Photograph: Glenda Taylor
Whether or not you intend to color or stain your wooden undertaking, you’ll nearly actually have to sand it to easy the wooden grain, scale back the danger of splinters, and provides the merchandise a pleasant glossy really feel. Element sanders work like different energy sanders—they vibrate or transfer in an orbital movement (tiny circles) to rapidly sand the floor. The one distinction is that element sanders are compact and designed for small sanding duties. They permit the person to easy the wooden grain in tight spots and corners.
When used with finesse, element sanders save time and scale back the danger of cross-grain marks, which might happen with hand sanding in corners and alongside edges. We needed to know which of right now’s best-selling element sanders lived as much as the advertising and marketing hype—so we examined them. We chosen the highest fashions and put them to work in our store. We famous how properly they smoothed the wooden grain and the way simple they had been to make use of.
Sanding is a type of woodworking chores that’s laborious to get enthusiastic about, however having a great element sander could make the job extra nice. Earlier than shopping for, study what to search for in one in every of these compact sanders and learn the way the next fashions earned a spot on our lineup of the perfect element sanders.
- BEST OVERALL: Bosch GSS 18V-10 Cordless Orbital Sander L-Boxx 136
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Skil 1.2 Amp Multi-Sander SR232301
- BEST MOUSE SANDER: Black+Decker Mouse Element Sander BDEMS600
- MOST VERSATILE: Worx 20V Energy Share Sandeck 5-In-1 Multi-Sander
- BEST FOR CORNERS: Ryobi 18V One+ Nook Cat End Sander
Photograph: Glenda Taylor
How We Examined the Finest Element Sanders
In selecting the instruments for testing, we extensively researched greater than 20 compact energy sanders, paying shut consideration to which of them had been extremely rated by skilled woodworkers and DIYers. We thought of model fame—producers like Bosch are well-known for producing top-notch energy instruments—however we didn’t get rid of smaller firms if the gadgets had been high quality made and provided features we thought of vital.
In our hands-on testing, we used every device to sand varied sorts of hardwood and pine. We famous how properly they smoothed the wooden grain and whether or not they left any sanding marks. We awarded factors primarily based on a rubric—the higher a sander carried out a particular operate, the extra factors it acquired. We additionally awarded factors for ergonomic design, useful options like dust-collection techniques, and general energy.
After testing, we added and averaged the factors for every mannequin and used the ultimate figures to assist decide our prime picks and the perfect classes for every sander.
Our Prime Picks
Massive energy sanders are usually too huge and cumbersome to make use of in corners and slender spots, so artisans and cupboard makers will flip to element sanders to easy the wooden in these areas. The next element sanders excelled in our hands-on exams for efficiency and ease of use. Whereas they fluctuate in options, equipment, and worth, every is a prime performer in its class. One is certain to be a superb addition to your woodworking device assortment.
We’re aware of the prime quality of Bosch instruments, so we had been excited to check out their compact 18-volt cordless orbital element sander. We weren’t disillusioned. This helpful little sander comes with interchangeable sanding plates in three configurations—sq., rectangular, and mouse (three-sided with some extent, comparable in form to a clothes iron). Every plate has hook-and-loop (Velcro-type) sanding pads that keep firmly connected throughout operation.
We charged a Bosch 4-amp-hour (Ah) li-ion battery (battery and charger bought individually) and began testing. We connected the sq. plate to the sander utilizing a screwdriver (included) and positioned a sq. sanding pad on the plate. We examined the sander on each hardwood (oak and ash) and softwood (pine). The Bosch orbits at as much as 22,000 orbits per minute (OPM). It made fast work of smoothing out the wooden grain on all three sorts of wooden.
We then switched to the mouse-shaped plate and pad and used the tip to sand alongside the grooves and edges of trim boards. The mouse plate makes the Bosch a cutting-edge element sander as a result of it permits customers to sand in restricted spots. After sanding, we fastidiously checked the wooden utilizing a powerful work gentle and didn’t detect any cross-grain scratches. We attribute the wonderful outcomes primarily to Bosch’s excessive OPM, however we additionally used gentle strain when sanding. Agency strain on an influence sander is extra prone to lead to scratch marks.
A pleasant add-on is the onboard dust-collection system that contains a detachable mud field. Even when utilizing the mud field, some sanding mud escaped into the air. Nonetheless, we had been impressed with how a lot was collected within the field. We estimated about 90 p.c of the mud ended up within the mud field—that’s numerous mud we prevented inhaling.
For us, a slight draw back was the highest grip, which felt a bit extensive and awkward. It wasn’t terrible, however we thought the ergonomics might have benefitted from the edges being narrower, making it simpler to know and management with one hand. General, the Bosch element sander is superb: It gives excessive OPMs, low vibration, and the mud catcher considerably reduces airborne mud.
- Sander sort: Orbital
- Energy supply: Rechargeable li-ion battery
- Weight: 3.3 kilos
- Snap-off mud catcher collects as a lot as 90 p.c of sanding mud for cleaner air
- Simple on/off button on the entrance of the device makes for easy operation
- 3 plate configurations enable customers to pick out the correct measurement and form
- Battery and charger should be bought individually (any 18-volt Bosch battery will match)
- Prime grip is barely awkward for controlling the sander with 1 hand
Get the Bosch element sander at Amazon or ToolNation (with battery and charger).
With the Skil element sander, customers can sand alongside edges, in corners, and even on contoured rails with out spending rather a lot. The corded sander boasts useful equipment, together with a skinny sanding pad known as a finger pad, a bigger mouse pad, a small mouse pad, and a contour sanding attachment. We began testing with the big mouse sanding pad on hardwood and pine. It has a cushty prime grip that’s simple to know and management. The Skil options 13,500 OPM, which isn’t as quick as our Finest General decide, however it’s respectable and smoothed the wooden grain rapidly.
We did discover just a few superficial cross-grain marks on the wooden after sanding (when examined below very robust gentle), however general the Skil did an excellent job. With simply a few swipes of micro-grit sandpaper, we had been in a position to buff out the marks—and woodworkers will usually wish to end up with a micro grit anyway for the smoothest end.
We additionally examined the accent plates, and we actually preferred the finger attachment that allowed us to sand between the again rails on a picket rocking chair. We additionally appreciated the contour sanding accent that allowed us to sand the spherical rails themselves. Spherical rails are one of the time-consuming objects to sand, so this can be a good add-on.
The Skil additionally comes with a micro-filtration system and a dust-collection canister. It didn’t acquire as a lot sanding mud as we might have preferred—we estimated it received about 80 p.c—however that’s a lot better than no dust-collection canister in any respect.
The Skil element sander is a good little store device for many sanding wants, and it comes at a lovely worth level. Customers might have to comply with up with a lightweight hand sanding with micro-grit sandpaper for a flawless sealed end, but when the merchandise shall be painted, no extra sanding could also be obligatory.
- Sander sort: Orbital
- Energy supply: Corded, electrical
- Weight: 2.6 kilos
- Ergonomic, nonslip grip makes it simple to manage the sander
- Hook-and-loop system holds sanding pads firmly on the plates
- Comes with attachments for sanding slender spots and rails
- Mud canister collects majority of sanding mud however about 20 p.c nonetheless escapes
Get the Skil element sander at Amazon or Menards.
These in search of a compact mouse sander to get into tight spots want look no additional than Black+Decker’s helpful little element sander that comes with a finger attachment for moving into the narrowest locations. Plus, like most of the element sanders we examined, the Black+Decker mannequin has a built-in dust-collection system that we estimated collected about 80 p.c of the sanding mud. The mud canister snaps off simply for dumping.
We began testing utilizing the common mouse sanding plate and one of many included hook-and-loop sanding pads. The sander made fast work of smoothing down the wooden grain on each hardwood and pine, however we weren’t bought on the grip. Whereas it may be grasped like a primary prime grip, it additionally has an prolonged bar grip—a good suggestion, however the house between the grip and the mud canister is comparatively slender and never preferrred for people with massive fingers.
That time apart, the Black+Decker, which has an orbiting velocity of 16,000 OPM, did an honest job of sanding with out leaving cross-grain marks on flat boards. We subsequent linked the element finger attachment and used it to sand between chair rails. This process did go away just a few gentle sanding marks however nothing that couldn’t be rapidly smoothed out with a little bit of micro-grit sanding paper.
- Sander sort: Orbital
- Energy supply: Corded, electrical
- Weight: 2.4 kilos
- Conventional mouse-shaped sander for sanding alongside edges and in tight spots
- Comes with a dust-collection system to assist scale back airborne sanding mud
- Contains a slender finger attachment for sanding slender spots
- Doesn’t acquire all of the sanding mud—about 20 p.c escapes
- Prolonged grip is healthier suited to these with small fingers
Get the Black+Decker element sander at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Menards.
Worx will not be the best-known device producer within the nation, however they knocked it out of the ballpark with this little sander. It has high-end choices, together with a number of sanding plates and equipment, an environment friendly dust-collection system, a battery, and a charger.
That’s not all—once we turned on the Worx sander, we felt a well-known gyroscopic motion that solely happens with a random orbital sander. Along with its common orbital motion, the Worx sander incorporates a random movement that ensures the grit on the sandpaper doesn’t sand in the identical place twice. The aim of random orbital sanders is to additional scale back the danger of sanding marks—and it labored very properly. We discovered no cross-grain sanding marks after finishing our flat-sanding exams.
We additionally tried out the equipment that got here with the Worx sander, together with a finger sanding attachment, a contour sanding attachment, a mouse plate, and a sq. plate. A pleasant characteristic of this sander is the flexibility to decide on the sanding velocity by way of a speed-adjustment dial. We preferred that characteristic since completely different initiatives name for various sanding speeds.
The dust-collection system on the Worx can also be versatile. It comes with a bag that collects what we estimated to be about 85 p.c of the mud and could be linked to a shop-type vacuum. Once we linked it to our vacuum, it collected about 95 p.c of the mud. The difficulty was the vacuum hose received in our means throughout testing.
The grip on the Worx sander is comfy and properly designed. It’s made to carry with one hand, and (if desired) a second hand could be positioned on the highest of the sander for added management.
We had been impressed by the Worx sander’s high quality and options however would have preferred a higher-capacity battery. It comes with a 2Ah rechargeable battery, however anybody who must do numerous sanding might want to put money into a extra highly effective battery that received’t run out of juice rapidly.
- Sander sort: Random orbital
- Energy supply: Rechargeable li-ion battery
- Weight: 4.4 kilos
- Random orbital motion for fast smoothing of wooden grain with out scratching
- A number of attachments for versatile sanding initiatives and mud assortment
- Comes with every thing wanted to get began proper out of the field
- Battery is on the low-capacity facet at 2Ah
Get the Worx element sander at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Dwelling Depot.
Ryobi, one in every of The Dwelling Depot’s flagship manufacturers, has created a compact cordless sander that’s properly suited to sanding in corners or alongside edges. This helpful little element sander comes with a high-capacity 4Ah rechargeable battery and a charger, and we discovered it a pleasure to make use of.
It lacks a self-contained dust-collection system, which is a draw back, however it does have a slot on the facet the place we might have hooked our store vacuum hose if we’d had the dust-port attachment, which, sadly, is bought individually. We toughed it out and wore our mud masks as a result of the sander generated a great deal of mud.
It solely has a triangular mouse base, however we really feel that’s probably the most generally used base in a element sander. The ergonomic grip sits immediately above the sanding plate, which gives most management. In testing, the Ryobi Cat end sander rapidly eliminated tough wooden grain and left the floor easy to the contact. It was simple to make use of and had minimal vibration, so we might sand longer with out experiencing hand and wrist fatigue.
This orbital sander produces 11,000 OPM, and we discovered solely a few very advantageous cross-grain marks that had been solely seen below a powerful work gentle. We had been in a position to sand effectively in corners and alongside edges easily. This compact sander weighs in at simply 1.54 kilos with out the battery, making it one of many lightest fashions we examined, but it does a superb job of rapidly smoothing out tough wooden.
- Sander sort: Orbital
- Energy supply: Cordless, li-ion rechargeable battery
- Weight: 1.54 kilos
- Light-weight and ergonomically designed to attenuate hand and wrist fatigue
- Comes with a high-efficiency 4Ah battery and charger
- Compact measurement for reaching into tight areas and restricted spots
- No onboard dust-collection system; adapter for a vacuum sells individually
Learn our full overview: Ryobi 18V One+ Nook Cat End Sander
Get the Ryobi element sander at The Dwelling Depot.
What to Take into account When Selecting the Finest Element Sander
Photograph: Glenda Taylor
When looking for the perfect element sander to assist sort out a woodworking undertaking, take into account whether or not a cordless or corded mannequin can be finest. Further elements to remember embody battery energy (for cordless fashions) and the supply of a dust-collection system. Plus, don’t overlook about ergonomics—a lot of right now’s prime element sanders include padded, nonslip grips designed to attenuate vibration.
Probably the most frequent sanding base configurations discovered on a element sander is mouse formed. The extensive space of the mouse sanding pad is appropriate for sanding massive flat sections of wooden, whereas the tip of the pad is finest suited to sanding in corners or alongside slender edges. Many fashions include attachments that supply specialised sanding, equivalent to sanding fingers that can be utilized in restricted spots like between chair rails, or contour sanding pads that enable the person to easy cylindrical shapes—such because the rails themselves.
Most of right now’s prime element sanders additionally include dust-collection techniques to cut back airborne sanding mud by way of an onboard assortment canister or a port that attaches to the person’s shop-type vacuum for mud assortment.
Element sanders are both corded or cordless. There are drawbacks and advantages to each sorts.
- Corded element sanders require an influence twine. These gadgets usually have a better energy output than cordless sanders, although they’re restricted by the size of the twine. The device could be plugged right into a heavy-duty extension twine to realize extra freedom to maneuver round, however an accessible energy outlet remains to be obligatory.
- Cordless element sanders depend on a chargeable battery to energy the sanding pad, although they can not often produce the identical energy output as a corded sander. Nonetheless, customers needn’t to fret about tripping over a twine or getting the cable twisted up whereas attempting to work. Energy capability is decided by the battery’s amp hours, and most customers will desire a minimal of 3Ah to 4Ah batteries to maintain from having to recharge steadily.
The velocity of the element sander is an important issue to think about. Pace for a element sander refers to orbital velocity, the variety of instances the sanding pad strikes in tiny circles in 1 minute. This velocity is measured in OPM. The upper the OPM fee of the element sander, the simpler it’s at eradicating tough wooden.
Nonetheless, very excessive speeds could be counterproductive for some woodworking initiatives as a result of an inexperienced person can grind away an excessive amount of materials in only a few seconds. Element sanders can vary in velocity from round 10,000 to 25,000 OPM.
If the flexibility and maneuverability of a cordless element sander appear extra interesting than coping with an influence twine, the runtime ought to issue into the buying resolution. Runtime refers back to the time the sander can function on a full battery cost. Nonetheless, this doesn’t take into account the kind of wooden, the age of the battery, or the person’s expertise.
Dense supplies, like sturdy hardwood, would require extra vitality to get the specified outcomes, and so they can put on down the battery quicker than softer supplies. Equally, an inexperienced person might push too laborious on the sander, inflicting it to attract extra energy from the battery than obligatory. The extra usually the battery is used and recharged, the shorter the runtime till it turns into a greater concept simply to interchange the battery.
Ease of Use
When customers are deciding on the perfect element sander for his or her subsequent undertaking, just a few elements, together with weight, vibration, and design, could make the device simpler or more difficult to make use of. Usually, a element sander weighs between 1 and 4 kilos.
Element sanders function at excessive speeds between 10,000 to 25,000 OPM, which might produce vital vibration. To save lots of fingers from muscle fatigue and pressure, search for a sander with ergonomic handles coated in vibration-dampening padding. The additional padding will scale back the sander’s tendency to vibrate, making the work simpler on fingers.
After deciding on the velocity, energy, runtime, and use, it’s time to search for enticing extra options like strain detection, mud assortment, equipment, and security options.
- Mud-collection techniques incorporate a fan into the element sander, permitting it to suck up any mud created. This technique might embody a dust-collection compartment or bag, however some fashions require a separate system or vacuum.
- Equipment can embody extra sandpaper, element sanding attachments, sander blades, equipment instances, and carrying instances.
- Security options for element sanders focus totally on decreasing muscle pressure and fatigue via vibration-dampening padding. Nonetheless, some merchandise additionally might have built-in lights to assist customers see in dim lighting situations.
Element sanders have a compact form and a triangular sanding pad to allow them to entry hard-to-reach places on woodworking initiatives like corners, edges, and odd angles. Nonetheless, these gadgets can also embody detail-sanding attachments to account for slender areas, just like the hole between the spindles of a wooden chair’s backrest.
Some instruments can change out the sanding pad for a chopping blade, permitting them for use for a variety of duties, together with chopping, grinding, scraping, and grout elimination. If any such multifunction element sander appears interesting, search for a device with an entire package and a carrying bag to maintain the equipment secure and arranged when not in use.
Sand, easy, form, and end advantageous furnishings, doorways, and extra with a element sander. For those who aren’t solely certain the way to use a element sander or what grit of sandpaper can be finest, check out the solutions under to some generally requested questions on these instruments.
Q. What’s a element sander used for?
A element sander can be utilized on varied woodworking initiatives, like refinishing a door, desk, cupboard, or dresser. The aim of any such sander is to sand corners, tight areas, and any detailed patterns or designs within the wooden.
Q. How do you utilize a element sander?
To make use of a element sander, first equip it with a bit of sandpaper after which join the battery or energy twine. Activate the sander earlier than inserting it on the wooden. Keep away from forcing the sander down into the wooden; as a substitute, take it sluggish and permit the element sander to take away the highest layer of fabric to show a easy floor.
Q. How do I do know which sandpaper to make use of?
Sandpaper is organized by grit. Sandpaper with decrease numbers like 40 to 50 grit signifies coarse sandpaper, whereas excessive numbers start at about 120 grit and exceed 220 grit. These greater numbers signify advantageous or extra-fine sandpaper. Coarse sandpaper is used to take away numerous materials rapidly, however it will possibly go away some roughness behind. Positive sandpaper doesn’t take away a lot materials, however the end is gentle and easy. Select the sandpaper that most closely fits your objectives.
Q. Why received’t sandpaper persist with my sander?
If sandpaper received’t persist with your element sander, the sander pad probably must be cleaned or changed. If the pad is broken or worn out, it should be changed.
Why Belief Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. Because the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV collection together with “This Outdated Home” and “Bob Vila’s Dwelling Once more,” he popularized and have become synonymous with “do-it-yourself” dwelling enchancment.
Over the course of his decades-long profession, Bob Vila has helped thousands and thousands of individuals construct, renovate, restore, and reside higher every day—a practice that continues right now with professional but accessible dwelling recommendation. The Bob Vila group distills need-to-know data into undertaking tutorials, upkeep guides, device 101s, and extra. These dwelling and backyard specialists then totally analysis, vet, and advocate merchandise that help householders, renters, DIYers, and professionals of their to-do lists.
Meet the Tester
Glenda Taylor is a product tester and author specializing in development, transforming, and actual property. She and her husband personal a basic contracting firm, and he or she is skilled in each residential and business constructing purposes. She exams a variety of energy instruments in addition to different dwelling enchancment, family, and lawn-and-garden merchandise.
Further analysis offered by Timothy Dale.