When it comes to woodworking, you need a lot of tools to get the job done right the first time. However, one could argue that the most important part of everything comes at the end when you’re finishing the piece. The reason for this is that if you don’t sand it down and make it smooth, then the finished product could be dangerous to hold. As such, it’s imperative that you have the right sander to make your piece as polished and professional as possible.
While there are a few different kinds of finishing sanders out there, none are quite as versatile or reliable as a random orbital sander. These handheld devices make it easy to work in tighter spaces while also leaving a better finish than other models. Today we’ll go over the core components of these sanders as well as show you some of the best options out there. Whether you’re a professional or a DIYer, these sanders are sure to take your wood projects to the next level.
Random Orbit Sander
Random Orbit Sander
Random Orbit Sander
Random Orbit Palm Sander
This machine is designed to work on pieces that need a smooth surface without any scuff marks. Some sanders will leave trails of where they’ve been, but not random orbital ones. The secret is in the oscillation of the pad, which ensures that you don’t have to worry about circular grooves in your finished piece. Typically speaking, these sanders are used for polishing finished pieces to make sure that there are no splinters or rough edges. As such, they are mostly compact devices that can fit into tighter corners and allow you to work on many different surfaces. Nonetheless, due to their power and versatility, they work well as a removal device or a finishing piece, making them a must-have for any serious woodworkers.
Although the primary purpose of this kind of sander is to polish materials without leaving marks, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of different considerations that go into picking the best model for your work. Overall, each one that we are going to look at comes with the same basic principle, but they do have some distinct variations that are important based on your needs. Here are the most important factors to consider when picking out a random orbital sander.
When talking about the measurements for this type of sander, you want to look at the size of the unit itself as well as the width of the sanding pad. As far as the device goes, you want something that is lightweight and easy to carry so that you can work non-stop without getting fatigued or cramped in your hands. If the sander is too big and cumbersome, then you will tire out faster, and you won’t be able to get into those small spaces.
You also need to pay attention to the size of the sanding pad as that will determine the level of detail you can have while working. Usually, handheld random orbital sanders come with circular pads, meaning that you want to focus on the diameter to see how much space you get.
The importance of the motor depends on how often you will be sanding with this machine. If you’re a casual DIY enthusiast, then something with a smaller engine will work just fine. However, if you’re a professional who needs it to work on a near constant basis, then you want a motor that can handle that kind of load. Usually, the motor will be classified by amps, with most sanders ranging between three to five. If you get a sander that is much below three, then it won’t be able to handle large jobs or frequent usage.
Because this is a finishing sander, you want something that is versatile so that you can use it for a variety of projects. As such, it’s usually best to get a model that comes with a variable speed adjustment. This allows you to go slower or faster depending on your needs, making the whole thing much more reliable. As we mentioned above, these sanders can be ideal for both removal of material (such as paint or varnish) as well as polishing, so if you get a unit with adjustable speeds, then you can customize your experience as you see fit.
While the size of the sander is essential for limiting fatigue, the grip will be much more crucial as to your overall comfort. In some cases, it will be located directly over the motor so that you can get more control while you work, while in other situations it may have something sticking out on the side or front. Depending on the type of sanding you’ll be doing, you want to get a grip that will match your style so that you can keep working without having to readjust yourself constantly.
Finally, whenever you’re sanding, you will create a huge mess of dirt and debris while you work. Thankfully, many of these units come with a dust collection part that enables you to keep your surfaces clean so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time cleaning up afterward. Unfortunately, not all random orbital sanders have this feature, so you will have to decide if it’s something that you need (we highly recommend it). That being said, there are some things to consider when looking at a dust port.
First, check to see if it can be adapted to work with a shop vacuum. This will allow you to work much longer without having to change the bag as often. Second, see if it comes with a filter to remove finer particles from the air. This can help keep your lungs from breathing in dust and may even allow you to work without a mask. Finally, check the size of the bag to see if it’s conducive to working in long shifts. If the bag is small and it won’t connect to a vacuum, then you may have to limit how much you sand before changing it.
While there are plenty of random orbital sanders from which to choose, we’ve narrowed our list down the top five. These are undoubtedly the best of the best, which means that no matter which one you choose you’re sure to get something that can work well with whatever kinds of projects you do. That being said, each of these sanders has a particular selling point that differentiates it from the rest, so it’s crucial that you understand which features are most important to you so that you can decide accordingly.
Kicking off our list is this sander from Makita. As far as consumer product brands go, this is one of the best in the industry, with a long line of high-quality equipment and materials from which to choose. As such, this random orbital sander is one of the best you can find.
When talking about the performance of this machine, it first comes with a versatile and robust three-amp motor. This allows you to work long hours without the device breaking down or stopping suddenly. It also comes with a variable speed adjustment so that you can work on a variety of projects without having to switch units. You can quickly go from 7,000 OPM (orbits per minute) to 12,000. That makes this sander ideal for both removal and polishing equally well.
One thing that we really like about this sander is the fact that it comes with an adjustable handle. This means that you can customize your grip depending on your position, making this sander much easier to hold and operate than others. Best of all, it only weighs three pounds, making it a lightweight model as well.
Fortunately, this unit also comes with an integrated dust collection port and bag so that you can reduce the amount of cleanup needed while working. It can even be adapted to fit with shop vacuums so that you can work for longer periods without having to stop and empty everything out. While it doesn’t come with a filter, the dust port collects through the front of the sander for better results.
Finally, this device comes with a remarkable thirty-day money back guarantee and a comprehensive one-year warranty. It also has a durable plastic carrying case so that you can keep all of your parts and accessories (including sanding pads) together. Overall, this is a fantastic sander that provides excellent results each time.
Next, we have a machine from another high-quality manufacturer. In fact, if you were to place this Bosch Sander next to the Makita above, you may think that they are twins, given that they both have the same distinct color and shape. However, this particular model has a few added features that make it a worthwhile option.
First of all, the motor on this sander is a little smaller than the Makita, but it has a higher overall output. This means that you can work faster without putting too much pressure on the system. The variable speed adjustment goes from 7,500 to 12,000 OPM, making this unit a viable option for many different woodworking projects.
What we like most about this sander is the dust collection system. While most models have a dust bag and port, this particular unit comes with a reusable filter as well. This ensures that the air stays cleaner while you work. Unfortunately, if you connect it to a shop vacuum then the filter doesn’t work, but if you don’t need that much collection space, you could potentially operate without a mask.
The other features that we like about this sander include a soft starting system that ensures you don’t accidentally gouge your work, an ergonomic soft grip handle to reduce vibration and fatigue, and a carrying case so that you can keep everything together and organized. Additionally, this model comes with a thirty-day money back guarantee and a one-year limited warranty.
While we like brands like Makita and Bosch, one of our top favorites has to be DeWalt. No matter what kind of power tool you get from the company, it is sure to deliver high-quality results every time. As such, we love this variable speed random orbital sander for what it can do with wood and how well it can handle any project we throw at it.
Overall, this is a great piece for anyone who does a lot of woodworking and needs something that can keep up.
The most significant aspect of this sander is the quality of the machinery and its performance. While other units have similar specs, this model is built to last and will take on almost any project with ease. To do that, it comes with a robust three-amp motor and a variable speed adjustment that enables you to work on a wider variety of pieces. You can easily go from 7,000 to 12,000 OPM with a flip of a button, making this one of the more reliable sanders out there.
To help improve this machine’s performance it also comes with a proprietary controlled finishing system that manages the pad’s speed when starting and stopping. This ensures that you don’t accidentally gouge the wood when you first start as it will ease into its top speed rather than starting abruptly. It also comes with an anti-slip grip so that you can maintain better control while working.
As far as dust collection goes, this model comes with a rather large bag, but it also has its own vacuum adapter so that you can connect to a shop vacuum if need be. While we do wish that it came with a filter as well, the results are still impressive, leaving very little debris while you work.
Finally, this sander comes with a carrying case to store all of your parts and accessories and has a remarkable three-year service warranty. That alone elevates it above the competition and should show that the company stands behind this product 100%.
So far, we’ve seen random orbital sanders that were built with high speeds in mind so that they can work well as a finishing product or a removal sander.
However, that also means that they are not conducive to working on other materials such as cars or metal. The reason for that is because higher speeds can create much more friction, thus overheating any metallic pieces or buffing paint off a car door.
Thus, if you want something that can work on a variety of materials besides wood, this is the sander for you. It has a much more robust motor (4.5 amps instead of three), and it operates at up to 6,800 OPM. As you can see, that is even lower than some of the other sanders at their slowest speed. Again, the purpose behind that is so you don’t risk overheating metal or wearing down other materials too fast. High speeds are perfect for wood, but not much else.
To further drive this point home, the Porter-Cable Sander also comes with a polishing pad as well as a standard sanding pad. Also, these measure six inches in diameter instead of the usual five, meaning that you can cover more area in less time. Overall, this is an efficient and versatile machine.
The other thing that we like about this sander is that it comes with an adjustable handle for stability. Since it’s heavier than other models (six pounds), you need the extra point of contact to ensure that you don’t lose control while you work. Best of all, it can install on either side so if you’re left or right-handed it doesn’t matter. Finally, it comes with a three-year warranty.
Our final sander is made from Milwaukee, and it is a rather standard model when compared to the others. It has a bit of a smaller profile, but all of the features and specs are still there. Overall, if you want something robust and reliable, then this is a fantastic option.
When talking about performance, this sander has everything you need. A three-amp motor ensures that you can work for longer periods without stopping, and a variable speed adjustment setting enables you to polish varying pieces as needed. This sander operates between 7,000 and 12,000 OPM, which is about standard for something in this size and weight range.
To further help ensure proper results, this sander has a soft start system to avoid gouging the wood, as well as a pad brake to reduce the chances of swirl marks while you work. Also, it only weighs 3.3 pounds, making it much easier to handle and control overall.
This sander also comes with a dust collection system that keeps your workplace clean, which you can connect to a shop vacuum for better results. It even has a plastic carrying case to hold your adapter and any other accessories you may need. Finally, it comes with an excellent five-year warranty.
After looking through these various sanders, we can safely say that our top two picks would either be the Makita or the DeWalt models. First of all, we like that they come with a whole kit and carrying system so that you can keep everything together. Secondly, they have the best features and performance we’ve seen of any random orbital sander. Finally, these companies have a long history of making high-quality products, and we know that they are committed to bringing you the best tools possible regardless of your skill level or expertise.