DIY & Tools

Orbital Sander vs. Palm Sander

Sanding is the final process that imparts finish your wooden crafts. It is an inevitable part of your wooden projects.

And to accomplish the sanding process well and right, you definitely would need a right sander beside you.

There are different types of sanders available in the market. To get the perfect finish for your craft, you need the right kind of sander in your hands.

So, here we are going to compare two different sanders popularly used.

We hope our comparison chart of two different types of sanders available in the market will help you choose the right sander for your tasks.

So, read the rest of the article, choose the right sander, and impart that perfect finish your wooden projects were lacking.

Orbital Sander vs. Palm Sander

Orbital Sanders

orbital sanders

Orbital sanders are high-speed sanders that are powered by an electric motor. The sander’s foot of the Orbital sanders moves in tiny circles or orbits to perform the sanding action. So, that is how Orbital sanders got their name.

Orbital sanders are of two types. They are:

  1. Orbital sanders

The Orbital sanders are obviously large and powerful than Palm sanders. The square shape of the Orbital sanders is an advantage. It allows you to get great perfection in edges and corners.

Orbital sanders are perfect if you are looking sander for light sanding tasks. They are smaller than Random Orbital sanders. Not only smaller, but a cheaper option if compared with the Random Orbital sander.

Orbital sanders leave less mess. And the chances of ruining your work by sanding is comparatively less if you are using Orbital sanders.

You can use Orbital sanders in the small places where Random Orbital sanders are too large to fit in. The orbital sanders work well for tasks like removing a single layer of paint and prepping up surfaces for painting and sealing.

  • Random orbital sander

random orbital sanders

The Random orbital sander possesses a round head that moves around in random orbits without a regular scratch pattern. Whereas, the normal Orbital sander works with a head moving in a regular pattern.

The Random orbital sander is to be dealt with extreme care. It would easily ruin your work if not handled with care. For example, the Random orbital sander would dig into the wood if you keep it in the same place for a longer time.

The Random Orbital Sanders works with sandpapers in the range of 80 to 160 grit.  A normal Orbital sander comes with a square sanding pad, while the Random orbital sander has a round-shaped sanding pad. And that is what makes these two sanders quite different from each other.

Also, the Random orbital sanders are expensive than the normal Orbital sanders. A normal Orbital sander would cost you anywhere around $30 to $50, while the price of Random orbital sanders would go up to $60 to $170.

Palm Sanders

palm sanders

As the name suggests, Palm sanders are sanders with handles that fit well into the palms of the user. Palm sanders are ideal for small and light sanding jobs. They are very small in size and are very easily portable.

The Palm sanders (read palm sander reviews & top products in UK) work with a quarter of a 9 X 11” sandpaper sheets. And hence, the Palm sanders are called Sheet sander or ¼ Sheet sander.

The Palm sanders use sandpaper in the grit range of 160 to 220. And that is why Palm sanders are considered ideal for light-duty finishing works.

Palm sanders don’t work well in removing paints or rust. They are, in fact, not suitable for the tasks in which you want to use a lot of pressure. The Palm sanders are rather made to work on with a light touch. And therefore, applying huge pressure on Palm sanders would produce a lot of worn-out pads, causing damages to your sander.

After all, the Palm sanders are the smallest of all the power sanders available in the market. And, the smallest too.

Random Orbital Sander vs. Palm Sander Comparison

Are you wondering which sander suits you best? To buy the right sander, you need to know the major differences between them.

So, here we are making a comparison between Random orbital sanders and Palm sanders.















Standard circular sheets that can be Velcro attached


Cut sheet or Standard sheets




5-inches and 6-inches sheet


A quarter of standard 9 X 11” sheet





Random circular or Orbiting


Orbiting motion.




Smoothen rough surfaces, removing paint, finishing, etc.


Light-duty finishing work


The differences between an Orbital sander and Palm sander lies in the amount of material they sand off, the shape of the sanding pad, and the sanding motion.

The Palm sanders are actually a smaller version of Orbital sanders. Orbital sanders are present in large as well as small sizes. The small Orbital sanders usually use a ¼ sanding sheet and the large ones use a ½ sanding sheet. Both works on a similar principle, but different sizes.

People usually refer to a Random orbital sander whenever they simply say Orbital sander. This is because normal Orbital sanders are usually referred to as Sheet or Palm sanders.

The Random Orbital sanders and Palm sanders are two of the popularly used hand-held finishing sanders. If we make a comparison between the two, the major differences are as follows:

  • The Random orbital sander has a round-shaped head and a rectangular one for Palm sander.
  • The Random orbital sander is powerful than the Palm sanders.
  • The Palm sanders are smallest in size and much cheaper than any other power sanders in the market.

Which Sander Suits You the Best?

Sanding is the last yet essential step in any wooden project. The final process of sanding is essential in any wooden projects because it gives a smooth friction-free finish surface to your work.

There are quite a lot of types of sanding tools available in the market. Therefore, you might easily jump on to a wrong sander if you don’t know the differences between any of them.

So, here we are suggesting some tips for you to not jump on to the wrong one.

When to go for a Palm sander?

The Palm sander might be a good choice, if you are looking for light-duty finishing works. For example, when you need a sander to get that perfect finish for your wooden work. The compact size and design also make Palm sanders the perfect one for finishing up edges and corners.

For tasks and purposes like these, you can also go for a detail sander with a triangular-shaped sanding pad.

When to choose an Orbital sander?

If you are looking for a tool to sand larger surfaces, it would be better to go with an Orbital sander. Orbital sanders are specially designed to work on large and flat surfaces.

The Orbital sanders are good for tasks like removing a layer of paint or sanding carved wood.

Conclusion: The versatility of Palm sanders is limited. Hence, we would suggest a Random orbital sander rather than a Palm sander.

Here is a bonus tip for you.

If you are looking for a much more powerful sander than Orbital sanders, we would suggest you buy a portable Belt sander. The Belt sanders are perfect if your task requires a fast and aggressive removal of materials.