This is my sander -- I think it's a palm sander. This one obviously is a Black & Decker, but I bought it because I got a good deal on it -- $19.00. This one is nice because it comes with a little bag that collects dust as you sand. I have a few other brands that I got for even cheaper, so price is not a big issue with these. You'll definitely get your money's worth. My sander is one of my most used tools.
You probably already know this, but sand paper comes with numbers on the back representing the number of particles /sq. inch. The lower the number, the rougher the paper. 50 or 80 is good for very rough sanding, 150 for medium, 240 for fine, etc.
You don't have to buy them already cut to the exact size, they come in sheets that you can cut into quarters for the perfect fit in a palm sander -- so get whatever's a better deal.
Loading up the paper is probably the hardest part of using a sander (and it's not hard at all). There are two little side hooks, one for the front lever and one for the back. Unhook the first one to lift the lever, insert the paper, and rehook.
Do the same with second lever. It's a little trickier, you may have to bend the end of the paper first to help insert it, but it should fit.
Now the fun begins! There's usually a button on top you have to push to start it up and one to stop. Then just hold on and start sanding. It is usually pretty loud, though.
This is my favorite kind of sanding projects -- old doors. Many times an old door will look like it's just painted white or some other color and is dirty. So you start sanding to get some of the grime off....
and unearth 6 or 7 different colors of paint. This can be a time consuming process. There's almost an art to applying different degrees of pressure to expose the different layers. This one took a couple of hours to get it completely sanded, but I think the results make it worth it.
One more thing: CAN A SANDER HURT YOU?