How to Use a Sheet Sander

What You'll Need
Wood Surface
Sheet Sander

A sheet sander is usually better known as a palm sander. They are smaller and more compact than regular orbital or belt sanders and they fit neatly into the palm of your hand for ease of control. The sheet sander works by using a motor to vibrate in a backward and forward motion. The pad is a small square or rectangle shape, depending on the brand and model. They are also handy for getting into smaller spaces that regular sized sanders can make.

Step 1 – Setting up

Before you start you need to get your bits together and make sure everything you need is there. If you have just purchased your brand new sheet sander and are about to use it for the first time, take it out of the box and packaging. You should have a long cord with it that is fixed to the motor and cannot be removed. There are no other special components that come with your sander, but you may (in rare cases) get some free sanding sheets, as an accompaniment to them, in the box.

Step 2 – Fitting the Sand Paper

The advantages of a sheet sander are that the sheets can be cut from partial pieces of regular sandpaper, unlike belt sanders, which require an exact fitting sheet. On each side of the sheet sander, somewhere just above the pad, you should notice two spring clips that lift away from the body and upward to release them. The best way to fit the sandpaper is to have the handle and clamp it between your knees, with the pad facing upward. Open the spring clips and use the scissors to cut a piece of sandpaper large enough to curve over and reach underneath the spring clips so you can clamp them down.  

Step 3 – Using the Sheet Sander

Since the operation of a sheet sander is a backward and forward motion, you should accommodate this before you start. Have your wood surface ready to sand. This surface can be anything, like a door, baseboard, table top, or any other flat wooden surface. Switch the sheet sander on before you touch it to the surface. Begin moving it back and forth right away. As soon as it touches the surface you should begin moving it forward, keeping it flat down on the surface. Do not apply too much pressure to it, but hold it steady in your hand.

Step 4 – Runaway Motor

If you release your grip on the motor it will run away, so always hold it tightly to prevent that. Keep a firm grip at all times while the sheet sander is on and guide it up and down the wooden surface in a straight forward-backward motion. Stay with the grain of the wood initially, but you can cross the grain to get a finer finish during the sanding process. Just remember to stay back with the grain to finish.