Easy Way To Figure Out What Sander You Need For Your Project

DIY projects usually require different types of sanders, and depending on what you need for your project you’ll need to know how to use them properly to get the best results the first time around. Right.

This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure please see my privacy policy.

In a hurry see our top 3 editors choice for sanders

TypeSander
1. Random Orbital Sander
2. Belt Sander
3. Sanding Block

How Many Types Of Sanders Are There?

There are many different types of sanders I will be going through 13 different types of sanders and what they are used for and how they differ from each other.

They mostly do the same thing but differ in force and what material you can sand as well as their size and what they are commonly used for. Ready let’s dive in.

Surface Sanders / Wood Sanders

Even though surface sanders can be used for a multitude of material a lot of people like to call them wood sanders as for wood working these are really great to use.

1. Detail Sanders

These are also known as palm sanders, they are small, can be used in home and for professional usage. Can help sand the spaces between little areas.

Want to see our top 7 Favorite Detail Sanders For DIY Projects?

What Can You Do With a Detail Sander?

You can do many projects from sanding down furniture to getting into small little crevices like between stairs or chairs. Many detail sanders come with a dust collector bag and with smaller attachments to help you detail your sanding project.

How To Use A Detail Sander

Depending on your sander if you have a battery powered or electric you’ll want to have the correct sanding paper in place before plugging it in or turning it on.

Then you can go ahead and have it on your item and start sanding. Always move with the grain to avoid damaging wood.

2. Belt Sander

Belt sanders may be the most common used in wood working and in sanding projects. A belt sander is used to help you speed up the sanding process by combining a powerful motor with a rotating belt with sandpaper on it.

What Can You Do With A Belt Sander

A belt sander can help remove paint, flatten a surface, make details on wood (if its a stationary belt sander) sand wood, metal, aluminum and concrete.

How To Use A Belt Sander

Do you have a belt sander and need to know how to use it? I suggest you go through our detailed belt sander for beginners post that way you can learn more about your belt sander and learn how to use it for your specific projects.

3. Finishing Sander

Finishing sanders are what you would use if you have already done a prime sanding and still need to do another round. They are basically orbital sanders meaning they move in one direction. These sanders are great when you are doing furniture that will be stained to avoid any rough edges, and any unlevel sanding.

Many of the sanders mentioned here can fall under the title of finishing sanders: orbital sander, belt sanders, random orbital sanders.

How Do You Use A Finishing Sander

For a finishing sander you’ll want to make sure that you are using fine grit sanding paper. Normally you do this once the item has been sanded down with coarse grit sanding paper first. The find grit sanding paper will make the finish easier to work with.

Then you would go ahead and work with the grain, avoid lifting the sander off the item, and if you need to move to one side go in a zig zag direction.

4. Disc Sanders

A disc sander is used to smooth out material and remove any unwanted material from your sanding item. You must bring your item to the disc sander.

How To Use A Disc Sander

A disc sander is a power tool that is corded. Meaning it comes with a power cord to connect to your wall. It will look like half a circle and will rotate very quickly. You will need to bring your item to the sander and slowly move it back and forth to smooth out or remove any material.

5. Drywall Sanders

Drywall Sanders are great if you need to smooth out the compound after installing them.

What Can You Do With A Drywall Sander

Like the name implies you can fix any imperfections caused by joint compound in your drywall. Which is great to do before you go and paint to make your wall a smooth finish.

6. File Sander

A file sander is a specific sanding tool to help you trim to a scribed line, or help sand down rough edges or surfaces. It is a type of belt sander that is smaller in width than your standard belt sander.

See more types of file sanders here.

7. Random Orbital Sander

A random orbital sander is one that moves in both forward rotations and backward rotations. Making it preferred to use to avoid gauging (circle like imprints) in wood or metal.

How Do You Use A Random Orbital Sander

First you want to make sure that it is unplugged or off while you add your sanding paper. Then you can go ahead and place it on the material you are going to sand. Do not push down on the sander this will put excess weight on the motor.

Guide the random orbital sander back and forth over your area until you get the desired sanding look or depth you are aiming for.

This is our favorite trusted and used random orbital sander.

8. Orbital Sander

Unlike the random orbital sander an orbital sander only moves one way while rotating. This is great for detail sanders and for belt sanders that are used for specific jobs like detail work, flattening a surface or adding craftmanship to wood detail.

How Can You Use An Orbital Sander

First you want to make sure that it is unplugged or off while you add your sanding paper. Then you can go ahead and place it on the material you are going to sand. Do not push down on the sander this will put excess weight on the motor.

Guide the orbital sander back and forth over your area until you get the desired sanding look or depth you are aiming for. Go in a zig zag pattern when moving from one area to the other and cover about 1/3 or your last sand strand to make it all even.

9. Oscillating Spindle Sander

oscillating spindle sander is a type of sander that is stationary

This type of sander, the oscillating spindle sander is stationary and moves in an up and down motion while rotating. What this does is help your material really get detailed, as well as give it a smooth finish. They also help give no burn marks on your material. Making it one sander that needs to be in your workshop.

How Does An Oscillating Spindle Sander Work? / What Can I Use It For?

An oscillating spindle sander works by moving up and down while rotating. This motion makes it easy for you to bring the material to the sander and get the finish and detail you need on it.

It can be used for : making curves on wood, adding details to small sections and to smooth out edges of your material

10. Sanding Block

No matter which sander you go with I believe every DIYer needs to have a couple sanding blocks on hand in case anything happens to their power tool. A Sanding block is not a power tool. It does not require batteries or an outlet. It is a hard sponge like block that has sanding paper all around.

The only sanding block I keep in my garage.

11. Table Sander

Similar to the disc sander a table sander is a stationary sander that has a large base and lets you bring your material to the sander. This can help make sanding faster than with a hand held sander.

How Is A Table Sander Different Than A Belt Sander

A table sander is different than a belt sander because it is stationary and larger than a belt sander. It requires you to bring your material to it rather than you using the power tool over the material to sand it down.

Floor Sanders

12. Drum Floor Sander

A Drum floor sander is a large belt sander that sort of looks like a vacuum. It has a belt sander on the bottom and allows you to move over your floor with ease by holding onto the handle and maneuvering the drum floor sander around.

Main Functions Of A Drum Sander

To remove wood finish on floors as well as smooth and sand the flooring. A drum floor sander can cut through layers of wood giving you a smooth finish and sanding perfection for your flooring needs.

FAQ About Sanders

Which Sander Do I Need For Wood Working

For wood working I would recommend a random orbital sander. Not only do they move forward and backward while rotating they are fast and come in a variety of brands to choose from.

This is our favorite random orbital sander for wood working.

What Is The Best Detail Sander

The best detail sander can have many interchangeable parts allowing you to get into really small areas where you need to sand. I would say that the black and decker mouse sander is one of those sanders that allow just that.

Can You Remove Paint By Sanding

Yes if you are using the correct grit sand paper you can easily remove paint on furniture, walls, floors and wood or other materials using a sander.

Conclusion

Now that you know the different kinds of sanders and how their main function and skills require you to know how to use them and what material you need. I hope that you are able to choose the right one for your project.

Is there a specific one you need let me know in the comments below? I’d love to help you pick it out for your next project.

guide to using sanders. how to choose when you need a sander and which sander you need

12 Types Of Sander & How To Use Them

You May Also Like:

How To Use A Circular Saw (for beginners)

The Best Detail Sanders

How To Get Paint Samples (super cheap)