Best sanding tool for woodworkers

Woodworking Tools

A carpenter uses an orbital sander.

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Which sanding tool is the best?

Electric sanding tools reduce the required physical effort when sanding. Electric sanders come in many shapes, sizes and styles, allowing woodworkers to do everything from intricate detailing to finishing large-scale commercial projects.

Choosing the most suitable sanding tool depends on the size and thickness of the wood, the type of work you need to do and where on the wood you need to do it. The handheld DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander is a great all-round choice appropriate for different jobs. It is battery powered, making it portable, and has variable speed control, which broadens the scope of its use.

What to know before you buy a sanding tool for woodworkers

Purpose

Woodworkers primarily use sanding tools to smooth rough surfaces, preparing them to be painted or varnished. They are useful for shaping and thinning material, creating square and flat edges, and for restoring old woodwork such as furniture and floors.

Types

There are many types of sanding tools for woodworkers, each with a different purpose. A belt sander uses two motorized drums and a continuous loop of sandpaper. It is good for quickly removing large amounts of material. Orbital and rotary sanders use a sanding disk and are better suited to fine finishing work and for shaping curved material. A drum sander is a heavy-duty machine for preparing large surface areas such as wood floors. A spindle sander is designed for detail work and smaller pieces of wood.

Size

The size of the material dictates the size of the sanding tool needed. You can easily move around the workpiece with handheld models and they are great for sanding small, decorative items and furniture. Shop floor sanders usually are stationary machines designed for large stock.

What to look for in a quality sanding tool for woodworkers

Adjustability

The more you can adjust a tool, the more versatile it is. A variable-speed motor adjusts the sanding intensity. The ability to change the angle of the sanding surface allows for preparing awkwardly shaped items and assists with creating detailed work such as rounded, angled or beveled edges.

Cordless vs. corded

Many handheld sanders are battery powered, which makes them portable and easier to use as there are no cords to get in the way. Look for a model with lithium-ion batteries for the longest run time between charges. Large sanding tools and shop floor machines often are too powerful to run on batteries.

Safety

All power tools can be dangerous if used incorrectly; therefore, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and to know how to stop the tool in an emergency. Wear personal protective clothing including goggles, work gloves and safety boots at all times.

Sanding tool for woodworkers FAQ

Which type of sanding tool is the most versatile?

A. If you only plan to buy one tool, an orbital sander often is the cheapest and most useful. It is small and easy to maneuver and you can use it for most sanding jobs.

Do sanding tools create a lot of dust?

A. Any type of sanding creates dust. Some models have a built-in dust collector; however, these often are ineffective. Large stationary models usually have a vacuum hose to suck the dust away.

Do sanding tools need a special type of sandpaper?

A. Each sanding tool requires a specific shape and size of sandpaper. Change the coarseness of the sandpaper depending on the hardness of the wood and how much material you need to remove.

What’s the best sanding tool for woodworkers to buy?

Top sanding tool

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander

What you need to know: This handheld orbital sander is battery powered, has a variable speed motor and comes with a dust-bag attachment.

What you’ll love: It is lightweight and has a rubber over-molded grip. The sanding disks are easy to change and attach using hook-and-loop pads.

What you should consider: This model doesn’t include the battery, but you can use it with any of Dewalt’s 20-volt lithium-ion batteries.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and The Home Depot

Top sanding tool for the money

Dremel Lite Multi-Purpose Rotary Tool Kit

Dremel Lite Multi-Purpose Rotary Tool Kit

What you need to know: This small, versatile tool comes with various sanding attachments and is ideal for precision detailing work.

What you’ll love: It comes with a 4-volt rechargeable battery that lasts for about two hours and has a built-in LED working light.

What you should consider: Its sanding attachments are very small, making it unsuitable for larger workpieces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and The Home Depot

Worth checking out

WEN Oscillating Belt and Spindle Sander

WEN Oscillating Belt and Spindle Sander

What you need to know: This two-in-one machine has an adjustable work table and comes with several differently sized sanding attachments.

What you’ll love: It has onboard accessory storage and a dust port for attaching a vacuum cleaner.

What you should consider: Changing the attachments requires basic hand tools.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and The Home Depot

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Chris Gillespie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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