Detail Sander Reviews: Which is the Best Detail Sander?

So you've got to the point where you are considering owning your own detail sander? Or are you just replacing an old one that has seen better days? Well, either way, you must be quite advanced in your DIY-ing career to be getting into detail sanding! The detail sander category of power tools, as we're sure you've already discovered, has a lot of different makes and models from which to choose from and deciding on the best small sander for you can be a bit of a nightmare. To make things clearer, one needs to do a little thinking beforehand on what and how often you will be using it for. Is this just for a one-off DIY job or are you planning to use it for a trade of some sort? Are you going to be using it in a place with easy access to power sockets? What about the dust that is generated when sanding, will you have access to a dust extraction system or vacuum cleaner? Are you going to be using it above shoulder height, in which case the weight of it could have more significance? The more thinking you do in advance on exactly how you intend to use it can go a long way into making the job of choosing the best detail sander for you a lot easier.

What to look for in a Detail Sander

Mains-powered or Battery-powered - As with most power tools, deciding on whether to go with the mains-powered, more power, less convenient route as opposed to the battery-powered, more convenient power tool, is always one of those early decisions one has to make that narrows down the field of options and usually makes the final decision easier. In the detail sander arena, the field is dominated by the corded-electric variety, so if you do insist on going the battery route, then your options are decidedly more limited to more well-known brands of power tools. One advantage of many battery-powered systems these days is that, if you stick to one brand for all of your battery-powered tools, you can often subscribe to a system where the battery can be shared across a variety of different power tools.

image of someone holding a power sander

Power - For mains-powered detail sanders, power is usually given in Watts and gives the buyer a good idea of how and what he or she can use the small sander on. In the case of battery-powered tools, the battery voltage correlates with the power that the tool can deliver, to put it simply, the more Wattage or voltage, the more power. A more powerful sander means that it can be used more aggressively to take more material off a surface faster and it also means that it can be used on harder materials more effectively.

Dust extraction system or dust collection box - All materials produce dust when sanded, some more than others, so the system employed to manage that dust is fairly important.  Here one usually has one of two choices, an integral collection system such as a dust collection box with micro-filter, or an external dust extraction system like a vacuum cleaner. Each type has its pros and cons but ultimately, one's preference usually comes down to how the tool is going to be used. External vacuum systems are much better than dust collection boxes at preventing dust from getting into the surrounding work environment, but then one has to deal with the unwieldy nature of having a vacuum hose attached. If the sander is the corded-electric type this makes it even more inconvenient as the operator also has to pay attention to not tangling up the wire with the vacuum hose as well. In addition, if the detail sander needs to be used in a more difficult-to-access environment, for example, if the operator is perched precariously up a ladder and/or working above shoulder height, then dragging along a vacuum hose (as well as the electric cord) will take away from the ease of use of employing a power sander in the first place.

Weight - The heavier the machine the more fatigue-inducing it will be. If the tool is to be used over shoulder height or for long periods of time, then opting for the smaller and lighter detail sanders is obviously best.

Noise level - Most detail sanders are not quiet machines, but they are not excessively noisy either. Most small sanders operate in a similar noise range to each other with the exception of some branded tools that have been specifically designed to be quieter.

Add-on accessories - Some detail sanders come with small accessory pads that can be clipped on to the power tool that extend the sanding capabilities of the detail sander. For example, a common accessory is the 'finger' attachment that clips on to the front of the detail sander to allow it to reach narrower areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Variable speed - Some small sanders provide the ability to vary their speed of oscillation. This is not an essential feature but does allow the user to remove material from a surface with a greater degree of control. More fragile surfaces may require a gentler sanding action and this can be achieved by slowing down the detail sander using a variable speed control.

Design - For the most part, detail sanders come in two flavours. Firstly, the traditional power tool-like design with an elongated body and a triangular-shaped sanding pad, or alternatively, detail sanders that have become more commonly known as palm sanders since they mostly fit into the palm of the hand. Choosing the right type to go for depends on the work one plans to do and individual preference.

Popular Detail Sanders in the UK

  
Power source
Power
(Watts)
Sound Power
(dB)
Weight
(kg)
Variable Speed
Add-on Accessories
VonHaus 180W
Corded-Electric
180W
91 dB
1.5 kg
Silverline 261345
Corded-Electric
180W
91 dB
1.3 kg
Einhell TE-DS 20 E
Corded-Electric
200W
84 dB
1.1 kg
FERM DSM1009
Corded-Electric
280W
90 dB
1.7 kg
Bosch PSM Primo
Corded-Electric
50W
80 dB
0.6 kg
Bosch PSM 100 A
Corded-Electric
100W
94 dB
0.9 kg
Bosch PSM 200 AES
Corded-Electric
200W
94 dB
1.4 kg
Bosch PSM 10.8 LI
Battery
10.8V
80 dB
0.7 kg
Bosch PSM 18 LI
Battery
18V
80 dB
1.3 kg
Black+Decker KA1000
Corded-Electric
55W
86 dB
0.9 kg
Black+Decker KA161BC
Corded-Electric
55W
79 dB
0.8 kg
Worx WX648
Corded-Electric
65W
89 dB
0.7 kg
VonHaus 130W
Corded-Electric
130W
--
1.3 kg
GMC KAT150B
Corded-Electric
130W
89 dB
1.2 kg
Tacklife PMS01A
Corded-Electric
130W
--
1.4 kg
Wolf 180W
Corded-Electric
180W
--
--
Apollo 180W
Corded-Electric
180W
86 dB
1.2 kg
Ryobi EMS180RV
Corded-Electric
180W
90 dB
1.4 kg
Skil 7226AE
Corded-Electric
250W
86 dB
1.3 kg
two speeds
Power source
Power
(Watts)
Sound Power
(dB)
Weight
(kg)
Variable Speed
Add-on Accessories
-- Information Not Available

Electric Detail Sander Reviews

VonHaus and Silverline 180W Detail Sanders

VonHaus 180W Detail Sander

VonHaus 180W Detail Sander

The 180W detail sander has a port on the back of the machine to attach a vacuum, which is essential when sanding particularly 'dusty' materials as the dust tends to exit the air vents on the side of the tool straight into the face of the operator if a dust extraction system is not used. Sanding sheets are held on using velcro and are easy to come by, an important consideration since, due to their small size, they are worn down quickly and need replacing on a frequent basis.

Silverline 180W Detail Sander

Silverline 180W Detail Sander

With the VonHaus brand, the power sander is usually cheaper, coming with a 2-year warranty, and if buying through Amazon is not sufficient peace-of-mind, then VonHaus also has excellent customer service as well. With Silverline, on the other hand, the warranty period is 3 years, but the tool usually costs slightly more upfront.


Einhell Detail Sander TE-DS20E

Einhell Detail Sander TE-DS20E

FERM Detail Sander DSM1009

FERM Detail Sander DSM1009

FERM is a dutch company that has grown from a small business started in the 1960's to a medium-sized company that today sells a range of power tools internationally. Being a European company, the DSM1009 originally came with a two-prong European-style electrical plug which required users to use their own European-to-UK plug adapter as none was shipped with the tool, but more recently the company has started making the detail sander specifically for the UK market with a UK-style plug. However, currently when buying from Amazon, it is a little bit of a lottery as to whether new buyers get the UK version or the European version of the tool as the logistics are worked out.

Electric Palm Sander Reviews

The Bosch Detail Sanders

The Bosch detail sanders come in two flavours: mains-powered or battery-operated. Bosch makes two mains-powered detail sanders that are available here in the UK: the Bosch PSM 100 A and the Bosch PSM 200 AES. You will also see kicking around a couple of other mains-powered models like the PSM 80 and the Bosch Primo but these are not official UK-based current models (Bosch has replaced the PSM 80 with the more powerful version, the PSM 100 A, and the Primo was made exclusively for the European mainland, not for the UK) although they are still sold here in this country and can be used on UK mains as well. For its battery-operated sanders, Bosch has fielded two models for the UK market: the PSM 10.8 LI and the PSM 18 LI.

Bosch PSM 100 A

Bosch PSM 100 A detail sander

Bosch PSM 200 AES

Bosch PSM 200 A detail sander



Bosch PSM 10.8 LI

Bosch PSM 10.8 LI detail sander

Bosch PSM 18 LI

Bosch PSM 18 LI detail sander

The PSM 18 LI can be used with both the dust collection box or with an external dust extraction system like a vacuum cleaner. Since the Bosch sander is already electrically-cordless, using the dust collection box over the external vacuum system is often preferred since it frees the operator from any form of attachment. Indeed, sometimes it is the only way to get certain types of jobs done, like doing sanding work while high up on a ladder.  However, if it is more important to ensure that the majority of dust is captured, then using a dust extraction system can also easily be attached to the device in place of the collection box.

The 18V battery on the PSM 18 LI lasts a couple of hours or so of continual use, but once again, the Bosch PSM 18 LI subscribes to Bosch's universal battery systems, this time for the 18V battery, which means that the same 18V batteries used across a range of other Bosch 18V Li-ion battery powered tools can be swapped in to be used on this detail sander as well. Taking into account its pedigree, the design and the universal battery system, the Bosch PSM 18 LI is considered very good value for money.

Apollo 180W Detail Sander

Apollo 180W Detail Sander

On the more negative side, users have reported a couple of specific dislikes with the Apollo detail sander. Firstly, the power cord that is attached to the sander is too short for most typical uses coming in at only about 1 m long and, with no way to easily replace it, an extension cord is almost always required. The second dislike with the Apollo detail sander has to do with the dust collection box which is not always very effective and becomes easily clogged particularly when sanding finer substrates. However, this is not unique to the Apollo sander as dust collection boxes in general usually suffer from a similar problem even on more professional machines. A dust extraction system is always preferred if one is readily available.

In conclusion, the Apollo detail sander is a cheap and cheerful unit that will satisfy the majority of non-tradesmen looking to complete a specific detail sanding job or for hobby work. While for those that test the sander to its breaking point, or if you happen to be unlucky enough to receive a faulty unit, one can rest assured that the detail sander is supported by Apollo Tools customer service which is usually very responsive and, in the past, has gone out of its way to help solve problems that users have encountered.

Black+Decker Mouse Detail Sander KA161BC

Black+Decker Mouse Detail Sander KA161BC

As with some other big-brand detail sanders, the Black+Decker Mouse sander requires Black+Decker-branded sandpaper for a correct fitting, however, this premium-brand sandpaper is more expensive than generic brands, and can make running costs considerably higher. As a result, more avid users of the Mouse sander have tended to devise ways of getting around this 'lock-in' by cutting generic sanding sheets to the size required by the Mouse and sticking it on to old used Black+Decker sanding sheets with adhesive - a more inconvenient technique but worthwhile if you are working on a tight budget.

One thing to remember with the Black+Decker Mouse sander is that it is best suited for small areas of detail work and not for large areas where a bigger sanding tool would be more appropriate. In addition, the Black+Decker-brand is also primarily aimed at light use by a DIY-er and not for professional use. Consequently, some owners who have over-worked the Mouse sander have reported that its motor can fail if over-stressed, sometimes spectacularly!

Vonhaus 130W Detail Palm Sander

Vonhaus 130W Detail Palm Sander


Wolf 180W Detail Palm Sander

Wolf 180W Detail Palm Sander

GMC Detail Sander KAT150B

GMC Detail Sander KAT150B

One niggle with the KAT150B is that it does not come with any option to collect the dust other than via an external dust extraction system. Using a vacuum system is not always convenient in every job situation, and if a vacuum is not available, you will just have to put up with the dusty mess that the KAT150B can create. One final note, although the GMC detail sander comes with a set of starter sanding sheets, when it comes time to buy replacements, double check they are the right size. This is especially true if buying the detail sander from Amazon, where some buyers have reported that some of the 'add-on purchase' Amazon suggestions for replacement sanding sheets are not the correct type for the GMC KAT150B.

Tacklife Detail Sander PMS01A

Tacklife Detail Sander PMS01A

While the PMS01A has a reasonably powerful 130W motor generating 12,000 oscillations per second, it does not have variable speed control, which means that more controlled delicate sanding is difficult to do with it. The machine is also quite weighty compared to competitor detail sanders coming in at 1.4kg, once again making sanding anything delicate more challenging. It also means that although the heavier weight will have the advantage of requiring less pressure be applied on flat surfaces for regular detail sanding, using the machine on vertical surfaces or above shoulder height will be more tiring on the arm. Fortunately, the physical size of the PMS01A detail sander is small enough that all but those with particularly small hands will have little trouble holding it comfortably.

Other nice features on the Tacklife PMS01A include an ample 3-metre power cord giving the detail sander an extended reach. The machine also uses generic 140mm sanding pads that are readily available from a number of popular retailers (including, of course, our favourite, Amazon!).

On the more negative side, the PMS01A does not have a facility to attach other accessory sanding attachments such as the useful ‘finger’ attachment found on other brands of detail sander. Depending on the type of detail sanding being undertaken, this may or may not be important, with some types of detail sanding requiring getting into the nooks and crannies of workpieces where the main body of the machine will have trouble accessing.

Another issue with the PSM01A detail sander is that it also has a minor but conspicuous flaw with its dust collection box. Not too much thought has gone into the physical attachment of the dust box that keeps it in place on the body of the machine while sanding. This is evident by the number one complaint with this detail sander being that its dust collection box often falls off the machine while sanding, naturally making for a messy outcome if it is not reattached. This flaw primarily seems to stem from the tabs that hold the dust collection box in place, which appear to become easily dysfunctional just from removing and reattaching the dust collection box a few times. For a simple problem like this, however, there are a couple of obvious hacks that can be used to overcome it. First, the dust collection box can always be secured on the sander body with some tape or other adhesive, however, this makes emptying the box regularly a bit of a pain, so might not be the best option when a lot of dust is expected. Another idea is to simply get rid of the dust box altogether and replace it with a vacuum hose. Unfortunately, the designers of the Tacklife PMS01A have not paid too much attention to ensuring the machine is fully compatible with an external dust extraction device, therefore a little bit of DIY hacking may be in order, to make one’s vacuum hose fit on to the dust collection port of the device.

Ultimately, the Tacklife PMS01A detail sander is a budget, no-nonsense type of power tool that is primarily designed for the odd DIY job or two around the home. It lacks accessories that other more expensive brands of detail sander often include which may or may not be important to the job at hand. It also has an outstanding issue with the robustness of the dust collection box attachment mechanism. However, for its low price, the Tacklife PMS01A more than compensates for these little inconveniences especially if you are of the DIY hacking type not averse to optimising your power tools to get the most out of them.

Worx Detail Palm Sanders WX647 and WX648

Worx WX648 detail sander

Worx WX648

Accessories-wise, the Worx sanders come with the all-important finger attachment, that attaches to the front of the devices, and allows for more detailed sanding in very confined spaces. Unfortunately, the finger accessory needs to be affixed to the main sander body using a screwdriver making it a little less convenient to use than we would have liked. The Worx sanders also come with a pull-string bag for their storage and transportation, however we would have preferred to see these devices come with their own plastic case for better protection and storage.

Worx WX647 detail sander

As for sander sheets, the Worx detail sanders use the hook and loop system for attaching sander paper and the devices themselves come with a small sample of standard sanding sheets and paint removal sanding pads included in the box. However, getting hold of compatible replacement sanding pads once the included ones have been used up can be a little bit of a chore as the company behind Worx does not sell replacements. Instead, owners of the Worx detail sanders have to hunt around a little for generic type sanding sheets that fit the small devices. Generic sanding pads can often be found on Amazon, however determining whether the pads on sale are of the correct size and type without seeing the physical product can make it difficult to get the right ones. Fortunately, compatible generic sanding pads can also often be found in the big-name UK DIY stores such as B&Q or ScrewFix, where one also has the advantage of being able to physically match up potential candidates with the devices themselves or with old sanding pads - just remember not to throw away at least one of the old sanding pads so that you can take it with you to match it to potential replacements. Also, don’t forget to make sure that the punched holes on generic pads line up with the suction holes on the sanders so that dust collection is not interfered with, unless you are planning to use the machines without dust collection which would still work fine but would be a lot messier.

Differences between the Worx WX647 and WX648

So which Worx corded detail palm sander should you get, the WX647 or the WX648? The two detail sanders are essentially the same machine but with a few minor differences. First of all, the WX648 is a little higher powered at 65W compared to the 55W WX647. We are not sure about the reason for this discrepancy, but practically-speaking, the difference is minor and will not be noticeable in any side-by-side comparison. Another difference between the two Worx sanders is in the dust collection apparatus that comes with the devices. The Worx WX647 does not come with a dust collection box but comes with a vacuum hose attachment instead which can be used to attach to a vacuum system for dust aspiration. The WX648, on the other hand, comes with a dust collection box but no vacuum hose attachment. Which one to get depends on personal working style and situation, but we always recommend using a vacuum system when sanding for a cleaner work environment. Finally, the two small detail sanders from Worx come with different quantities of sample sanding pads with the WX648 coming with 16 main sheets and 6 finger sanding sheets, while the WX647 includes only 9 main sheets and 3 finger sanding pads.

Worx

The Worx brand is one of the major brands of Positec, a Chinese founded company (which also has a branch in the United States) that has been making DIY and gardening tools for the consumer for the past 25 years. Positec first began life manufacturing power tools for other retailer brands before launching their own lines of power tools under the Worx brand and then the US-centric Rockwell tools brand. As of today, Worx and Rockwell tools are stocked at many of the major retailers in the UK and US respectively and have gained a reputation for being of good quality.

Electric Multi-Sander Reviews

Skil Multi-Sander 7226AE

Skil Multi-Sander 7226AE

Ryobi Multi-Sander EMS180RV

Ryobi Multi-Sander EMS180RV

One aspect of the Ryobi EMS180RV sander to take note of is that users have found that the palm grip on the machine is quite wide and, for people with small hands or insufficient hand strength, this can make holding the sander for any length of time an uncomfortable task. Build-wise, the Ryobi EMS180RV is not the most robust small sander on the market, so may not be ideal for the professional tradesman, but this is perhaps not surprising since the power sander is relatively inexpensive and more designed for the occasional DIYer. Fortunately Ryobi is a well-established power tool company and in the event of a breakdown, replacement parts for the EMS180RV can be relatively easily sourced from the local Ryobi service agent.