The Best Sander for Furniture Refinishing (+ When Not To Use One!)

When refinishing or repainting furniture, one thing that a lot of people forget is sanding.

Sanding might seem like a step that you can easily skip. And, while it’s not 100% necessary, it will have a big impact on the overall appearance of the furniture.

And you don't want uneven, rough to the touch, and unattractive looking furniture in your house

Sanding down furniture, even a little bit, will provide a clean, smooth surface to work on. This will give the piece a much sleeker and high-end look.

So, sanding is important. But what kind of sander can you use? For small pieces of furniture, a piece of sandpaper might do the job. 

But, for anything bigger than a stool you’re going to need something a bit more industrial.

Because, sure, you can use sandpaper on a dining table but it’s going to take you a long time.

And, if this is a regular hobby or part of your business, you’re going to need (and want) something that can do the job quickly and efficiently.

So, to help you find the perfect tool, we’ve put together a list of the best sanders for furniture plus some tips and guidance for the buying process...

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OUR TOP PICK

SKIL Corded Detail Sander, Includes 3pcs Sanding Paper and Dust Box - SR250801

Our top pick for the best sander for furniture is this SKIL Corded Detail Sander.

It is powerful but still easy to use and control.

It will allow you to sand down large pieces of furniture. But will also let you get into small and intricate spaces.

This sander is very small and compact. It is controlled by a handle that sits directly over the plate.

This will provide you with complete control. This is an especially useful feature on a pointed detail sander.

With a pointed sander, you will be working on smaller and more intricate spaces.

So you need something that will allow you to carefully and gently sand small areas.

This sander does just that. This sander is one of the smallest options on our list.

So, if the thought of a big industrial sander is a bit much for you, this sander is perfect. 

It is corded so you will need to work in a space with a nearby power outlet.

Despite its small size, this is still a powerful sander. It has a 1 amp motor and the plate can do 12,000 orbits per minute.

This is impressive for such a small tool. This sander is perfect if you will be working on furniture that has both large expanses and small detailed areas. 

Pros

  • Pointed plate gives you full control and allows you to work with smaller spaces.

  • 12,000 orbits per minute means this is fast and powerful.

  • Micro-filtration system for dust so it doesn't end up all over your house.

  • Vacuum dust collector to collect dust and save you cleaning up.

  • Includes multiple plates for different tasks. 

EDITORS CHOICE

DEWALT Palm Sander, 1/4 Sheet (DWE6411K)

Due to its compact shape, this DEWALT sander is ideal for use on furniture. It will be easy to use and control.

It will fit easily into your hand and make you feel comfortable and in control.

You won’t worry about this sander spinning too quickly and being too powerful.

That said, this sander isn’t weak. It has 120 volts and will be able to skim the layers off your furniture easily.

With a medium level grit, this sander is great for furniture that already has paint or varnish on top.

Even if you’re working with a bare piece of furniture, you should still sand it.

But, if there are stubborn pieces of paint and random bumpy patches, then a medium grit is good. 

This sander also has a streamlined design that will make it easier to use. The dust boot and cord sit on the right-hand side of the sander.

So they won’t get in your way as you work. That said, the cord may be a little annoying. There are cordless sanders available.

But, unless you’re really struggling for space and don’t have outlets where you will be working, a cord shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Pros

Cons

  • Due to it's more advanced features it comes with a higher price tag so if on a budget this may not be your first choice. 

BEST VALUE

BLACK+DECKER Mouse Detail Sander, Compact Detail (BDEMS600)

When it comes to DIY, even those who have never touched a power tool in their life have heard of Black + Decker.

So you can be sure that you are getting good quality with this sander.

Even if you regularly refinish furniture, you still don’t want to be spending too much money on tools. So this price is a big win.

Physically, this is a very small and compact sander.

This will be great if you refinish a lot of different kinds of furniture.

You don’t want to invest in a sander that is big enough for a dining table but then too big and powerful for a chair. 

The shape of the plate itself is pointed. This is great for getting into small spaces.

Sanders with large, circular plates are great for large flat surfaces.

But, if you are sanding something with decorative legs or small spaces, then a pointed sander is perfect.

But, this sander can also be used on large flat spaces.

To operate this sander, your hand will sit on a handle that sits at the back, pointing in your direction.

This is useful but might take getting used to.

As your hand won’t be directly over the plate, it might be a little difficult to control.

Pros

  • Pointed plate for getting into small spaces.

  • Powerful so will make quick work of any project,

  • Well-known and reliable brand

  • Compact

Cons

  • As a famous brand it comes with a premium price tag. 

RUNNER UP

DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6423K)

This orbit sander is slightly different from the other options on this list.

It has a completely circular plate and coarse grit. This is a great tool if you will be working on very heavy-duty furniture.

Or furniture that has been repainted several times, without first being sanded down.

This is the type of tool for a big piece of work that is bumpy, uneven, and stubborn. 

Another big difference between this tool and the other sanders on this list is the price. This is a very high price for a sander but it is a very powerful tool.

At 8,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute, it is very similar to most other sanders.

But with 3 amps, it is 3 times more powerful than most other options.

This is a great choice if you’re working with heavy and difficult wood.

This is a powerful tool that is best suited to sanding down damaged or broken furniture.

If you only need to take off a layer for painting or polishing, then this may be a little too powerful. 

This is a pretty standard sander but it has some useful extra features.

One is the addition of rubber which reduces the vibration felt in the hand.

This will be useful for working on tough areas.

Most sanders have a dust collector.

But this sander has extra protection so that the sander itself doesn’t become clogged and damaged.

Which is something you definitely do not want with such an expensive tool as this.

Pros

  • Carry bag includes
  • Good for stubborn pieces
  • Powerful
  • Strong
  • Extra dust protection

Cons

  • Fairly standard, with a few extra features beyond basic, yet a premium price tag.

RUNNER UP

Bosch ROS20VSC Palm Sander - 2.5 Amp 5 Inches Corded Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander/Polisher Kit with Dust Collector and Soft Carrying Bag, Blue

Bosch is another brand that is very well-known and reliable.

They might be better known for their kitchen appliances. But Bosch still produces some very good power tools. 

This palm sander is quite a bit more expensive than most other options on this list. But there is good reason for that.

One of the reasons is that this sander comes with a kit.

The kit contains a sanding pad, a sanding disc, a dampening ring, a dust canister, a vacuum adapter, and a carry case.

This kit is a great option for someone who wants to level up their work but is still relatively new to woodworking.

It has pretty much everything you need.

So you will be able to get to work on newer and bigger projects.

And can be sure that you have all you need for different pieces of furniture. 

This sander has a powerful 120 volts, a 2.5 amp motor, and variable speeds.

This is great for sanding furniture as you won’t always need the most powerful setting.

This is especially true if you’re working on a  bare piece of furniture that only needs a light buffing.

But, if you then move on to a large piece of furniture that needs more work, you can simply up the speed. 

Despite its power and strong speeds, this sander is very compact.

It is controlled by the handle which sits directly over the plate. So you will be in complete control.

The dust collector on this sander is also excellent.

It features a micro filter system that will trap very fine dust particles. This is great if you are a hobbyist who works in their home.

Even if you have space in a garage or garden shed, without a good dust collector your home will be constantly covered in wood dust. 

Pros

  • Compact
  • Includes accessories
  • Includes carry case
  • Powerful
  • Multiple speeds

Cons

  • Your home will likely end up covered in dust. 

Best Sander for Furniture Buying Guide

Types of Sanders

Detail Sander

There are several detail sanders included on this list. Detail sanders can be used on flat open spaces or in smaller nooks and crannies. This is ideal for sanding furniture.

If, for example, you’re sanding down a stool, you need to be able to sand down the flat surface but also the legs and the joins. 

Detail sanders are one of the best options for sanding down furniture. They usually have a medium grit so won’t take off too much and will provide a light sanding. 

Random Orbital Sander and Orbital Finishing Sanders

Random orbital sanders are some of the most popular sanders. They can have a medium or coarse grit and are relatively easy to use. 

But random orbital sanders must not be confused with orbital finishing sanders.

Random orbital sanders rotate and oscillate randomly, rather than in continuous rotation. Orbital finishing sanders rotate continuously. 

Random orbital sanders also usually have a coarser grit. So, for furniture, an orbital finishing sander is a better option.

But, overall, your choice will depend on the wood you’re working on.

Belt Sander

Belt sanders can be used for large pieces of furniture but are better suited for areas such as wooden floors.

They are large devices and won’t be able to get into the small corners that cover most pieces of furniture.

 Belt sanders are coarse and tough. So they take off a lot of wood. For furniture, you will mostly only want to take off a thin layer or so. 

Belt sanders are also often stationary. They are useful for sanding down small objects. The wood is held to the sander, rather than the other way around. 

Electric Sander vs Sandpaper

When you first research how to refinish furniture, a lot of guides will tell you to use sandpaper. Sandpaper is fine for small projects.

Or if you just want to touch up one piece of furniture.

But, if you’re working on something big like a dining table or a wardrobe, or if you regularly refinish furniture as a hobby and want to upgrade your tools, then sandpaper just won’t cut it.

Sandpaper will do the job. But it will take you a very long time. Sandpaper will only allow you to sand one small area at a time.

And it will require a lot of elbow grease to get even one small area properly sanded.

An electric sander will be a lot easier and quicker to use. It will be a lot more powerful so you will only need to quickly sand one area before you move on.

Although the strength and power of an electric sander might take some getting used to, it will eventually be much easier to use.

The electricity is providing all of the momenta for you. So you just need to guide the sander. 

Sanding definitely isn’t the most enjoyable part of painting or refinishing a piece of furniture. So an electric sander will cut down the amount of time you spend on this monotonous task. 

Power

The power of a sander is another important factor to consider. The amount of power you require will depend on the difficulty of the wood you’re working with.

But also on how much you want to sand off. If you’re completely reconfiguring a piece of furniture, then you will naturally need a more powerful and abrasive sander.

But, when sanding down furniture, you usually only need to sand off a thin layer. So you don’t need anything too powerful or abrasive.

Electric sanders generally range from 1 to 3 amps. For general light sanding (i.e. so you have a smooth surface to paint or polish) then 1 amp is enough.

Speed

Speed is dependent on power but not completely. If you can, find a sander that has multiple speed settings. This will make this much easier.

You will be able to use it for multiple pieces of furniture. Or, if you’re working on a piece and come across a particularly stubborn area, you can simply switch up the speed. 

Sanders with multiple speeds are usually much more expensive. So that is an important factor to consider.

If you only need to smooth down a piece of furniture in order to paint it, then a sander with 1 volt and one speed setting should be more than enough.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you don’t sand before painting?

The main reason for sanding before painting is to provide a smooth surface. This surface will be the base of everything that is added on top.

So, if the surface is uneven or bumpy, then the primer and paint will also be uneven and bumpy.

Once you have applied the paint, you won’t be able to even out the surface without stripping off some, or all, of the paint and primer.

Even if you think the surface looks even, it might not be. The paint you use might also highlight the uneven surface.

Sanding isn’t much fun and can be a bit of a process (although it is a much easier one with an electric sander). But it’s definitely worth it. 

Will a sander leave marks?

This depends on how you use the sander machine. If, for example, you use an orbital sander, then there is a chance that it will leave circular marks.

But, once you get more used to using it, you find it easier to even out the surface.

Using an electric sander, as opposed to sandpaper, will give you a much more even surface.

Even if there are slight swirls, they will likely disappear under the primer and polish. And they will definitely disappear under enough paint. 

Last update on 2021-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API