Finish Sander Vs Orbital Sander: What’s the Best Option in 2024

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Are you looking to achieve a flawlessly smooth finish on your woodworking project, but unsure whether to go with a finish sander or an orbital sander?

Well, imagine this scenario: you’re working on a beautiful dining table, meticulously crafting each detail, and now it’s time for the final sanding. You want to make sure every surface is perfectly smooth and free from any imperfections.

But which sander should you choose? Don’t worry, because in this article, we will compare the finish sander vs orbital sander, highlighting their unique features and benefits.

So, let’s get started and uncover the differences between the finish sander and the orbital sander.

Key Differences

When comparing finish sanders and orbital sanders, it’s important to understand the key differences between the two tools:

One major difference lies in the shape of their sanding pads. Orbital sanders have a circular sanding pad, while finish sanders have a square or rectangular one. This distinction affects the sanding surface and the type of sandpaper or sanding discs that can be used.

Another crucial difference is the sanding pattern. Orbital sanders utilize a random orbital motion, which prevents swirl marks on the wood surface and delivers a smoother finish. In contrast, finish sanders employ a linear sanding motion that cuts parallel to the wood grain. This results in a consistent and uniform sanding, making them ideal for fine wood finishing work.

Furthermore, orbital sanders are known for their versatility, as they can be used for various sanding tasks. They excel at removing paint and other homogenous materials, leaving no pattern in the marks. On the other hand, finish sanders are specifically designed for final polishing before staining and lacquering.

In terms of power, orbital sanders are generally more powerful and can remove more material compared to finish sanders. However, finish sanders are lightweight and maneuverable, making them suitable for detailed work in woodworking projects.

Considering these key differences will help you choose the most appropriate sander for your specific project needs.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Finish Sander

BLACK+DECKER Detail Sander, 1.2 Amp, 16,000 OPM, Compact Design, 3-Position Grip for Comfort, Includes Dust Collector, Corded (BDEMS600), Black, Pack of 1

BLACK+DECKER Finish Sander

Compact design allows access to cramped corners and tight spaces.

Powerful 1.2 Amp motor supplies 16,000 orbits per minute for fast material removal.

Detail finger attachment provides access to hard-to-reach spots.

Best Overall Orbital Sander

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, 12,000 OPM, Brushless Motor for Extra Long Run Time, Bare Tool Only (DCW210B)

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander

Brushless motor provides optimal runtime and efficiency.

Variable-speed control allows for precise speed adjustment.

Low-profile height enables precise sanding in tight spaces.

BLACK+DECKER Finish Sander

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – Compact design allows access to cramped corners and tight spaces.

Reason #2 – Powerful 1.2 Amp motor supplies 16,000 orbits per minute for fast material removal.

Reason #3 – Detail finger attachment provides access to hard-to-reach spots.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – Corded design may limit mobility.

For those seeking a versatile and efficient sander, the BLACK+DECKER Finish Sander is the best choice. With its compact design, this sander allows access to cramped corners and tight spaces, making it perfect for intricate projects. The powerful 1.2 Amp motor supplies 16,000 orbits per minute, ensuring fast and thorough material removal.

The detail finger attachment is interchangeable, providing access to hard-to-reach spots that other sanders may struggle with. Additionally, the high-performance dust collection canister with micro-filtration keeps your work surface clean with less sawdust and debris. The 3-position grip adds versatility and control, allowing you to tackle various sanding tasks with ease.

With its hook-and-loop system, changing sandpaper is fast and easy. And with its corded design, you have unlimited runtime for even the biggest jobs. The BLACK+DECKER Finish Sander includes everything you need to get started, making it the best overall choice for all your sanding needs.

Best For: Those in need of a versatile and efficient sander for intricate projects.

Brand‎BLACK+DECKER
Product Dimensions‎10.25″L x 4.63″W x 5.44″H
Grit Type‎Fine
Power Source‎Corded Electric
AC Adapter Current‎1.2 Amps
Maximum Rotational Speed‎16000 RPM
Item Weight‎2.4 Pounds

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – Brushless motor provides optimal runtime and efficiency.

Reason #2 – Variable-speed control allows for precise speed adjustment.

Reason #3 – Low-profile height enables precise sanding in tight spaces.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – Dust port may require additional accessories for compatibility with other vacuum systems.

The DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander is the top choice for those seeking a powerful and efficient sander with variable-speed control and a low-profile design. This orbital sander features a brushless motor that provides both runtime and efficiency, ensuring that you can get the job done effectively. With its variable-speed control of 8,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute (OPM), you can easily match the speed to the application at hand.

The low-profile height of the sander allows you to get close to the work surface, enabling precise sanding. Additionally, the sander comes with a replaceable 8-hole hook-and-loop sanding pad, making paper changing quick and easy. The DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander also features a dust-sealed switch for long switch life and a texturized rubber overmold grip for comfortable sanding.

You can conveniently attach the dust port to the DWV010 or DWV012 dust collectors, or use the DWV9000 Universal Quick Connector for other vacuum systems. Overall, the DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander offers exceptional performance and versatility, making it the best overall choice for any sanding project.

Best For: Those who need a powerful and efficient sander with variable-speed control and a low-profile design.

Brand‎DEWALT
Product Dimensions‎8.8″L x 5.7″W x 6.3″H
Grit Type‎Fine
Voltage‎20 Volts
Power Source‎Battery Powered
AC Adapter Current‎5 Amps
Grit Number‎220
Maximum Rotational Speed‎12000 RPM
Item Weight‎0.09 Kilograms

Sanding Applications

To determine the most suitable sander for your specific project needs, it’s important to consider the sanding applications for both finish sanders and orbital sanders. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Orbital sanders are commonly used for removing paint and other homogenous materials, making them ideal for surface preparation in wood projects.
  • The random orbit of an orbital sander ensures that no pattern is left in the marks, resulting in a smooth surface.
  • Finish sanders, on the other hand, are designed for achieving a smooth surface on wood by cutting parallel to the wood grain.
  • Finish sanders are particularly effective for fine wood finishing work and are commonly used for final polishing before staining and lacquering.
  • Both types of sanders require the use of sanding disks or sandpaper with the appropriate grit for the desired level of sanding.

Whether you need to remove paint or achieve a fine finish on wood, both orbital sanders and finish sanders have their specific applications. By considering the nature of your project and the desired outcome, you can make an informed decision on which sander will best suit your needs.

Material Removal Speed

For faster removal of material from the surface, consider the material removal speed of the sander you choose.

When it comes to sanding wood or other materials quickly, there are various power tools available, but the two main options are finish sanders and orbital sanders. While both can remove material, orbital sanders are known for their ability to remove material quickly. This is due to their more aggressive sanding action compared to finish sanders.

The random orbital sanders combine a circular sanding pattern with an eccentric, random orbit, allowing them to remove a lot of material in a short amount of time. If you have large sanding tasks or need to remove material quickly, an orbital sander with a high material removal speed can be the right choice for you.

However, it’s important to also consider the condition of the surface and the type of finish you want to achieve. If you’re working on rough surfaces or require precision in your woodworking projects, a finish sander might be the better option.

Remember to choose the right sandpaper sheets with the appropriate grit for efficient material removal.

Control and Precision

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If you’re looking for greater control and precision in your sanding tasks, both orbital sanders and finish sanders offer unique advantages. Here’s how they can help you achieve the best results:

  • Orbital sanders provide greater control and precision in corners and edges due to their square foot design. This allows you to sand those hard-to-reach areas with ease.
  • The orbital sander’s random circular motion delivers a smoother and more uniform finish, enhancing control and precision. This is especially beneficial when working on delicate surfaces or intricate designs.
  • Finish sanders, on the other hand, are well-suited for achieving precise and consistent results on flat surfaces due to their linear sanding motion. They excel in smoothing out imperfections and creating a smooth, even surface.
  • The square shape of a finish sander’s sanding pad enhances control and precision when working on edges and tight spaces. This makes it easier to navigate around obstacles and maintain accuracy.
  • Both orbital and finish sanders offer control and precision, but each excels in different applications. Whether you’re dealing with wood grain, sand paper, or abrasive materials, these tools can handle the job efficiently.

With their advanced features and capabilities, orbital and finish sanders can elevate your sanding experience, providing the control and precision needed for outstanding results.

Versatility and Flexibility

Orbital sanders showcase their versatility and flexibility through their ability to handle a wide range of woodworking projects, making them indispensable tools for both beginners and professionals alike.

The random orbit of an orbital sander helps prevent swirl marks and achieve a smoother finish, showcasing its versatility for different surface requirements. This type of sander is suitable for large-scale projects and fine sanding, making it flexible for various applications.

Additionally, orbital sanders equipped with a dust collection system contribute to cleaner sanding, enhancing their flexibility for use in different environments. The forgiving nature and ease of control of orbital sanders make them suitable for users of all skill levels, further highlighting their versatility.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to sand small pieces of wood or a professional working on a large-scale project, an orbital sander can adapt to your needs. By offering different types of sanders such as random orbital sanders, sheet sanders, and palm sanders, this power tool ensures flexibility in tackling different woodworking tasks.

Weight and Portability

When considering the weight and portability of sanders, it’s important to note that orbital sanders are generally lighter and more portable than finish sanders. This makes them an excellent choice for individuals who need to move around frequently or work on different surfaces.

Here are five reasons why orbital sanders excel in terms of weight and portability:

  • Easy to Control: The lighter weight of an orbital sander makes it easier to control and maneuver during sanding, allowing for greater precision and accuracy in your work.
  • Random Orbital Motion: The unique random orbital motion of an orbital sander reduces the risk of leaving swirl marks on the surface, providing a smoother finish without compromising on portability.
  • Suitable for Large Flat Surfaces: Due to their lighter weight, orbital sanders are ideal for sanding large flat surfaces, such as tabletops or wooden floors, where the ease of movement is crucial.
  • Versatile for Surface Preparation: Orbital sanders are versatile tools that can be used for various surface preparation tasks, including removing paint or varnish, smoothing rough wood, or preparing surfaces for staining or painting.
  • Convenient for On-the-Go Projects: Whether you’re a professional contractor or a DIY enthusiast, the lightweight and portable nature of orbital sanders make them a convenient choice for projects that require sanding in different locations.

Surface Types and Shapes

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To effectively sand various surface types and shapes, it’s important to understand the capabilities and limitations of different wood sanders.

When it comes to surface types, both orbital sanders and finish sanders can handle a wide range of materials. Orbital sanders, with their circular motion, are particularly effective on flat surfaces such as tabletops, floors, and cabinets. They can also handle curved surfaces like chair legs and spindles.

Finish sanders, on the other hand, excel at rectangular sanding tasks. Their linear sanding motion makes them perfect for sanding edges, corners, and tight spaces.

When it comes to surface shapes, both sanders can adapt to different contours. Orbital sanders, with their random orbit, can conform to curved surfaces more easily. They can smoothly sand concave shapes like bowls and chair seats. Finish sanders, though better suited for flat surfaces, can still be used on slightly curved areas.

Regardless of the surface type or shape, both sanders require the use of sandpaper discs. Orbital sanders usually come with hook-and-loop attachment systems, allowing for easy and quick changing of discs. Finish sanders typically use half-sheet or quarter-sheet sandpaper, which can be cut to fit the desired shape.

Understanding the capabilities of orbital sanders and finish sanders in relation to different surface types and shapes will help you choose the right sander for your woodworking project.

Power and Efficiency

Power sanders are highly efficient tools designed to remove material and achieve a smooth finish on surfaces. When it comes to power and efficiency, both orbital sanders and finish sanders have their strengths. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Material Removal: Orbital sanders, particularly random orbital sanders, excel at fast and efficient material removal. They’re great for tackling larger projects and rough surfaces.
  • Surface Preparation: Finish sanders, on the other hand, provide a smooth and even finish on surfaces. They’re perfect for precision work and adding those final touches to your project.
  • Variable Speed Controls: Both orbital sanders and finish sanders often come equipped with variable speed controls. This feature allows you to adjust the power and speed of the sander to match the requirements of your specific task.
  • Versatility: Orbital sanders are known for their versatility. They can handle a wide variety of sanding tasks, making them a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts and professional woodworkers.
  • Efficiency: Power sanders, in general, save you time and effort compared to manual sanding. They’re essential tools for woodworking projects and can help you achieve professional results efficiently.

Consider the specific needs of your project when choosing between an orbital sander and a finish sander. Whether you prioritize fast material removal or a smooth finish, both types of sanders offer power and efficiency to meet your sanding needs.

Project Size Considerations

Consider the size of your woodworking project when selecting a wood sander to ensure it’s suitable for the scale of work you’ll be undertaking. When comparing an orbital sander vs a finish sander, project size considerations play a crucial role in determining the right tool for the job.

For large surfaces, such as tables or countertops, an orbital sander is often the preferred choice. Its wider sanding pad covers more area, allowing for faster sanding and more efficient results. Additionally, orbital sanders are excellent for preparing the surface for painting or staining, as they create a smooth and even finish.

On the other hand, if you have smaller, more intricate projects that require precision and finesse, a finish sander may be more suitable. Finish sanders are less aggressive compared to orbital sanders, making them ideal for delicate work and achieving a high-quality finish. They’re particularly useful for smoothing rough edges, fine-tuning details, and getting into tight corners.

When working on projects of any size, variable speed controls are beneficial. They allow you to adjust the sanding speed according to your needs, ensuring you have the necessary control and versatility. Additionally, consider the type of fastener you’ll be using to attach the sandpaper. Some sanders require specific fasteners, so it’s essential to choose a sander that accommodates your preferred sandpaper attachment method.

Final Thoughts

When comparing the finish sander and orbital sander, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your project and the desired finish. Both sanders have their unique strengths and applications, so it may be beneficial to have both in your toolkit. Here are some final thoughts to consider:

  • The choice between a finish sander and an orbital sander ultimately depends on the required finish and the nature of the project.
  • Orbital sanders are versatile and well-suited for large-scale projects, while finish sanders are ideal for precision work and finishing touches.
  • If you’re working on a small project that requires detailed sanding, a finish sander may be the better choice.
  • On the other hand, if you’re working on a larger project that requires fast and efficient sanding, an orbital sander may be more suitable.
  • Random orbital sanders require round sandpaper discs that move in an eccentric, random orbit, resulting in a swirl-free finish.

Understanding the differences and benefits of each type of sander can help you achieve the best results in your woodworking and sanding tasks. So, take the time to evaluate your specific needs and choose the sander that will work best for you. Happy sanding!

Finish Sander vs Orbital Sander FAQ

What is the difference between a Finish Sander and an Orbital Sander?

A Finish Sander, also known as a random orbital sander or random orbit sander, and an Orbital Sander are both power tools used for sanding. The main difference lies in their sanding motions: a finish sander has a circular sanding pattern, while an orbital sander moves in tiny circles.

Can I use the terms “random orbital sander vs random orbit sander” interchangeably?

Yes, both random orbital sander and random orbit sander refer to the same type of sanding tool. They are used interchangeably to describe the same tool.

Are there specific brands that I should consider when choosing between finish and orbital sanders?

Popular brands for both finish sanders and orbital sanders include Makita, Black+Delter, and Dewalt which offer high-quality sanding tools with various features and capabilities. When selecting a sander, it’s essential to consider the specific requirements of your project and the features offered by different brands.

What are the tasks that I cannot perform with a finish sander or orbital sander?

Both a finish sander and an orbital sander excel at fine finishing work and cannot be used for tasks that require heavy material removal, such as those best suited for a belt sander. Additionally, tasks that involve over-sanding may not be suitable for these sanding tools.

How does a finish sander work compared to an orbital sander?

A finish sander uses regular sandpaper and works by making circular sanding motions, creating a smooth finish ideal for fine finishing work. On the other hand, an orbital sander uses orbital and sheet sandpaper and moves in tiny circles to achieve a similar result, but with a different sanding motion.

When should I choose hand sanding over using a finish or orbital sander?

Hand sanding is still necessary for certain delicate tasks or for reaching intricate areas where power sanders might be hard to maneuver. However, for larger projects or tasks requiring a consistent finish, a finish sander or orbital sander is usually preferred due to their efficiency and ability to remove material quickly and evenly.

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AUTHOR

Ira Njoroge

Hey, I’m Ira Njoroge, the founder of MySpaceAffair. Early on in my life, I had a passion to embark on a mission to create a cleaner, and more organized household. With a bachelor's degree in engineering after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2015 and seven years as a General Contractor and professional cleaner, on top of my DIY Enthusiasm. I saw the need for a reliable information source for homeowners. My passion, diligence, experience, and hired professionals confirms the reliability of all the advice given in My Space Affair and I hope to provide you all with reliable and thorough content!