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What is a Palm Sander? Explore its Types and Uses

What is a palm sander

A palm sander, also known as a bench or hand sander, is an electric power tool used to smooth the surface of wood or other materials. It’s small size and lightweight characterize it, making it easy to use and transport.

There are many different types of palm sanders, so consider what features are important to you when choosing one that will fit your particular needs.

These versatile tools can sand flat or curved surfaces such as furniture, wooden spoons, jewellery boxes, other household items, and more oversized items like floors and panels on vehicles and planes.

3 Types of a palm sander

There are three main types of palm sanders: drum, disc, and belt. While each type has its benefits and disadvantages, all are pretty similar as far as performance goes. However, depending on what you’re using it for and where you choose to use it in your work process, one may make more sense than another. 

For example, suppose you’re starting to add some finishing touches to your project or piece of furniture. In that case, belt sanders might be better for smaller tasks that require precision in detail while finishing (like very light sanding or smoothing out raw wood). Discs would be better used on larger surfaces—like your work table while drum sanders might be best when working with long pieces of wood.

Belt palm sander

A belt sander uses a moving belt to move over and sand down pieces of wood or other materials. The belts tend to be thin and flexible, so they can get into smaller places than you can with your traditional flat hand-held sander.

Because of that flexibility, however, belts also don’t offer as much pressure as some of their counterparts. Thus, if you plan to sand down extremely rough surfaces like an old door (or anything else), then a belt may not be your best option. However, because they are pretty flexible, it is easy to remove excess dust from a project by brushing it off with your hands or even a brush!

Drum palm sander

Drum sanders work just like belt sanders do, but they have drums instead of flat belts. Drum sanders are bigger and heavier than most hand-held power sanders, so it’s essential to ensure enough upper body strength to use one effectively. Plus, since drum sanders need to be attached to an air hose or electrical cord, make sure you’ll be able to maneuver around your workspace without tripping over your air hose. 

The primary benefit of using a drum sander is that it can save you time when finishing workpieces too big for your belt sander—it also is used for heavy-duty applications where belts aren’t powerful enough.

Disc palm sander

A disc palm sander looks like an electric carving knife and uses a disc covered in 60-grit sandpaper. It sands large surfaces, such as big cabinet doors, much faster than an orbital or belt sander. Remember that its sanding surface is minimal—about 2×5—so you may need to take more passes to get smooth results. 

Some people don’t use them for woodworking because they’re so coarse—they are designed for sheet metal, and auto body works, but if you want to do something basic like refinishing an old tabletop, it can be your best friend.

What is a palm sander used for?

What is a palm sander?

A palm sander is a tool used for small tasks such as smoothing wood and other materials, removing paint from wood, cleaning metal surfaces, and even removing small pieces of debris from sanded surfaces. It is usually used for light-duty tasks such as sanding down small material sections or smoothing corners and edges on smaller objects such as boxes or shelves.

It’s an electric drill with a rotating sandpaper disc and some attachments. If you’re looking for an introduction to some basic woodworking techniques, then it’s hard to go wrong with these tools. 

However, many find that they are limited in their overall functionality compared to professional-grade power tools. It’s suitable for those who don’t want to spend too much on such a simple tool or those who have light tasks like small wood furniture refurbishment work around the house or workshop.

How to use a palm sander for sanding?

By following these steps, you can successfully sand between deck boards by using a palm sander in just a few hours: 

  • Remove all nails and screws with a pry bar or crowbar. In some cases, boards are attached with glue; if so, use an angle grinder fitted with a flapper disc designed for drilling concrete or brick. 
  • Sweep up any debris left behind by removing nails and screws. 
  • Vacuum dust from between each board using a hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner. 
  • Use a belt sander equipped with 80-grit paper to remove loose paint and other surface coatings from each board. 
  • Use a circular sander equipped with 100-grit paper to remove any remaining loose paint, rust, or other surface coatings from each board. 
  • Use 220-grit sandpaper on a circular sander to remove dirt and minor defects such as dents on each board. 
  • Use 320-grit sandpaper on a circular sander to remove significant defects such as dents on each board. 
  • Use 400-grit sandpaper on a circular sander to remove deep scratches on each board. 
  • Apply one layer of sealant to each board using a roller applicator.
  • Allow the sealant to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before continuing with any additional finishing steps such as staining or painting.

Are orbital sander and palm sander the same?

No, orbital sander and palm sander are not the same, but most of their functions are similar. A common question from woodworkers and DIYers is whether an orbital sander and a palm sander are different. It’s a valid question because both sanders look similar: they have a motor that spins some sandpaper around in circles or back-and-forth motions.

And yet, there are some fundamental differences between these two types of tools. In general, however, their uses tend to be somewhat similar; in fact, many people use both orbital sanders and palm sanders in their workshops at different times.

You can also check out our other related article Difference Between an Orbital Sander and a Palm Sander:

Difference between the orbital sander and palm sander

A palm sander and an orbital sander are sanders used in woodworking or construction projects. However, there are differences between these two tools, and they shouldn’t be confused with one another. An orbital sander is also a palm sander. It has the same core components and similar operations, but it is a larger tool to do more things. The following are the differences:

  • An orbital sander has a round pad that moves over objects quickly, while a palm sander has smaller rectangular pads that move more slowly over objects.
  • An orbital sander will give you more bang for your buck because it can complete tasks faster than a palm sander. 
  • An orbital sander is used to sand paint off wood, metal, and other surfaces, whereas a palm sander can only is used for light-duty tasks such as sanding wood.
  • An orbital sander is also be used to power through large amounts of material in one go. In contrast, a palm sander tends to be slower than an orbital sander at removing paint or other coatings from the surface of wooden objects or other materials.

Things to be considered while buying a palm sander

Here are the following factors that are considered while buying a palm sander:

Weight and Size

A palm sander is a tool that weighs less than an orbital sander. However, it is usually heavier than the palm sander. Palm sanders are much smaller than orbital sanders. Therefore, if you buy one of these tools for your workshop, you need to consider its weight and size.


The primary consideration while buying a palm sander is the budget. You should know the amount of money you have available to buy this tool. There are several types of palm sander, and you should buy one according to your budget.


Power is another important factor when buying a palm sander. It should be powerful enough to perform different sanding tasks in your workshop.

Sanding Speed

Sanding speed is another essential factor when buying a palm sander. It should be as fast as possible, and it should not consume too much power or time.


You can also select different sandpapers for your palm sander depending on the type of job in your woodworking shop or home workshop. Some manufacturers offer various types of sandpapers for their products to suit various needs, different applications, and budgets.

Attachments come with a palm sander

A palm sander comes with a variety of different attachments that allow it to be used in various ways depending on the surface you are working with. The most common ones include the following:

Sanding discs

What is a palm sander?

These are the most common attachments that come with most palm sanders. They are usually available in various sizes and are made of hard plastic attached to the sander’s end. They are used to remove paint, wood, rubber, and other materials from surfaces by grinding off small amounts of material and leaving a smooth surface behind.

Spindle Attachments

These attachments come with sanders with a spinning drum on top of them and spin at high speeds to quickly remove paint or other coatings from surfaces quickly and efficiently.

Blower Attachments

These attachments come with sanders that have a fan on them to blow air at the surface being worked on to remove debris or debris from wood, floors, or other surfaces quickly and efficiently.

Abrasive discs 

These are also known as grit discs because they come in various grits ranging from excellent to highly coarse grades. They are usually made of hard plastic or metal and are usually attached to the end of the sander. These discs come in various sizes, shapes, and colours, depending on their purpose. They are used to remove paint, wood, rubber, and other materials from surfaces by grinding them away.

Vacuum Attachments

These attachments come with sanders that have a hose to suck air or debris out of the work area through a hose at high speeds.

Plastic sheets 

These attachments come with sanders that have a plastic sheet on them, which is used to protect the surface being worked on from being damaged by particles or debris when it is being sanded down quickly and efficiently without damaging the surface underneath it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some important Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use a sander for both wood and metal?

In most cases, yes, you can. Most good-quality palm sanders have attachments that allow them to be used on both surfaces, so they will be able to handle all types of materials with ease.

Are there alternatives to using a palm sander?

There are alternatives to using a palm sander such as traditional sandpaper or an electric orbital sander—but we won’t get into those here. In other words, using a palm sander isn’t mandatory when you sand the wood with power tools.

How do I use a palm sander?  

When using your palms for balance, try not to get too close to any edges or corners, as these areas can cause you to lose balance and make it harder for you to maintain control over how fast you are sanding away at materials.

What is a palm sander good for?

A palm sander is excellent for smoothing out rough spots and levelling surfaces. If you have an old table or dresser that you want to refinish, a palm sander can be an indispensable tool in eliminating all those unsightly dings and dents, making your piece as smooth as glass.


A hand-held power tool used to sand wood or surfaces, typically while leaning against a workbench. One of its significant benefits is holding your work at an appropriate angle for more comfort and better results. A palm sander has several features that make it easier to use than other sanders. It’s lighter, smaller, and has less vibration than other sanders because of its design, making it easy to control with one hand.

They come in either a random orbital or fixed version and are generally quieter than large belt sanders. They’re also helpful for getting into corners that larger floor and belt models can’t reach.

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When it comes to the world of sanding and sanders, you need a trusted source of information and guidance to ensure you achieve those perfect finishes. That's where I come in – I'm Martin, a dedicated sanding enthusiast with a relentless passion for attaining flawless surfaces. With years of hands-on experience in the sanding industry, I've honed my skills and expertise to provide you with the most reliable and accurate insights. What sets me apart is my commitment to excellence. I meticulously handpick each sander after rigorous testing, ensuring that only the best tools make it to your hands. My goal is to empower you with the knowledge and recommendations you need to tackle any sanding task confidently. When you trust About Sanders, you're putting your faith in a seasoned expert who shares your passion for perfection and strives to deliver top-notch information and reviews for every sanding challenge.

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