Every homeowner needs a palm sander.
They are cheap, easy to use, and they take hours of effort out of hand-sanding.
Whether you are refinishing a table or getting a deck ready to stain, these sanders can do fast work out of your project.
They fit in the palm of your hand and fit into small places.
While you can use a palm sander to strip the paint back to the bare wood, most folks use it to take off the loose paint and to get the remaining paint roughed up so that the new finish will adhere to it. If you need to take it down to bare wood, an orbit sander or belt sander is a better option.
Palm sanders are also excellent for use with high grit sandpaper for finishing wood between coats.
These aren’t your sexiest power tools, but they can save you a lot of time!
- Comparison of The Top Models
- The 6 Best Palm Sanders
- 1. DEWALT DWE6411K Palm Sander Kit – Best Choice
- 2. Makita BO4556K Palm-Sander
- 3. Porter-Cable Palm Sander
- 4. BLACK+DECKER 4-inch Hand/Palm Sander – Best For Homeowners
- 5. SKIL 7292-02 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander
- 6. Tacklife Palm Sander
- Dewalt DCW210B Random Orbit Sander – Best Cordless Option
- Buying Guide
- Comparison To Other Sander Types:
Comparison of The Top Models
The 6 Best Palm Sanders
1. DEWALT DWE6411K Palm Sander Kit – Best Choice
The Dewalt DWE6411K has earned a top spot, in my opinion. I’ve used a lot of cheap palm sanders. Most of these were bought at Harbor Freight or picked up at the local pawn shop.
For years, I thought that all palm sanders were pretty equal. It is hard to break them, and they last forever.
However, I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on when it came to comfort and speed.
This DWE6411k is so one of the most ergonomically friendly models. This lets you hold it for hours on end without feeling as fatigued as when sanding with one of the other models.
The other massive advantage is that this model gives you excellent control over much pressure you can apply. Whether you need to dig deep and remove more paint, are using it as finishing sander, the DWE6411k lets you do both.
The 3.2 Amp motor with a 14,000 orbit per minute (OPM) speed gives you ample power without creating excessive torque that makes you fight it. The dust-sealed switch is conveniently located at your fingertips.
The heavy-duty clamp for the sandpaper is easy to swap.
It also comes with a dust collection bag. As with most of these, this one lets a lot of dust by. However, it’s better than nothing. I always wear a facemask when I am sanding to keep from breathing dust particles.
2. Makita BO4556K Palm-Sander
I’m always neck-and-neck on the Dewalt and Makita models. Personally, I love Makita, and I own a few of their tools.
The reason I like the Dewalt better is that I need something easy for my wife to use. I felt like the sandpaper loading mechanism was just a tad easier on the Dewalt. (My wife prefers the pretty teal color of the Makita).
There are some really nice features in this model. The ergonomics are dialed in, making it comfortable for smaller hands to use. The on/off switch is conveniently situated in the grip, making it easy to kick it on and off with one hand.
As with the other models on this list, dust collection is sub-par.
The slightly smaller, 2-amp motor works well for delivering a smooth finish, and the smaller motor size especially handy when you need to use an extension cord as it helps to keep from overloading the circuits. Even with the smaller size, this model still runs at 14,000 orbits per minute, making the performance indistinguishable from the other models.
It is backed with a 1-year warranty.
3. Porter-Cable Palm Sander
This Porter-Cable Sander is everything you want in a basic sander: simple, durable, and cheap.
The toggle switch on the front is easy to access with a finger for one-handed operation. The shape of the handle is perfect for holding during long days of sanding cupboards. It lacks some of the ergonomic grips that you pay extra for with the other models, but this one is not uncomfortable.
Surprisingly enough, even the dust collection seems to work decently on this model, especially when you choose the non-clogging sandpaper options.
As a standard quarter-sheet sander, it will use any of the common palm sander sheets that are sold, or you can buy full-size sheets and cut them to size.
While it has a 13,500 OPM (orbits per minute), it uses a low-vibration technology to make sure that your arms aren’t fatigued too quickly.
For those of you who have been working with wood for a few years, you’ll be struck by how similar this model is to the old Dewalt DW411 model.
Backed by a 3-year warranty, this Porter-Cable sander deserves a lot more attention.
4. BLACK+DECKER 4-inch Hand/Palm Sander – Best For Homeowners
Black & Decker have a few models in this category. They also offer the orbital sander and the mouse detail sander. (I’m very intrigued by their detail sander).
Where Black & Decker tends to suffer is in their longevity. I’ve owned a few of their tools, and I’ve thrown away a few of their tools. They are excellent for doing a single job or for keeping around the house for those little projects.
However, for the consummate DIY person, you’ll appreciate buying one of the more robust brands.
This sander knocks it out of the park in ergonomics. The grip size is perfect and is one of the most comfortable to hold.
The sandpaper load on this is super easy.
While it also has a slightly smaller 2.0 amp motor, you get the advantage in that this is a very lightweight sander. You can use it with your arm fully outstretched while on top of a ladder and still feel as though you are in complete control.
If you have a project that you have been dreading because it needs a lot of sanding, then grab this model and knock it out. You will be in love.
Perfect for sanding desks, doors, plaster, and more.
5. SKIL 7292-02 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander
I’m still using my Skil circular saw that I bought three years ago. So we have some of their tools lying around.
This is another option for those who need a cheap palm sander. It is very kind to the budget.
There is a unique gauge on this one that lets you know when you are pushing down too hard. Frankly, when I’m sanding, the last thing I want to do is watch some gauge.
The dust bag collection on this one is about on par with the others. It might be good to use on a one-off job, but I’d probably go with the Black & Decker instead, simply because this one seems to have problems with the sandpaper clamp or the handles breaking.
6. Tacklife Palm Sander
The Tacklife brand seems to be trying its hardest to pick up some market share. We see that they also offer a detail sander and a random orbital sander.
This is a straightforward quarter-sheet sander. You can attach the sandpaper with either the paper clamps or buy paper with a hook-loop attachment on the sanding pad for easy changing of your grit.
Other than that, it seems to offer a 13,500 OPM and 2.5 amp motor. The vibration isn’t too aggressive.
The company isn’t as well known yet, so I really want to see how they handle customer service as they begin to get more popular.
In the meantime, I’m going to be awfully tempted to pick up the Porter Cable anytime I need a cheap sander.
Dewalt DCW210B Random Orbit Sander – Best Cordless Option
The Dewalt DCW210B is one of the few battery-powered palm sanders on the market.
Personally, I love a corded sander. It seems like sanding always takes longer than you think it will, and I hate feeling like I need to adjust my sanding to compensate for limited battery life.
This is the more aggressive random orbit sander, so you make up for the lack of sustained power with the fact that you can get the job done more quickly.
That said, this isn’t the best option for finer work, such as between coats.
If you are a construction worker who needs to sand bare wood without being chained to a power outlet, this might be a good choice to go with.
It’s ergonomic, and the 20v power supply gives you a lot of runtimes.
Corded Vs. Cordless
There are pros and cons to everything. On some tasks, having a battery-powered sander is going to make all of the difference in your speed.
However, there are several drawbacks to cordless sanders. For one, there are fewer of them to choose from.
Then you have the limited power supply that they offer. This can make you want to rush the job, and rushing is never what you want to do while sanding.
Finally, you have the price. Cordless sanders are much more expensive.
I like most of my tools to be cordless. But this is one where I feel that it is worthwhile to run the extension cord and plug it in. Most of these come with a 10-foot cord, but the motor is so small that you shouldn’t have problems plugging it into an extension cord when necessary.
One of the most important concerns is comfort. An hour spent with one of these tools can leave your hands and arms numb.
When you invest in a better-quality tool, there is generally more rubber and insulation to help absorb these vibrations, allowing you to work longer with fewer breaks.
You won’t be as hard on these sanders as you likely are on your other woodworking equipment. However, the cheapest models do tend to have problems with their clasps breaking. You want one that is going to hold up and not cause you delays.
In America, brands like Dewalt and Makita are sold at nearly every hardware store. This sometimes gives you the opportunity for a same-day warranty exchange — even if you initially purchased the tool online.
Additionally, when you purchase a well-known brand name, they tend to have a better customer support system.
Orbits Per Minute
Most of these will offer 10,000 or more orbits per minute. For any job you do, there will be little difference between a 12,000 OPM machine and a 15,000 OPM one. Sure, you might save a little bit of time.
A few tools will offer a variable speed dial that lets you select your speed. However, most only come with one, set, speed. Variable speed control is generally reserved for orbital sanders
The motor size is measured by the amperage. Most of these use a small, lightweight, 2-amp motor. Dewalt is the only one on our list with a significantly more powerful motor.
In addition to the motor, the housing construction and the ball bearings (or cheaper options) used can be one of the biggest factors on performance. If you go with a cheap model that has poor-quality bearings, the tool will lug when you put pressure on it.
Ease Of Paper Changes
This is an important consideration. For one, I’ve seen the clips break on some of these cheaper models. When you invest in a better model, you tend to get a clip that is easier to use.
You want a model that has a lever that lets you change the sandpaper without tools.
Most of these sanders have a dust port and a small dust collection bag. Regardless of the dust filter included, it is recommended that you wear a face mask whenever woodworking to keep from inhaling small dust particles into your lungs.
Most of these dust collectors can either be connected directly to a shop vacuum hose or connected using a vacuum adapter. When connected to a vacuum, the dust management works well.
However, the challenge is that most people won’t be plugging them into their vacuum, and these dust bags are messy and hard to re-attach.
I’ve just resigned myself to the sub-par dust collection system on these sanders.
Comparison To Other Sander Types:
When you shop for palm sanders, you will see other, similar sanders. Here is a quick overview of these other, small, hand-held sanders and what they are good for.
Detail Sander Vs. Palm Sander
A detail sander is very similar to the palm sander. You’ll notice that it has a narrowed tip – shaped almost like your household clothes iron — that lets it get into corners that a palm sander cannot reach.
The advantage of the palm sander is that it uses standard sandpaper sheets. With the Detail sander, you will want to purchase specially-shaped sheets or cut your sandpaper to fit.
Detail sanders are nice to have; however, you tend to use their added capabilities rarely. For larger projects, a palm sander makes more sense.
Random Orbital Sander Vs. Palm Sander
The random orbit sanders come in different sizes. The small, hand-held ones could almost be mistaken as a palm sander.
The difference between these two tools is the pattern that the sandpaper moves through. An orbital sander both rotates and moves in an orbital pattern. This enables the sander to quickly strip the paint back to bare wood. A palm sander, in contrast, only moves in a small orbital pattern, which makes it a less aggressive sander that is good for finish sanding between coats. It can take the paint back to bare wood, however, if you use a coarser grit.
Palm sanders are also handier for when you need to work in a 90-degree corner.
Best Sander For Drywall
Sanding drywall creates more fine gypsum dust than woodworking. As a result, drywall sanders tend to have a much better dust collection system.
A lot of people use palm sanders for this task. They are cheaper and easier to use. However, you need to find a way to cut down on the dust. For example, you can try connecting it to a vacuum to collect the dust.
You should also wear a better quality mask to protect your lungs.