Buying Guide

Best Sanders for Your Project

Types of Sanders

Random-Orbit Sanders. Features a round pad that moves in a random pattern to prevent gouging and can handle everything from rough to finish sanding. There are four different types including:

Palm grip sanders are small and easy to use. They are ideal for smaller projects like sanding drywall or stripping furniture.

Pistol grip sanders are larger and usually more powerful. They are perfect for working on tabletops and casework.

Right angle sanders are for heavy-duty use and are better for rough sanding.

Pneumatic palm grip sanders are powered by air compressors.

Other types of sanders are discussed below:

Belt Sander


  • Utilize a pulley-driven loop
  • Remove large amounts of wood quickly
  • Inline units weigh less and work well for small parts
  • Transverse units accommodate heavy motors
  • Different sizes available
  • 3 x 21-inches and 3 x 24-inches are ideal for general-purpose work


  • Ideal for doors, tabletops and uneven areas
  • Best for large areas and rough sanding
  • Sand wood aggressively for quick finish
  • Inline units are portable and versatile
  • Transverse units handle heavy jobs

Detail Sander


  • Feature triangular pads
  • Interchangeable sanding pads
  • Sand curves and profile shapes with ease


  • Ideal for tight spots such as around chair spindles
  • Finger-shaped pads work well in slots and grooves

Drum Sander


  • Use interchangeable rolls of sandpaper
  • Single-drum, open-end units take up little room
  • Single-drum, closed-end units are generally more powerful
  • Double-drum units cut work time in half


  • Work quickly and efficiently
  • Handle large jobs with ease
  • Wide range of grits available
  • Handle both small and large boards
  • Excellent for maintaining square edges

Finishing Sander


  • Feature squared-off pads
  • Move sandpaper in small circles


  • Handle a variety of tasks
  • Work well in corners
  • Economical
  • Ideal for fine veneers and plywood

Oscillating Edge/Spindle Sander


  • Combine belt sanding and spindle sanding into one unit
  • Convert back and forth with ease


  • Provide fast, accurate sanding
  • Handle everything from sharpening knives to polishing applications
  • Work well with both wood and metal
Safety and Use

When operating any unit keep your hands away from the sander while it’s running. Don’t apply pressure when sanding as it may result n the machine kicking back at you. Orbital sanders with higher orbit-per-minute (opm) rates tend to sand more quickly. Sanders with variable speed provide extra control for working in close quarters or more delicate tasks.

Other safety precautions for operating sanders:

Always follow manufacturer’s safety guidelines

Use respiratory protection for materials that create a lot of sawdust

Wear ear plugs when using noisy sanders to prevent hearing loss

Avoid sanding near sparks and flames to prevent fire hazards


Sanders may be powered with electricity, batteries or air compressors.

Electric sanders are usually more economical and portable.

Pneumatic sanders require the purchase of an air compressor and are often more powerful and work faster.


Sawdust Collection. Bags used to collect dust or ports that give you the ability to hook the sander up to a dust collection system or wet/dry vac to whisk away debris.

Trigger Lock. Allows you to keep the unit locked in the on position without having to manually depress the trigger.

Clamps. Usually used with more portable sanders for delicate jobs, they allow you to lock sanders in an upside-down position to create a sanding stand.

Grips. Two-handed or large front grips make it easier to guide the sander accurately.

Portability. Easier to move sanders to and from different areas when using a carrying case and a long cord.

Pad Brakes. Allows you to lift the sander from the work surface and put it back down without gouging the material.

Tracking Adjustment. Knobs or thumbscrews that make adjusting the tracking quick and easy.

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If you're planning to use these tools for a one-time project, consider tool rental. Rent tools and trucks for any project at The Home Depot.