14 Types Of Wood Sanders – Woodworking Tools Guide

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Even if you don’t have much to do with woodworking, you would surely have heard about sanders. The sander is the most critical item in the list of power tools of a serious woodworker. If you have a small project with small-sized components, then hand sanding would probably work. A power sander may damage the wood in a small-scale project.

For bigger projects with broad, expansive surfaces, power sanders serve as an efficient and time-saving solution. However, you get various types of sanders in the market. Therefore, you would do well to know, to begin with, where you need to use a sander. And if so, you should be aware of what type of sander would do your job best. Hence, here we take a look at the different types of wood sanders that you can use.

hand sander
Woodworker with a hand-held wood sander.

Different Types Of Wood Sanders

The first stage of making the surface of wood smooth in any project involves sanding. You need a lot of patience to sand wood, especially if you are doing it by hand. Sometimes, you need to do sanding manually, if the job is delicate or small. However, if you have a big project, you get electric sanders to make your task easier. Here are the various types of sanders that you can use to make the surfaces of your project smooth:

Hand-Held Sanders

As the name suggests, we hold these lightweight sanders by hand to smoothen out surfaces. Ergonomic design forms a critical part of the construction of these sanders. We move the machine across the surface that we want to sand.

Hand Sander

WaterLuu Sanding Block Hand Sander for Wood or Autobody Furniture Finishing | Clamp Makes Sandpaper Won't Rip | Sand Block Fit Dry&Wet Sandpaper
WaterLuu Hand Sander. See on Amazon.

If the size of your job is big, you can soon strain your hands and wrists manually handling sandpaper. A hand sander has a handle and a flat, abrasive surface. Thus, you can hold the handle and work on it, reducing the load on your hands.

Strip Sander

WEN 6515T 1 in. x 30 in. Belt Sander with 5 in. Sanding Disc
WEN Strip Sander. See on Amazon.

The strip sander works on the same principle of the hand sander. However, the construction of the strip sander is that it resembles a wood plane tool. But, instead of a blade on the face, it has an abrasive surface, instead.

Bow Sander

Bow Sander. See on Amazon.

Here, you can smoothen a curved edge. This sander has a wooden frame shaped like a hacksaw. However, instead of a blade, there is a flat strip of sandpaper. You smoothen the contoured edges by running the bow back and forth across the contour.

File Sander

WEN 6307 Variable Speed Detailing File Sander with 1/2-by-18" Belt
WEN File Sander. See on Amazon.

You get both electric as well as pneumatic file sanders. The file sander has a narrow sandpaper belt extended outwards. It looks somewhat like a chainsaw. The advantage of a file sander is that you can fit into constricted spaces.

Palm Sander

Bosch ROS20VSC Palm Sander - 2.5 Amp 5 in. Corded Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander/Polisher Kit with Dust Collector and Soft Carrying Bag, Blue
Bosch Palm Sander. See on Amazon.

This sander gets its name from the fact that it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. It has a profile a bit like an angle grinder – only there is a disc of fine sandpaper on the business end. We use a palm sander for making surfaces smooth before applying a finish.

Belt Sander – Hand Held

Makita 9903 8.8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
Makita Belt Sander (Image: Amazon)

This sander provides similar benefits to a palm sander but has a rotating belt. This sander is designed to be operated with two hands and usually has a “trigger” that’s operated with the index finger of one hand while the other is placed on the forward handle. This type of sander is good for rough sanding larger boards, removing scribe edges. They can handle coarse grits for rough sanding as well as hand shaping and beveling edges but due to weight and size are harder to handle than the palm sander.

Bench Sanders

Bench sanders are bench-mounted machines. Their construction varies depending on the requirement of the job. The common factor, however, is that these are stationary machines, and we hold the workpiece onto these sanders.

Oscillating Spindle Sander

WEN 6510T 3.5 Amp Oscillating Spindle Sander
WEN Oscillating Spindle Sander. See on Amazon.

This type of sander belongs to the family of drum sanders. It consists of a vertical drum that you can place on a tabletop. The drum has spindles that protrude above it. These spindles are covered with sandpaper, and they oscillate vertically upwards and downwards as they spin. You hold the job against the moving sandpaper. You can also fit a sandpaper belt between two spinning spindles for sanding flat surfaces.

Disc Sander

Delta Power Equipment Corp 31-140 Disc Sander, 1/2 Horse Power, 12-Inch
Delta Disc Sander. See on Amazon.

This type of sander is best-suited for shaping wood. It has a rotating disc on a workbench. You get a clearly defined working edge so you can see what you are working on. Being a table tool, you can see what you are working in with a disc sander.

Drum Sander

SHOP FOX W1678 5 HP 26-Inch Drum Sander
Shop Fox Drum Sander. See on Amazon.

We can best describe the drum sander as a horizontal static arm with sandpaper wrapped over it. It contains a horizontal spindle enclosed in sandpaper, which in turn, is surrounded by a metallic guard. You hold the workpiece over the gap on the guard to sand it.

Belt Sander -Standup

EX ELECTRONIX EXPRESS Mini 1 x 30 Belt Sander 3400 RPM
Electronix Express Belt Sander. See on Amazon.

The belt sander looks a bit like the handheld file sander, and only, it sits on a stand. You can lower and raise the moving sandpaper belt and vary the angle as well.

Floor Sanders

WEN 6369 Variable Speed 5 Amp Drywall Sander with 15' Hose
WEN Floor Sanders. See on Amazon.

Typically, heavy machines, floor sanders usually have wheels, and we push them along floor surfaces. We use these types of sanders for smoothening wooden floors. You need a fair degree of skill to operate a floor sander, and at least two people to carry it around.

Floor Drum Sander

Clarke Floor Sander Floor Sander Orbital-Dust Control #07081B
Clarke Floor Drum Sander. See on Amazon.

A floor drum sander, like all floor sanders, is a heavy machine. It looks like an upright vacuum cleaner with a rotating sandpaper disc on the bottom surface. You can move the tool across a hardwood floor to give it a smooth finish.

Edging Sander

Clarke Floor Sander Edger Super 7R W/Case #07125A
Clarke Edging Sander. See on Amazon.

The edging sander is a variation of a drum sander, where the sandpaper disc protrudes. We use an edging sander to work on surfaces that aren’t accessible with a drum sander like floor edges and stairs.


120 To 3000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper for Wood Furniture Finishing, Metal Sanding and Automotive Polishing, Dry or Wet Sanding, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 36-Sheet
Sandpaper. See on Amazon.

The most basic form of an abrasive tool, you can hold sandpaper in your hand and start working. You get sandpaper of different levels of roughness, called the grit. The number allocated to the grit, the finer the sandpaper.


We went into detail about the different types of wood sanders in this article and where each one is best suited. By now, it will be apparent to you how crucial a wood sander is for using on woodworking projects. Preparing the surfaces of your components properly can make the difference between a smart job and a shoddy job.

You need one to prepare surfaces if you are to paint, stain or varnish them. Hence a good quality sander will contribute to a great finishing touch to your woodworking projects. By knowing how to use the right type of wood sander, you can turn out some very professional-looking projects.


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