Hand held sanders for wood are power tools equipped with sandpaper. It’s used to smooth surfaces on woodworking and strip finishes when refurbishing a piece of furniture. Since manual wood sanding is a tedious and time-consuming task, an electric sander will cut the work time by more than half.
A carpenter, furniture maker, and construction contractor will always have a wood sander on their toolkit. It’s an essential piece of equipment that gets the job done fast and accurately. While there are industrial wood sanders, you can also find smaller and hand held types for projects that require fine work.
When it comes to power tools, efficiency is king. This is true for wood sanders. You must find one with excellent RPMs, motor power, build, and ergonomics, among other essential features. If you want to achieve the best finish on your carpentry project, you must find the best sander.
You should also know that wood sanders are available in different types. If you’re planning to buy one, you must know some basic information about this tool first. Below, I’ve reviewed five options for the best sander for furniture stripping and woodworking. See which one matches your needs.
1. Festool Rotex Sander
I highly recommend the Festool Rotex Sander if you’re looking for the best sander in the market. This has a dual-mode sanding function: gear-driven and orbital.
For the gear-driven mode, you can use the Festool Rotex for polishing and rapid stock removal. Meanwhile, the random orbital mode is useful for fine sanding and stripping.
What I like the most about this sander is its Jetstream dust extraction design that removes the dust as you work. For those who have a green business, this is a very important feature. The Festool Rotex keeps the indoor air clean while reducing the mess in your shop.
- Dual-Mode Sanding with a gear-driven, aggressive mode for rapid stock removal or polishing and random orbital mode for fine sanding.
- Jetstream dust extraction design delivers highly efficient dust removal, resulting in cleaner air, better finishes, and longer abrasive and pad life.
Moreover, Festool Rotex is equipped with a FastFix backing pad with no tools needed. You can change the pads on the fly so you can sand surfaces with the right pad. It also has an edge protector for precise results.
The Festool Rotex also boasts an ergonomic design with multiple grip positions so you can deal with the toughest surfaces. Also, it offers a lot of power with a soft-start motor. It also has a step-less variable speed control as well as overload and thermal protection. With a rotary motion of 300 to 600 RPM, Festool Rotex is a must-have for every workshop.
- Dual sanding modes
- FastFix backing pad
- Jetstream dust extraction
- The learning curve for this sander is a little steep
2. DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander
Another sander that I swear by is the DEWALT 20V MAX. This is actually a combo of orbital sanders, specifically the DCW210B and DCW600B models.
The DEWALT DCW210B a brushless motor that sports a variable speed so you can set it right based on the material you’re sanding. It also has a texturized rubber overmold on the grip for less hand strain while working.
Meanwhile, the DCW600B is equipped with LED lights so you can work on dark areas or hidden spots with ease. That’s an essential feature if you’re refinishing or stripping wood in a basement, cellar, and other fixed areas with poor lighting.
- DCW210B sander features variable speed to match the speed to the application
- Sander boasts texturized rubber overmold grip for more comfortable sanding
The DCW600B also comes with an adjustment ring (router depth), so you can adjust the sander’s height quickly and easily.
Both of these tools are cordless for the utmost convenience. However, you have to purchase the battery packs separately. Although it’s a hassle, this isn’t a big issue considering the cost of the two tools.
As for power, these DEWALT tools can perform at around 8,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute – not shabby for heavy woodworking.
- You’ll get two tools
- High-powered sanders
- Ergonomic design
- The battery packs aren’t included in the set
3. Bosch GET75-6N Orbital Sander
For demanding woodworking projects, I highly recommend the Bosch Orbital Sander. This one has a dual-mode sanding function: random orbit and turbo mode.
The random orbit is useful for typical stock removal. Meanwhile, the turbo mode levels up the random orbit through a more aggressive rotation. You can use this to remove stock for up to five times the initial rate of this sander. So whatever surface you’re planning to sand or strip, the Bosch GET75-6N can take its beating.
- Dual mode: Provides 2 sanding modes, random orbit mode for normal stock removal or fine finishing and "turbo" Driven eccentric orbit mode for aggressive stock removal at 5 times the rate of the normal random orbit sanding mode
- Variable speed: The GET75 6N comes with a powerful 7. 5 amp variable speed motor (no load speed: 290 to 640 RPM, no load orbit speed: 3300 to 7300 OPM) provide power, flexibility for jobs
Moreover, this sander has a variable speed on its 7.5-amp motor. It can rotate for as slow as 290 with no load and up to 640 RPM with a load. It’s a flexible choice for almost all the woodwork that you have in the shop.
One of the best things about this Bosch sander is the passive dust collection system. This is the reason why this sander has a built-in hose where you can connect your vacuum cleaner.
For added convenience, this Bosch sander has a removable pad guard. This is paired with a multi-hole pad system that allows you to use various abrasive discs with no special tools needed. For this price range, all these features are golden.
- Dual sanding modes
- Removable pad guard
- Built-in vacuum installation hardware
- Quite loud
4. Makita 18V Random Orbit Sander
If you want a complete wood sander set, you should consider the Makita 18V XOB01T. It’s a cordless random orbit sander with three speed settings. You can operate this on 7,000, 9,500, and 11,000 OPM for efficient and precise results.
Moreover, this sander can run for up to 65 minutes at low speed and 32 minutes for high-speed use on each charge. The battery pack of the Makita sander only has a 45-minute charging time. This packs more run time than other cordless models.
- Three speed settings (7, 000/9, 500/11, 000 OPM) engineered for faster material removal
- Up to 65 minutes (low speed) and 32 minutes (High speed) of run time on a single charge
Also, this sander has a 1/8-inch orbit action for a swirl-free and faster sanding. This will help you finish your projects faster and with excellent results.
It also has a one-touch electronic speed control so you can change the settings of the sander on the go.
You’ll get to save time without compromising the quality of your work.
The Makita XOB01T is the perfect set if you want a tool that you can use straight from the box. The package includes the orbit sander, battery pack, rapid charger, and tool bag. This is the best value for money right here.
- Three speed settings
- Complete sander set
- One-touch electronic controls
- Can make use of better power, but not really a big deal
5. Bosch 3.3 Random Orbit Sander
If you find the first Bosch sander quite inconvenient, you can try the Bosch 3727DEVS instead. This is an orbital sander that delivers a smooth and well-blended result in any woodwork that you have. It also has three grip locations at the top, rear, and front.
What I really like about this sander is its built-in dust canister. Instead of connecting a vacuum cleaner like with the Bosch GET75-6N, you can plug-and-play the 3727DEVS. It can filter out half a micron dust, so your workshop and the indoor air remains clean.
- Sander/polisher design – with pad that both orbits and rotates, delivering a smooth, well-blended surface finish
- Integral pad-dampening system – helps prevent swirl marks for consistent fine finish
Moreover, this sander comes with a pad-dampening system to prevent uneven and swirl marks. You can also use the variable speed adjustment to achieve the finish that you like. This sander works at 4,500 to 12,000 orbits per minute. This is already a workhorse, a surprise for its lower price range.
The package includes the sander, a pad wrench, removable front handle, sanding disc, micro filter dust canister, and a soft backing pad. That’s everything you need to get started with your finishing or stripping task.
- Microfilter dust canister included
- Three grip positions
- Powerful motor for a lower price
- A little cumbersome
Whether you’re looking for best sander for removing paint from wood or an all-around model, you must consider the following aspects first.
Choose the right type
Sanders are available in almost a dozen types. But for hand held models, the following are the most common options:
This sander type uses a sanding belt that works in a continuous loop. It’s the bad boy of workshops since it can strip stock faster and in large amounts. However, belt sanders have a steep learning curve. Workers with novice hands should opt out of this power tool for the meantime.
Random orbital sanders
The most common hand held sander is a random orbital. It’s almost the same with regular orbital sanders, except that the former oscillates randomly. Random orbital sanders don’t leave any swirl or ugly marks on the surface. Aside from that, random orbital sanders use rounded and smaller sanding pads. It’s more convenient to use if you’re switching from one grit to another.
Finishing sanders are used to smooth surfaces. It usually uses a rectangular or square pad with spring clips. It augments the tasks other sander types can’t do.
Pay attention to the grip
Once you have chosen your type of sander, the next thing you should check is the grip. As a power tool, sanders can run amok if not held properly. I recommend a sander with multiple grip options at the top, front, and rear for optimal control.
It’s also important that the sander has an ergonomic handle. This will reduce the strain of woodworking while keeping a tight grip on the tool.
Check the dust extraction method
Sanders is a messy tool if it doesn’t have any dust extraction feature built in it. This is a very important feature because tiny dust can cause respiratory problems and serious health conditions during prolonged exposure.
Some sanders will have hardware for vacuum cleaner connection while there are models with a built-in filter. Both are useful, depending on the level of convenience you want to achieve.
Get the right wattage and speed
The wattage of your sander dictates the power it bears. The basic idea is that the higher the wattage, the more powerful the tool is. You can find sanders that work in 100 watts or up to 200 watts.
Aside from wattage, you should also look at the RPM or OPM of the sander. RPM stands for Rotations Per Minute, a measurement for orbital and belt sanders. Meanwhile, the performance of random orbital sanders will be measured by OPM or Orbits/Oscillations Per Minute. The higher the numbers are, the more powerful the tool is.
However, if you’re looking for a sander for fine work, you may need a lower RPM/OPM. The simple solution here is to get sanders with variable speed control. This will let you adjust the working power of the sander based on the surface you need sand.
Look for a trigger lock
Lastly, look for a trigger lock, especially if you’re using a belt sander. This feature is for safety at the workplace, so the tool won’t run accidentally. Since a lot of things can be going around the shop, it’s possible that you may press a button inadvertently.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I sand a deck using an orbital sander?
A: Yes, you can use an orbital sander for decks. Ensure that you have the right pad grit for the job. Orbital sanders can also be used old finish or prepare a surface for initial finishing.
Q: Can I remove old paint using a sander?
A: Yes, electric sanders are made to strip old varnish, paint, and other finishes. Just make sure that you pair it with the right grit for a smooth result. You should also consider the power of the sander, depending on the type of surface you’re working on.
Q: Are cordless sanders good for the money?
A: While cordless sanders can’t compete with corded sanders in terms of power, it still has a good purpose. Cordless sanders are convenient for fixed surfaces or if a power source is not readily available. It also works well for fine woodwork.
Hand held sanders for wood reduce your work time so you can get more tasks done. Instead of manually sanding a surface, you can use an electric sander to get it done four or five times faster. For a shop owner, saved time means more income.