How to Use a Palm Sander

How to Use a Palm Sander

A palm sander is valuable for a few reasons. It doesn’t take up much space, is a very cheap option, and can make sanding easier. However, like other power tools, you need to follow a set of instructions to make the best out of it.

This article aims to show you how to use a palm sander. It is quite easy to pick up and use, which is why a palm sander is so favored in DIY projects.

Palm Sander Overview

The palm sander is a portable power tool that can be used one-handed. These are generally used in small woodworking projects or furniture refinishing. They make use of a sanding pad, which requires sandpaper to be attached to it. Palm sanders usually come in two different types.

1. Oscillating Palm Sander 

This type of palm sander moves the sanding pad repeatedly in a fixed motion, usually rotating. An oscillating palm sander is usually slower at sanding but is more precise and gets a better finish.

2. Random Orbit Palm Sander

Alongside the oscillating motion, the sanding pad also moves up and down. So, this type of palm sander covers a larger area and makes sanding faster. It sacrifices precision and a fine finish in exchange.

The type of palm sander you will use will depend on what you want. Regardless, both types follow the same means of use.

Palm Sander Prerequisites

Aside from having a functioning palm sander, one important thing you need is the sandpaper. If you don’t know, there are different kinds of sandpapers differing on how coarse they are.

Grit is used to determine how rough or fine the sandpaper is. Knowing what sandpaper to use is incredibly important and will yield you better results when working.

The lower the grit number of sandpaper, the coarser it is. So, 40 grit sandpaper is much coarser than 100 grit sandpaper. Which grit sandpaper you’ll use will mostly depend on which thing you’re sanding and what kind of task you’re performing.

Sandpaper Guidelines

Below are some general guidelines for what sandpaper to use.

  • For initial sanding (i.e., when the wood is very rough), you will want to use 40-60 grit sandpaper.
  • If you need a good standard or baseline grit sandpaper, 80 to 100 grit sandpaper will suffice.
  • For finishes and sanding out small bumps, you will be working with 150 grit sandpaper or more.

Having rolls of different sandpaper is a good idea if you work with a palm sander a lot. You can cut out the sandpaper you need for your palm sander.

Safety Precautions

A palm sander is a relatively safe power tool. Even so, there are some safety precautions you need to take. These include:


Sanding with a palm sander will result in the dust flying out. You do not want dust to get into your eyes as it can cause irritation and even damage your eyes permanently! So, remember to wear safety goggles or eye protection.

Dust Mask

Inhaling the dust is very bad for your lungs. So, having a dust mask when working with your palm sander will prevent you from inhaling the dust. A respirator will also work if you need extra protection.

Proper Ventilation

When you’re working with palm sanders, you’ll want to work in a well-ventilated room. Working for long hours can cause a lot of dust build-up. Proper ventilation will prevent that from happening.

Safety Gloves

A pair of safety gloves are always handy to have when working with a palm sander.

Using a Palm Sander

These are general instructions for using a palm sander. Some models do have special instructions or unique features; refer to the instruction manual in your packaging for those.

Take the Necessary Safety Precautions

Wear your safety goggles and a dust mask. Ensure the room is well ventilated and check to see if there are any other safety hazards in the area.

Prepare the Sandpaper

If you have a roll of sandpaper, identify which one you need by following the guidelines mentioned above. Use the sanding pad of your palm sander as a reference and cut an appropriately sized piece of sandpaper.

Attach the Sandpaper

Unlock the clamps of the sanding pad. Slide the piece of sandpaper into the sanding pad and lock the clamps to ensure a secure hold on the sandpaper.

Secure the Material

Depending on what you’re sanding, it will help secure the material to make the sanding process smoother. You won’t need to do it for furniture.

Turn the Sander On

Grab the palm sander. Some palm sanders feature belts so you can secure it to your palm. Turn it on, and you’ll start to feel the vibration. Let the sander oscillate until it becomes steady.

Start Sanding

Place the sander on the material you want to sand. Let the sanding pad rotate over an area for some time to ensure smooth sanding. Once you’ve sanded an area, move up or down along the grain of the wood. Repeat until the material is properly sanded. Do not apply any pressure when using a palm sander.


While the general process is covered above, there are some other things you can do. These aim to make sanding with a palm sander much better.

  • Change out the sandpaper with a finer one. Coarse sandpaper doesn’t leave a fine finish, so you will need to change it out. Make sure to turn the sander off before switching.
  • Never go against the grain; this will usually cause splinters and prevent a fine finish.
  • When switching on the palm sander, do not immediately press it to the material. Let the oscillating motion become steady.
  • You are better off manually sanding by hand for small circular scratches, using very fine and small sandpaper (around 200 grit).


We hope you found this guide on how to use a palm sander helpful. A palm sander is quite easy to use, but you must keep these instructions in mind when working. These will help you to prevent rough finishes.

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