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Thread: Random Orbital Sander vs Palm Sander

  1. #1

    Random Orbital Sander vs Palm Sander

    Hi,
    I have a question regarding sanders. I have been watching some YouTube videos regarding sanding. I have heard that having a 1/4 sheet palm sander is a necessity and I am not sure why? I have been using a random orbital sander only for finish sanding my projects and getting very good results. Can someone shed some light on the reason (if any) on the importance of a palm sander? What do you well experienced woodworkers use and why?

    Thank you,
    Steve

  2. #2
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    The only reason I'd want a "palm sander" quarter sheet unit as you describe is to get closer into square corners. It may also be a little easier to use on narrower stock. But I don't own one...just ROS. Sander preferences are both subjective choices as well as dictated by the kind of work someone does frequently.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    I own both, and for my project I;ll be using the palm sander with Abranet sheets for dust control.
    Jim's right, I cannot get into the corners with my RO sanders, and I need to run with the grain and try and keep square corners.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  4. #4
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    I don't know why 1/4 sheet palm sanders even exist anymore. Getting in the corners isn't even a valid reason cause it's faster & easier to just hit those with a sanding block. They are so inferior to a ROS that I wouldn't even take one if it was offered for free.

    I'm curious as to what situations they might be useful.

  5. #5
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    What is the motion in a palm sander? Is it back and forth (as I've always assumed)? If so, I can see an advantage in sanding with the grain.

  6. #6
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    I love my Speed-Bloc 1/4 sheet for sanding rounded edges and with 320 it's nice for sanding full sheets of plywood that have been sprayed. It is not as aggressive and slower speed for that and is just perfect for me. I probably should buy another before you guys convince P-C to stop making them. Edit; Just looked at Porter Cable site and it does say discontinued.
    Last edited by Richard Coers; 10-19-2020 at 3:04 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    What is the motion in a palm sander? Is it back and forth (as I've always assumed)? If so, I can see an advantage in sanding with the grain.
    There are orbital ones & back & forth. The orbital ones aren't much good for anything with grain (wood), and I've never used a back & forth one that was much faster than just hand sanding with a block & paper.

  8. #8
    I used to have a DeWalt palm sander but gave it to the ReStore once I picked up a RO sander. I'll either hand-sand in corners or do sanding before assembly.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    I used to use the 1/4, and 1/2 sheet sanders, for a couple of decades before I ever saw a ROS. Sometime in the late '90's, I remember dragging out the 1/4 sheet sander. It hadn't been used in so long, that the pad on the bottom was rotten, and falling apart, and I had never noticed for some number of years.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    I love my 20 year old Makita Palm Sander, its perfect for a light touch up with 150 or 220 grit paper.

    I have a 6" Random Orbital, which is more versatile, but I think too aggressive for some applications.
    Regards,

    Tom

  11. #11
    I have a speed block, I think somewhere in a drawer but haven't used it in years. It is an orbital sander with a square pad. Nice sander but no dust collection at all and I have sometimes seen little swirl marks in finished pieces from it. I use only round pad random orbit sanders for most things. I have a belt sander but no belts at the moment. I use hand sanding blocks pretty often too but only to get in corners or break and edge or something like that. I have sanding pads for my oscillating tools which will get into corners but will also leave swirl marks.

    I would be very leery of a youtube channel recommending a palm sander, a square based sander regardless of whether it is an orbital like the speed block or a linear sander. If it is just a random orbit with a square pad, that's fine. But orbital sanders leave marks, linear sanders are terribly slow. Neither is really necessary. Somebody who thinks they are necessary is not a very knowledgable woodworker. Some of us use them because we still have them from earlier times, at least that is my case, before random orbit sanders became popular and readily available. I do like the soft edge of the speed block for routed edges but I could get a soft pad for my random orbit sanders.

  12. #12
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    I have heard that having a 1/4 sheet palm sander is a necessity and I am not sure why?
    Because people will say anything. Especially on an old YT vid. Doesn't mean they know what they're talking about, even though my opinion is no better than theirs.


    I don't know why 1/4 sheet palm sanders even exist anymore. Getting in the corners isn't even a valid reason
    I'm in this camp too. I suspect they exist becasue sheet sandpaper is still sold everywhere and the R&D, tooling , ect... is paid for. And most importantly because people must still buy them.


    I used to have a DeWalt palm sander
    That one is pretty darn good considering.......... I have its progenitor from B&D Professional of the early 80's. It is a smooth sheet sander, relatively compact and it had dust collection before anyone else thought of such a thing or companies like Festool ever thought of selling that as a "feature". However it wasn't really aggressive, not particularly fine, not great at dust management, and then was shipped outa country to be built. The sun has set on it.

    I keep mine just because, and to loan out if some one wants to borrow a sander. I bet I haven't used it in at least ten years. You'll have to buy your own festool or mirka, cause ya ain't gettin mine.



    I would be very leery of a youtube channel recommending a palm sander, a square based sander regardless of whether it is an orbital like the speed block or a linear sander.
    Can't agree with this. But, perhaps you meant to say 1/4 sheet sander ?

    If you really want to get into corner, this machine is a real gem. Note the angled sides of the pad - keeps the sander/paper from buggering up the verticals of your work.

    https://www.mirka.com/en-CA/DEOS-353...-MID3530201US/

    And there are plenty of YT videos of talented craftsmen using this sander (and competitors) for lots of tasks. With thick / multiple foam pads, they're great for trim profiles found on cabinet doors or on stair spindles and rails. Face frames too !
    Last edited by Dave Sabo; 10-19-2020 at 10:26 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Sabo View Post
    If you really want to get into corner, this machine is a real gem. Note the angled sides of the pad - keeps the sander/paper from buggering up the verticals of your work.

    https://www.mirka.com/en-CA/DEOS-353...-MID3530201US/

    And there are plenty of YT videos of talented craftsmen using this sander (and competitors) for lots of tasks. With thick / multiple foam pads, they're great for trim profiles found on cabinet doors or on stair spindles and rails. Face frames too !
    I'm certain I don't need or want a sander with Bluetooth that pairs to an app.

  14. #14
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    After being very happy with my Mirka Deros and selling my last remaining Festool sanders I purchased the following two Mirka DEOS sanders: 383 (rectangular) and 663 (delta). So far used the rectangular one for sanding some larger mirror frames I made out of cherry. Love that sander! Excellent ergonomics, excellent dust collection and the right amount of aggressiveness. It uses the same Abranet abrasives that come in a roll and used with the Mirka hand sanding blocks (with dust hookup), which I had on hand already.

    So, I think there is definitely a case for this type of sander in addition to a ROS.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    I'm certain I don't need or want a sander with Bluetooth that pairs to an app.
    I don’t need that either, but it’s not necessary or required for use. Seems useful for those Kaizen / Six Sigma warriors who want to quanTify everything down to the nth degree.

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