Shopping Guides | Tutorials

Palm vs. Belt Sander – A Breakdown for Beginners

Hi and welcome back!  It’s time for another round of my fairly new series – Tool Tuesday.  The past couple of months I discussed the differences in saws, and this month I’m switching it up a bit to one of my other favorite tools – sanders.  I love sanding stuff.  I know many people don’t feel that way, with all the tips and tricks to avoid sanding these days, but in my opinion you need to sand if you want to get a beautiful finish on your woodworking projects.  I have about 6 or 7 sanders total, but today I’m just going to talk about two of my favorites – the plan and the belt sander. Let’s take a look at the difference. 

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  Please see my full disclosure policy HERE.

 

The Lowdown

So, the main difference in the palm and belt sander is the belt sander is used for stripping down wood that is really rough.  If you have some wood that is really old and messed up it’s great for making it all pretty and smooth.  I also use the belt sander if I’ve joined to pieces of wood together and the joint isn’t all that even and the ever popular stripping of paint (ugh). Pretty much big, reshaping of the wood type stuff. The palm sander I use all the time.  It’s great for sanding down where I’ve inserted pocket holes or any sort of general sanding.

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com

Now, the first thing you need to know about sanding is about the grit.  The grit is the number you see on the sandpaper.  You’ll need to know what grit you want to use for different projects.  For the belt sanders I generally use a very low number grit, because the project is generally in it’s beginning stages and I don’t need to be as precise.  As I move up in number, the project starts to look more and more finished and I will also move to my palm sander and finish up the more detailed work.

What to Buy First – A Palm or Belt Sander?

I will admit, I love sanders and I have no shortage of them.  From hand sanders to orbital and all the portable sanders in between.  I have a wish list of the next level big daddy sanders, but for now I’m happy with my sanders.

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com

This one is an easy one for me.  Palm sander all the way.  I have used my palm sander way more than my belt sander.  The palm sander is great for all kind of household projects.  Again, this is just my opinion but I get way more use out of the palm sander.

Different kinds of Belt Sanders

There are two main types of belt sanders, stationary and portable.  I have a portable one and it works great.  The main difference is with the stationary sander, you move the wood around and with the portable one you move around the wood.

I like the versatility of the portable belt sander, but I haven’t done much work with the stationary one. The portable ones are a bit pricer in general.  To be honest, I’m not even sure where I got my belt sander, I think the last owner of our house left it but I can’t remember.  RYOBI makes a belt sander that works with the ONE+ system, which means it’s cordless which I have to admit seems really convenient.

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
Rigid 3×18″ Heavy Duty Variable Speed Belt Sander

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
WEN 4×36″ Belt and Disc Stationary Sander – $79.50

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
RYOBI 3×18″ Portable Belt Sander – $49.97

 

Different Kinds of Palm Sanders

I have a few of different palm sanders that I like.  The first one I ever got was my Black & Decker mouse sander.  This is one of my favorite tools that I use all the time.  I especially love this one because it has a little piece on the end that you can pop out and use for super precise sanding – great for corners and tiny nooks.

More recently I bought a RYOBI cordless palm sander and I have been using it more and more because it is just so darn convenient. You don’t have to plug it in and worry about the cord which is so nice.

Another one I have that is a step up from these power-wise is the clip-on sheet sander (I’m not sure that is a real name) .  This kind of sander is better if you need to sand down large, flat pieces of wood. Because you actually clip the paper on, you get a little more out of it. It’s not a huge difference, so in my opinion now, this would be the one to skip but they are pretty cheap and I do still use it quite a bit.

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
Black+Decker Mouse Detail Sander – $29.99

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
RYOBI ONE+ Corner Cat Finish Sander – $34.97

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
SKIL 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander – $34.43

Accessories for Sanders

The only accessory I can think of for sanders is sandpaper.  Like I mentioned before the different grits will play a huge factor in the outcome of your piece.  I have friends that won’t use a sander in fear of messing something up.  The best way to cure this is to get some scrap wood and a bunch of different sandpapers and start sanding. You’ll see that the higher numbers aren’t going to mess up much.  The lower number (40/50) will strip some wood or paint off and you would be able to do some damage, but if you are scared start with the higher number and work down.  Eventually you’ll get a better idea of what you need and you’ll start with the lower numbers and work your way up to really get a smooth surface.

Of course, there are different sandpapers for different sanders, so make sure you get the right one for the sander you get. I like the red resin covered ones, they are the toughest.  The wet/dry papers are great for concrete work but aren’t that strong.  The gold ones are great all purpose, general sanding work.

Mouse/Detail Sandpapers

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
AUSTOR 50 Piece Assorted Sanding Papers – $10.59

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
3M SandBlaster 80grit Mouse Sandpaper Sheets 4Pack – $7.97

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
Black & Decker Mouse Sandpaper – 5 pack 120grit – $3.47

 

Clip-On Sandpaper Sheets

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
3M 5.5″ Clip-On Palm Sander Sheets 15 pack – $7.38

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
3M SandBlaster 1/4 Sheet Clip-On Sandpaper – $2.14

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
3M Wet or Dry Sanding Sheets – $20.84

 

Belt Sandpapers

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
Gator 5-Pack 80-Grit Sanding Belt Sandpaper – $24.50

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
Norton Belt Sanding Paper 50-Grit – $7.29

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com
36 Pieces 400 to 3000 Grit Sandpaper Dry/Wet Assortment – $8.59

 

Okay, that’s about it for this months Tool Tuesday.  Let me know if you have any questions and be sure to check out last month’s discussion about the difference in the reciprocating and jig saw and which one I think you should get first.

Thanks for stopping by!

April

Palm or Belt Sander?

Pin for later!

Which tool do you need first - the palm or belt sander? Let's take a look at the difference - UncookieCutter.com

Similar Posts

8 Comments

  1. Hi April ,I often use a palm sander, and I find it really shortens the sanding time.These use 1/4 of a sheet of standard sand paper, so you can use any grit from 60 to 2400. Random orbit sanders are significantly more effective, although the sanding discs are quite expensive and harder to get.My Belt sander has recently died.Do I have to replace it with another hand held?

  2. A Nice piece of information post. I agree with you that ” The palm sander is great for all kind of household projects”.

  3. How do you choose between the rectangular or square vs. mouse palm sander?
    I am refinishing a bedroom set and it’s mostly drawers, flat surfaces. Which shape palm sander is advised? Thanks!

    1. Hi! I like my mouse sander better. I use it way more, so if you are going to buy one I’d go with that. The square is a little more powerful, but you get much more out of a mouse sander because it can go in more places and I think you’ll use it more. Good luck!

      April

  4. Same as you, I will also go for a palm sander anytime. A palm sander is my most favorite one if I have to choose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *