March 9, 2021

Orbital Sander Vs Sheet Sander | Which Tool for Your Next Job

What to buy, Orbital Sander Vs Sheet Sander? The Orbital Sander and Sheet Sander are two power machines that polish surfaces using sandpaper. The process that takes place to bring smooth surfaces is called abrasion. They are complementary tools.

Man using an orbital sander

The sanders work in different motions. They both move an abrasive in a circular motion. However, they use different abrasive tools. A more detailed explanation of the two machines is below.

Orbital Sander

What makes the Orbital sander great is that it is versatile. It is an electrical machine used for polishing surfaces. You can use it for most activities. What it is good at is polishing woodwork pieces. You can use them to remove wood, but it might not be that perfect. There is a difference between a random orbital sander and a regular orbital sander.

 An Orbital sander can work as a finishing tool. Regular sanders work in an orbiting pattern, and Random sanders work unpredictably. There are no scratch marks left when working with a random orbital sander. Random orbital sanders work better on large surface areas. If I am to use it, I will use it on a cabinet or cupboard. 

Blue orbital sander in use

With a closer look at what some sander tools do, you might notice that they do not give a perfect finish. It happens in activities that involve paint removal. As much as the Orbital sander comes with discs, not all of them have the same motion capability. 

The reason is: the discs come in different models. Some of them lack the sanding faces that spin in the same movement. These will be ideal for rough surfaces. There are also big Orbital sanders that need you to use both hands. 


  • Versatile
  • Handy
  • Give a smooth look
  • Lightweight
  • Not aggressive


  • Visible scratches
  • Removes less material

What is a sheet sander

The Sheet sander is a machine that uses sheets of sandpaper to smoothen surfaces. The standard sheet sander used ¼ sheet pad sanders. They give a piece of wood a beautiful finish that is good-looking.

They come in square shapes. The devices are loaded with springs so that the sandpaper is held in place on the pad throughout the process. 

The square-shaped pads allow the machine to work at 90-degree angles. You might be disappointed if you get a device that does not quickly remove unnecessary or unwanted materials.

If you try that with a sheet sander, chances are very high that you will waste pieces of sandpaper. It will take more time as well. 

Unlike the Orbital machine, the Sheet sander moves in an easy back-and-forth movement. It is not time-consuming and great for small pieces of material. Bigger sheet sanders are more affordable than small ones. 

Standard sandpaper is affordable. The machine is ideal for light activities such as smoothing off materials. It is also functional when joining two pieces of wood that meet at a right angle. Sheet sanders have a dust filtration bag that collects the substances from the process. 


  • Availability
  • Affordable
  • Works well on 90-degree angles
  • Great finish
  • Quality tool


  • The narrow range of use
  • Leaves swirl marks

Main Features

  • Shape
  • Scratch pattern
  • Use of abrasive materials

Orbital Sander


It is a square-shaped machine that gets to the corners and edges of a workpiece. 


The scratch pattern that comes with the Orbital machine differs. What determines the difference is the type of brand. 

Abrasive material

The Orbital sander uses special sanding discs. The discs work in a circular motion. The movement gives a smooth and well-polished finish to the materials.

Sheet Sander


It also comes square. It allows an easier way of sliding materials through the machine. The square shits are also compatible with the squared machine.


A sheet sander works in a back-and-forth motion, unlike a Sheet sander that moves back and forth.

Abrasive material

The name already implies the use of sheets during the process. Sanding sheets in different sizes are used by the Sheet sander. They come square, which complements the same shape as the machine.

What could be better?

Orbital Sander 

I appreciate that you can use Orbital sanders to polish wood, but it leaves circular marks on the item. It might not be attractive to you or a client. Therefore, a sander that leaves a smooth and good-looking appearance on an item would have been a better tool.

Sheet Sander

A wide range of use could have been better than focusing on joining wood pieces that can only meet at a right angle.

A Sheet sander that does not leave swirl marks would have been better. This transpires because of the style of pattern movement.

Similarities between the random orbital sander vs sheet sander

  • They move an abrasive in a circular motion.
  • They both use abrasive tools.
  • They work on the same type of material.
  • They are both powerful tools.

Key Differences between an Orbital Sander and a Sheet Sander

  • An Orbital sander uses special sanding discs as an abrasive, whereas the Sheet sander uses sandpaper sheets to take out the dirt.
  • The discs used by the Orbital sander come in multiple forms, whereas the sheets of sandpaper are uniform.
  • Sheets of sandpaper are more affordable than discs that attract steeper prices.
  • Orbital sanders are more versatile than standard sheets.
  • An Orbital sander works in a circular motion, whereas the Sheet moves back and forth. It leads to different patterns on the woodwork.


Sheet sanders are more affordable than Orbital sanders. What makes them affordable is that they use less expensive sheets of sandpaper. You will not lose more sheets as you continue to make the material finer. 

Final Verdict | Orbital sander or Sheet sander

The power machines have similarities that keep them in the sander category. They move abrasives in a circular motion, use abrasive tools, and work on the same material type. The types of material include wood. 

However, some differences set them apart, which leads to different users choosing one. The sheet sander uses sheets of sandpaper to take out the dirt.

Although they come in different sizes, they are uniform and more affordable. This might be the best power tool if you run on a tight budget. 

An Orbital sander makes use of special sanding discs as an abrasive. The discs that are used by the Orbital sander come in multiple forms. They attract a steeper price range.

An Orbital sander works circularly, whereas the sheet sander moves back and forth. However, they are worth the cost as they are versatile tools. You can go for the Orbital machine if you do not hesitate to use your last penny on a versatile power tool.

David D. Hughes

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