Last Updated on August 14, 2020 by builder Aaron Barnett
The best finishing sander has low vibration despite its power and runs on a range of variable speeds. Both Makita and Dewalt have good finishing sanders to look into. What makes finishing sanders the right choice is when you need an electric sander that will sand wood in the direction of the wood grain for the smoothest finish compared to tools that use a rotational motion.
#3 Best ergonomic finishing sander
Makita BO3710 1/3 in, 1.7 amp Finishing sander
#4 Most powerful 2.3 amp finishing sander
Dewalt DWE6411K 1/4 in, 2.3 amp Finishing sander
Best cordless finishing sander
#3 Best single-speed cordless sander
Ryobi P440 1/4 in, 18V Finishing sanders
A finishing sander is a powered tool that is typically used for polishing, shaping, or smoothing wooden surfaces. However, finishing sanders can also be used on plastic and metal with the right sanding paper installed.
Most finishing sanders have rectangular bases on which you can attach ¼ or ½ sheet of sandpaper. The sandpaper is what comes into contact with your work surface, smoothing down rough areas.
A finishing sander can save you considerable time and money compared to doing the sanding by hand. Finishing sanders usually provide a much finer and smoother finish than other types of sanders. With the right finishing sander and proper technique, you can get an extremely polished appearance in almost any work surface.
Reasons to buy a finishing sander
There are many reasons to buy a finishing sander, but the main reason is that they enable you to create a fine and polished surface on practically any workpiece. Whether you are a furniture maker, a builder, or a hobbyist, a finishing sander will undoubtedly find many uses in your day-to-day work. Here are some situations for which a finishing sander will come in handy:
What features should you look for in a finishing sander?
A finishing sander is primarily intended to make sanding work easier and more efficient. These types of sanders also give you more professional-looking results than you would be able to achieve with other types of sanders, whether manual or powered. If you’re looking for sanders such as Makita, Bosch, Craftsman, or porter cable finishing sander, here are some of the most important features to look for when shopping for a finishing sander:
Ease of use
A finishing sander should be reasonably easy to use. It should give you impressive-looking results even if you don’t have a lot of experience. Changing sandpapers should also be reasonably quick and easy.
Power and performance
Finishing sanders should provide just enough power to produce great-looking results. Unlike most other power tools with which power is often preferable, finishing sanders work best with relatively light pressure. You should, therefore, go for smoothness and low vibration rather than sheer brute power.
The ability to adjust the speed from slow to fast is essential in a finishing sander. You need to be able to dial the speed down low for delicate surfaces and crank it up for more aggressive polishing.
A finishing sander should feel comfortable in your hand, without too much jerkiness or vibration. It should be comfortable to use even for prolonged sanding sessions and allow you to position your hands for maximum comfort.
You need to consider the type of hand grips that come with your finishing sander. It should be able to reduce vibration and allow you to control the tool precisely.
Dust collection system
Dust is an inevitable part of sanding whether you use a powered or manual sander. Look for a finishing sander with a dust catching system that is compatible with workshop vacuums.
Finally, consider purchasing a sander with a trigger lock. This will let you keep the sander going even if you take your finger off the trigger. This feature helps prevent user fatigue, particularly during long sanding sessions.
Corded finishing sander vs. Cordless finishing sander
If you’ve been following my website for a while, you already know that I’m a big fan of cordless power tools. Light, convenient, and easy to use…what’s not to like? But when it comes to finishing sanders, I would have to give the advantage to corded sanders.
Sanding is pretty power-intensive work, for lengthy sessions, and not many cordless options are available. Here are the relative advantages and disadvantages of corded and cordless finishing sanders.
What do you need to know about a corded finishing sander?
However, you should understand that:
What do you need to know about a cordless finishing sander?
However, you should be aware that:
Who uses a finishing sander?
Finishing sanders are powerful tools that will find use in almost any workshop. If you do a lot of woodworking, a finishing sander is a useful addition to your arsenal.
Finishing sanders are primarily used by professional woodworkers when they want to create a fine finish on the surface of furniture or get a more polished appearance.
Even DIYers and casual woodworking enthusiasts will have good use for finishing sanders when they need to create a smooth and polished surface. Sanders for woodworking provide professional-looking results that would be difficult to achieve via manual sanding.
After using a thickness planer like recommended here a finishing sander is a fast way to give your boards a final last finish.
Finishing sander vs. Orbital sander
Orbital sanders perform practically the same function as a finishing sander. They can even be used interchangeably, depending on the job. But orbital sanders aren’t nearly as effective as finishing sanders for producing a fine, polished finish on exposed wood grain.
Orbital sanders can leave circular marks on wooden surfaces. If you want to have as flawless a surface as possible, you would be better off with a finishing sander that sands in the direction of the wood grain, instead of in a circle.
Of course, you can start sanding with an orbital sander as they are faster and then switch to a finishing sander for the final result. In most cases, however, you could probably get the results you want solely by using a finishing sander.
Choosing the top corded finishing sander
The Makita B04900V is easily one of the best-corded Makita finishing sanders on the market. It is driven by a powerful 2.9-amp motor, with a variable speed control dial that ramps up the speed from 4,000 to 10,000 oscillations-per-minute (OPM). This lets you adjust the speed according to the task at hand.
The B04900V has a unique “through-the-pad” dust collection system that keeps the workplace clean and free of dust. It even hooks up to most standard vacuum hose sizes for even more efficient dust collection. And with contoured grips and low vibration, this Makita finishing sander can be used for hours of fatigue-free operation.
#1 Top high-quality finishing sander
The Bosch OS50VC is the most expensive sander in this roundup, but you do get a lot for the money. It has a unique flush sanding capability that lets you sand close to a vertical position on any surface, which is pretty handy for woodworking jobs. The OS50VC also has an ingenious SheetLoc clamping system that ensures a perfect fit with any sandpaper.
It even accepts stick-on sandpaper, which is excellent for sanding on-the-go.
Premium corded finishing sanders
The Dewalt DWE6411K is one of the best values in finishing sanders on the market. The powerful 2.3-amp motor drives the sander at 14,000 OPM, which is more than enough for most sanding applications. The DWE6411K has an efficient locking dust-port system that lets you connect almost any standard vacuum hose for maximum dust collection efficiency.
This particular model uses mesh sandpaper, which is washable and less prone to clogging than standard sandpapers.
Best value corded finishing sander
The WEN 6313 may be one of the cheapest sanders in this review, but don’t let the low price fool you. This compact and lightweight sander is as efficient as they come and could give more expensive models a run for their money. The 1.2-amp single-speed motor is reasonably powerful, topping out at 12,000 OPM.
This should be sufficient for most sanding jobs. In any case, the 6313’s lightweight and compact form factor make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a ‘no-frills’ sander.
Best low-cost corded finishing sander
Best cordless finishing sander
The Dewalt DCW200B is the most powerful and most efficient cordless finishing sander you can buy. The brushless motor provides sufficient grunt for most tasks and allows for superior runtime and maximum efficiency in a portable model.
The unit features a variable speed control that lets you dial down the sander to 8,000 OPM for delicate work, and ramp it up to 14,000 OPM for more aggressive sanding.
The DCW200B has a remarkably low profile that lets you get close to the surface of your workpiece, allowing for more precise sanding. Other features include a secure sandpaper clamp and a dust-sealed switch that ensures trouble-free operation.
#1 Most powerful cordless finishing sander
The Ridgid R86064B is a variable speed sander that lets you go from low to medium to high at a flick of a digital switch. This gives you a good range of speeds to tackle a wide variety of sanding jobs.
The R86064B accommodates three of the most common vacuum hose sizes available, so you can enhance the efficiency of the onboard dust collection system. The sander also has an improved sandpaper clip that ensures a more secure hold.
Best quality low-cost cordless finishing sander
Tips for using finishing sanders
The best finishing sanders are pretty straightforward tools and are fairly easy to use even if you don’t have prior experience. But a firm grasp of the fundamentals will enable you to get the best results with as few mistakes as possible.
How to replace sanding sheets?
Finishing sanders can usually accommodate ¼ or ½-sized sandpaper sheets. You will need to replace the sandpaper when it has worn down.
Essential safety gear when using finishing sander sheets
Finishing sanders are pretty safe compared to most other power tools, but you do have to take some precautions to ensure your safety. Part of this involves wearing the proper protective gear when operating a finishing sander. At the very least, you should wear the following safety equipment:
The dos and don’ts of using a finishing sander
Comparing corded finishing sanders
|Makita B04900V||Bosch OS50VC||Makita BO3710||Dewalt DWE6411K||Makita B04556K||Bosch GSS20-40||Milwaukee 6033-21||Craftsman CMEW230||Black Decker||Skil 7292-02||WEN 6313|
|Verdict:||Top performing finishing sander||Best powerful variable speed||Best single speed||Best low-cost|
|Weight||6 lbs||6 lbs||3.5 lbs||3 lbs||2.5 lbs||2.7 lbs||3.68 lbs||3.1 lbs`||3 lbs||3 lbs||3 lbs|
|Sheet size||1/4 inches||1/2 inches||1/3 inches||1/4 inches||1/4 inches||1/4 inches||1/4 inches||1/4 inches||1/2 inches||1/4 inches||1/3 inches|
|Speed||4,000-10,000 opm||8,000-10,000 opm||11,000 opm||14,000 opm||14,000 opm||12,000 opm||up to 14,000 opm||13,500 opm||16,000 opm||12,000 opm|
|Motor||2.9 amp||3.4 amp||1.7 amp||2.3 amp||2 amp||2 amp||3 amp||2 amp||2 amp||2 amp||1.2 amp|
Comparing cordless finishing sanders
|Dewalt DCW200B||Ridgid R86064B||Ryobi P440|
|Verdict:||Top performing cordless||Best quality low-cost|
|Weight||2.1 lbs||2.6 lbs||2.3 lbs|
|Sheet size||1/4 inches||1/4 inches||1/4 inches|
|Speed||8,000-14,000 opm||up to 14,000 opm||12,000 opm|
The Makita B04900V is an absolute powerhouse of a sander, handling whatever job I throw at it without a hitch. The variable speed control provides enough range to handle a variety of jobs, and the dust collection system is positively flawless. This Makita finish sander even has ergonomically-designed grips that allow for hours of comfortable use.
The Dewalt DCW200B is about as powerful a cordless finishing sander as you could get. It features a very efficient brushless motor and even goes from 8,000 to 14,000 OPM without a hiccup. I especially like the low profile that lets me dig in deep for precision sanding.
Are you looking for fast aggressive sanding, to prep wood before a finishing sander? Check out our review of the best industrial belt sanders!
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