The 10 Best Palm Sanders to Elevate Your Sanding Game

The 10 Best Palm Sanders to Elevate Your Sanding Game

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Looking to upgrade your sanding game before the next DIY project? Start by adding a palm sander to your arsenal! Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or an occasional craftsman, a good palm sander will make wood-prep and finishing work a breeze.

Generally speaking, the term palm sander refers to one of three variations of handheld power sander: the orbital finishing sander (sheet sander), the detail sander (corner sander), or the random-orbital sander. While any of these tools will be a major upgrade from doing all of your sanding work by hand, choosing the right fit for your project can save you time and minimize frustration. (Remember to always wear dust protection, no matter what type of sander you choose.)

To help you find the best match for your current job I’ve selected 10 of the best palm sanders across all three categories, briefly explained the benefits and limitations of each style, and reviewed each model below. Start by getting the one you need right now, or grab one of each to be ready for any sanding project that comes your way!

Best Palm Sanders – Comparison

PictureBike NameMotor PowerMax SpeedPrice
DEWALT DWE6411K 1/4 Sheet Palm Grip Sander Kit Dewalt DWE6411K ¼ Sheet2.3 AMP14,000 OPMCheck Latest Price
Sheet Finishing Sander, 1/3 In, 1.7 A Makita BO3710 Finishing1.7 AMP11,000 OPMCheck Latest Price
Bosch GSS20-40 Orbital Finishing Sander (1/4-Sheet) Bosch GSS20-40 Finishing2.0 AMP12,000 OPMCheck Latest Price
PORTER-CABLE Palm Sander, 1/4 Sheet (380) Porter-Cable 380 ¼ Sheet2.0 Amp13,500 OPMCheck Latest Price
Makita BO5041K 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander Kit Makita BO5041K 5” Random Orbital3.0 AMP12,000 OPMCheck Latest Price
Bosch ROS20VSC Palm Sander - 2.5 Amp 5 in. Corded Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander/Polisher Kit with Dust Collector and Soft Carrying Bag Bosch ROS20VSC 5” Random Orbital2.5 Amp12,000 OPMCheck Latest Price
SKIL 5" Random Orbital Sander- SR211601 Skil SR211601 5” Random Orbital 2.8 Amp13,000 OPMCheck Latest Price
Milwaukee M18 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Powered Cordless 5" Random Orbit Sander with Quick Change Hook-and-Loop Sanding Pad, up to 12,000 OPM with Variable Speed Control (Tool-Only) Milwaukee M18 5” Cordless Random Orbital12,000 OPMCheck Latest Price
SKIL Corded Multi-Function Detail Sander- SR232301 Skil SR232301 Detail Sander1.2 Amp14,500 OPMCheck Latest Price
BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Sheet Sander (BDCMS20C) Black+Decker BDCMS20C Cordless12,000 OPMCheck Latest Price

Best Palm Sanders to Conquer Any Job – My Top 10 Selections

Make quick work of your next sanding project with these top-quality palm sanders.

3a. [Orbital Finishing (Sheet) Palm Sanders] – A Quick Overview

The orbital finishing (or sheet) sander is an excellent choice for light sanding projects that require working against an edge or into square corners. Similar to random-orbital sanders, the material is removed as the sanding pad gyrates (or orbits) at the base of the tool, but the square pad will allow you to work with more precision when compared to around pad.

In addition to the benefit of being able to position your sander directly against an edge, the sheet sander also has an edge over random-orbital sanders from a cost-of-materials perspective. Instead of requiring a special pack of single-application sanding rounds, a sheet sander like the Dewalt model below will accept any type of sandpaper— just buy a pack of full-size sandpaper sheets and cut them to size!

Before you run out and buy the first sheet sander here, keep in mind that all models in this category have one major limitation: You must sand with the grain to avoid scratching your material, and that can make removing large amounts of material take a large amount of your time.

My favorite orbital finishing palm sanders are:

1. Dewalt DWE6411K ¼ Sheet Palm Sander

The Dewalt ¼’ sheet palm sander is a reliable and easy-to-use finishing sander with an exceptionally strong motor. It’s comfortable to hold, the one-finger paper clamp makes changing sandpaper sheets as easy as it gets, and a Limited-year warranty gives you the peace of mind you want when choosing a new tool or switching brands.

Another key feature that many experienced users might find attractive is the locking dust-collection port that the canister attaches to. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent more time than I care to admit bending over to pick up a dust canister that’s blown off a tool due to a bad port connection. In addition, for those of you who prefer to feed directly into a vacuum instead of emptying the canister every time it fills up, there are readily-available vacuum adapters that will fit the locking mechanism.

If you’re looking for a well-thought-out palm sander from a brand you can trust, the Dewalt ¼” DWE6411K Sheet Sander should keep you satisfied.

What we liked:

  • Compact size – just 5 ¼” tall
  • Strong paper clamps with one-finger release
  • Strong motor producing 14,000 OPM (oscillations per minute)
  • Travel bag included
  • Locking vacuum connection (adapter needed)

What we didn’t like:

  • Rubber grip texture can be slick when palms are sweaty or dust accumulates
  • Some users have reported a soft spot in the center of the pad that can lead to uneven sanding

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2. Makita BO3710 Finishing Sander

There’s a lot to like about this Makita. A through-the-pad dust collection system, two-finger trigger, and perfectly-weighted counterbalance system all contribute to making this an exceptional palm sander. But one feature, in particular, makes the BO3710 one of my personal favorites— the unique elongated sanding pad. Here’s why:

I explained above how most sheet sanders make removing excess material difficult (due to the risk of scratching when used against the grain), so what do you choose when you need to remove large amounts of material and sand against an edge or in a square corner? You find a sheet sander with more surface area and more material removing power. That’s the Makita BO3710.

What we liked:

  • Elongated sanding pad for increased material removal
  • Two-finger trigger and trigger-lock
  • Through-the-pad dust collection
  • Two-handed OR one-handed grip
  • The large dust collection bag
  • Well-balanced counterweight reduces vibration and fatigue
  • Dust collection bag zipper for easy cleaning

What we didn’t like:

  • Larger sheet size makes for less efficient use of sandpaper sheets
  • No case or travel bag included
  • Only 1 year limited warranty

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Also Read: Best Dust Collectors – Top Picks Compared

3. Bosch GSS20-40 Finishing Sander

I’ve had many Bosch tools over the years and I can say with confidence that any craftsman will appreciate the sturdy build and high-quality materials of this palm sander. One of my favorite features of this model pertains to one material in particular, the precision machined aluminum sanding plate. Many similar finishing sanders opt for foam and plastic sanding pad that can wear down over time, and cause inconstancies as an uneven pad surface develops. Users looking for a true finishing sander with uncompromised precision will appreciate the GSS20-40.

Two more features worth mentioning are the large dust collection canister with screw-off cap for easy emptying and the compact but tacky grip. At 5 ¾” it’s not quite as small as the Dewalt in terms of height, but a narrow grip design also lends itself to increased maneuverability in those hard-to-reach areas.

What we liked:

  • Aluminum sanding plate
  • Large dust canister with a screw-off cap
  • Rubber grip stay tacky even with dust or sweat buildup
  • Strong paper clamps
  • Compatible with stick-on paper

What we didn’t like:

  • No case or travel bag included
  • Only 1 year limited warranty

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4. Porter-Cable 380 ¼ Sheet Finish Sander

The Porter-Cable 380 sheet sander is a simple but effective tool. Don’t expect a high-end ergonomically molded grip or machined sanding plate on this model, just expect a great value for a tried and tested tool. What this palm sander may lack in style and comfort, it makes up for with a strong motor, three-year warranty, and easy maneuverability.

For the occasional sanding project around the house, or even for outfitting 4-5 employees at your furniture shop (I’ve occasionally seen packs of multiple sanders sold together for a modest discount), this Porter-Cable sheet sander will get the job done right.

What we liked:

  • Strong motor producing 13,500 opm
  • Simple and reliable build
  • Compact size at 5 ½” tall
  • 3 year limited warranty

What we didn’t like:

  • Asymmetrical dust port design incompatible with vacuum adapters
  • Large motor vents can cause excessive dust buildup
  • No rubber/vulcanized grip coating

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3b. [Random-Orbital Palm Sanders] – A Quick Overview

The random-orbital palm sander is arguably the most common type of palm sander, and for good reason. Random-orbital sanders make quick work of material removal on flat surfaces and will leave behind a uniform surface free of indents or scratches, even when sanding across the grain if used correctly. Unlike sheet sanders, random-orbital sanders typically require a purpose-built type of sandpaper round with either a hook-and-loop or adhesive backing, which means you can’t just use whatever sandpaper you may have laying around to finish the job.

In addition to being able to sand across the grain fairly well and remove excessive material quickly, random-orbital sanders offer superior dust collection when compared to the sheet sander in most cases. This is largely due to the fact that the sandpaper round makes complete rotations while in use, while holes in the paper line up with the dust collection openings in the sanding pad itself. As the pad and paper spin, the accumulated dust is pushed into the dust collection openings for fast dust removal. This function is especially effective when a vacuum is attached to the dust collection port in place of a dust collection canister, which is possible with most random-orbital sanders.

One of the few limitations of this style of palm sander is the shape of the sanding pad, which will make it difficult to sand against an edge, and impossible to sand all the way into a square corner. If that’s not a concern for your next sanding project, the random-orbital sander is likely your best choice.

My favorite random-orbital palm sanders are:

5. Makita BO5041K 5” Random Orbital Sander

Another high-quality product by Makita, this 5” random-orbital sander can be used in one-handed or two-handed scenarios thanks to a second adjustable palm grip at the front of the unit. This makes it an excellent unit for anyone new to sanding and trying to get the most bang for your buck. More often than not, two-handed random-orbital sanders are available only in large-pad configurations, which can greatly reduce the versatility when compared to a 5 or 6”. If you’re looking for a palm sander that you can take from project to project with little need for another tool, this might be the one.

A few other useful features of the BO5041K are a variable speed control dial, comfortable two-finger trigger, and lock-on button to reduce fatigue, and a large dust collection canister. A heavy-duty pad brake to stop the pad rotations quickly when the trigger is released is just icing on the cake.

What we liked:

  • Heavy duty pad-brake
  • Adjustable (and removable) secondary grip
  • Two-finger trigger
  • Large dust collection canister
  • Variable speed control (4,000-12,000 opm)
  • Hard-shell carrying case included
  • Built-in dust port vacuum adapter

What we didn’t like:

  • The one-handed operation can be difficult for users with smaller hands
  • Only 1 year limited warranty

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6. Bosch ROS20VSC 5” Random Orbital Sander

The Bosch 5” orbital sander is a powerful yet maneuverable sander, with excellent dust filtration and a unique clear canister that lets you know when it’s time to empty— before your tool starts clogging up. While the rigid and compact canister does an excellent job of staying out of your way during operation, keep in mind some users may feel that it fills up with dust a little too quickly. A vacuum adapter is included as a standard accessory though, so you can do away with the canister altogether if need be.

One of my favorite features of this palm sander is easy to miss by looking at the pictures, and it’s a patented Hook-Tight™ disc attachment system, with up to twice the average number of hooks on the sanding pad. This helps keep your sanding discs firmly attached to the sander even when the dust starts to build up. Equipped with variable speed control, a compact grip design, and weighing in at 3.5 lbs, the Bosch ROS20VSC provides excellent control in any situation.

What we liked:

  • Variable speed control (7,500-12,000 opm)
  • Clear dust collection canister shows dust level
  • Locking dust collection canister
  • Built-in microfilter
  • Compact and tacky grip
  • Hook-Tight™ pad system
  • Dust port vacuum adapter included

What we didn’t like:

  • Less speed control than similar models
  • Below-average dust canister capacity

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7. Skil SR211601 5” Random Orbital Sander

The first feature you’re likely to notice from looking at product photos of this 5” Skil sander is also its most useful, and it’s the first I’d like to discuss— the strange looking X-flow™ dust collection canister. Functioning much like a floor vacuum head, the X-flow™ makes better use of the airflow being directed out of the tool during operation. By throttling the displaced air and using it to spin an internal mechanism, dust particles are ejected from your work surface and into the dust canister at nearly the same rate as a true vacuum connection. This makes the SR211601 a great pick for users removing large amounts of material in situations where a vacuum connection is not possible.

In addition to an excellent dust removal mechanism, users will be happy to find a high capacity dust collection canister, variable speed dial, and anti-vibration counterbalance included as standard equipment on this random-orbital.

What we liked:

  • Powerful X-flow™ dust collection system
  • Variable speed control (7,000-12,000 opm)
  • Clear dust collection canister shows dust level
  • Easy to empty locking dust collection canister
  • Compact and tacky grip
  • Smart year limited warranty

What we didn’t like:

  • No product support available on Skil.com
  • Can be difficult to find in stores

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8. Milwaukee M18 5” Cordless Random Orbital Sander

The only cordless random-orbital sander to make this list, the Milwaukee M18 offers all the power of its corded counterparts with unmatched mobility. Equipped with an 18-volt lithium ion battery, variable speed dial, massive dust collection canister, and universal vacuum hose adapter, the M18 is a great choice for craftsmen on the go— especially those who are already using any of the additional 175+ Milwaukee M18 series battery-powered tools.

There is one major downside to this palm sander if you’re working on a project that lasts longer than about 35 minutes though; the battery only lasts about 35 minutes! Keep in mind that you can always opt to grab another battery and just rotate them to keep working when you run out of juice, but it is something to consider. If you’re looking for a tool you can take with you anywhere, look no further.

What we liked:

  • Variable speed control (7,000-12,000 opm)
  • Powerful motor in a cordless package
  • The battery can be used with over 175+ additional Milwaukee tools
  • Dust port vacuum adapter included
  • Large dust collection canister
  • Smart year limited warranty

What we didn’t like:

  • The battery must be purchased separately (in most cases)
  • Only 35 minutes of run-time per charge
  • The grip could be improved

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3c. [Detail (Corner) Palm Sanders] – A Quick Overview

I’ve covered the benefits of the best palm sanders for typical sanding jobs, but sometimes projects have special sanding needs. For that, you need a special palm sander, and those unique situations are where detail sanders shine. The term detail sander can refer to a variety of special-application sanders, but I’ll be focusing on the palm sander variety of detail sander here.

Detail sanders are also known as corner sanders due to the triangular shape of the sanding pad, but the right detail sander can handle much more than just corner work if you know how to use it. A few unique applications of the detail sander could include chair/table leg sanding, natural or artistic wood sanding (like driftwood or carvings), small edgework sanding (like picture frame interiors), or wooden box interiors, to name a few.

Creativity is your only limitation with these sanders, though sanding large expanses of material surfaces will be time-consuming and are not recommended due to the likelihood of inconsistencies across broad, flat surfaces. Most detail sanders operate in very tight orbits, and in turn, seem to transfer more vibration to the user in comparison to finish or random-orbital sanders. So taking these benefits and drawbacks into consideration, let’s explore two of my favorite detail sanders and see if this style is the right fit for your next project.

My favorite detail sanders are:

9. Skil SR232301 Detail Sander

The Skil Multi-Function Detail Sander is a great choice for time-consuming projects due to the relatively large orbit of the pad when compared to most competitor models. So in contrast to what I stated above about more vibration being felt by the user with detail sanders, the Skil detail sander will feel much closer to a quality random-orbital sander when in use— meaning it won’t feel like it’s going to shake your arm off.

Three attachments are provided with this model, including a “finger” sander extension, around sander (or post) sander attachment, and a standard triangular pad. Whether you’re refinishing round table legs, polishing a piece of driftwood for you indoor succulents, or dreaming up entirely new uses for your new detail sander, the Skil Multi-Function Detail Sander should give you the tools needed to get the job done.

What we liked:

  • 3 attachments increase versatility
  • Large, filtered dust collection canister
  • Large pad orbit for decreased vibration
  • The dust port is vacuum-ready

What we didn’t like:

  • Bulky grip for a detail sander
  • No product support available on Skil.com
  • Can be difficult to find in stores

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10. Black+Decker BDCMS20C Cordless Detail Sander

The Black+Decker Mouse Detail Sander is perfect for those truly intricate projects and cramped spaces thanks to a narrow layout and compact handles. The one or two-handed layout provides all the versatility you expect from a detail sander, and the 20V power supply can get you even closer to your work by taking the cord out of your way altogether.

Just two attachments are provided with this model, the “finger” sander extension and standard triangular pad. A small dust collection bag means you’ll be emptying more frequently, but it also takes up less space than the Skil detail sander above, so it’s important to evaluate your needs before choosing this model simply for the increased mobility provided in the cordless setup.

What we liked:

  • Narrow head and grip design for increased maneuverability
  • Dust collection canister stays out of the way
  • Two-handed OR one-handed grip
  • Cordless package (battery included)
  • 2 year limited warranty

What we didn’t like:

  • Small orbit increases vibration felt by a user
  • Vacuum attachment difficult (or impossible)
  • Only 2 attachments provided

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Final Verdict

When it comes to finding the “best” palm sander, the decision should really hinge on evaluating your own unique needs for the task-at-hand. My personal approach to choosing a new tool, no matter what kind, is to start with the most versatile option and build my collection from there. Look at your current project and see if there’s perhaps one tool that could handle all of the work in front of you. Then when you’re ready to go tool shopping again, maybe get that unique or “niche” tool that would make one specific task easier.

Keeping that mindset, if I had to choose the “best” palm sander from each category to start with, I would go with the most flexible and well-rounded options, which I believe are:

To sum up our list of the best palm sanders, I’ll leave you with a question to ask yourself and help determine your best match: Can you swing for three different sanders all at once to finish the job, or do you need to choose one for now and make the most of it? If your answer is the latter, then it’s time to determine your most crucial requirements of a new palm sander, review this list, and check your project requirements against the pros and cons I’ve outlined here. These are all great products and that’s why they are here, so choose carefully, but choose with confidence!

Related Resources:

Sean J. Stone
 

Sean has been a woodworking enthusiast for 8 years, and in that time has written huge resources on woodworking and tools.

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