The Best Sheet Sander for 2015-2016

Things to keep in mind when purchasing a sander

Selecting a sheet sander is difficult; there are endless options on the market. Choosing the best sheet sander comes down to a few key details:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Amperes (Amps)
  • Speed

They have two different sizes: 1/4 Sheet and 1/2 Sheet. This is mostly a matter of preference, however 1/4 machines were the only ones to make this list.

OPM or RPM: orbits per minute or revolutions per minute are used to measure the speed of the sander’s rotation. The higher the number, the faster it rotates. More rotations equals less time to complete your sanding task.

Amperes: Amps refer to how much power the sander has. Like OPMs and RPMs, a higher number equals more power.

Weight: You don’t want a sander that’s too light. A light sander requires more pressure from you to do its task. However, a heavy sander is just as bad. You want something light enough to move easily, but heavy enough to reduce the effort you exert.

The 5 Best Sheet Sanders

#1 – Porter-Cable Speed-Bloc 1/4 Sheet Finishing Sander Model #330

The Porter-Cable Speed-Bloc Quarter Sheet Finishing Sander is a powerful tool that gets the job done. This tool is the most recommended one by professionals and handy home owners alike for its durability, power, and ease of use. This sander also features rubber posts that save your hands from the machine’s vibrations and resulting fatigue.

  • 14,000 OPM
  • 2 amps
  • Weighs 4.75 lbs
  • CSA Listed
  • 3 Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty

#2 – Milwaukee 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander Model #6033-21

The Milwaukee has a permanent magnet motor, which lowers operating temperatures, keeps speeds high, and extends the life of the motor. It also comes with a universal vacuum hose adaptor for efficient dust cleanup. It has a unique, plastic canister for the attached dust collection system, simple button-style clamps, and has a cord length of 54 feet.

  • 14,000 OPM
  • 3 amps
  • Weighs 3.505 lbs
  • 1-UL Listed
  • 5 Year Manufacturer Warranty

#3 – Milwaukee 1/4 Model #6020-21

This Milwaukee sander also has a permanent magnet motor, 3 amps, and an attached dust collection system. However, this model has the option of choosing different speeds and power for all your sanding needs. It has a removable top for easy service, integrated vacuum ports, pad cushioning, ergonomic handle, and brake.

  • 14,000 OPM
  • 3 amps
  • Weighs 7.51 lbs
  • 1-UL Listed
  • 5 Year Limited Tool Manufacturer Warranty

#4 – Ryobi  1/4 Model # S652DGK

This compact sander has a ball-bearing motor, attached dust collection system, and a lock-on button. It’s a powerful machine known for its durability, power, good size, and light weight.

  • 14,000 OPM
  • 2 amps
  • Weighs 3.4 lbs
  • 1-UL Listed
  • 3 Year Manufacturer Warranty

#5 – Makita 1/4 Sheet Sander Model # BO4556K

The Makita has a comfortable handle with an on/off switch within easy reach of your fingers. Large clamp levers make switching sandpaper quick and easy. This is, by far, the lightest sander on the list, but it still gets the job done nicely.

  • 14,000 OPM
  • 2 amps
  • Weighs 2.4 lbs
  • 1-UL Listed
  • 1 Year Manufacturer Warranty

How to Use a Sheet Sander

Sheet sanders are power tools used to smooth flat surfaces. This type of sander is most often used on wood, however, it’s also a great tool for drywall and veneer.

Economical, unlike their disk-bottomed cousins, sheet sanders have either a rectangular or square bottom that allows them to use portions of a sheet of sandpaper. Depending on the model, sanders either jitter from side-to-side, or move in a circular pattern. Some models even give you the option of switching between the two patterns.

They are simple to use. There are, however, some tricks you need to know to get the great results you are looking for.

Step 1 – Which sandpaper do I use?

Many hardware stores sell sandpaper sheets that fit 1/4 or 1/2 sheet sanders. But what if you can’t find the correct grain or size you need? Sheet sanders make it easy. Grab a full sheet of sandpaper and scissors and cut the sandpaper sheet in half or quarters. Then, you’re ready to get started.

Start your sanding project with the correct grit of sandpaper if you want to save time and effort. The coarsest grade needed for your project will go on the sander first, and then switch to finer and finer grits to remove any scratches or swirls.

Step 2 – Attach the sandpaper

There is a clip on the front and back end to hold the sandpaper sheets in place. For each sander, make sure the sandpaper is snug. You don’t want it too loose or too tight.

Clip Style 1

Some sanders have a clip that opens by lifting a small tab. While holding the tab up, slide the sandpaper into the slot. Make sure it is straight and even. Let go of the tab. Then repeat on the other side.

Clip Style 2

This style is very similar to the first clip style. There are some slight differences, though. This style opens the front and back clamps from the side. Most models use a metal wire with a loop at the end. Lift the wire up. Insert the sandpaper into the slot in the front of the sander. Make sure it is straight and even. To close the clamp, return the wire to its initial position. Repeat on the other side.

Hole Punch

Some models come with an attached vacuum bag that sucks up dust through holes in the bottom of the sander. If you’re using your own sandpaper, you will need to use the hole punch that comes with your device. Once the sandpaper is attached to your tool, press the sander onto the hole punch. Don’t punch holes first or they might not be aligned, making the vacuum less efficient.

Step 3 – Safety first!

Each time you sand, you must wear safety goggles and a dust mask. Sanding is a messy task, and you don’t want wood particles flying in your eyes. You also don’t want fine particles floating in the air to end up in your lungs. The last thing you want is COPD or other respiratory problems.

If you are sanding painted wood, check to make sure the paint wasn’t lead-based. Lead exposure can cause severe health and neurological problems, even death. If your wood was painted with lead paint, DO NOT SAND IT. Replace it.

Finally, use common sense. Sheet sanders are simple to use, however, they are power tools that can cause serious harm if not used properly.

Step 4 – Sand like a pro

Once you turn on the sander and place it on the sanding project, it’s time to get going.

The first thing to remember is that, when turned on, the tool’s bottom is in constant motion. From the moment the sander touches your project, it sands. Avoid pits and swirls in the wood by never letting the sander stay in one spot, and keep a constant and even pressure on the device.

Next, remember to sand with the grain. Going against the grain can leave scratches in the material that take time and effort to remove.

Keep the sander flat on the wood. Don’t place more weight on the nose of the sander, or on the sides. It will sand unevenly and leave dips and waves in your material. It is especially important to keep the sander flat when going over the edge of a project. Tilting it off the edge will round the edges and you’ll lose that crisp line. You can use this to your advantage for certain projects, though. If you want to make a curved edge, just rock the sander back and forth over the edge, maintaining even pressure and keep the sander moving.


Think you’ve got it? Before you start, here are a few main points to remember.

  • Sheet sanders can use portions of full sheets of sandpaper.
  • Start with a coarse grain and work your way down to the finest grain of sandpaper your project needs.
  • Your sandpaper should not be too loose or too tight on your device.
  • Safety first: Wear goggles and a dust mask, and check painted wood for lead.
  • Keep the sander in constant motion with evenly applied pressure.
  • Sand with the grain.