8 Common Types of Sanders for Woodworking



types of sanders for woodworking

Sanders are very important when it comes to different types of woodworking such as furniture making. In the past, sanding is done using a piece of sandpaper which definitely tiring and time consuming.

Thankfully, power sanders exist nowadays, making your life easier and more efficient. Using these tools for sanding isn’t easy, but all you need is some time to learn. But before that, you need to know the difference between the different types of sanders.

With that in mind, I have written this article to list out the 8 common types of sanders for woodworking together with short explanations of what they are and how they work.

Sounds good? Let’s get started!

1. Belt Sander

belt sander example

Firstly, we have the belt sander. This is the most common type of sander and can be used by beginners or professionals.

As its name suggests, this sander has a belt made of sandpapers wrapped around two drums which will move continuously in one direction when powered by the motor. This belt can be quickly switched with the tension release lever.

Due to the nature of its power, belt sanders are most suitable for stock removals and furniture making. Nevertheless, they are quite versatile and can be used for other woodworking projects.

One point to remember when you’re using this sander to deal with wood is to always follow the grain to avoid scratches.

2. Orbital Sander

orbital sander example

Orbital sanders are sanders with sanding disc that moves in circular motion instead linear motion.

They perform slower than belt sanders, but are still powerful to use on medium-sized materials. The good thing about this sander is it minimizes scratches on woods that may be produced during woodworking.

If you need an affordable yet powerful wood sander, orbital sander could be the one for you.

Read also: How to Use an Orbital Sander to Remove Paint

3. Random Orbital Sander

Random Orbital Sander example

The random orbital sander is the most popular sander in the list. It works similarly with the orbital sander.

The only major difference is that in addition to the orbital action of the sanding disc, the pad around the spindle also moves in elliptical motion at the same time.

Thanks to that, the sander is able to travel in a different path on every orbit, eliminating swirl patterns that are often produced by orbital sanders.

Versatility is a given, but the random orbital sander is also extra powerful. Some models feature the boost function which increases its power by 2x for faster removal of materials.

4. Palm Sander

palm sander example

The palm sander famous for its lightweight and compact built. This one’s like a mini, cheaper version of orbital sander.

It comes with a circular base plate that can easily fit your palm. As a result, they are extremely light and easy to use even with just one hand.

It’s best to use palm sander to sand the edges of a finished project.

5. Detail Sander

Detail sander example

The detail sander only has one difference with the palm sander that is, its base plate. While palm sander has a circular base plate, the detail sander is embedded with a triangular base plate.

Like the “detail” in its name, the triangular base plate can dive right into every corners and get the job done meticulously.

6. Table Sander

table sander example

One thing that makes the table sander is its external appearance. Unlike the previous sanders in the list, its size is on a completely different level.

Also known as “bench sander”, this tool normally uses taut belt for the sanding.

Due to the big size of table sander, they are often used in large woodworking shops or factories for large scale projects instead of small DIY projects.

However, the high power tool lacks just one thing. That is, precision.

Read also: 10 Best Bench Grinders

7. Drum Sander

drum sander example

The drum sander is one of the best choices for sanding due to their stationary position. The tool can easily smoothen wood surfaces and provide consistent thickness.

You can easily move closer or further to the belt to control its power. They are normally used by woodworkers to maintain square edges on furniture.

Some common drum sander types are floor drum sander and single drum sander.

8. Oscillating Spindle Sander

Oscillating Spindle Sander example

Last but not least, is the sander with a very unique shape aka the oscillating spindle sander. This sander is placed on the center, protruding from a base. Since the design is pretty simple, it’s easy to carry around.

Because of its shape, oscillating spindle sanders are normally used to smoothen curves and angles.


A sander is crucial in every woodworking project. You need to ensure that the surface of your wood has been properly smoothened, before proceeding to painting them.

This is why you need to understand the common types of sanders, so that you’ll be able to buy one according to what you need.