Palm Sander vs Orbital Sander: Which one is better?

Sanding isn’t hard, but you need some experience to get the results you want.  If you have enough experience then you probably know which sander to use for this project, and which one for that project. But, if you don’t have enough experience, then this part can be a little difficult for you.

As you may know, there are many different sander types on the market. We have the orbital sander, palm sander, belt sander, etc. So, choosing the one you actually need can be difficult.

But, today we won’t be talking about all sander types. We will only focus on the two types that people usually use – the palm and the orbital sander. By just looking at their names, you won’t be able to know what these sanders do. And that’s why we will try to explain to you which sander you should use.

Read more: Best Sanders For Furniture

Palm Sander vs Orbital Sander

These are two similar but yet different sanders. Sometimes, you can use one to complete the other’s job, but not always.

Palm Sander

If you look at its name then you probably can guess the size of this sander. These types of sanders are called palm sanders because they fit your palm. So, from just knowing this fact you can probably guess the size of the tool. It isn’t that big.

Since they are small, they are also very light. In fact, they are the smallest and the lightest sander’s. They are not powerful either, usually, they come with a very small motor.

Palm sanders are mostly used 160-220 grit sandpapers. These units are the best when it comes to small projects, they are small, lightweight and most importantly they are very cheap if you compare it to the other sanders.  These features make them very ideal for light projects.  Palm sanders are mostly used to polish a finished wood that doesn’t have any paint.

What you don’t want to do this palm sanders is to use them on big projects. If you are dealing with a very old and rusted pallet then using a palm sander isn’t going to be a good idea. These types of sanders are made only for small tasks.  You also don’t want to use a lot of muscle while working, if you push too hard then you can break the sander very easily. You also have to get used to changing a lot of pads while working.

But, palm sanders are easy to use, don’t cost a lot of money and they do a good job. If you are a beginner and want to start using sanders, then a palm sander should be your first choice.

Read: Best Sanders for Wood Pallets

Orbital Sanders

If you are looking for bigger and more powerful sanders then you should check orbital sanders. If you compare orbital sanders to some other sanders then they are not powerful. But, they are more powerful than a palm sander.  They are called orbital sanders because it moves in small circles called orbits. Read our post on how to use orbital sanders?

You can operate with orbital sander by just using one hand. But, these are some models that come with an extra handle plus so you can use both hands. Usually, this type of sander is very powerful.

A subcategory of orbital sanders is the random orbital sanders. What makes the random orbital sanders different is that instead of moving at the same patterns these sanders move its hand on random orbits.  In my opinion, random orbital sanders are better because they don’t leave any marks behind as orbital sanders do.

Orbital sanders use lower-grit sandpaper than the palm sanders, you usually start with 80-grit sandpaper and move up to 160-grit.  These are the best sanders to remove paint., you can also use them to give wood pieces a nice and smooth finish before painting them. Orbital sanders are very good for any type of wood surface. They will do wonders on a flat surface, but you can also get good results on a curved wood surface.

These units are easy to use too, they are beginner-friendly. You won’t spend a lot of time trying to figure them out. But if for some reason you don’t understand how they work then make sure to read their manual or watch different video tutorials.  Orbital sanders cost more than palm sanders.

Read Also: Sanders For Kitchen Cabinets Reviews

In summary

If you compare these two tools then both of them are good. These two are small sanders so they are not recommended for metal, only for wood. You can use them to remove paint, finish wood or give wood pieces a smooth finish. Although palm sanders are not very good when it comes to removing paint, you still can use them, but it will take you longer.

Orbital sanders are more powerful and bigger, but there are a lot of other sander types that are bigger and more powerful than an orbital sander. Palm sanders are small and very light, these types of sanders are mostly recommended for beginners and only if you are dealing with a small project.  They are not very powerful so you won’t be able to get through rusted wood.

Both of these sanders are cheap, so you won’t be breaking the bank if you decide to try them out.  Plus they are very easy to use so you won’t have to spend a lot of time figuring them out. Keep in mind that these two use very different sandpapers. The orbital sanders use 80-160-grit sandpapers, and the palm sander use 160-grit to 220-grit sandpapers.

You can also use both of these sanders for the same project. You can use the orbital sander to remove the paint from wood and remove any unwanted marks, and then you can use the palm sander to give the surface a smooth finish before starting to paint it.

If you will be working on a big project then there are many other sanders that you can try out except these two. Make sure to check out my other posts so you can read more about different sanders and how to use them.

Read Also: The difference between a Grinder and a Sander

Michael is the Editor at thetoolgeeks.com. He used to own a local shop where he sold different tools for 20+ years. He now enjoys researching DIY tools and writing guides about it.

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