Grinder vs. Sander: What is the Difference?



grinder vs sander

When it comes to woodworking and handling a range of different materials, two of the most popular tools are grinders and sanders. But what are the main differences between these two? 

Of course, grinding and sanding have two completely different purposes. When should you use a grinder, and when is a sander more suitable?

Essentially, a grinder is better for aggressive work that may involve cutting and require precision. Meanwhile, a sander is used to produce a smooth surface, usually for soft materials such as wood. 

In this article I will cover the difference between a grinder and sander. Let’s dive in!


What are Grinders?

Grinders are very versatile and used to grind, cut, sand, or brush a variety of materials. The most common type of grinder is an angle grinder, which is what most people refer to when they say “grinder”. 

angle grinder example

This tool usually has a rotating disc that will come into contact with the material. However, this attachment can often be interchanged with accessories like brushes.

You can find a huge range of grinders, from lighter DIY tools to heavy-duty models for industrial purposes. Sometimes, angle grinders also have a removable side handle. This power tool is used to work with many different materials, although the most common one is for metal. 

Also read: 10 Best Bench Grinders

Grinders Pros and Cons

One of the most obvious advantages of a grinder is its versatility. It can be used for a lot of things, from cutting metal pipes to removing paint from metal surfaces. This is also the right tool if you need to regularly sharpen other tools, knives and blades. 

There are also sanding discs which you can attach to your grinder, which lets you use them for sanding and polishing, as changing the wheels are really straightforward.

Moreover, a grinder has a powerful motor that could help when dealing with hard materials. They are generally easy to use and good for any quick works. 

However, a major disadvantage to the grinder is it is not meant to handle aluminum or plastic. This might be a deterrent if these are materials that you work with a lot.

Another thing to note is that grinding wheels may break easily, especially if they are not of high quality and forced to handle tough materials. The same goes with its various parts. 

They can break if not used or maintained properly, which in turn could be a hazard for your work. Due to its high power, grinders may also be dangerous and require some experience to control.


  • Versatile
  • Interchangeable attachments
  • Good for hard materials
  • Easy to use


  • Not good for plastic or aluminum
  • Grinding wheels may break easily
  • Can be hazardous


What are Sanders?

On the other hand, sanders are reserved solely for sanding purposes, which in this sense makes it much less versatile. Unlike the grinder, it is mostly used to work with wood, create smooth surfaces, or sometimes remove paint layers. 

random orbital sander example

It uses the abrasive sandpaper to not only sand, but also smooth and polish the materials. The sander can be handheld or fixed to a bench, with its mechanism moving the sandpaper rapidly.

Some common types of sanders include random orbit sanders and palm sanders, which use sandpaper in round and square pads respectively. Whereas belt sanders have a belt-shaped sandpaper that can be moved around to cover the surface area.

Also read: 10 Best Belt Sanders for Deck Refinishing

Sanders Pros and Cons

When it comes to sanding jobs, getting a sander would be your best bet. While it’s excellent for sanding, this means the tool is much less versatile than the grinder. 

However, it is usually a mobile tool that you can maneuver quite easily and also works quickly. One thing the sander is known for is the different grits that you can use for different sanding results.

Furthermore, it’s easy to change the sandpaper whenever you need to, no matter the type of sander you’re using. I definitely recommend this tool if you also need to remove lots of materials fast. With that said, sanders can be quite noisy when in use.

It is also important to know that it could take a bit of practice to truly master. For instance, if you don’t move the sander continuously, it may damage the material instead of smoothening it. The sandpaper belts also can rip quite easily so extra care would be good.


  • Very mobile
  • Easy to maneuver 
  • Easy to swap out sandpaper
  • Can remove materials quickly


  • Less versatile
  • Noisy
  • Sandpaper belts may rip


Overall, both a grinder and a sander will be useful for your woodworking. They simply have different purposes. 

While a grinder is better suited for rough work and handling metal, a sander is ideal when smoothening and polishing any wood. Whichever you use, make sure to be careful with it!