1/4-sheet Palm Sander Reviews
Issue: 1/4-sheet Palm Sander Reviews (March/April 2012)
Posted Date: 2/12/2014
1/4-sheet Palm Sander Reviews
They may not be as sexy and feature-packed as other power tools, but ¼-sheet palm sanders are essential when it comes to smoothing wood projects in preparation for and during finishing. Also known as “finish” or “orbital” sanders (not to be confused with random-orbit sanders), palm sanders have a square pad that accepts a quarter sheet of regular sandpaper. They are small, easy and safe to use, and best of all, most models are very affordable.
I recently set about testing a dozen different palm sanders built by 11 different manufacturers: Bosch, DeWALT, Festool, Hitachi, Makita, Milwaukee, PORTER-CABLE, RIDGID, Ryobi, Sears (Craftsman) and Skil. Although several models appear to be close cousins, all the sanders have features and performance characteristics that distinguish them. Here are some of the things I looked for in each model and factors that I considered during my two weeks of testing:
Power and Sanding Performance
With most power tools, bigger motors are usually better. But is a big motor really necessary in a palm sander that is designed to work best when you apply only light pressure to the tool during sanding? Smooth operation is also a key concern in an orbital palm sander, as too much vibration can lead to hand discomfort and even numbness.
Ease of Paper Change
|Quarter-sheet sanders can be
gripped from the top or by the
barrel. This helps to avoid fatigue.
All of these palm sanders except the Festool have clamps designed to take a quarter-sheet of regular sandpaper. This is an economical alternative that lets you use any kind of paper you like (garnet, aluminum oxide, etc.) in lieu of special pre-cut sanding sheets (also available for most models). The wire levers on most models allow tool-less paper changes, but some mechanisms are easier to use than others. (The foam rubber sanding pads on most sanders also accept sticky-backed PSA sandpaper.)
The majority of palm sanders employ a twin-grip style body that lets the user hold the tool either by its top or around the waist. This lets you change your grip, either to suit the sanding situation or to avert the hand fatigue due to holding the tool in the same manner for long periods. Rubber overmolds found on most of the sanders make gripping them more comfortable and ease vibration as well.
|Dust collection is an important
feature for any sander — even
these smaller machines.
Small as they are, palm sanders produce their share of fine dust. Happily, most new models come with built-in dust collection: A fan pulls dust through holes in the sandpaper that you make using a punch plate that comes with the sander. The fan then blows the dust into a fabric bag, disposable paper sack or a canister with a pleated filter. For more efficient dust collection, the majority of sanders have ports that allow you to connect the sander to a shop vacuum hose.
Click Below to Go to a Specific Review:
Festool RTS 400 EQ
PORTER-CABLE 330 SPEED-BLOC
Sears Craftsman 11177