The 10 Best Cordless Sanders
This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in February of 2017. Free yourself from the restrictions of a power cable with the cordless sanders on our list. Ranked by oscillations per minute, cleanliness of operation, battery life, attachment versatility, and more, one of these is sure to be perfect for your next finishing job. We've included models ideal for woodworking, as well as a few that would be welcome additions to any auto detailing shop. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
March 07, 2019:
Removed the Original Pink Box PB12VCS due to durability concerns and short battery life. Several new items made their debuts, our favorite of which was the Milwaukee M12, which is an excellent car detailing tool. Likewise, the Black+Decker Mouse is one of the best options on the market for getting into corners and other tight spaces. Inexperienced woodworkers may want to start with the Black+Decker Max, as it's easy to use and maintain, although they might find that it has a few annoying qualities that balance out its advantages.
An Examination Of The Three Most Versatile Types Of Cordless Sanders
They are neither as powerful as belt sanders, nor as weak as orbital sanders.
Sanding is a necessity for pretty much every woodworking project. Traditionally, it was a laborious job that required lots of elbow grease and time. Luckily, these days we have powered sanders that make the job fly by, and with minimal exertion needed. In this section, we are going to take a look at the three most versatile types of powered sanders: belt, orbital, and random-orbit.
Belt sanders use a closed-loop piece of sandpaper that is stretched over a belt sitting on two small drums. The rear drum is driven by a motor, while the front drum spins freely. Belt sanders are the most powerful of the three, which makes them the best choice to tackle really coarse wood and cover larger areas, such as doors and tabletops. In addition to removing layers of wood, they can also quickly remove paint, varnish, and stain. Because of their high power and speed, belt sanders aren't known for their finesse, and while an experienced sander may be able to get a nice, finished surface that is ready for paint from them, most amateurs won't. They are also difficult to use on rounded surfaces or corners.
If an ultra-smooth, finished surface is what you are after, then you should probably turn to an orbital sander. These are lightweight and easy to control. Plus, they don't remove a lot of surface material, which makes them ideal for beginners as it is very hard to damage anything with them. They work best for removing hardened wood putty, rounding out rough or sharp edges, and smoothing out paint or varnish that you plan on simply painting over. Despite their name, orbital sanders don't actually rotate, rather they feature a bad that just vibrates.
Finally, we have random-orbit sanders. These are like the Goldilocks of sanders. They are neither as powerful as belt sanders, nor as weak as orbital sanders. This means you can still remove a lot of stock with one, but will have less chance of accidentally damaging a surface as you might with a belt sander. You can also get a nicely finished, perfectly polished surface with them. Random-orbit sanders feature a round base pad that spins and vibrates at the same time in a random orbit. If you could only buy one sander to use on every job, a random-orbit sander would be it.
Sandpaper — It's Not All The Same
If you've ever walked into a store before to buy sandpaper, you have probably noticed it comes in a variety of grit sizes. You may be wondering what exactly the grit size means, and more importantly, which size you should buy. Grit size refers to the number of sharp particles per square inch of paper. The larger the number, or grit size, the more edges the sandpaper will have and the smoother it will be. The lower the number, the less edges it will have, and the coarser it will be.
Ceramic sandpaper is usually only available in very coarse grits as it is designed for shaping wood.
It is important to buy the correct grit size for the task at hand. If you need to do heavy sanding and remove a lot of material, a very coarse paper is your best option, generally somewhere in the 40- to 60-grit range. If you want to smooth out surfaces while also removing a few layers of wood to get rid of small imperfections, a grit size of 80 to 160 should suffice. If you have already removed any imperfections, and your goal is a polished and completely finished surface, you should use a super-fine sandpaper in the 300- to 600-grit range. On many woodworking projects, you may need to start with a lower grit and work you way up to a finer grit.
In addition to grit size, sandpaper comes in a few different abrasive types. The most common are garnet, aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and ceramic. Garnet wears out the quickest, but is capable of producing the smoothest surface. This makes it best when performing the final stages of sanding. Aluminum oxide has a self-renewing property that allows it to keep its sharpness the longest of any of the sandpaper types. Its sharp particles are designed to crumble quickly, creating new sharp edges as you work. Silicon carbide is the hardiest of sandpaper types and won't wear down very quickly, making it ideal for use on plastics and metals. Ceramic sandpaper is usually only available in very coarse grits as it is designed for shaping wood. If you are working on rough stock and need to remove a lot of layers quickly, ceramic is the right sandpaper for you.
The Many Benefits Of Cordless Sanders
Cordless sanders offer many benefits over their corded brethren. While it may have once been true that cordless tools couldn't equal the power of corded models, with the advancements made in battery technology over the last two decades, this is no longer the case.
With a cordless sander, you can work outside, even if you don't have a 50-foot extension cord to run from that power outlet just inside your front door or garage.
Cordless sanders allow you to work in nearly any location, without having to worry about having an outlet nearby. Since sanding is generally a messy job, sending tons of dust into the air, it is nice to have the option of doing it outside when possible. With a cordless sander, you can work outside, even if you don't have a 50-foot extension cord to run from that power outlet just inside your front door or garage.
Speaking of running a 50-foot extension cord along the ground, let's consider the safety implications of that for a minute. Extension cords are notorious for causing accidents on job sites. It is not uncommon for them to go unnoticed by other workers, who may be walking around carrying heavy objects or sharp tools. This can be very dangerous indeed. Cordless sanders eliminate this potential hazard, without compromising your ability to do your work efficiently.
Cordless sanders are generally lighter in weight and more compact than corded models, which makes it easier to transport or store them. Plus, if you buy one from the same manufacturer as the rest of your cordless power tool set, it will most likely make use of the exact same 12-, 18-, or 20-volt battery as they use, so you can swap them out as needed.