Are you in a hurry and just want to know what is the best palm sander? Makita BO4556 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander is your best choice.
When I first started woodworking on my own, I used a sanding block to smooth the surface of my projects. Sanding by hand takes a lot of energy and time. A palm sander became my first power tool purchase.
The following guide will help you determine what to look for with these products; something that I wish I would have had for reference. I have also included a review of the five best palm sanders that you can buy.
Best Palm Sanders Compared:
What Are Palm Sanders Designed For?
First off, palm sanders come in at a lower price point than larger sanders, like belt sanders or random orbital sanders. To be honest, the lower price of palm sanders has allowed me to collect a few in my shop over the years. A lower price will allow you to make this one of your first power tool purchases if you are just starting out.
Next, palm sanders are built to finish your project’s surface. The random orbital sanders are a bit more aggressive, so they do a great job of taking off paint or other materials. A quarter-sheet sander is designed to work with smaller grits and will do a great job of getting your project ready for stain or protective coatings.
Palm sanders are designed to save you time during the sanding phase of your build. The movement of the sheet will also save you some energy as well.
Quarter-Sheet vs Random Orbit Sanders
The Quarter-Sheet Palm Sander
The quarter-sheet sander design is one of the simplest out of all types of sanders. Quarter-sheet sanders also tend to be some of the cheapest hand-held sanders on the market, making them attractive to beginners as well as those working from a tight budget.
Another feature I like with a quarter-sheet model is that they tend to be easier to control. This allows you to place the abrasive exactly where it needs to be as your work. They also do great with papers down to 220 grit, making them ideal for that final finishing before you stain or add a protective coating.
The Random Orbit Sander
Random orbital sanders tend to be a bit more expensive than the quarter-sheet models, but they are still reasonably priced when compared to other sander designs. The movement pattern of random orbital sanders helps prevent the swirling that often accompanied the use of their predecessor, the orbital sander. These will take off a bit more material than the quarter-sheet designs, and they will do it more quickly.
The oscillating base makes it a bit harder to control as precisely, but that motion generates less vibration. That makes these sanders a little more comfortable to use. They do not handle paper grits lower than 160 very well, so users will often use them in stock preparation as well as with finishing.
Things To Look For On A Palm Sander
Ergonomics And Vibration Resistance
Believe me when I say that this is by far the most important feature to look at when shopping for the best palm sander. Design features that help to reduce vibration will allow you to operate a palm sander for longer periods of time. An ergonomic handle with cushioning will keep your hand in a favorable position as well as allowing you to keep a secure grip as you work.
Surprisingly, this is a feature that is low on many shoppers’ lists. This is a mistake as few tools will generate as much dust as an electric sander. The dust collection system should be located at a point where it can suck in debris as the base moves.
A good palm sander should have a dust collection port in a position that does not get in the way of your hand as you work. Most palm sanders include a port size that fits most shop vacs but keep the dimensions of your vacuum hose in mind as you shop or make sure that you can find an adaptor.
Orbits per minute (OPM)
The orbits per minute indicate how quickly a palm sander base makes a complete movement. The higher this number, the faster the abrasive will remove material from your project. Some palm sanders will provide you with variable-speed motors that allow you to select the OPMs you want to work at for a particular grit or application.
Corded vs Cordless
Corded palm sanders are often cheaper, but this has not stopped the battery-operated models from gaining popularity in recent years. A cordless palm sander can work anywhere, including sites that lack an outlet.
This highlights the corded palm sanders. A corded palm sander may require external power, but it can run longer than battery-powered models. What’s more, corded palm sanders can make use of larger electric motors as well, taking advantage of more amps.
Five Best Palm Sanders: The Reviews
Best Palm Sander: DEWALT DWE6411K 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander
- 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
DeWALT off this model with a two amp electric motor. That should generate plenty of vibration as you work through various paper grits. A nice addition here is the bag and protective boot that make storage and travel easier.
SKIL 7292-02 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander
- 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
The7292-02 is designed as a budget-friendly model, making it a powerful sanding tool for anyone. It is easy to load, and when the low price is added in, it makes it a good buy for a first-time palm sander.
Milwaukee 2648-20 M18 Cordless Random Orbital Sander
- Milwaukee Electric Tools 2648-20 M18 Random Orbit Sander
- This product meets customer requirement
- Product is easy to use
This random orbital sander is cordless, allowing the user to sand anywhere. Its random orbital pattern will not leave the swirling marks on cross-grain movement, making it easier to clean up wood than when using a standard orbital sander.
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander
- Precision engineered all-ball-bearing construction for reduced vibration and noise
- Contoured, rubberized palm grip design for improved operator comfort and control
- Large and easy to use paper clamps for fast and efficient paper installation
This product from Makita is a mid-priced unit that should provide plenty of power. Its ball-bearing construction should help to dampen noise while it is running. That construction should also transfer less vibration from the motor and the base as you work.
TACKLIFE PRS01A 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander
No products found.
This traditional orbital sander will offer more control than newer random orbital sanders. That means you can sand in the areas that need it while avoiding those that do not much easier. An older design also allows the price to drop down into the mid-range here.
BLACK+DECKER Random Orbital Sander, 5-Inch (BDERO100)
- HIGH PERFORMANCE ORBIT SANDER - 2.0 Amp corded electric random orbit sander for a swirl-free finish
- HIGH EFFICIENCY - Delivers 12000 OPM (orbits per minute) to quickly sand material
- LIGHTWEIGHT & COMPACT - Fits in tight spaces for more versatile sanding
This random orbital sander from BLACK+DECKER is a great choice for those on a tight budget. The build quality of this sander is rather cheap (hence the low price) but it will get the job done.
At 12,000 max OPM, this random orbital sander will provide performance that is on par with other, more expensive sanders on this list. The sander boasts a 2 Amp corded model which will deliver sufficient power.
The manufacturer assures that the sander has been designed with a “comfort grip handle”, which ensures comfortable use. There are a lot of owners who disagree with this statement. The ergonomics of this model are very poor. A lot of people have reported experiencing hand numbness after long sessions of sanding.
The Best Palm Sander You Can Buy
All five of the models reviewed above stand out in certain areas. The Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander is the best palm sander out of all of them, in my opinion.
To begin with, it provides the user with a comfortable grip. That allows you to hold the sander without becoming cramped due to an awkward angle. Makita also provides cushioning that helps to absorb vibration, a feature that will allow you to operate it for longer periods as well.
It provides an adequate dust collection path. This model also uses ball-bearings to reduce vibrations and noise. The 14,000 OPMs it can generate at maximum will allow you to sand more quickly than slower models.
Finally, the mid-range price makes it more attractive. It won’t break the bank, but the price isn’t so low that the materials suffer for it.
If you find that you need something more powerful, make sure to also check out my other sander guides: