Pyrography Tutorial – How to Build a Hand Sander

In this tutorial I’m going to explain how to build a hand sander.  The sander is very useful when working with store bought wood craft items like die-cut ornaments, boxes and for plywood in general.  The sander is comfortable and easy to change out sand paper on.  

You can watch a YouTube video of the sander being built clicking on the image to the left. 

Now, let’s get to work.




  • 3/4” (1.9 cm) thick plywood that is at least 4” square (10.2 cm)
  • 2 – Pine boards = 3/4” wide x 1 ½” deep x 4” long (1.9 x 3.8 x 10.2 cm)
  • 3 wood screws = Standard #8 (5/8″ long x 5/16″ wide head) 
  • Wood Glue – like Titebond or even Elmer’s Wood glue
  • Orbital Palm Sander replacement pad
  • Saw – jig or hand
  • Compass or 29 oz Can (canned pumpkin, tomatoes, etc.)
  • Power Sander – to smooth edges

Here’s a picture of the orbital palm sander replacement pad still in the box.  Todd bought a DeWalt brand as that is the type of power orbital sander he has.  Note that the replacement pad gets put on his power sander and the old one gets turned into hand sanders.   





The screws need to be small enough to fit in the mounting holes on the sander replacement pad, but the head of the screw needs to be larger than the mounting hole.   





A package of standard #8 screws works perfectly with the DeWalt replacement pad.






Use a compass to draw a 4 inch (10.2cm) diameter circle on a piece of wood that is 3/4 inches thick (1.9 cm).





If you do not own a compass, you can use a 29 oz can like a large can of pumpkin or tomatoes.  Place the can on the board and draw around the base of it.






The goal is to create a circle that is 4 inches diameter (10.2 cm).







Note that the diameter of the circle needs to match the metal base plate of the orbital sander.


Now we need to create the wooden parts.  When we are done we will have 2 pieces of wood for the handle and 1 round disk.




First cut two pieces of wood for the handle.  Each handle should be 3/4” wide x 1 ½” deep x 4” long (1.9 x 3.8 x 10.2 cm).   Todd used a piece of pine lumber he bought at Home Depot.





Next use a saw to cut out the circle to create a disk.  Todd used a jigsaw, but use whatever saw you have or your neighbor or friend has.





Sand the edges of the disk to smooth them out.


We’ll start with the handle.  Apply a layer of wood glue to one of the handle pieces. 





Then smear the glue over the board to cover the entire surface.  It does not need to be a thick layer of glue.





Grab your two handle pieces and press them together.  Make sure the edges of the two pieces line up smoothly together.





Once the boards are properly lined up, then press the handles firmly together.  Hold for 15-20 seconds pressing them together as hard as you can or use a clamp.




Let the handle sit for a minimum of 20 minutes so the glue can properly bond.



Take the wood disk and put the replacement pad on top of it and use a pencil to mark the 3 holes where the screws go.





This photo shows the metal plate on the replacement pad, and the screw holes are marked with red arrows.









Apply wood glue to the bottom of the handle.







This photo shows the line of glue Todd applied.







Smear the glue so it evenly coats the entire surface of the handle bottom.







Then place the handle on the disk.  Make sure to place it on the opposite side of the pencil marks.






Here’s how the sander looks so far.







Let the sander sit for a minimum of 20 minutes for the wood glue to properly bond.      



You can place the 29oz can of pumpkin, tomatoes, or whatever on top of the sander as a substitute for a clamp.





After the glue has dried, then use a power sander to smooth the edges of the handle. 





Use a drill with a bit that is smaller in diameter than the screws and drill pilot holds on the pencil marks.








Place the replacement pad metal disk down on the wooden disk and line up the holes.






Then use a screwdriver (doesn’t have to be a power one) to sink the screws down into the wood thus attaching the replacement pad to the handle.







Put a piece of sandpaper on the hand sander







Your hand sander is ready for business.








This is the actual sander Todd made for me.  The one used in the demonstration was for his shop. 








My sander has a more contoured handle on it, so it’s more comfortable for me to use as my hands are smaller than Todd’s.






Side view of my sander without any sandpaper on it.  You can see the little velcro loops.  







All done.    I find my palm hand sander to be extremely useful and a lot more comfortable than holding a piece of sandpaper.  Plus I can exert more pressure with the sander without discomfort and changing the sandpaper is a breeze.   As I said before, I only hand sand when working with plywood of any form to ensure I don’t sand through the top layer of veneer.  If you made your own palm sander, I hope you find it as useful as I find mine.

Until the next blog,


May 31, 2019

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2 thoughts on “Pyrography Tutorial – How to Build a Hand Sander

    1. Hi Kim,
      you are most welcome. I kept borrowing my husband’s hand sander and he got tired of retrieving it from my art room. I did plan to return it…eventually. 🙂
      I hope your husband makes you one as they are so useful. I like it a lot better than what I did before which was holding a piece of sandpaper in my hand.

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