Belt Sander                          Palm Sander               Orbital Sander                      Detail Sander


Sanders are a great tool to either put the finishing touches on a project or help turn an old project into something new.  There are a lot of different sanders available and they are designed for making a smooth detailed finish to removing large amounts of stock in no time.  There are six primary types of sanders.

Detailed Sander – As you can see by the picture above a detail sander is small and easily fits in your hand.  They are designed to fit into tight spots and to contour the work, such as banisters.

Palm Sander – A palm sander vibrates back and forth with a slight spin.  If using on bare wood it is designed to go with the grain of the wood.  I use to use this on wood, but didn’t really like the end result.  Now I use it for stripping old wood in tight spots or sanding parts of the wall before we paint.

Orbital Sander – The orbital sander has round pads and it moves in a circle.  This way you can move the sander in any direction, while you can’t with the palm sander.  After using an orbital sander on a table, I fell in love with it and stopped using the palm sander.  I would suggest buying a sander that has a variable speed adjustment for different types of work.  With a softwood that is all most done sanding, you would switch it to a lower speed.  While hard wood you would keep at a higher speed.

Belt Sander – As seen in the picture above, a belt sander uses a belt that stretches across two wheels and continuously moves around.  These are great for removing large stocks of wood with a 50, 60 or 80 grit sandpaper.  I would also look for a variable speed sander as a belt sander will eat pine like nothing.  If you are sanding pine use a higher course paper with a slower speed.

Disc Sander – A disk sander is designed to sit on a work space and has a large wheel and sometimes a belt sander attached.  These are nice to remove large amounts of stock since they move quickly and have some good power to them.  Most of the belt tables tilt, which makes working with angles easier to sand.

Spindle Sander – A Spindle sander is also mounted on a bench and has a spindle in the middle with a saddling pad.  These are not used that much, but when you need to sand curves it sure does come in handy.


Using A Sander

  • Make sure your work is secure and clamped down to prevent the piece from moving around.
  •  Let the sander get up to speed before you start sanding
  • Stop the sander completely before setting it down.
  • Let the sander do the work.  You only need to apply light pressure.  If you find yourself having to apply lots of pressure, change the sandpaper.
  • Make sure the sander is level to ensure smooth work.  Only use the sander on an angle when grinding the work.


  • The lower the number of the grit the rougher the finish will be.  A low number will remove a lot of wood and leave it rough, while a high number removes small amounts of wood, but leaves it smooth.
  • There are two main types of paper: Aluminum Oxide and Garnet.  Garnet is more expensive, but will last longer and is good for finishing and sanding between varnish.  Aluminum Oxide is cheaper, doesn’t last as long, but is good for general use.
  • 80 – 100 grit – Good for removing finishes and light paint.
  • 110 150 grit– For preparing wood.
  • 180 – Good for starting softwood sanding.
  • 300 – 400 grit – Good for final sanding of hardwood and sanding between varnishes.
  • 800 grit -extremely hardwoods, the final touch