Sander Differences: Several Types Explained To Make Choice

A power sander is an essential tool for various tasks, including woodworking. It is used for various projects that perform significant actions in minutes. Several types of sanders are suitable for different jobs. Therefore, a DIYer should properly understand sander differences to choose the right one for the right job.

Beginners often struggle with choosing a sander as there are numerous options in the market. Sander is not only of several types, but they also differ considerably in terms of functionality. So, one should try to find out the differences between them to know which is suitable for your work.

However, this article will cover enough information about different sanders. Hopefully, users will know about the best and most used smoothers in the market and be able to choose the right one for their several jobs. So, keep reading the article without missing any section.

Different Types of Sanders Differences: Head-To-Head Comparison: 

A user can make an informed decision by having a brief understanding of all available sanders. From here, you will get a quick head-to-head comparison among different types of sander differences.

Sander TypeMaterialsUsabilityProject TypePrice Range
BeltGlass, plastic, rubber, ceramic, and woodEasyHeavy DutyBudget-friendly
Oscillating SpindleBenchtop and edges of boardsControllableDIY projectsMore expensive
Discwoods and plasticsHardend grain workBudget-friendly
Disc & Belt CombinationMDF, plywood, soft & hardwoodsEasyHeavy dutyExpensive
OrbitalwoodEasyMedium dutyBudget-friendly
Straight-Linewood, plastic, and metal Somewhat difficultHeavy dutyBudget-friendly
Strokesteel, stainless steel, aluminum, and woodSomewhat difficultHeavy dutyMore expensive
Random Orbitalwood, plastic, and metalEasyDIY projectsBudget-friendly
PalmSmall wood piecesEasyLight DutyAffordable
DrumWood and metalHardHeavy dutyMore expensive
Wide-Beltsolid wood, plywood, and MDFSomewhat difficultHeavy dutyMore expensive
Drywallplaster, taping, and woodHardSmall projectsBudget-friendly

12 Different Types Of Sander With Differences: In-Depth Discussion

When users consider purchasing a power tool for the first time, they should research several options because a user is often not sure which he should choose. Here, I will briefly discuss the 12 different types of sanders by focusing on the differences. These will surely give the DIYer an insight into selecting the right one.

1. Belt Sander:

Generally, this tool is considered best for making any wooden surface flat and smooth. DIYers prefer the belt option for areas where the tabletop is uneven primarily or where the wood boards are rough. It is easy to use as it is portable enough.

Be sure to keep it moving when using this instrument. Because holding the device in one place for too long can create unevenness. Keep rotating it uniformly over all the workpieces until you achieve the desired evenness.

2. Oscillating Spindle Sander:

This option comes second in importance. This drum-shaped smoother is great for smoothing curved edges. It also removes tabletop scratches instantly and works better than other instruments. The drum rises once while running and descends again. It can bring any rounded edges back to their correct shape.

Also, the drum is movable, so it can work with simple wood pieces as well. It is available in various forms in the market. So DIYers can make any purchase according to their needs.

3. Disc Sander:

Disc power tools are often compared to angle grinders as they look almost identical. Although it is seen to be pretty underutilized, it still appears with some mind-blowing features. The disc is usually positioned perpendicular to the machine. Therefore, it can level anything it comes in contact with.

A disc smoother is of two types such as bench top and portable. But according to users, bench top smoothers are the most commonly used since they can deal with small pieces of wood.

4. Disc & Belt Sanders Combination:

This smoother option will surely surprise you. But combining both creates a tool whose utility is truly beyond a user’s imagination. Simultaneously, one can use this combined tool for several purposes. There is probably no better alternative for saving money and space if both instruments are needed.

The main feature of the instrument is that it allows multiple sanding operations on wood to be done perfectly in less time.

5. Orbital Sander:

As a hand-held or portable instrument, the orbital snare has been well received by users. Usually, workers use it as the next step on large surfaces that have already been belt sanded. It rotates with vibration over a small area in all its orbits.

According to a report in Laoplantation (1), the square sanding pad of the orbital power tool is beneficial in most cases where small materials need to be removed. This machine is particularly useful for any preliminary finishing that people can do with heavy equipment.

6. Straight-Line Sander:

There are perpendicular places on the wood piece, and sanding by hand is quite tedious. There is no alternative to a straight-line power instrument for these areas. It has no rounding feature, so it vibrates in straight lines to smooth and level perpendicular areas in less time.

Besides, you can safely use this excellent instrument where the grooves require filling. It can accomplish blocking very easily. It is also great for leveling larger surfaces.

7. Stroke Sander:

Generally, DIYers use this tool for large jobs. A stroke power instrument works best for leveling the surface of tabletops, cabinets, or large doors. It takes up quite a lot of space and requires quite a bit of skill to handle. That’s why most professionals work with it.

Once users insert the wood into the tray, they push it inside. Then it goes in and out until the wood surface achieves the desired result. But there is no risk in handling the device as it does not perform aggressive activities on the wood.

8. Random Orbital Sander:

The machine works much like an orbital smoother, but instead of going perpendicular, it works circularly. According to the book “Black and Decker The Complete Guide to Basic Woodworking” (2), users can sand naturally by simply placing it on the wood without applying extra pressure. Users feel that the tool can deliver more power than a real orbital smoother.

Since it works randomly, it can cover a large area in the fastest time. Moreover, the feature that has impressed users is that it is suitable for almost all types of sanding. In addition to removing various materials, it makes the workpiece smooth.

9. Palm Sander:

The palm sander is well known for providing a very smooth finish. Although it has square pads like the orbital smoother, it has a more functional role in comparison. Especially new users find it easy to handle as it is pretty light and easy to control. A study in the book “Popular Mechanics” (3) shows that the palm works in a dustless way.

It’s great for smoothing uneven paint or plaster. Also, if you want to bring smoothness to plywood, it should not be thought of as something else. However, the tool is not always suitable for removing very rough material.

10. Drum Sander:

The drum smoother works great for giving large surfaces a perfect finish. Usually, professionals use these types of tools the most. Because it is not budget-friendly, and most users hire it for work. Also, beginners are often reluctant to work with it as it is difficult to control.

This can cause accidents if not careful during use. Besides, improper handling also leaves some hard marks on the floor. But the machine can remove any unwanted stroke instantly.

11. Wide-Belt Sander:

This sander is one of the larger-size tools. DIYers use it mainly for making wooden furniture or cabinets. The front of the smoother has a wide tray where the piece of wood is placed and pushed inward. You’ll be surprised how quickly it comes out the other end with a flat surface.

It may not level very rough surfaces at once. In this case, re-enter the wood. Repeat this way 2/3 times until it gets a flat surface. Since its head works evenly, there is no possibility of injury in one place.

12. Drywall Sander:

As the name suggests, the tool is intended for wall use only. Many drywall models include a vacuum that collects dust from the walls. DIYers use this instrument for sanding flat areas of drywall before painting. Besides, this excellent machine makes the job of smoothing high walls or ceilings as much as possible more convenient.

Users can operate the machine with several types of grit depending on the type of wall. But in most cases, 120 grit to 150 grit is needed when it comes to the context of smoothing.

Related Questions About Sander Differences:

Which Sander Is Best? 

A random orbital sander is considered the most effective smoother based on the opinions of numerous users. It works better than any other tool to finish quickly and remove any stock or materials. Moreover, it provides much more power than a general orbital tool. One of its particular features is its in-built airspace system.

Due to this feature, all dust particles generated during work are not dispersed. The random orbital should be the prime choice if you think about buying a versatile instrument for any home project. Anyone can operate the device without any professional help. Besides, it is quite commendable as a budget-friendly option. It can work very efficiently compared to a belt tool.

Which Sander Is Better, Orbital Or Palm? 

A palm sander is better than an orbital sander in terms of usability as it is easy to handle and control. Besides, the tool has enough functionality to bring a perfect finish to any woodworking project. It is a suitable device, especially for new users, which can easily handle small projects.

On the other hand, it’s better not to think of anything else as opposed to an orbital power instrument for larger surfaces. Because the orbital machine performs overall best. It also gives the larger wood pieces a delicate finish in the fastest time. Palm and orbital have different functions, and their difference is very subtle.

What Type Of Sander Is Best For Woodworking?

A palm sander is recommended for most woodworking projects. But it fails to remove strong stocks and materials in many cases. So apart from this, users consider some other tools for woodworking. In this case, it is better to attach the palm to a belt smoother as it can deal with heavy material.

Also, random orbital power instruments are sometimes recommended if your project is very large. But palm is the best option for reaching hard corners of the wood. This is because large machines cannot reach sharp corners even when completing heavy projects.

What Is The Difference Between An Orbital Sander And A Finishing Sander? 

Orbital and finishing sanders are very functional tools, but some features differentiate them. In terms of price, the orbital is pretty expensive, whereas finishing is less expensive. Besides, the finishing tool cannot feed many materials, while the orbital rough removes the elements very easily. Again, the user must choose a random orbital for the low vibration option as the finishing option produces a loud sound with much more vibration.

However, finishing should be considered an easy-to-control option because the random orbital device is somewhat tricky for novice users to control, except for professionals. So considering the difference between the two, the user has to choose one according to their convenience because they are undoubtedly effective from different points of view.

Which Is The Best Sander For DIY Projects?

Random orbital sanders are the most useful for any DIY project. It plays a great role in handling various types of small or medium DIY projects without any professional experience. Different models of random orbitals offer several advantageous properties.

However, if the user is uncomfortable with more vibration, they can choose a low vibration tool such as palm or finishing alternatives. These can also work well for small or DIY projects. But orbital larger is better for completing DIY projects. Others apply to small or light pieces of wood.

Which Is Better: Orbital Or Vibrating Sander?

Between vibrating and orbital, users consider orbital to be the better option. No matter your level of expertise, you can use this tool to accomplish various tasks. For example, the machine performs necessary actions like making wooden furniture, cabinets, staircase, different toys, finishing on the wooden surfaces, and painting removal. Also, a hard material can clean stocked surfaces quickly.

The vibrating device is also quite effective but probably less so than the orbital one. This machine is not perfect for those not used to working with high vibration. But being portable, it can quickly handle light-duty tasks and easily reach thin and delicate corners.

What Sander Will Give The Best Finish And Why?

Orbital and random orbital sanders come first for the best finish. Because professionals often prefer it for larger projects. This includes heavy-duty jobs like preparing uneven wall paintings, finishing large pieces of wood, removing paint from furniture, and removing hard stocks in a flash. So this is the most powerful tool to deal with big projects even though it is a bit expensive.

In the context of finishing, users often mention palm. No matter what instrument you choose, determine the angle for which you will use it. Palm is generally used to give a perfect finish to small pieces of wood. It can also work in sharp corners and removes small amounts of stock from the top of the wood piece.

Which One Is the Best Sander To Remove Lots Of Material?

Disc sanders are one of the most useful tools for rough jobs. It straightens and smoothes curved edges while rolling in a circular motion. It removes particularly hard and complex stocks from wood surfaces in the fastest possible time. However, when working with this tool, be sure to sand the underside of the instrument.

Orbital options also perform very well in removing hardwood materials. Both disc and orbital can deal equally with any large surface, including heavy duty.

Final Verdict:

Choosing the right tool for the right job requires a proper understanding of sander differences. Since numerous options are available in the market, one needs to know the uses and pros and cons of the top tools to choose the right tool for the job. 

So, this article presents a clear distinction between them to give you an idea of ​​the best and most used instruments. Hopefully, as a user, you now have a good idea of ​​which tool you should choose. Because here are all the options for professionals and DIYers.


(1)  Ozarska, B. (n.d.). Specification of finishes and finishing methods for various products and service conditions. Laoplantation.

(2) Marshall, C., & Schmidt, P. (2005). Black and Decker The Complete Guide to Basic Woodworking. Quarto Publishing Group USA.

(3)  Coleman, D. J. (1989). Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines.

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