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Sheet Sanders - a Buying Guide and Top 10 List

Updated on June 13, 2019
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

An Introduction to Our Best Sheet Sander Buying Guide

Sanding wood is never on anyone’s list of things they want to do. Sanding wood is tedious and physically demanding. That is why powered sanders were developed. If you pick the wrong power sander for the job, you’ll end up with uneven or inferior results. Picking the right sander for the job isn’t enough if you select a sander that doesn’t meet the requirements of the task at hand. But what do you want to look for in sheet sanders? Surface area and size are easily recognized differences between models, but that doesn’t tell you which unit is right for your situation.

We’re going to discuss how sheet sanders are used before giving our recommendations for those who want to buy sheet sanders.

Sanders are typically used to make furniture like tables and bookcases.
Sanders are typically used to make furniture like tables and bookcases. | Source

Our Top 10 Sander Reviews

1 - Bosch Model OS50VC Orbital Sander


This orbital sander has excellent vibration control. The suspension system makes it easy to hold for hours on end. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, this is the best sheet sander on the market. Because you can use it all day and the durable sander survives months of heavy use, it is our top pick for those shopping for a sheet sander.

This ½ sheet sander makes it easy to swap out sand paper. It can hold loose sheets of sand paper, and it can accept stick-on sand paper.

This sheet sander has a smooth variable speed dial. You can gently ramp up the speed to the right OPM for your job.

The Bosch sheet sander comes with a dust canister to contain the debris created by the sanding process. You also have the option of connecting it to a vacuum hose, assuming you have the right connector.

Too many sheet sander reviews leave out issues related to maintainability, but we don’t. One downside of this model is that it is very difficult to get replacement parts.


Pros:

  • Minimal vibration

Cons:

  • Difficulty securing replacement parts


2 - Dewalt Model DWE6411 Quarter Sheet Palm Sander Kit


This is a small sheet sander. It is a quarter sheet sander, designed for fine detail work. The compact body lets you get close to the surface and maneuver in tight corners.

The Dewalt quarter sheet sander can run at up to 14,000 orbits per minute. It has a decent counterweight system to minimize vibrations when it is running at high speeds.

There is a boot over the switch to prevent wood debris clogging it up. The unit has a dust port. It can fit with Dewalt DWV010 and DWV012 dust collectors, and you can connect it to other vacuums with the DWV9000 universal quick connector. This is the best sheet sander for those who own other Dewalt power tools.

It has a three year limited warranty. It comes with a carrying bag, dust bag, paper bunch and the sander itself.

This unit is battery powered. It is sold without batteries. It will consume them quickly, so stock up.


Pros:

  • All in one kit
  • Plug and play with other Dewalt hardware

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with batteries


3 - Makita Brand BO4900V Half Sheet Sander


The Makita model BO4900V ½ sheet sander can run at 4,000 to 10,000 OPM. You simply turn the variable speed dial to make the speed match the application.

This half sheet sander by Makita is unusual for having a built-in paper dust bag. You can also connect it to a vacuum hose to collect the paper.

This half sheet sander has contoured grips for a comfortable grip. It has ergonomic controls. It has a basic one year warranty.

It accepts 4.5” wide sandpaper. It can work with both 9” and 11” long sheets of sand paper. The only downside of the design is the fact that you must use Makita’s brand of sand paper – nothing else fits it. That can make finding replacement sand paper a challenge.


Pros:

  • Multiple means for collecting debris
  • Ergonomic

Cons:

  • Must use Makita sand paper with it


4 - Black and Decker Model BDEQS300 Quarter Sheet Sander


You can hold this sander by the top handle or the extended handle, whichever is more comfortable. Or hold it by both handles for precise control. This quarter sheet sander has a broad, 270° sanding clearance. This sander uses standard 4.5” x 11” sanding sheets. You can buy any brand of 9” x 11” sand paper and cut it in half to fit this sheet sander. The sander holds the sheets down at just the right level of tension. It isn’t much work to take the sand paper off and put on a new sheet.

It has a convenient paddle switch for turning the sander on and off. Simply push down on the top of the unit to turn it on. This is one of the few sanders on the market you can truly comfortably use one handed. Conversely, if your hand comes off the paddle switch, the unit shuts off.

The unit has a better than average dust collection system. It picks up almost all of the debris.

It has a two year limited warranty from the manufacturer. If you use it very long, the warranty is meaningless. If there is anything wrong with it out of the box, return it immediately.

The motor generates a steady 1600 orbits per minute. This speed could be too slow when you want to do anymore more than fine detail work. There’s no variable speed option. Don’t buy this sander if you want to be able to use it for a variety of applications.


Pros:

  • Tight manual control
  • Ideal for detail work

Cons:

  • No variable speed for the sander itself


5 - Makita Model BO3710 Sander


This Makita brand sander is intended for finishing work. It can run at up to 11,000 orbits per minute. It manages to be quieter than other Makita sanders, and it is much quieter than average. It uses one third sanding sheets.

When you buy this sander, you get the sander, a dust bag, punch plate and abrasive paper. There is no carrying case. You can use almost any brand of sand paper with this sheet sander as long as the paper is the right size.

It has a decent counter-balance system to minimize vibrations, though the Bosch unit we listed as number one is better in that regard.

The two finger switch lets you lock it in the one position; you don’t have to keep your hand on the paddle to keep it running.

It attempts to collect dust through the pad. This doesn’t work as well as other dust collectors. Though there is a dust bag, the unit doesn’t pick up all the dust, and the dust bag itself is prone to ripping. It doesn’t work for wet sanding at all. We’ll say that the dust collection through the pad is so-so.

It has a minimal one year warranty. Getting Makita to honor it is a challenge.


Pros:

  • Suited for continual operation
  • Quiet operations

Cons:

  • Mediocre dust collection


6 - Makita Model BO4556K Two Amp 4.5” Finishing Sander


This finishing sander runs at 14,000 orbits per minute. It quickly creates a smooth finish. It does this quietly and with minimal vibration. You won’t suffer hand and elbow pain from extended use of this sheet sander. This is an excellent choice if you have arthritis or a weak grip.

The well-made on / off switch lets you operate this sander one handed. The switch is sealed against dust contamination, too. This is a significant improvement over other sanders that make you hold down the switch to keep the unit running.

One of the points in favor of this finishing sander is the carrying case that comes with it. You also get several sheets of sand paper, a punch plate, and the sander itself. This is the only sheet sander on this list that comes with a carrying case. The lever makes it quick and easy to swap out the sand paper. This is the ideal sheet sander for those who alternate between abrasive papers of different levels of grit to get a perfect finish.

One downside of this model is the tendency of the paper getting stuck inside of it, rendering it unusable. Some users have reported it jamming or breaking after only a few months of use. The connecting hardware in particular is prone to breaking apart, and the rest of the unit falls apart as a result.


Pros:

  • Quick and easy changeover of sand paper
  • Comes with a variety of sand paper

Cons:

  • Not durable
  • Tends to get sand paper stuck in the interior


7 - Porter-Cable Brand Model 380 Quarter Sheet Orbital Sander


This quarter sheet orbital sander was made by Porter-Cable for one handed operation. Its two amp motor generates a steady 13,500 orbits per minute.

It has a steady rate of material removal. This is what you use for moderate sanding, not heavy material removal. Where it stands out is the excellent performance when sanding in corners. The small dust collection bag lets you get it into difficult to reach areas.

One of the benefits of this model is the frustration free packaging it comes in. However, there is no protective carrying case to protect it once you take it out of the packaging.

The unit weighs only two and a half pounds. It is lightweight and easy to manipulate with one hand. The only downside in handling is the tendency to twist as you try to take it along a curve.

One strike against this model is the vibration level. Do not use this sheet sander if you already suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or numbness due to extensive use of power tools.

Its dust collection is mediocre at best. It hardly picks up dust though the pad. Wear a face mask and protective goggles when using this sander.


Pros:

  • Frustration free packaging
  • Sanding in corners

Cons:

  • Vibration
  • Poor dust collection


8 - Bosch Model GSS20-40 Quarter Sheet Orbital Finishing Sander


This orbital sander is designed for fine detail work. This is why it holds quarter sheets of sand paper and fits snugly in your hand. It is a true palm sander. And you can use it for flush sanding, as well.

The motor has a two amp capacity, and the sander operates at 12,000 oscillations per minute. You cannot alter the rotations per minute. Only buy this sander if you want one that will take the paint off a piece of furniture quickly. If you want to smooth down a splintered deck, this sander is one of the better choices.

When you buy the sander, you also get a punch plate, dust canister and a single sheet of sand paper. There is no protective carrying case. The sander has a strong clamp to hold down any sand paper that’s the right size. It accepts stick-on paper as well as hook and loop sand paper sheets.

The sander can accept a 35 mm hose directly into the dust port. There are Bosch brand adapters that let you connect it to a 1.5” and 1.25” hose and suck the debris into your wet/dry vacuum cleaner.

It has good ergonomics. It is comfortable to hold in a variety of positions. It weighs less than three pounds. You can carry it or store it easily. However, it does not have a carrying case.

The unit has a very limited one year warranty that is almost meaningless. If the unit fails after a single use, you may not be able to return it.


Pros:

  • Versatility
  • Accepts a wide range of sand papers

Cons:

  • Almost impossible to use warranty


9 - Black and Decker Model QS900 Quarter Sheet Sander


The model QS900 quarter sheet sander has a compact design perfect for one-handed use. It runs at 16,000 orbits per minute. There is no variable speed adjustment.

The unit comes with a paper punch and one sheet of sandpaper. It also removes 20% more material per minute than its rivals. This is the best sheet sander for small areas when you want to remove a lot of material.

It has a better than average two year warranty. However, since there is a newer model than the QS 900, you may find that the two year warranty doesn’t apply if you buy it new. That will depend on the retailer from whom you buy it. So be careful of the rules regarding the warranty unless you plan on replacing this unit if it breaks.

There are complaints that the unit doesn’t keep sand paper securely in place. However, that may be due to user error. The instructions that come with the sander explaining this are terrible.

It has very good dust collection, and it filters out the fine dust that other units tend to leave in the air. The downside is that the dust catcher doesn’t stay in place. It tends to come off, often spilling the wood debris it collected.


Pros:

  • High material removal rate
  • A good warranty if it is still in effect

Cons:

  • Poor debris containment
  • Lousy instructions


10 - Skil Brand Quarter Sheet Palm Sander, Model 7292-02


This is a quarter sheet palm sander by Skil. This quarter sheet square sander is powered by a strong two amp motor. When you buy the palm sander, you receive one punch plate and one piece of sand paper. There is no protective carrying case.

You control it via a pressure sensor, and it is smart enough to warn you when you’re applying too much pressure. The handles have a soft grip for comfort while you control it. We recommend this sheet sander if you are doing gentle polishing or stain removal work.

It has decent dust filtration for its price class; this is a cheap sheet sander. You can see how much material is inside of the clear dust canister so that you know when to empty it. A point in favor of this unit is the built-in vacuum adapter to maximize dust collection. Other sheet sanders will work with other vacuum adapters made by the same company, but the sanders do not come with that adapter. This one does.

It has a basic one year warranty. The downside of this is how often the hold down handles break after a few weeks or months of heavy use. That’s around the time the warranty is no longer in effect.


Pros:

  • Dust filtration
  • Convenient one handed use

Cons:

  • Not durable
  • Weak warranty

Summary

The best sheet sander for you is the one that fits your hands and the items you’ll be sanding down. Whether you need a compact sander that you can fit between the shelves of book cases you’re re-finishing or the wood deck you’re sanding down is up to you. The ideal sheet sander offers features you’ll appreciate like an easy change out of sand paper, the ability to use a variety of sand papers, and good dust control. Plug and play with the other power tools you have is always a plus.

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