Looking for sander suggestions

Attention. Vicarious tool shopping opportunity ahead. Sarah in Illinois needs your help selecting her new sander. Our sander is one of the few tools that I’ve bought for myself, rather than getting a hand-me-down. Like Sarah’s last sander, I bought it quickly without much research. But it’s also one of my most used tools, so I’m very interested to hear your suggestions of what sander or brand you recommend.

Since most of my summer has been spent out in the yard and garden, I was really excited the other day to have a chance to spend a few minutes on a project in the wood shop. I actually have to admit I am looking forward to cold winter months because I will have more time to spend out there.

However, when I grabbed one of my most used tools and found it had finally died, I decided it was time to do a little research and add a replacement to my Christmas wish list.

I need a new electric hand sander.

(Honesty here: I am not being sponsored by anyone to write this. The following is my opinion on my experiences. And a note from Julia: Links are not affiliate links.)

For years I had a DeWalt hand sander. Actually I had two: a 1/4 sheet palm sander and a random orbit sander. I used them and used them until they literally fell apart in my hands. I found this picture from years ago when I was sanding wood siding on my old house.

At some point, I needed a sander and ran to town and found something inexpensive to use to get me by. That’s how I ended up with a Skil.

This sander lasted much longer than I ever expected, but I was never happy with the hook and loop attachment for the sandpaper. Many times it flung the paper off in the middle of use. I know that hook and loop attachment seems to common with most sanders, but I actually prefer using adhesive backed paper.

Steve and I have had very good luck with Hitachi brand tools. We now have a compound miter saw, portable chop saw, cordless drill and 9 inch grinder all Hitachi brand, and we couldn’t be happier with the longevity and strength of these tools. So naturally I looked first at Hitachi. I was thrilled to see they still make a 1/4 sheet hand sander. They also have two options for orbital sanders that both have hook and loop attachment. DeWalt has a similar option.

So here is the reason for this post: I want to hear from other people with actual experience. What hand sander do you use? What brands have you had luck with? Which ones would you not recommend? How do you feel about hook and loop attachment versus adhesive back versus 1/4 sheet that is held on with clamps?

Finally, the reason I was out in the wood shop the other day: Our small town is having a scarecrow contest. There are many scarecrows all over town and I decided to add one at work. (The sander was needed for that mega-wrench he is holding!)

I was late getting him ready, so I didn’t get to enter the contest, but it is still fun to decorate and join the fall spirit around town. Here is the link to the contest entries if you would like to see the fantastic scarecrows.

I am so glad to live in a town that is so friendly and has such great community spirit.

What a great community building project, Sarah. I love seeing people’s creativity with their scarecrows.

We have a random orbit sander made by Mastercraft (I think it’s Canadian Tire’s brand). I bought it very much like you bought your Skil–quickly and cheaply. But I’ve been pretty happy with it. It is hook and loop, and I’ve had no issues with the pads staying attached. The sawdust bag sometimes slips off, which can be a bit annoying, but usually I just leave it off and accept the dust. It’s a bit big for my hands–usually I’m for gender equality, but tools made for smaller hands would be a very good thing. Just don’t make them pink.

Now over to everyone else. What sander(s) do you recommend?

6 thoughts on “Looking for sander suggestions

  1. I’m a part time wood butcher; therefore, even though I own a few tools by Makita and Dewalt and Porter Cable, best quality is not an absolute necessity. I was into a cabinet project and needed a new hand sander. Settled on a Black & Decker random orbit hook and loop hand sander. Also, it has a palm activated switch which I like. Works fine and based on my use it should last a long time.
    The 1/4 sheet sand paper vs hook and loop is a matter of preference. 1/4 sheet is cheaper since full sheets can be cut down to fit sander. I personally like hook and loop. Use compressed air frequently to keep the hook surface of the sander sanding platform clean. This will help the loop side of the paper hold better and longer with use. Also, a few shots of compressed air on the grit side of the paper to remove sanding dust build-up will will extend the sandpaper life. Good luck.

  2. Hi, I’ve worked with wood for quite a few years so here’s my two cents. If your sanding something pretty rough or slightly contoured I think the random orbit works best. The 1/4 sheet is more for finish. The hook and loop is nice because you can start with coarse grit and finish with fine, its easy to move between grits with hook and loop. As for brands you don’t need the most expensive but don’t buy the cheapest. I’ve gone through multiple Skil sanders for my one Dewalt. Hitachi and Porter Cable are usually good. As for adjustable speed I’ve learned to live without it, seems like something else to break. Hope this helps. Joe

    • Thank you so much Joe. You are correct in saying that it is easier to move between grits with hook and loop. I just need to get over my stubbornness and admit that hook and loop is here to stay.

      I am definitely leaning towards the Hitachi with our previous experience with the brand. Thanks for your input!

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