily handle larger jobs. There are also a number of grits available, and it can handle both small and large boards.

Features to Consider for the Best Sanders for Wood

The following are a few of the features you should consider as you hunt for the best sanders for wood projects you have lined up.

Dust Collection. These are usually bags that are used as a dust collector as you work. They may also be ports that you can use to hook the wood sander to the dust collection system or wet/dry vac in your workshop.

Trigger-Lock. This is a feature on the sander that allows you to keep it locked in the on position without actually having to manually depress the trigger.

Clamps. These are often used with portable sanders, and for those more delicate jobs you may have.

Pad Brakes. These allow you to lift the wood sander up from the work surface and then put it right back down without the risk of gouging the surface of the material you are working with.

Variable Speed. This is commonly found with a random orbital sander. There is a preselect speed dial wheel that lets you control the sanding speed while working. This variable speed feature is good when working on more delicate projects.

Amp Motor. The amp motor is what determines the power of your sander. When considering the amp motor, you also have to keep in mind the kind of job you are doing because this will also determine just how much power you will need and how fast the speeds are. Industrial level sanders often have a 12-amp motor.

Sanding Discs. In addition to the wood sander, you need to find some high-quality sanding discs that will provide you with the most value.


Hopefully, this guide will give you the knowledge to make the right decision on your new wood sander. Every project is different—just like every wood sander has different strengths.

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