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15 Different Kinds of Sanders & Their Uses

different types of sanders

different types of sanders

If you use raw materials like wood and metal to create different projects, you undoubtedly have plenty of experience with sanders. However, many people don’t realize how many different sanders there are and when is the best time to use which kind.

If you often need to sand your projects and want some answers, keep reading while we look at the different kinds you can use to make your task a lot easier. We’ll provide you with a picture and a short description of each one so you can make an informed decision about the tools you need.

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Different Kinds of Sanders

1. Sandpaper

a sandpaper
Image Credit: Pixabay

Sandpaper is one of the most common and easily recognizable types of sandpaper available because it’s easy to find and inexpensive to purchase. This tool is for hand sanding, usually detailing and polishing, but rougher grades are also available that can tackle even tough jobs. However, the downside to sandpaper is that it wears out quickly, so you need to replace it frequently. You purchase sandpaper according to grit—the higher the number, the finer the sand. Finer sand is useful for polishing and detailed sanding, while lower numbers are better for rough work where you need to remove a lot of material.


2. Sanding Sticks

SCOTTCHEN Sanding Sticks

Sanding sticks look like long matchsticks, but they replace the match head with an abrasive surface that you can use for extremely detailed sanding and for getting into difficult-to-reach places. You see sanding sticks more often in crafts, but you never know when you need this useful tool.


3. Sanding Block

Warner Sanding Block Hand Sander

A sanding block is a tool that you use along with sandpaper to make sanding your surface easier. Sanding blocks come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that fits into your hand comfortably so you can work longer. In fact, you can replace your sandpaper and reuse the sanding block indefinitely. It’s portable and doesn’t require power but still allows you to sand a larger piece than you might without one.


4. DIY Electric Toothbrush Sander

You can use strong glue to attach sandpaper to an old electric toothbrush to create a fine sander that works quite well. It only works on smaller projects and is better suited to crafts, but it’s hard to beat for sanding difficult-to-reach areas.


5. Bow Sander

Rockler Store Sanding Bow

The bow sander is another tool that you can use without requiring power. As you may have guessed, this tool has the same shape as an archery bow, but instead of a string, it uses sandpaper. The advantage of the bow sander is that it allows you to keep constant pressure over a curved area. Sanding the same area with ordinary sandpaper can lead to an uneven surface because of natural differences in pressure caused by the shape of your hand.


6. Air Sander

Ingersoll Rand 315G Edge Series Straight Line Air Sander

Air sanders look similar to the sanding block, but they use the power of compressed air to reduce the effort you need to put in. They come in many shapes and sizes and can often be less expensive than powered models. If you already own a compressor for other jobs, the air sander makes a great choice for a long list of sanding jobs.


7. Palm Sander

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Palm Sander

The palm sander is one of the most popular types of electric sander that you can find. These tools are small and perfectly fit into your palm for more control while you are working. Since they are so small, woodworkers usually use palm sanders for touch-up work and fine sanding. It’s often one of the first sanders people buy because it’s reasonably priced, easy to find, and is perfect for plenty of odd jobs around the home. Another nice thing about these machines is that it is easy to change the paper. Most brands use a Velcro-style system that doesn’t require any tools.

Related Read: 5 Best Palm Sanders – Reviews & Top Picks


8. Orbital Sander

DEWALT Random Orbit Sander

An orbital sander is essentially a large palm sander, and you will often see them advertised as the same thing, and many people use the names interchangeably. However, we find it easier to separate them into two categories where the smaller palm sanders are good for detail work, and the larger orbital sanders are perfect for removing material and smoothing a rough surface.


9. Detail Sander

Ryobi DS1200 Detail Sander

The detail sander is another small device for you to use just before applying a finish. It looks and operates similarly to the orbital sander but usually has a triangle pad to target more specific areas of your project.


10. Disk Sander

RIKON 51-200 12-Inch Disc Sander

The disk sander is quite popular in the workshop due to its high power and relatively small footprint. It’s very similar in size and shape to a grinding wheel but uses replaceable sandpaper pads to get the job done. Since it has a fixed position, you are free to use both hands to control your project, giving you improved accuracy, but with the relatively small surface area of the disk, it can be a difficult tool to use for larger projects.


11. Belt Sander

WEN 6502T Belt Sander

The belt sander is another popular tool in the woodshop because it’s easy to use and only takes up a small shop area. As the name suggests, the belt sander uses a long circular belt with abrasive material on one side to sand your project. A motor spins the belt at high speed to quickly remove material, and you can select any grit to use on your machine.


12. File Sander

WEN 6307 Variable Speed Detailing File Sander

The file sander is another detailing sander similar to the belt sander. This device looks almost like an electric knife except for a belt sander that replaces the blades. Like the sanding sticks and DIY toothbrush sander, these devices excel at getting into hard-to-reach places, and the belt sander adds the bonus of a power sander.


13. Oscillating Sander

Dremel 3000-2:28 Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit

Oscillating sanders are another tool that you use when you need to do detailed work. These small, handheld tools are similar to a drill but have sandpaper or sanding bits instead of the drill bit. While you can only use them to work on a small area at a time, they are surprisingly versatile, and the oscillating sander will likely become one of your go-to tools.


14. Spindle Sander

Grizzly Industrial Oscillating Spindle Sander

The spindle sander is another small sander with a rotating edge that you can use for detailed work. However, instead of being a handheld unit like the oscillating sander we just looked at, you attach this model to a table so it remains stable while you work. Some woodworkers prefer to handle the object being sanded instead of the sander. The only downside of the spindle sander is that it can take up permanent space on your workbench.


15. Right-Angle Disc Sander

Dynabrade 53868 7-Inch 8500 RPM Right Angle Disc Sander

Right-angle disk sanders are handheld tools with a long horizontal body that helps the woodworker get more leverage. These tools have plenty of power and might even be too powerful for the casual DIY woodworker. However, once you get the hang of them, the right-angle disc sander is a versatile tool with several uses in the workshop and the home. Since it’s so powerful, these tools are often much more expensive than many of the other sanding options on this list.

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Types of Sanders

If you are just getting started creating your workshop, we highly recommend getting a large supply of sandpaper, as you will use it up quickly. As your budget allows, we recommend purchasing a palm or orbital sander to handle most of your work and even take care of odd jobs around the house, followed by the disk sander and belt sander. Once you have these tools, it will be clear whether you need detailing sanders like the sanding sticks or the file sander. Happy hobbying!


Featured Image Credit: Vitalis83, Shutterstock

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