When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Belt sander vs Palm sander – which one is yours?

Sanders are a popular tool that can blend, grind, and polish materials to the desired finish. This type of tool exists in many different sizes, but what are the differences between a belt sander and a palm sander? There are quite a few differences between belt sanders and palm sanders.

Types of sanders

Belt sanders: belt sanders are larger and heavier than palm sanders, but they can remove a lot more material at one time. With the use of a belt sander, you can smooth out surfaces with ease. They work by spinning a long strip of sandpaper on two spindles so it moves back and forth across the surface of objects to create a finished look.

Palm sanders: Palm Sanders are smaller than belt sanders and easier to hold and control while using them. A popular example is the Black & Decker Mouse Sander. These small handheld devices allow you to do precision work. A palm sander uses an attached piece of sandpaper that runs through the device as it spins, smooth surfaces.


The main difference between belt sanders and palm sanders is the use of each machine. One should use a belt sander or palm sander depending on the surface to be worked upon. If the finishing is to be done over a larger area, belt sanders are better.

But if precision work needs to be done, then palm sanders are better suited for the job. Although belt sanders are more expensive than palm sanders, they have many uses and can last for several years. Palm sanders are smaller, cheaper, and easier to handle but still get the job done well in some instances.

While working with wood, it is important to choose the best sander for the job at hand. For example, while using a belt sander, you might want to add extra tension to your workpiece if its movement becomes too loose. On the other hand, adding more pressure on a palm sander will make it move across the surface even faster than it should. Another major difference between these two models is that belt sanders consist of an electric motor whereas palm sanders have an air motor.

The belt sanders are mostly used in carpentry, demolition, and construction projects. They are mainly used to remove paint from wood or metal surfaces, but can also be employed for other purposes. The palm sanders, instead, are used by carpenters and woodworkers to finish pieces of furniture, doors, and moldings. While this type of sander is portable, its main disadvantage is the absence of speed variation that allows you to control the machine’s intensity freely.


The belt sanders are equipped with a dust bag while palm sanders have an anti-dust cover which helps users to avoid breathing all the dust they collect during the process. Still talking about differences between these machines, it’s important not t overlook the fact that the belts of belt sanders, for example, can be easily replaced when worn out or damaged while palm sanders have a plain plate instead.

Difference in working process

When it comes to choosing between a belt sander and a palm sander, there are two main factors that should help you make up your mind: surface area and noise. When working with wood, the palm sanders will produce a finer finish in comparison with belt sanders. On the other hand, if you need to remove thick paint from a metal surface, the only choice would be a belt sander.

Another difference between these two models is how they handle vibrations while working on an object. Some users complain about feeling more tired when using belt sanders because of the vibration they produce. On the other hand, palm sanders create less pressure on their hands and fingers when working for longer periods of time.


The materials used to make belt sanders and palm sanders are very different as well. The most common material used for a palm sander is Ceramic while the belt sanders have their belts made from either steel, nylon, or aluminum.

From a professional point of view, it’s clear that you can’t use a palm sander with a metal surface because it will create scratches on the workpiece.


When looking at all these differences between belt sanders and palm sanders, the price might help you decide which type of machine fits your needs better. In general, palm sanders cost less than belt sanders but this isn’t always the case. If you need both types of sander for your workshop, it might be a good idea to purchase a palm sander and a belt sander that fit your budget.

Power and control differences

Another difference between belt sanders and palm sanders is related to how much power they deliver. While both types of sander are equipped with the same diameter disc, you can control the belt sander better because it has a well-defined work surface while the disc of a palm sander might be moving out of the work area from time to time.

Both belt sanders and palm sanders are equipped with variable speed control which offers users the chance to change intensity during work. The difference is in how fast these machines can be when they reach their maximum power. When working with wood, the palm sander is faster than the belt sander that most of the time needs more time to smooth surfaces.

If you want to smooth rough surfaces quickly, then a palm sander will do a good job overall but if you need your machine for professional or demanding jobs, then choose a belt sander instead. In some cases, however, one type of machine might suit your needs just fine while in other situations you’ll have to use both types at once in order to get the best results.

Other important features

Signing up for professional or DIY classes will usually give you an instructor who tries to convince you about using his preferred tool for all sorts of tasks. Most instructors prefer using belt sanders because this type of machine gives them better results when it comes to smoothing wood surfaces so if you do some research on your own, you may professional advice about what’s best for you.

While most modern palm sanders are cordless, there are also models that are equipped with a cord. The main reasons for using these types of machines are their mobility and the fact that you don’t need to worry about reaching an electric socket every time you want to use them. On the other hand, if your workshop is hardwired for electricity, then it makes sense to invest in a sander that will provide more power overall.

Additionally, some belt sanders come with dust collection systems which make them even more efficient when working for long periods of time without having to stop and empty the bin too often. This feature is rarely available when choosing a palm sander but there are usually shrouds around the disc that prevents debris from being blown around the workshop.


Q: Which type of machine should you use on metal surfaces?

A: Both belt sanders and palm sanders cannot be used with metal surfaces.

Q: How often should the disc be replaced on these machines?

A: Most manufacturers recommend swapping the belts or discs every 25 to 30 hours of use depending on how heavy the work is. Replacing these parts more often than that might cause damage to both types of the sander.

Q: Can I cut shapes with a belt sander?

A: Belt sanders are designed for straight lines so it’s very unlikely that you’ll cut shapes without causing any damage to them. If you want to create intricate patterns, then choose a palm sander instead. They can handle such tasks with ease.

Q: What should I do when the disc stops spinning?

A: It might be a good idea to add more oil to keep everything working properly. If this doesn’t help, then you’ll have to contact the manufacturer for more advice and replacement parts.

Q: How can I clean my sander?

A: You can simply wipe down the surface with a cloth and some water before things dry up completely. Alternatively, you can choose an appropriate cleaner and wipe it off without causing too much damage at all.


The main advantage of using palm sanders is the fact that it is very easy to handle and can be used with one hand. This is not true for belt sanders which need two hands to operate properly. For this reason, many people prefer using palm sanders to belt sanders, especially when they are working on smaller surfaces.

Compared with belt sanders, where you have only one choice, there are numerous types of palm sanders available in the market offering different features and accessories. The most common types include orbital palm sander, mini palm sander (also known as detail palm sander), random orbit palm sander, hook & loop or pad attachments (the most popular), etc.

To sum up, belt sanders should be used for heavy-duty jobs or by people who want their machines to deliver results fast while palm sanders seem like a better idea for household use because of their low cost and easy operation.

When it comes down to power, even though they might appear similar at first sight, belt sanders provide more power than the common palm sander which makes them ideal for construction work or professionals who need their equipment delivered fast and reliable. On the other hand, the palm sander is smaller in size and quieter than the belt sander, making it a great choice if you need a versatile power tool that comes in a relatively low price.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.