Best Palm Sanders For The Money – Comparisons & Reviews

If you are involved in DIY in any serious capacity at some point you will need to sand something. Whether it’s refinishing an old porch swing or taking on something you found on Pinterest, at some point it’s gonna happen. Some people dread sanding and it’s easy to see why. It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and it’s messy.  

But for all its faults many people find a sanding to be relaxing. It’s not overly demanding or technical, there’s no measurements to be taken or holes to be drilled. Sanding also signifies the approach of completion on a project. When you sand, you’re allowed to focus on polishing what you’ve spend time building.

A big part of making sanding enjoyable is to use a tool that does the job well and is easy to use. Having a tool you enjoy breaking out on occasion is a pleasure.

Quick Look - Top Palm Sanders

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Orbital vs Random-Orbit

Palm sanders come in two main types: orbital and random orbit. An orbital sander (also known as a sheet sander or finish sander) has a square or rectangular shaped base. They don’t require a premade sanding sheet but rather use ¼ sheet of your regular 9 x 11-inch sheets of sandpaper.

An orbital sander works by simply vibrating back and forth or in a small oval shape to remove material. This runs the risk of leaving behind a clear pattern of scratching that will show up in your final product. While these types of sanders are slower at removing material than a random orbital, their flat edges will allow you to easily sand inside corners or up against an edge, such as inside a cabinet.

A random orbit sander has a round base and requires premade sanding discs to be attached to the bottom. They are called random because the base spins or vibrates rapidly while also being rotated in an elliptical pattern. Imagine simultaneously using two different settings on a spirograph and you can see how they came up with the name.

The advantage here is a random orbit sander will not leave behind a recognizable pattern of sanding scratches or swirl marks in your material.

Random orbit sanders are more aggressive and so remove material more quickly than an orbital sander. However, an orbital sander, since it is not as aggressive, is a bit more forgiving and is usually less expensive to begin with. It will also save you some money over the life of the product as you are able to use sheets of sandpaper which are cheaper than the discs.

Features to Consider

With palm sanders there are a number of different features each can have to be considered. At their core they all have the same purpose, to remove material and provide a better finish to the project. So how well a palm sander does this job is always going to be at the top of the list.

The size and weight are also important factors. A lower profile sander will fit into tighter spaces that a taller one can’t get into. If you are using the sander on anything but a horizontal surface the weight can make a big difference in a short time.

Comfort is another feature that will make a difference the longer you use the sander. Rubberized overmolding on grips and an ergonomic design can have a significant effect on your comfort. A sander that doesn’t transfer a lot of vibration to your hands can also save you from developing numbness or even hand/arm vibration syndrome.

Finally, sanding is a dirty job and anything that can be done to keep it cleaner is a benefit. A good dust collection system, with or without a filter, will be noticeable. Even better is a port to connect to a vacuum that will haul most of the dust away as it’s created. No sander will pick up all the dust, but getting a lot is helpful.

The Orbital Sanders

DeWALT D26441K

Last update on 2022-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The DeWALT D26441K is a solid mid-tier ¼ sheet sander. At just over 5.25 inches, it’ll fit most anywhere and at 2.8 lbs it’s light enough to use on vertical and overhead jobs without wearing you out. The 2.3-amp motor runs at a constant 14,000 OPM (orbits per minute).

That’s plenty of power to handle the jobs you’ll throw at it. However, this particular sander can be a touch too aggressive at higher grits. Since it lacks variable speed, selecting the proper grit sandpaper will be imperative. If in doubt use a lower grit. Switching out sandpaper is accomplished with a single front clamp and then two rear wire clamps. The 3-point system can be a little tedious but it holds the sandpaper on solidly so that’s forgivable.

Even though it’s powerful, the ample rubber overmolding on the grip makes it comfortable to use and the D26441K doesn’t transfer a whole lot of vibration to your hands. The dust collection system works well at collecting large particles of dust but since the D26441K uses a cloth bag and no filter, the smaller, more dangerous particles will pass right through the bag.

The rear port does allow you to connect directly to DeWALT proprietary vacuums right out of the box. If by some chance you don’t have a DeWALT vacuum, you’ll need to purchase a fairly expensive adapter to connect to the vacuum you do have. The D26441K also comes with a dust-sealed rocker switch to help prevent dust from entering into the electronics to extend the life of the sander.

Makita BO4556K

Last update on 2022-05-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Makita has a reputation for manufacturing top-notch products and their take on the ¼ sheet orbital sander is no exception. It uses an all ball bearing construction to keep the 2.0-amp motor relatively quiet and to reduce the amount of vibration the sander transfers to your hands as it buzzes along at 14,000 OPM.

The BO4556K weighs just 2.5 lbs and has a profile of just over 5.5 inches. Sandpaper is changed quickly and painlessly with two large wire clamps and it’s worth mentioning the shoe is made out of aluminum and not plastic. One small note is that the the dust sealed rocker switch feels like it operates crisper than in other models.

The BO4556K does have built-in dust collection which empties to a cloth bag. The same issue arises with the cloth bag as the DeWALT in that it catches the larger particles but the smaller, more dangerous particles are not hindered. The dust collection was okay but left a fair amount of dust laying around after the job.

In theory, the BO4556K will accept a vacuum attachment to increase its dust collection capabilities. However, the port that comes off the back of the sander is quite small (3/4”) and will not readily accept run-of-the-mill vacuum attachments without some jerry-rigging.

Skil 7292-02

Last update on 2022-03-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This ¼” sheet orbital sander costs approximately half what the other two orbital sanders do and includes some nice features as well. It is by far the tallest of the three with a 6-inch profile and lands in the middle of the pack for weight at 2.6 lbs. It runs a 2.0-amp motor at 14,000 OPM.

Like the other two, it has a dust sealed switch but it’s not protected by a rubber boot. The 7292-02 has a clear plastic collection canister with a filter to catch even the smallest of dust particles. And while the dust collection works pretty well, the port on the rear will allow you to readily connect a vacuum attachment to the sander.

One interesting feature, especially for those new to sanders and sanding, is the pressure control system on the Skil. This is a set of lights which indicate when you are applying the right amount of pressure and when you are applying too much.

For the price, it’s an excellent sander but it’s not without issues. Most of those issues center around the suspect quality of the build. The wire clamps are somewhat flimsy and have been known to break and fall off completely. This is a critical failure and renders the sander useless. The pad that covers the shoe also has a reputation for wearing out quickly.

The Random Orbit Sanders

Bosch ROS20VSC

Last update on 2022-04-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The ROS20VSC is a fantastic random orbital sander at a very reasonable price. The 2.5-amp motor is equipped with a variable speed dial which allows you to adjust your OPMs from 7,500 up to 12,000. That’s handy if you’d like to dial back the power for finer sanding jobs.

The sanding pad is pliable and will allow you to sand contoured material easily. But the soft pad can cause rounding of edges you might want a little sharper. Beneath the pad is 35,000 strong hooks to attach a standard 5-inch sanding disc to.

Comfort and ease of use seem to have been priorities when the ROS20VSC was designed. There is ample rubberized overmolding to grip and this tool runs very smooth with low vibration. That’ll keep your digits from humming for hours after you’ve finished sanding your picnic table. The dust collection canister is a transparent, sturdy plastic and removes easily with a twist and pops right back on.

Speaking of dust collection, the ROS20VSC does an exceptional job at dust collection and includes a filter that will trap dust particles down to a size of just ½ a micron in diameter. And it has a dust sealed switch for a longer life. If you don’t want to use the canister and filter, it includes an adapter to connect to any vacuum hose from 1 ¼” to 1 ½” or it can connect directly to a Bosch vacuum.

It’s taller than many of the finish sanders at 6 inches but not excessively tall and at 3.5 lbs it’s still a very manageable weight for vertical and overhead sanding jobs.

Overall, there really isn’t much to dislike about the ROS20VSC. It’s not as aggressive as maybe some might like and there were some instances where the sanding pad was cupped. But those issues were few and this sander is otherwise extremely well regarded.

Black & Decker BDERO100

Last update on 2022-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The BDERO100 from Black & Decker is a budget friendly random orbital sander that is still very capable. The 5-inch disc pad connects to sanding discs via a solid hook and loop system and the 2.0-amp motor will achieve 12,000 OPM. While the BDERO100 lacks a variable speed feature, it is still capable of producing a good finish if you choose your sandpaper grit wisely.

Other measurables are a profile of 6 inches and it weighs a nice and light 3.2 lbs. The grip has plenty of rubberized overmolding to keep a good grip and it’s comfortable to use. The BDERO100 is not as low on vibration as some of the others but it won’t vibrate so much it shakes your fingers to death.

A dust sealed switch will help extend the life of the product and the dust collection system works pretty well. Although, it is a cloth bag so it will capture larger dust particles but smaller ones won’t be trapped. You won’t be able to easily connect the BDERO100 to a vacuum as it is, and there does not appear to be an adapter available to do so. So if that’s important to you, you’ll need to get creative or look at a different sander.

While the BDERO100 is not super powerful or full of flashy features, it does do the job it is intended to do quite well and it does it for a low price.

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Final Thoughts

Make sure to take into account what jobs you foresee yourself asking your palm sander to do. Personally, I think the two types of sanders (orbital and random orbit) are different enough to justify keeping both on hand but if you were to only go for one, a random orbit sander is a bit more versatile.

While sanding isn’t necessarily a glamorous job, it is a necessary step to getting the best finish on your project. Using a tool that is not only comfortable but does the job well takes a lot of the fuss out of the job. Who knows, you might even find yourself enjoying it.

About Russ Thompson

Hey I'm Russ and I have been a contractor for over 20 years. I know what the cost of having the right tools and materials for the job. My passion for woodworking and helping others by workshops in my wood shop. I have beginner classes all the way up expert trade classes. Check out my bio for more.

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