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

Published on:
This post may contain affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links
Read our review guidelines.

Have you ever found yourself lost in the vast world of sanders, unsure of which path to take? Like a traveler standing at a crossroads, you ponder the choice between a random orbital sander vs palm sander, both great sanders with unique strengths.

Fear not, for this article will shed light on this comparison, guiding you towards the path that suits your woodworking journey.

So, keep reading and let us embark on a journey of exploration, uncovering the knowledge needed to pick the right sander for you.

Key Differences Between Palm and Orbital Sanders

When comparing palm sanders to orbital sanders, there are several key differences that you should be aware of.

The first difference is in the size and design of the sanders. Orbital sanders are larger and have a circular sanding pad that rotates in a random pattern. Palm sanders, on the other hand, are smaller and can be operated with just one hand.

Another difference is in the type of sandpaper used. Orbital sanders typically use hook-and-loop sandpaper, which allows for quick and easy changes. Palm sanders, on the other hand, often use adhesive-backed sandpaper, which can be a bit more time-consuming to change.

One of the biggest differences is in the type of finish each sander provides. Orbital sanders are known for their ability to provide a smooth finish, while palm sanders are better suited for getting into corners and up against edges.

Dust collection is also a key difference between the two types of sanders. Orbital sanders often have better dust collection systems, which can help keep your work area cleaner. Palm sanders, on the other hand, may not have as effective dust collection, so you may need to do some hand sanding to remove any leftover dust.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Random Orbital Sander

DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, Variable Speed, 5-Inch (DWE6423)

DEWALT Random Orbit Sander

3.0-amp motor spins the pad at 8,000 – 12,000 OPM for efficient sanding.

Reduced vibration for improved comfort during use.

Improved dust collection capabilities for a cleaner work environment.

Best Overall Palm Sander

BOSCH ROS20VSC Palm Sander 2.5 Amp 5 In. Corded Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander/Polisher Kit with Dust Collector and Soft Carrying Bag, Blue

BOSCH ROS20VSC Palm Sander

Pad dampening system eliminates swirl marks for a flawless finish.

Easy disc attachment with Bosch’s signature Hook and Loop system.

Variable speed control allows for matching speed to the workpiece and task.

DEWALT Random Orbit Sander

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – 3.0-amp motor spins the pad at 8,000 – 12,000 OPM for efficient sanding.

Reason #2 – Reduced vibration for improved comfort during use.

Reason #3 – Improved dust collection capabilities for a cleaner work environment.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – May leave swirl marks on the surface when used for larger areas.

The DEWALT Random Orbit Sander is the best choice for those seeking a powerful and comfortable sanding experience, thanks to its 3.0-amp motor, reduced vibration, and improved dust collection.

With its 3.0-amp motor, this orbital sander spins the pad at an impressive speed of 8,000 to 12,000 OPM, allowing you to tackle even the toughest sanding tasks effortlessly.

The separate counterweight design of the hand sander effectively reduces vibration, ensuring a more comfortable sanding experience.

Additionally, the improved dust-sealed switch protects against dust ingestion, prolonging the switch’s lifespan. The dust port is designed to fit directly to the DWV010 or DWV012 dust collectors, enhancing the dust collection capabilities of this sander.

Its shorter height also allows you to get closer to the workpiece, achieving more precise results. The rubber overmold improves grip in critical areas, further enhancing your control over the sander.

With its improved dust collection and one-handed locking dust bag, the DEWALT Random Orbit Sander ensures a cleaner and more efficient sanding process.

Best For: Woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts looking for a powerful and comfortable sander for both large areas and small, tight spaces.

Brand‎DEWALT
Product Dimensions‎10.25″L x 5.44″W x 6.38″H
Grit Type‎Medium
Voltage‎20 Volts
Power Source‎Corded Electric
AC Adapter Current‎3 Amps
Grit Number‎60
Item Weight‎2.9 Pounds

BOSCH ROS20VSC Palm Sander

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – Pad dampening system eliminates swirl marks for a flawless finish.

Reason #2 – Easy disc attachment with Bosch’s signature Hook and Loop system.

Reason #3 – Variable speed control allows for matching speed to the workpiece and task.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – Not suitable for varnish or paint removal.

For those seeking a sander that delivers a smooth finish on both flat and contoured surfaces, the BOSCH ROS20VSC Palm Sander is the best choice. With its pad dampening system, this sander is designed to eliminate swirl marks, ensuring a flawless result every time.

The easy disc attachment feature, using Bosch’s signature Hook and Loop system, allows sanding pads to stick securely to the hand sander, providing a Velcro-like adhesion. The variable speed control, powered by a 2.5 AMP motor, allows for easy matching of speed to the workpiece and task at hand.

Additionally, the sander features a micro filter system for effective dust collection, trapping particles as small as a 1/2-micron in diameter. The dust canister is durable, compact, and easily detachable, making for a mess-free sanding experience.

The kit also includes a sanding pad, sanding disc, dampening ring, dust canister, vacuum adapter, and carrying bag. With its impressive features and accessories, the BOSCH ROS20VSC Palm Sander is the top choice for achieving a smooth finish on any surface.

Best For: Woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts looking for a sander that delivers a smooth finish on both flat and contoured surfaces.

Brand‎BOSCH
Product Dimensions‎9″L x 5″W x 6″H
Grit Type‎Fine
Voltage‎120 Volts
Power Source‎Corded Electric
AC Adapter Current‎2.5 Amps
Grit Number‎80
Maximum Rotational Speed‎12000 RPM
Item Weight‎3.5 Pounds
Manufacturer‎Bosch

Finishing Quality

Now let’s examine the finishing quality provided by the random orbital and palm sanders, taking into account their respective advantages and applications.

When it comes to finishing quality, both the random orbital sander and palm sander have their own strengths. Here are four key points to consider:

  1. Smooth Finish: The random orbital sander is known for producing a smoother finish without swirl patterns. This is especially important for woodworkers who desire a professional-looking result.
  2. Clean and Detailed Finish: On the other hand, the palm sander excels in providing a clean and detailed finish. It’s perfect for precision tasks on smaller pieces, allowing woodworkers to achieve a high level of accuracy.
  3. Efficiency for Large Projects: If you have a large woodworking project and need to tackle larger surfaces, the random orbital sander is your best bet. Its powerful motor and larger sanding disks make it efficient in finishing sanding tasks.
  4. Accessing Tight Spots: When it comes to accessing inside corners and tight spots, the palm sander is the go-to option. Its smaller size and maneuverability make it ideal for intricate woodworking tasks, allowing you to reach areas that the random orbital sander may struggle with.

Speed and Efficiency

Random orbital sanders offer faster and more efficient sanding compared to palm sanders due to their larger size and power. The random orbital sander’s larger size allows it to cover a larger surface area with each pass, which speeds up the sanding process. Additionally, the random orbital sander’s more powerful motor enables it to remove material quickly, making it more efficient for tackling larger projects.

On the other hand, palm sanders are better suited for precision tasks and light-duty finish work. Their smaller size and maneuverability make them ideal for accessing tight spots, corners, and edges. This results in efficient and accurate sanding in those hard-to-reach areas, ensuring a smooth and seamless finish.

When it comes to speed and efficiency, the choice between a random orbital sander and a palm sander depends on the size of the project and the desired finish. If you have a large project that requires fast material removal, the random orbital sander is the best choice. However, if you need to sand small areas or achieve a precise finish, the palm sander is more suitable.

Power and Performance

istockphoto.com

The random orbital sander outperforms the palm sander in terms of power and performance. Here’s why:

  1. More Power: The random orbital sander packs a punch with its higher motor power, allowing it to tackle larger surfaces and more demanding projects. Whether you need to strip off old paint or sand down rough wood, the orbital sander’s power will get the job done efficiently.
  2. Faster Sanding: With its rapid circular motion, the random orbital sander moves quickly across the surface, making sanding tasks faster and more productive. This speed is especially beneficial when working on large projects or tight deadlines.
  3. Versatile Grit Options: The random orbital sander can accommodate a wide range of sandpaper grits, giving you the flexibility to choose the right one for your specific task. From coarse grits for aggressive material removal to finer grits for a smooth finish, you can achieve the desired result with ease.
  4. Reduced Risk of Scratches: The random orbital sander’s unique motion, combined with its random pattern, minimizes the risk of leaving visible scratches or swirl marks on the surface. This is crucial, especially when working on delicate materials or when a flawless finish is required.

When it comes to power and performance, the random orbital sander takes the lead over the palm sander. Its higher motor power, faster sanding speed, versatile grit options, and reduced risk of scratches make it the go-to choice for projects that require efficiency and quality results.

Size and Weight Considerations

When considering the appropriate sander for your specific sanding projects, it’s important to take into account the size and weight of the tool.

Random orbital sanders are typically larger and heavier compared to palm sanders, which are more compact and lightweight. The size and weight of the sander can impact your comfort and control, especially during prolonged use.

If you have larger projects that require sanding a large area, the orbital sander’s larger size and weight may be more suitable. However, if you need to work on smaller, precision tasks or in tight spaces, the palm sander’s compact size and lighter weight make it a better choice.

Palm sanders are also easier to maneuver, allowing you to reach corners and edges effortlessly. Additionally, palm sanders are usually less expensive than orbital sanders, making them a cost-effective option.

If you mainly work on flat surfaces, you can also consider quarter-sheet sanders, which are compact in size and lightweight, providing convenience and efficiency.

Task Size and Application

Consider the specific sanding tasks you’ll be working on and the size of the projects to determine the most suitable sander for your needs. When it comes to task size and application, both the random orbital sander and palm sander have their strengths. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Random orbital sanders are ideal for larger surfaces. Their circular sanding pad, combined with the random sanding action, allows for efficient sanding of larger areas. They’re perfect for sanding down large panels or tabletops.
  2. Palm sanders, on the other hand, are better suited for smaller tasks. Their compact size and single-handed operation make them great for precision work, such as sanding corners, edges, or intricate details on smaller woodworking pieces.
  3. If you have a large project that requires sanding a significant surface area, the random orbital sander will be your best bet. Its power and ability to cover more ground quickly will save you time and effort.
  4. Conversely, if you have smaller, more delicate tasks or need to access tight spots, the palm sander will be your go-to tool. It offers more control and maneuverability, ensuring you can achieve a smooth finish even in hard-to-reach areas.

Considering the task size and application will help you determine which sander is best suited for your projects, ensuring efficient and satisfactory results.

Dust Collection Efficiency

istockphoto.com

To ensure a clean and healthy work environment, it’s crucial to consider the dust collection efficiency of the sanders you’re comparing. When it comes to dust collection, random orbital sanders are known for their excellent capabilities. These sanders are designed to collect the majority of the sawdust and debris created during sanding, minimizing the amount of airborne particles that can contaminate your work area and potentially cause health issues.

On the other hand, palm sanders may have less effective dust collection compared to random orbital sanders. While they can still collect some sawdust, they may not be as efficient at capturing all the particles as their orbital counterparts.

Having efficient dust collection is important for a few reasons. Firstly, it helps in preventing health issues caused by inhaling fine dust particles. Secondly, it keeps your work area clean and tidy, reducing the need for frequent cleanups.

Additionally, efficient dust collection can also contribute to a better end result. Sawdust and debris can interfere with the sanding process and even cause swirl marks on the surface. By using a sander with good dust collection, you can minimize the chances of these issues occurring and achieve a smoother and more professional finish.

When comparing orbital and palm sanders, it’s worth considering the dust collection efficiency alongside other factors such as the task size, application, sander cost, and product reviews. By choosing a sander with proper dust collection capabilities, you can maintain a healthier work environment and achieve better results in your sanding projects.

Pros and Cons of Orbital Sanders

If you’re looking to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of orbital sanders, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Creates a smoother finish without swirl patterns: The orbital sander moves in a circular motion, which helps to minimize the appearance of swirl marks on the surface. This makes it ideal for achieving a smooth and even finish on larger projects.
  2. Efficient for large projects: With its powerful motor and larger sanding disk, the orbital sander is best suited for sanding larger areas. It can cover more surface area in less time, making it a time-saving option for big woodworking projects.
  3. Round sandpaper pads offer a uniform finish: The orbital sander uses round sandpaper pads that rotate in a random pattern. This random orbital motion ensures a consistent and uniform finish across the entire surface, eliminating any unevenness.
  4. Some models have variable speed settings: Many orbital sanders come with variable speed settings, allowing you to adjust the speed according to the task at hand. This versatility gives you more control over the sanding process and enables you to achieve different levels of smoothness.

While the orbital sander offers many benefits, it’s important to consider the differences between these two types of sanders. The palm sander, typically the smallest type, is perfect for sanding small areas, corners, and edges. It can provide a cleaner finish in tight spaces. However, it may not be as efficient for larger projects and can’t reach closed corners. Additionally, the orbital sander is generally more expensive compared to palm sanders.

Pros and Cons of Palm Sanders

Palm sanders offer a compact and versatile option for light-duty finish work and precision tasks on smaller pieces. They’re perfect for sanding tight spots, corners, and edges, thanks to their square pads.

Palm sanders are also cheaper than random orbital sanders, making them a more budget-friendly choice. They’re ideal for those who plan to paint their projects, as they provide a clean and smooth finish.

However, palm sanders aren’t suitable for stripping thick layers of material or for sanding large areas, as they’ve lower power and torque compared to random orbital sanders. While they can leave a clean finish, they aren’t as powerful as their counterparts. If you need to remove a significant amount of material, a belt sander or a disk sander might be the right sander for you.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, when choosing between a random orbital sander and a palm sander, consider the size of your projects and the desired finish. Here are four key points to keep in mind:

  1. Size of your projects: If you have larger projects that require sanding a significant amount of material, a random orbital sander is the better choice. Its larger size and more powerful motor make it efficient for tackling big surfaces and removing paint and varnish.
  2. Desired finish: If you’re looking for a smoother finish, the random orbital sander is the way to go. Its random circular motion helps prevent swirl marks on the surface. On the other hand, if you need to distress wood or lightly sand between coats, the palm sander’s smaller size and gentle sanding action make it perfect for achieving a more delicate touch.
  3. Price: While both sanders are reasonably priced, it’s worth mentioning that you can find good quality random orbital sanders for around $80, while palm sanders are available at approximately $70.
  4. Versatility: Having both sanders available can be useful for different tasks. The built-in clamp on some random orbital sanders allows you to secure the sandpaper in place, making it easier to sand flat surfaces. Therefore, if you have the budget and space for both tools, it’s worth considering adding them to your arsenal.

Random Orbital Sander Vs Palm Sander – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a power sander and power tools?

Power tools is a broad category that includes a variety of tools powered by an external force, such as electricity or compressed air. A power sander, on the other hand, is a specific type of power tool designed for smoothing surfaces by abrasion with sandpaper. Therefore, a power sander is a type of power tool, but not all power tools are power sanders.

What’s the difference between a random orbital sander and a palm sander?

Palm sander and orbital sander are two different types of power sanders. The key contrast between these two sanders lies mainly in their motion and purpose. An random orbital sander moves an attached sand paper in an elliptical and rotary motion, enabling more aggressive sanding and the removal of much material. On the other hand, a palm sander, often called a quarter-sheet sander due to its use of 1/4 part of a full sandpaper sheet, moves only in a circular motion, making it more suitable for light, finishing sanding.

Can both sanders be used to stain or refinish surfaces?

Yes, both two sanders can be employed for staining and refinishing tasks. However, the sequence of usage matters. For a project that requires the surface to be stained, begin with a random orbital sander for aggressive sanding to clean off paint or finish coatings already present. Then utilize a palm sander for the finish sanding to provide a smooth, scratch-free surface that accepts the stain evenly.

What is a sheet palm sander and how does it compare to a random orbital sander?

A sheet palm sander, often also called a quarter-sheet sander, is a compact power sander that uses a quarter of a sandpaper sheet. Its small size and simple circular motion make it ideal for finishing work and getting into tight spaces or corners. However, a random orbital sander with its mixed elliptical and round sanding motion is more aggressive, removing more material quicker, making it better suited for larger jobs or for getting rid of old paint or varnish.

Photo of author

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!