Palm Sander VS Orbital Sander 2023: Comparison & Recommendation

Different sanders are meant for different tasks. You need to know the sanders well to use them in the right places for the right works. Because of sanding, a surface gets an attractive smooth, and shiny look. If the sanding is not fine, the workpiece will not look good at all. People get confused when they see a lot of sanders that look kind of the same. The most confusing sanders are the orbital sander and the palm sander. They have a lot of similarities between them, but there are some differences as well. We have discussed these two types of sanders so that you have a clear knowledge about these sanders and know which one to choose by the end of the Palm sander VS Orbital sander comparison article. 

Comparison Chart Between Palm Sander VS Orbital Sander:

Features: Palm Sander Orbital Sander
Size & Weight: Smaller and lightweight Larger and heavier
Sanding motion: Vibrates in small orbits Rotates in large orbits
Sanding speed: Faster than an orbital sander Slower
Sandpaper sheet shape: Square or rectangular Circular
Sandpaper replacement: Quick and easy to replace sandpaper sheets Requires the use of adhesive-backed sanding discs
Best for: Smaller, detailed projects and tight spaces Larger surface areas and heavier sanding tasks
Dust collection: Not-so-good dust collection System Have a dust collection System
Price: Medium Expensive

Random Orbital Sander VS Palm Sander: Key Differences

Here we have discussed all the details we could find about orbital sanders and palm sanders. We have discussed the features and functions and also the advantages and disadvantages of these sanders.

What is a Palm Sander?

A palm sander is a sander that fits in your palm. It normally has a sheet or pad that moves in orbits. You can call this an orbital sander, too, but by the name palm sander, it means it is in a compact size that will fit in your hand. Anything bigger than this is not a palm sander. For its square shape, it can easily reach the corners and work on them. With its back and forth motion, it can work just like an orbital sander. However, the palm sander works with sandpaper sheets, which are also known as sheet sanders. You will need to work with multiple sandpapers in hand while working with this sander, as the sandpaper wears off quite easily. The DEWALT DWE6411K Palm Sander is one of the best palm sanders in the market right now. Here are some key features you should consider before buying a palm sander-

Gentle in Power

Compared to an orbital sander, a palm sander is more gentle. Any palm sander with a motor power of around 2 amp can work well, but anything above 3 amp will be unnecessary and just a waste of money. Palm sander’s gentle power is perfect for smoothing out furniture or small DIY projects that will not need to remove a lot of materials.

Comfortable Grip

The palm sander will be in your palm the whole time while you work, so it needs to be comfortable so that the user does not feel cramps or fatigue while using it. Normally, they have a rubberized grip on top of the sander, making it a lot easier to work. 


The usual size of a palm sander or a sheet sander is ¼ or ½ sized sheet sander size. They are perfect for getting through the tough corners. These sanders are available in different sizes. However, the small one is better for detail work, and the bigger one is good for covering large areas. Some come in a mini version, too, which is perfect for all minor detail works. 

Dust Collection

The palm sanders are not that great with the dust collection system, but it is an important thing to be concerned about. While buying, check if the dust bag is well sealed and the switch is also protected from the dust to avoid damage. 

Affordable Sandpaper

The palm sander needs the normal sandpaper that is easily available anywhere in the market. You just need to cut it accordingly. For a ¼ size sander, you will get four sheets out of single full-size sandpaper. There are some strong clamps on the sander that holds down the sandpaper in its place. 

Detailed Palm Sander

It is commonly known as the detailed sander, mouse sander, or finishing sander, but it fits in a palm, so it is also a palm sander. This sander has a triangular base which makes it different from other sanders. It is perfect for sanding the window area and detailed work on furniture. 

Cordless or Corded?

Palm sanders are available both as corded and as cordless, so it is all up to you to choose the one you think is the best. Some power tools have the same batteries, so you can choose one cordless palm sander if you find a match. However, the corded ones are known to last longer and have more power than the cordless ones. 

Advantages of Palm Sander

  • Lightweight and compact
  • You can find the regular sandpaper easily
  • It comes at affordable prices
  • It does not leave marks on the surface

Disadvantages of Palm Sander

  • Not-so-good dust collection system
  • Not suitable for larger pieces of wood

Where to Use Palm Sander?

If you do not have enough money and are wondering if you should invest in an expensive sander or not, then you can choose a palm sander without much doubt. A palm sander is affordable and a handy tool. It can handle almost all the small works like removing stains or paint from wood. Also, it is suitable for all kinds of DIY projects. As it does not take enough space, you can easily store it somewhere if you are not using it often.

What is an Orbital Sander?

An orbital sander is a sander which either has a round or a square base that moves in orbits. The size and power of this sander can be of many kinds. The small and compact ones are known as palm sanders. However, there is another kind of sander available, known as the random orbital sander. The BLACK+DECKER Sander is an orbital sander that is quite famous right now.

Speed and Power

The power of a sander is mainly decided by the power of the motor that comes in amps. So the higher the number goes, the stronger the sander is. However, in the case of orbital sanders, you can look at the orbits per minute to see how fast they can run. The standard speed is about 10000 OPM. But most orbital sanders have a higher speed than this. Having high speed is helpful if you have a large piece to sand with some tough, uneven spots. Slower speed helps to get the details perfectly and works better on softer materials. Some sanders offer variable speed options, which can be really helpful and save a lot of money as you will not have to buy separate sanders. 

Grip and Handles

There are a few kinds of grip and handles available on orbital sanders. The palm grip handles are the most common ones. They are lightweight, and the top is mostly rubberized to be comfortable to hold for a long time. Another kind is the pistol handle that gives you good control and the flexibility to use both hands. You can hold the sander with one hand, and with another, you can apply the pressure needed. 

Types of Sandpaper

The best thing about orbital sander’s sandpaper is that you can use any kind of sandpaper available. You can either use the Velcro type one of the peels and stick one to attach your sandpaper. This is a cheap way to cut down the expenses of orbital sanders. 

Cordless or Corded?

Both corded and cordless orbital sanders are available, and you can choose according to your preferences. Some prefer the cordless ones so that they can carry the sander and work in areas where there is no electric power supply. But the cordless sanders need frequent changes of batteries. Recharging or purchasing new batteries can be costly and troublesome. On the other hand, a corded sander’s only problem is the power cord that comes in the way and allows only a limited area to work in. However, the performance is always better with corded sanders. Bear this in your mind before investing in any sander. 

Related Comparison: Drum Vs Orbital Sander: Different sander for different purposes

Dust Collection

Sanding wood will create dust no matter what. Some of the sanders have a dust collection system that helps collect the dust in a  dust bag or canister to have a dust-free work environment. It can also connect to a vacuum hose easily for better clean-up. Some orbital sanders also offer microfiltration systems that can collect even the smallest dust particles. The dust-sealed feature is also there in some sanders to prevent the dust from entering the machine. 

Random Orbital Sanders

Many people get confused between orbital sanders and random orbital sanders, wondering if they are the same or not. Well, they are not the same. The random orbital sander works differently from the orbital sander as it spins and rotates simultaneously and reduces the chance of staining the workpiece. Instead of a square pad, a random orbital sander comes with a circular pad that is more versatile than other orbital sanders.

Finishing Orbital Sanders

The finishing sanders are lighter and much smaller than other orbital sanders. So they make low noises. These sanders are perfect for getting all the details and finishing a workpiece well. 

Advantages of Orbital Sander

  • Works well and fast
  • With its square shape, it can treat the corners
  • Can go into tight spaces
  • Mostly lightweight and easy to carry

Disadvantages of Orbital Sander

  • Cannot remove a huge amount of materials
  • It might leave some swirl marks

Where to use an Orbital Sander?

Orbital sanders are great for corners that are hard to reach for other sanders, baseboards, and stairs. It can smooth out the surface and remove any unwanted part from the surface so that it is ready to get painted or varnished. An orbital sander will take less time to sand the pain out than doing it by hand. 

Key Differences Between An Orbital Sander and A Palm Sander

Even if they seem alike, there are some differences between the palm sander and the orbital sander. Some of the key differences are like-

  • Orbital sanders are for heavy-duty works, while palm sanders are lightweight and smaller in size.
  • Palm sanders are small, so they are suitable for small DIY projects or those that need detailed work, but the orbital sanders are suitable for large projects.
  • Orbital sanders can be a bit expensive, while palm sanders are always affordable.

Palm or Orbital Sander: Which One To Choose? 

No matter what sanders you are using, in the end, the surface needs to be smooth and splinter-free. If you have no basic knowledge about sanding machines, you will get the wrong one that might ruin all the work. You can go for the palm sander if your project is small and all you need is just the finishing touches. It is suitable for sanding edges. For more detailed work, you can go for the detailed palm sander. It comes with extra attachments that help to work with the details. However, if you have a broad area to cover, go for the random orbital sander. It can smooth out flat surfaces, remove paint from larger and broader areas as well. So, now that you already know when and how to use the sander, you can easily choose the sander you need according to the project you have in hand. 


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