What is a Mouse Sander?

Lori Kilchermann

A mouse sander is a small, hand-held sander usually used for finishing work. It may also be called a detail sander. Similar to its animal counterpart, a mouse sander is slim, small, and pointy on one end and rounded on the other. It even has a "tail" — the cord.

Most mouse sanders accept assorted grits of sandpaper, from coarse to very fine.
Most mouse sanders accept assorted grits of sandpaper, from coarse to very fine.

Mouse sanders offer an easy-to-use and easy-to-hold option for finish sanding. Compared to other hand-held palm sanders, they tend to be more versatile and user-friendly. The pointed tip of the mouse sander's "nose" enables sanding in corners and tight areas square palm sanders have trouble accessing. It is also is well-suited for sanding curved surfaces.

The mouse sander's "body" is ergonomically shaped to fit the hand, and often has a soft body grip. This makes it easier to grip and control than larger, more awkward square palm sanders. The contoured shape and lightweight design also lessen hand fatigue for those who use sanders for extended periods of time.

Some brands of mouse sanders include a detail finger attachment, which offers even more versatility for sanding hard-to-reach places. The attachment hooks to the front of the mouse and is shaped like a long and skinny finger, which can reach into tight spaces. Some sanders may also include a contour attachment for curved surfaces.

Another user-friendly feature available on many mouse sanders is a dust trap collection system. The sawdust produced from sanding is captured in a bag at the rear of the sander. This system helps keep the work area free from dust, which offers a better view of the work surface as the sanding progresses.

Most mouse sanders accept assorted grits of sandpaper, from coarse to very fine. Mouse sanders use a hook-and-loop sandpaper attachment system, in which the back of the sandpaper is fabric lined and "sticks" to the loops on the base of the sander. Many operators use the tip of the sander more frequently than the rest of the sander, so in some cases, the sandpaper is designed so the tips can be replaced without removing the entire sheet of sandpaper. This reduces waste and the need to replace partially used sheets of sandpaper.

Among the most well-known brands, Black and Decker makes a detail sander called the Mouse®. One model of this sander includes a display light indicating the level of pressure being applied during sanding. This allows the user to adjust for optimal performance.

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Discussion Comments


Haven't used my mouse sander in a while. Turned it on today and it just hums. No vibration? Is it done?


I love having a mouse sander around the house, and I don't even use it for sanding!

A lot of mouse sanders will come with other pad attachments besides the standard sandpaper. Mine came with a steel wool pad as well as a couple of buffing or polishing pads.

I do a lot of tin punching work that I sell to a couple of local woodworkers to put into hutches. Once you are finished with the design, though, the metal is usually pretty stained with fingerprints. I use the sander with a buffing pad and it shines the metal up in no time.

One of my friends has also borrowed my sander before to buff her granite countertops.


@Emilski - I guess it would all really come down to what type of workworking projects are you doing. If you are making large projects like furniture or lawn decorations, you are probably only really dealing with large, flat pieces of wood, and a mouse sander wouldn't be big enough or powerful enough.

Me on the other hand, I do a lot more small, contoured work like intarsia. I would be lost if I didn't have a mouse sander. When I make the pieces of the intarsia, I usually make the primary rounded edges with a belt or disc sander. Once I have them in place, though, I can use a mouse sander with the finger attachment to shape the pieces exactly how I want them.

I have also made shelves that had smaller contours that only a mouse sander could handle.


I am just getting into woodworking and am trying to buy need equipment as I get the money. Right now I have an orbit sander for larger surfaces, and it seems to be working okay even on smaller projects. Would any of you still recommend that I add a mouse sander to the list? Is there anything I could do with the mouse sander that I couldn't do with the orbit sander?

Also, how much force does it take to get the sander to work? I'm sure it wouldn't be able to power through large amounts of wood like the orbit sander could.


These things are great, especially if you're not really into power tools. I'm one of those people who takes on projects that are just almost beyond my level of competence, like painting a big piece of furniture or a small room.

I had painted quite a large dresser using just a sanding block to smooth out before I painted and then in between coats. Whew! It felt like a lot of work. And there was a lot of sawdust left behind that I had to clean up with a tack cloth.

So then we had built-in bookcases installed and because we did it on the cheap, I had to paint them myself. This time I invested in a Black and Decker mouse sander. What a difference! The work went much faster and it wasn't nearly as messy.

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