Orbital Sander vs Palm Sander

The main difference between an orbital sander and a palm sander is that palm sanders are ideal for detail sanding. The differences are subtle, but a palm sander is small enough to be held in the palm of your hand and, as such, is far more maneuverable than a typical orbital sander.

orbital sander vs palm sander

Whether you are renovating the kitchen or handing out Christmas presents to the kids, you probably need to use a sander for something. Concerning some minor details, it is enough to produce grinding blocks and sanding paper of the correct size and pull a few grips by hand. On the other hand, larger woodworking projects with bigger areas to be sanded or where roughnesses are to be smoothed are usually more fun and faster with a sanding machine.

We do sanding to get a smooth wood surface in our finished product. And a sander is a power tool used to polish surfaces by scraping them with sandpaper. Whether the surface is painted, varnished, or otherwise treated, it should always be sanded first. It would be best if you always referred to a sandpaper grit chart in order to select the correct sandpaper for the job; doing so will speed up the work and save effort. There are different types of sanders, like palm sanders, belt sanders, disc sander, Drum sander, Oscillating Spindle Sander, orbital sanders, etc. In today’s blog, we will talk about orbital sander vs. palm sander and provide you with all the necessary details you need to know about them.

What is a palm sander?

It is a pretty easy guess. You can know that palm sander, as the name says, get their name because they usually fit into the palm of your hand.

What is an orbital sander?

An orbital sander is a sander that is square and more substantial than a palm sander. It is easy to manage and best for reaching into tight corners, including flat edges.

What is the difference between the orbital sander and palm sander?

differences between orbital sanders and palm sanders

Before going into detail about orbital and palm sander, let’s talk about some of their main differences.

  • Orbital sanders are square in shape, while palm sanders are rectangular.
  • Compared to a palm sander, orbital sanders are more massive tools, which means that palm sanders are smaller and more lightweight.
  • The motions of orbitals are Circular and orbiting, and palm sanders only have orbiting motion.
  • If you want to work with larger pieces, orbital sanders are better than palm sander. But if you’re going to work with smaller pieces, palm sanders are most suitable.
  • If you want to do the bigger sanding jobs much more promptly, you should consider orbitals, but if you want a smoother result, what can be better than a palm sander? Only a palm sander.

Often people get confused about an orbital sander and a random orbital sander. So before we make a further comparison of orbital sander vs. palm sander, it is useful to know about these two sanders.

What is a random orbital sander?

These sanders are quite different then orbital sanders. While orbital sanders have a square pad, random orbital sanders have a round pad. You may think that’s not a big difference, but it is as the circular sanding pad allows it to move differently compared to orbital sanders.

The best thing about a random orbital sander is that it does not leave any sanding marks after you use it, and also it comes with varying speeds. But unlike orbitals, it can’t go into deeper places or edges effortlessly.

Now let’s get into details on orbital sanders and palm sanders.

More about palm sanders

A palm sander is a great finishing tool for any woodworking project. You could use innumerable materials depending on the type of sandpaper that you choose. These are meant for fine sanding to work on materials that you want to get a subtle finish.

The pins in palm sanders allow you to take a quarter sheet of regular sandpaper that you would cut with a pair of scissors or a utility knife. And out of a single sheet of sandpaper, you could get four pieces on a palm sander. Essentially it vibrates and oscillates in your hand and just kind of moves back and forth. The orbit Sanders is many people’s favorite. It doesn’t do a great job of collecting the dust, but it will help eliminate dust.

There are different kinds of hooks that you can use for palm sanders. You want to make sure that the holes line up with some of the holes inside of it to help with the dust collection.

When using a palm sander, you need to avoid putting too much pressure because if you put a lot of pressure on top of the tool, that kind of spinning motion will be eliminated, and you won’t get the better performance out of the sandpaper. So allow the tool’s weight and a little bit on your hand to work back and forth. So if you’re doing any kind of fine sanding- when it comes to woodworking, one of the small palms Sanders is the way to go.

When choosing a palm sander, you can choose what is comfortable for you. I would recommend the sander that has a dust collection. Operating a palm sander is very simple. You need to turn it on and start sanding.

My palm sander doesn’t last long enough. I’m burning out my pads. I’m wearing off the hook and loop system. What is the reason?

question mark graphic

This is a question many people ask when using palm sanders, and it’s because you are putting too much pressure on the sander. You don’t want to be bearing down. You should hold it in place and let the sander do its work.

Note: Palm sanders take plenty of sandpaper, and it is not suitable for working with larger pieces of wood.

More about orbital sanders

Now let’s talk about the orbital sander, which will include some basic sanding techniques. There are two types of orbital sanders on the market today. The first one is the standard orbital sander, usually classified by the size of the sanding pad and its shape, which is generally a square or rectangle. There are at least a few subcategories to the standard orbital sander. The first is the quarter-sheet orbital sander, which can hold a quarter sheet of nine by eleven standard-sized sandpaper. This allows the user to get four usable pieces out of one sheet.

The next category is the half-sheet orbital sander. This holds a half sheet of sandpaper and provides two usable pieces out of one sheet. The sheets are usually attached to the sander with some spring system or metal clamp that holds the paper to the sanding pad. Almost all orbital sanders move the sanding pad in the same way, which is in a very tight orbital motion. It helps to remove material faster.

One of the biggest downsides to the sanders is their inability to remove a lot of material quickly. But fortunately, there’s another option, and the random orbital sander comes. A round sanding pad characterizes this sander with round sanding discs that can be attached to the pad with either a pressure-sensitive adhesive or a hook and loop, kind of like velcro. The round sanding discs have factory holes that line up with the onboard dust collection to reduce dust while sanding.

It’s important to remember that while you’re working with a standard orbital sander, you always sand in the grain direction. This sander will leave some bad cross-grain scratches if you’re not cautious.

Should I choose a palm sander or an orbital sander?

It entirely depends on your usability. You can go with a palm sander if you need a tool to sand a finished work or have finished assembling a part of small furniture that you don’t intend to paint. But if you want to sand a large surface, go with the orbital sander. Also, an orbital sander helps remove paint and varnish from surfaces. But if you are tighter in the budget, a palm sander is something you should consider.

Is palm sander more expensive than orbital sander?

No, a palm sander is not more expensive than an orbital sander. Due to the wide range of usabilities, such as lower grit, higher power, and other facilities, including proper warranties, an orbital sander is more costly than a palm sander. You can find a good palm sander on a budget of $50 and an orbital sander on a budget of around $100.

Do you recommend using a palm sander on drywall?

Even though you can use a palm sander on drywall, I strongly suggest using an orbital sander as it is much more suited for drywall, considering its quickness.

In conclusion, there are more pros and cons to each of these sanders, but overall I have to say that the orbital sander is a great beginner tool regardless of what you buy. All new Sanders come with some dust collection bags. But remember that when you’re using sheets of standard sandpaper, you have to punch holes in the papers so that the dust collection system can draw the sawdust.

The last thing I want to mention is dust collection; it’s always better to use a hose and a vac system than using the factory bag. These bags are great for small amounts of sanding, but I would strongly consider using a vac if you have to do a lot of sanding.

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