Electric sanders have been around for donkey’s years and have saved legions of DIY enthusiasts from the misery and tedium of hand-sanding large surfaces. Today’s new generation of cordless lithium-ion powered sanders means you can happily sand away in a shed without the need to hook up to a power supply. Cableless working also means greater freedom and movement when sanding away at your chosen project, and negates the chances of snaring yourself amongst trailing electrical cables.

Sanders come in many different guises: random orbital sanders provide oscillation and rotation and can often run at slow speeds for use as polishers when combined with a suitably soft buffing attachment. Palm or mouse sanders (not for actually sanding mice, of course) are commonly aimed at the DIY market and are designed for light sanding work around the home. Belt sanders – big, gutsy beasts for shifting material at speed – are a rarity in the realms of the cordless power tool as they require stacks of power to operate effectively. There are also smaller, pistol gripped sanders on the market that are great for fine detail work when manoeuvrability is paramount. 

We’ve grappled, sanded and polished, blown the dust from our notebooks and can now reveal eight of the best.

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Bosch AdvancedOrbit 18: £61.98, Amazon

This powerful sander is a great all-rounder. The adjustable front handle and pommel grip makes it a very mobile sander to wield – perfect for tackling door frames, bannisters and bevelled spindles. Both the on/off switch and handy battery level indicator are mounted conveniently on top of the handle, and you can scroll through six speed settings on the front-wheel switch easily with your index finger during sanding. It’s very quiet in use – this sander runs practically silently on its slowest setting. Swap out the velcro sanding disk and fit a polishing pad – lambswool, felt and sponge pads are available – and you can set it to work, buffing up your trophy collection/car alloys/french dresser. Just remember to remove the sanding disk first. 

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Makita XOB01Z Random Orbit Sander: £84.50 (body only), Argos

This lightweight, battery-powered tool is a neat and nippy little mover which affords one-handed sanding (leaving your other hand spare for supping tea or placing jauntily on the hip) thanks to the compact, upright design. The sander sits solidly in the palm of your hand, and has low vibration in use. Dance your fingers on the front mounted button and you’ve got access to the three speed settings – at full pelt, it gives some of the more professionally oriented, mains-powered sanders a run for their money. A great choice for those embarking on a furniture restoration project.

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Dewalt DWE315KT 300W Oscillating Multi-Tool: £189.99, Screwfix

It looks like a space-age, cordless toothbrush, but you wouldn’t want to let this powerful tool any near your fillings. It’s not specifically a sander – it’s a vibrating multi tool with various changeable attachments and it’s speciality is sawing – but swap out the cutting head for the triangular-shaped sanding attachment supplied and you’ve got yourself a nimble, fine detail sander. Once you’ve finished your sanding duties, you can speedily swap attachments – no hex key needed, just click your desired head into place. It’s a very versatile tool to have at hand, and works a treat.

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Bosch PSM 18 Li: £167.99, Argos

Designed for medium sized DIY projects, this sleek sander packs plenty of poke under its streamlined exterior. Velcro fixed sanding sheets make it a breeze to swap out worn pads and change sandpaper grades. This model gave off very little vibration and is relatively quiet in use – especially when compared to its cable-bound brethren – and gave us an impressive 45 minutes worth of semi-vigorous sanding before the battery ran out. The battery is interchangeable with all the Bosch DIY and garden tools that use the “Power for ALL” 18 volt Li-ion system. This sander comes complete with battery, a charger, three sanding sheets and a hard carry case.

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Black & Decker Mouse Sander: £105.12, UK Tool Centre

Similar in size to the Bosch PSM (above), this offering from Black & Decker is perfect for light sanding jobs around the home. You wield it like an undersized iron – three fingers curl under handle, whilst your thumb and forefinger grip the shoulders. Grasp the front pommel with your idle hand when extra oomph is required. This tool comes with a neat “finger” attachment for sanding intricate woodwork which worked a treat on the bevelled skirting board we tasked it with. No hard case with this one, but you do get a dinky canvas tote bag for transportation purposes.

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Ryobi Cordless Belt Sander: £99.99, Amazon 

This sander is a first. Belt sanders tend to draw stacks of power so most manufactures so far have shied away from adding one to their power tool range. It’s a chunky chap – this sander looks like a miniature steam roller and is considerably heavier than the other sanders on test but it certainly packs a hefty punch, chewing through wood at a rate of knots. The lockable operating switch is a handy addition, and replacing the sanding belt is a straightforward, fuss-free operation. A fully charged battery will run down pretty quickly (around 15 minutes) but that’s the trade-off for using such a powerful beast. That said, a battery should last long enough to for you to sand down a door or similar woody surface if you put in a decent shift. Batteries are interchangeable with tools that utilise the Ryobi One system.

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Milwaukee M12BPS Polisher/sander: £189.00, Milwaukee Power Tools 

Milwaukee’s pistol-gripped power tool has two functions. At full speed, it’s a brutally effective detail sander. Crank it down a notch, swap the sanding pad for the cotton buffer (both included) and you’ve got yourself a powerful polishing pal to buff up your car paintwork. Its low vibration action and ergonomic handle makes for a nimble, well balanced power tool that’s a pleasure to use. This sander comes complete with a detachable side handle, two compact M12 batteries (2.0 and 4.0 Ah), battery charger and a hard carry case in which to lug the lot around.

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Einhell Power X-Change 18V Li-ion Multi Sander: £37.99, Argos

This punchy, palm-sized sander feels substantial and meaty when wielding it in anger at roughly hewn planks of wood. It puts in a decent sanding performance, especially when you consider its bargain price point. Be aware that it doesn’t come with battery or charger. Not a problem if you already have tools from the Einhell Power X range – the batteries are interchangeable – and note that that you can only use the dustbox when using the slimline 1.5Ah battery. Install the larger 3Ah battery and you’ll have to contend with clouds of dust belching freely from its belly.

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Verdict: Cordless sanders

For a versatile, portable sander, plump for the Bosch AdvancedOrbit 18. It’s ergonomic, stylish and powerful in use. Just the job!

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