A plam sander is a sanding tool that vibrates a sheet of sandpaper attached to its plate.
Due to their square sanding pad, palm sanders are the best option for sanding into corners and up to edges. A palm sander is an indispensable tool in any cabinet shop.
The limited side-to-side movement of the pad makes the palm sander a bad choice for rapid stock removal. A belt sander or even orbital sander will remove stock much faster than a palm sander.
Palm sanders are notoriously bad for the user's hand. The vibrations of a badly built tool can make for a very sore hand at the end of a long day. Manufacturers have taken notice of this. The new generation of sanders all have different implementations of vibration isolation, a feature that attempts to isolate the user from the vibration of the base plate. The effectiveness of this feature varies from sander to sander.
1) Choose a size
The size of a palm sander is described as a faction of the size of standard sheet of sand paper. 1/4 sheet sanders are the most common size. They make effecient use of sandpaper while still being large enough for use on cabinets. 1/2 sheet sanders reduce sanding time on large projects like table tops.
2) Motor Power
The power of the motor determines how much material the tool can remove in a given time interval. More powerful sanders remove more material, but they are bulkier and harder to use.
3) Orbit diameter and Speed
The other variables that determine sanding performance are orbit diameter and motor speed. The speed determines how many times the base plate vibrates per minute. More vibrations means more aggressive sanding.
The orbit diameter determines how far the plate moves during a single vibration. A larger orbit diameter makes for a more aggressive cut, but finish quality can suffer.
4) Dust Collection
Sanders produce a lot of dust. Each palm sander has a different mechanism for collecting this dust. Some work better than others. If you want efficient dust collection on your sander, you should read the reviews of each tool. Because the topic is so important, there will be a section just about dust collection.