Sanding results in a smooth wood surface and is among the final tasks you have to perform on a woodwork project. Thus, sanding should be done properly using the correct tools.

The market is swamped with plenty of sanders. Hence, it is rare to miss one that meets your needs. This palm sander vs orbital sander comparison will help you choose the appropriate sander for the final woodwork touches.

What is a Palm Sander?

The palm sanders fit in your palm and are affordable as they are priced at fifty dollars; they are also known as sheet sanders. The sander is square-shaped; thus can easily get into the corners and difficult to reach areas on the wooden surface.

Unlike the traditional elliptical patterns, you can work on the sander with a back and forth pattern motion. However, you have to feed the sandpaper into the palm sanders as you go with the work as the sandpapers don’t last as expected.

A palm sander uses less power and is a bit gentle than other alternatives in the market. For instance, it uses a 2.0 amp motor for almost all the projects; this will save on your electric bill. A 3.0 amps motor will provide excess power, and you will be paying for something you will not need.

Palm sanders are easy to grip with your hands, as they are lightweight and easy to use while on your palm as you work on the projects. However, you can go for a palm sander model with a good grip, making it easy to work on your projects.

The smaller palm sanders are effective as they make it possible to achieve detailed sanding, but the larger ones are effective for finishing commercial projects.

However, the most common palm sander is half-sheet or quarter-sheet sandpaper. You can choose the appropriate palm sandpaper size which meets your needs.

Unfortunately, the palm sandpapers are not attentive to dust collection, which could be a limitation if you use the sander for commercial projects. They don’t offer robust dust collection mechanisms.

However, dust collection might not be an issue for DIY projects which don’t produce large dust fumes. However, you should look for models with sealed switches or invest in dust bags and vacuum systems that clean the working table.

You can opt for the cordless or corded options based on convenience and personal choice. If you opt for the cordless option, you can go for a tool with an interchangeable battery that can be used for multiple tools; this might be appropriate for tools from the same brand.

What is a Palm Sander Used For?

When working on smaller projects requiring sanding, the palm sander will be the right choice, as it is flexible to work on small DIY projects. Moreover, they are lightweight, and you can carry them from one room to another and are suitable for people working on a budget as they are cheaper.

They offer precision due to their small size and will not leave marks on your DIY projects. Thus they result in a professional finish making the projects desirable.

Moreover, professional woodworkers favor the sander as it offers a smoother finish, and they use it for the final touch on commercial projects. The palm sanders are effective for treated and painted surfaces as they are precise and smoothen the surfaces easily.

  • They are compact and lightweight
  • It is compatible with regular sandpaper
  • They are cheap and easily available in the local stores
  • They don’t leave marks on the woodwork
  • They use a lot of sandpaper, and you might feed the sandpaper in the tool as you go on with the work.
  • The dust collection is not effective, and you would need a dust collection bin or vacuum to keep the workplace clean.
  • The palm sanders are not designed for working with larger wood pieces.

What is an Orbital Sander?

The orbital sanders work in small tight circles and move at high speeds when electrically powered. They get their name from the head movement in an orbital manner. Although they are effective for commercial projects, they have subcategories best for different purposes.

The orbital sander has an effective dust removal mechanism that removes residues from the wooden surfaces making the work space effective. Thus, you can use the sander in closed spaces like the garage due to the effective residue removal mechanism. The dust removal mechanism ensures the sander is in good working condition for a long time to prevent mechanical damages.

Compared to the palm sander, the sander offers high speed and will work on large wooden surfaces. Sanding with a palm sander would take a few more hours, leading to downtime for your projects.

The orbital sander is versatile, and you can use it to polish surfaces and sand down furniture, counters, and walls.

Moreover, the random orbital and the regular orbital sanders are effective for smoothening wooden surfaces.

The orbital sanders are electrical devices you can use for your at-home projects and construction sites. Although they can be a bit expensive than other sanders, they are effective for smoothing surfaces. Thus, they are cheap in the long run, and they live up to their expectations despite the low price.

What is an Orbital Sander Used For?

The orbital sanders are larger, about ½ sheet, and have a rectangular or square base; they are more powerful and effective for commercial projects.

They work on large wood pieces and offer a smooth finishing in wood projects. The orbital sanders use a square sanding pad and are easy to hold with one hand.

  • The orbital sanders are effective for commercial projects and works on large wooden surfaces.
  • They provide two usable pieces of one sheet attached to the spring system or metal clamp.
  • The orbital movement removes the material faster and thus saves time.
  • The sander does not move the materials quickly.
  • You should always move the orbital sander in the same direction as the wood grains to avoid leaving marks on the wood.
  • * The random orbital sander has a round head that rotates and moves around in random orbits.

* The orbital sander is different from the other sanders, which move in similar patterns due to the random motions. Thus, you should continuously move the random sander to achieve the desired results. It is appropriate for prepping the wood surface before painting and is ideal for removing varnish and paint. It utilizes a round-shaped pad.

What is the Difference Between a Palm Sander and an Orbital Sander?

ComparisonPalm SanderOrbital Sander

The head shape

The head shape is rectangular

The normal orbital sander has a rectangular head, while the random orbital sander has a round head

Sanding material

Uses standard sheet and cut sheet

Uses standard circular sheet which can be attached to Velcro

Sheet size

Uses a quarter to half of the standard sheet

It uses 5-inches and 6 inches of sheet


Orbiting motion

Circular and orbiting motions


Light duty finishing and suitable for DIY projects

Smoothens large wood pieces are suitable for commercial projects

Which One is the Best Sander?

You will need a sander for almost all woodwork projects. There are many sanders on the market, and it is possible to pick the wrong sander for your project.

Thus you should know the differences between the sanders and their functions before going for one. These tips might help you choose the right sander for your projects.

When to go for Palm Sanders?

The palm sander is effective for working on smaller surfaces, and they offer finished work. Thus, if you are finished with your projects, you can opt for this sander as it offers the best finish for the projects.

It sands edges due to the relatively compact design. You can opt for the triangular-shaped sander, which provides the details you would need for the finished look.

When To Go For An Orbital Sander?

If you are working on large surfaces, you can go for the random orbital sander, which removes materials quickly, shortening your time working on the given project. Moreover, it is designed to remove the paint and varnish easily and is agile to sand carved wood.

Thus this would be the best sander for almost all the projects, as it offers the best outcome for all the woodwork projects.

The palm sander is cheap and appropriate for people working on a budget. They offer lower grit with high power and complete the work at a lower cost.

Generally, both sanders have pros and cons, and you can consider the similarities and differences before choosing a tool. When choosing a sander, you should also consider your skills and the desired results.


Can I Use a Palm Sander on Drywall?

Yes, you can use a palm sander on drywall, but you would work on the project for an extended time. However, it would be better to use an orbital sander as it works on the drywall quickly due to the efficiency in removing the materials from the surface.

How Do You Load A Palm Sander?

Yes, you load the sandpaper into the palm sander frequently, as the sander uses so much sanding material. If you don’t feed the sandpaper frequently, you might not get the desired results.

The sandpaper is easily used up as the sander produces a smooth surface. Thus, you can feed the sander after a certain time interval depending on the sanding outcome.

How Do You Change The Sandpaper on a Palm Sander?

You should understand the palm sander working mechanism as it uses clamps to hold the sandpaper in place. Thus you should start by lifting the front clamp to remove the old sandpaper and insert the new sandpaper until it hits the spring posts.

The new sandpaper should be mounted on the plate on the top block. Then fold the paper under the plate and clamp and hold the back end firmly before pulling the front end to eliminate the slack.

Finally, secure the front clamp, and release the back clamp, and secure the back to hold the sandpaper firmly in place.

Can You Use a Palm Sander Indoors?

Yes, you can use the palm sander outdoors as some varieties are cordless, and you would not need to connect it to a power source. Moreover, since they don’t have an effective dust collection mechanism, they would be better used outdoors.

Can I Sand Drywall with an Orbital Sander?

Yes, you can sand the drywall with the orbital sander; the orbital sander is best suited as they remove the materials effectively and quickly. Although, you can use the palm sander for the last finishes on the surface.

Does an Orbital Sander Actually Spin?

Yes, the orbital sanders spin in circular orbital motions to and off large materials from the wooden surface. The spinning increases the speed and makes it easy to complete commercial projects.

Can You Use an Orbital Sander For Polishing?

Yes, you can use the orbital sanders on polishing and palm sanders to achieve a smooth surface.

Why is My Orbital Sander Jumping?

The orbital sander might start jumping when the backup pad is worn out, and you might need to replace the pad to get the desired results.

Is an Orbital Sander Good For Removing Paint?

Yes, the orbital sander is good for removing paint as it easily and quickly, making it ideal for large painted wood surfaces.

Can I Use an Orbital Sander to Remove Paint on Deck?

Yes, you can choose an orbital sander to remove paint on a deck as it is effective for working on large surfaces.


Choosing the right sander for the woodwork projects is essential for achieving a smooth look on the wooden surfaces. The palm sanders are hand-held and require constant sandpaper feeding, making it easy to attain a smooth appearance on the wooden surfaces.

On the other hand, the orbital sanders work best for commercial projects and quickly remove the materials on the wooden surfaces, leaving scratches on the surface without the right skills.