Which Is the Best Random Orbital Sander? – Mechanopedia’s Top Picks
Hey there, fellow woodworker! I see you’re looking for some insight on…woodworking. Looking for some tips on what to get as your best random orbital sander for woodworking? Well then, you’re exactly where you want to be!
If this is your first time, we can understand the frustration that you might be going through when trying to choose what to buy. It can be as confusing as it is exciting. Now, you probably want to overcome all that frustration and confusion and, well, that’s what we’re here to help you with. All you have to do is read through the reviews we’ve done for the best random orbit sander models on the market, and you’ll be ready to wield the most suitable one for you.
We can categorize the contents of this Random Orbital Sander review into two parts. First, we have the reviews of the top five random orbital sanders that you can get today. This part will give you a clear idea of what makes up a dependable sander. Once you acquire that knowledge, we can take it even further. You’ll come to know how performance and price should be balanced, what to avoid in a product, and what to look for. All set? Then let’s start, shall we?
The Best Random Orbital Sander for Woodworking – Our Picks
You might find other products from competing power tool brands like Makita and Bosch that try to reach the level of the DEWALT DWE6423K. But, when it comes to purchase protection, price balance, and performance, nothing comes close to what the DWE6423K offers, which is why it tops our best random orbit sander list.
Running from 8,000 to 12,000 orbits/min, this sander is a 3 A variable-speed ROS. You might think that that much power would come with a lot of shaking, but this is not the case. This tool virtually guarantees an experience free of vibration. What makes it even more ergonomic is the simple design and overmild grip. Not to mention the reliable hook and loop system.
Now, besides all of these factors, the first edge that makes this product the best 5-inch sander on the market is the warranty that comes with it. You get 3 full years of limited warranty, a year-long free service, and refund guarantee for 90 days. For the free service, DEWALT guarantees that it will replace and repair all damaged pieces, even if it broke during regular usage. In all honesty, this may be the best warranty available for any product on the market, and another factor that makes the DWE6423Kworth of the first spot on our Random Orbital Sander Review.
What we like about this random orbital polisher
There is a lot to love in the DWE6423K, but we’re mainly giving it the title of the best Random Orbital Sander for woodworking because of the great purchase protection that you get from DeWalt, the excellent hook and loop system, and the powerful motor and sturdy construction that you’d expect from such a reputable company. If you’re willing to pay the price, which would surely put you back a pretty dollar, we recommend going with the DeWalt DWE6423K.
A low price tag always warrants some doubt. If you purchase an affordable tool, you would be doing so expecting to let go of some fancy features that more expensive products would offer. So, does that apply to the Black & Decker BDERO100, which is a fully-functional random orbital sander? How does it fair against machines of higher prices? Well, it’s not our runner-up pick in this Random Orbital Sander Review for no reason.
This is a 2A single-speed random orbital sander. It runs at 12,000 OPM, which makes it perfect for light sanding. So, because of this, we don’t recommend using it as your main sander if you don’t want to restrict yourself.
When compared to other orbital sanders of similar price, this one is of pretty good design and build quality. But despite that fact, it still has 2 significant flaws. First of all, the dust collection isn’t that great. If you don’t equip it with your own shop-vac, you’ll get more dust on the outside than on the inside.
The second flaw is with the hook & loop system. It wears sanding pads down rather quickly. When the sanding pads become unusable before the due date of their grits, you know you’ve got a problem. It’ll eventually increase the operating cost, and that’s something you want to avoid.
A pleasant surprise is the fact that this sander gives you a 2-year limited warranty. If you look at other products of the same price, you’ll rarely find one with more than a warranty of 1 year. Now, when everything is said and done, do we recommend this sander? Well, we definitely don’t recommend that you rush out to buy a cheap unit, as you won’t find the best random orbital polisher in the budget price range, but if you really have to, if you’ve got no other choice, then the Black & Decker BDERO100 is your best bet.
What we like about this random orbital polisher
The Black & Decker BDERO100 is the value-oriented machine in our Random Orbital Sander Review. That may not inspire confidence, and it does come with some flaws, but for the price, extended warranty, and sturdy construction you get, it’s really a no-brainer purchase for those on a budget.
Before the age of the DEWALT and its unmatched, unbelievable warranty, there was a time when Bosch’s ROS20VSC was reigning as the undisputed best random orbital sander for woodworking. It had the power, the durability, the ease of use, the functionality, and the compact size; what else could you ask for in the best random orbital sander for woodworking, huh?
Just in case you don’t have a shop-vac, you need not exhaust yourself by going out and getting one. The dust collection system of this sander is quite enough to do the job. It’s just as effective as the DWE6423K.
When talking about power, this one is a tad bit less powerful than the DEWALT DWE6423K. It’s a 2.5 A variable-speed sander running from 7,500 to 12,000 OPM. And still, with the difference in power, this one runs just as well and just as comfortable as the DEWALT’s.
DEWALT and Bosch are both very reputable brands in this business. But in what case would you rather get this one over the DEWALT’s? If you want a random orbital sander that syncs with your shop-vac out of the box, then get this one. It’s also less expensive than the top pick of our Random Orbital Sander Review, yet not quite a low-cost ROS.
What we like about this random orbital polisher
The main perk of the Bosch ROS20VSC, and the reason it made it to our Random Orbital Sander Review, is the fact that it comes with a shop-vac adapter as well as an effective dust collection system, making it a perfect choice for neat freaks. The machine also boasts a powerful motor (though not as powerful as the DeWalt’s) and comes at a pretty reasonable price, making it yet another worth investment, and a solid candidate for the title of the best random orbital sander for woodworking.
Here we’ve got another great example of a worthwhile low-cost item. The PORTER-CABLE 382 is a 1.9 A ROS (a bit less powerful than the Black & Decker one). But where it lacks in power, it makes up for with the warranty, a warranty that’s similar to the one offered by DEWALT. Basically, you’re getting a 90-day refund window, free service for a whole year and a 3-year limited warranty for a low-cost sander. Considering the price tag, you’re basically robbing them.
Also, this machine runs quite smoothly for a low budget product. It’s got a durable motor inside a very ergonomic body. Although it’s a bit flimsy and kind of gets full fast, the dust collection system still functions pretty well. Connecting it to a shop-vac does need an adapter, but this isn’t a big deal for a budget sander.
What you need to get a heads up on is the lack of power. The motor on this sander should only be used for light sanding. You shouldn’t expect it to fulfill all of your sanding requirements. So, keep that in mind as you might want to consider buying a more powerful product in the future.
As we’ve mentioned before, we don’t really recommend purchasing a low-budget ROS because of their tight limitations. But, again, if this is your only choice, this is a worthwhile consideration.
What we like about this random orbital polisher
Just like DeWalt, Porter-Cable offers one helluva purchase protection policy on its products. Add that to the low price tag it has, and the super ergonomic, durable design it sports, and you’ve got yourself one of the, if not THE, best random orbital sanders that you can get today if you’re on a budget, and another gem in our Random Orbital Sander review.
And now, last but not least, we get to the final sander in our Random Orbital Sander review. This is a product that offers the functionality and the performance that anybody would be happy to have. The Makita BO5041K encompasses several traits that make it a top tear sander. It runs from 4,000 to 12,000 OPM with a 3 A variable speed motor. You can more control during the sanding with the extended low-speed range. It’s also got a two-finger trigger and a lock-on feature.
You get a high-capacity dust collection system with its own shop-vac adapter. You can go with the one-handed mode or the two-handed mode if you wish with the removable front handle. The body is very durable and offers enough comfort thanks to the rubber grip. But what we really need to talk about here is the amazingly smooth, swirl-free finish you get with the large 1/8-inch orbital action. The cherry on top is the durable storage case that comes with it.
Now all of that sounds nice and all, so what’s the bed? Basically, this is an expensive item to buy. Even though we find that its excellence justifies its price, we find that the warranty doesn’t reach the set bar. You get a one-year warranty, which is just not enough considering how expensive it is. It could’ve taken the top spot on this random orbit sander review, but because of the issue, it takes the last.
What we like about this random orbital polisher
Although we’re placing it as the last pick in our random orbit sander review, this fine model from Makita is actually no less capable than any of our recommendations. It has an ergonomic grip, a sturdy build, a powerful motor, and a durable storage case. Besides, it boasts an excellent dust collection system along with a Shop-vac adapter for mess-less operation and offers a wide range of speeds to accommodate all of your sanding needs. What else could you ask for in the best random orbital sander for woodworking?
Choosing the Best Random Orbit Sander – Mechanopedia’s Buying Guide
To get the full advantage of this machine, you have to avoid the rookie mistakes when buying the best Random Orbital Sander for woodworking. Let’s take a look at what to look for and what to keep away from.
What to Look For
Here are the features on which you must keep a close eye when going over our Random Orbit Sander review:
Getting a ROS with a wide range of speed makes things a lot easier. You’d want to be able to use the best random orbit sander at low speeds for fine sanding and at high speeds for careless material removal. Sure, you can get the same effect without the variable speed by changing the sanding pad grit, but why make things harder?
Having a two-handed grip allows you to have more control, but it can limit your freedom a bit. Having a one hand grip means that you can reach tight areas easier. Your best choice is getting a sander with an extra removable grip. We’ve mentioned some of those in our Random Orbital Sander review, so don’t worry.
Dust Protected Body
You don’t really like all the dust that comes out when sanding, do you? Yeah, well, neither does the machine. Dust can be very harmful to the internal components of the sander, so try to get yourself the best random orbit sander – one that can protect itself from this issue.
Superior Dust Collection
The higher the dust collection capacity is, the fewer problems you’re going to face. Having dust all around you can make your workshop very messy. It is also never good for your body. So, keep the dust collection in mind. In our Random Orbit Sander review, we reviewed some products that come with a Vac-shop adapter, which is a nice feature as it would allow you to avoid as much mess as possible when using your sander. More on that below.
Working on big objects with the sander means that you’re going to cause a lot of dust. The sander’s dust bag capacity will never be enough to house it all, so you’re going to need the sander to be compatible with a shop vacuum to take care of it, either through an adapter or directly.
What to Avoid
When checking the picks in our Random Orbit Sander review, or any other guide for that matter, make sure to avoid the following features like the plague:
Low-Quality Hook & Loop
The hook and loop system allows you to hook up the best random orbit sander to the sander pad. If you want to have a smooth experience, make sure to avoid products with weak hook & loop systems.
If you’re looking to do some light sanding a 2 to 2.5 A (Amps) motor will be sufficient, but if you’re going for some heavy work, that won’t be enough, aim for at least 3 A. And don’t worry, Orbits per minute won’t mean anything if the motor is weak. So, pay attention to that when reading our Random Orbit Sander review.
No product is safe from this curse, not even the top tear ones, although a product from a reputable brand would have fewer chances of having its motor die out. Just make sure to stay away from unknown manufacturers and look for long warranties. Each and every brand we mentioned in our Random Orbit Sander review is a reputable one, so stick with those whenever it’s possible.
Vibrations can be very irritating, especially if you’re working a sander for long periods of time. Try to shop from stores that allow you to try out sanders before buying them to get to experience the amount of vibration beforehand. If that’s not possible, read our Random Orbit Sander review as well as the user reviews attentively. No unit is safe from vibration, not even the best random orbit sander, but some models are better than others in handling this.
Picking the Best Random Orbital Sander – Frequently Asked Questions
Orbital Sander VS Palm Sander: What’s the Difference?
Whether or not the orbital sanders and palm sanders are the same things has always been a bone of contention. Although the belief that they are similar is quite widespread, they are two completely different things. If you’re one of those who have always thought the same, it’s time for you to finally differentiate between the two types of sanders.
Palm for the Light Touch
They are named palm after the palm of the hand, as they are made to fit perfectly into it. They are meant to perform small projects, and you can’t use them to remove whatever that is sticking to a piece of wood for the same exact reason. For example, you can use them to wax a piece of wood that you don’t aim to paint later. They are considered to be the most lightweight and the smallest among power sanders, having the least powerful motor power. They are also the most inexpensive and affordable amongst power sanders. Usually, they can be used with sandpapers in 160-220 grit range.
Also, you shouldn’t use them and push them with a lot of effort and pressure; otherwise, you’ll end up ruining your palm sander. The way in which they are made necessitates too much delicacy while using them.
Lower Grit, Higher Power
Orbital sanders derive their name from the circular movement their heads regularly make in small circles, and these circles are known as the orbits. Orbital sanders are larger and more powerful. Some top-tier models have a handle, which enables you to grab them using both hands. Otherwise, they can be comfortably worked with using only one hand. They usually use sandpaper in the 80-160 grit range. They are more powerful and stronger, especially in comparison to palm sanders. However, if you compare them to other power sanders they aren’t that strong. Also, they cost way more than palm sanders.
Orbital sanders are further divided into a subcategory that is named random orbital sander. They are called so because, unlike the bigger, original category that maintains the same standard, circular movement, these sanders move their heads randomly without following a single given pattern. The best thing about random orbital sanders is the fact that, even if you don’t stay focused on your work, they don’t leave unpleasant stains. They keep your work clean.
Orbital sanders do excellent work when it comes to removing paint and varnish from a piece of wood, or preparing a piece of wood to be painted. They can also be righteously used on flat as well as curved surfaces.
Belt Sanders VS Orbital Sanders: What’s the Difference?
Belt sanders and orbital sanders do differ substantially, although they perform the same types of work most of the time, and both use sandpapers in molding and softening wood. However, each has its own specificities and manners in performing its tasks, and theses specificities set them apart.
Belt Sanders: Built for Aggressive Work
Belt sanders’ sizes range from 3×18 to 4×24, but the most common and used one is that of size 3×21. It’s the most commonly used since it’s the simplest to use and is the most flexible of them all. Conversely, the sanders that are sized 4×24 are quite big and harsh to the point that they may affect and hurt the wood with which you’re working, especially if you’re a beginner and you lack experience. In general, belt sanders are harsh, aggressive, and they’re fabricated in a way that makes them capable of removing a bulky material in a very short period of time. Also, they are meant to perform basic tasks. If you aim to shape wood or refine it, it won’t perform as you wish, and it would end up being rather detrimental to your piece of wood.
By definition, a belt sander is a motor that operates with two drums attached to it. When the drums rotate, they carry a sandpaper belt that runs on the target object. To have the best out of these sanders, you’d better use them with a large and flat surface. They are able to remove both wood and paint. Also, they provide the best choice if you aim at removing and finishing many planks with great, satisfactory results.
Get Finesse with an Orbital Sander
They are named orbital sanders after their typical circular movements. When moving sandpaper, naturally a 9×11 paper, they move in small circles- which are defined as orbits.
While belt sanders are known for their strength and harshness, orbital sanders are widely recognized for their outstanding ability to achieve perfectly accurate, fine, and precise results. Orbital sanders are a very light sanding tool, and they can be held by hand, which makes them such a versatile device that you can easily control and deal with, with such ease.
Orbit sanders are designed to perform only small tasks such as shaping wood, finishing, and sanding curves. While belt sanders cannot be used to perform the same tasks as the orbital sanders, such as refining curved surfaces, orbital sanders can be used with flat surfaces. This is another feature that differentiates between the two types. However, they, orbital sanders, are unable to remove hard paints and marks. With these types of tasks, you’d better use a belt sander.
Sheet Sander vs Orbital Sander: What’s the Difference?
This is yet another area of confusion in the sanding world. Worry not, though, as, below, we’ll talk about the differences between the two types: sheet sander vs orbital sander.
As what the name may have suggested to you, sheet sanders are meant to finish tasks. They are fabricated for the purpose of making the best final steps before putting on paint, finish, lacquer, or any coating material. You also need to know that a sheet sander is not as powerful and strong as the RO sanders, meaning they don’t perform the same exact tasks.
They, sheet sanders, can also be referred to as palm sanders or ¼ sheet pad sander. Generally, they use ¼ of a standard 9×11 sheet of sandpaper. They are designed with a square sanding pad, which makes them more appropriate for dealing with 90-degree angles than RO sanders that continuously move in a circular motion. Most of them operate with a spring-loaded clamp device that helps ensure and fix the sandpaper on the pad.
Unlike the belt sanders, sheet sanders operate slowly and are unable to deal with multi-layered material in a very short time. This is mainly because they follow a back and forth movement that is most suitable for sanding only a few materials at the same time. If you pressure your sheet paper into doing the same job with the same pace as that of the belt sander, you’re more likely to ruin your sandpapers, rather than advancing in your work. The only unpleasant thing about sheet sanders; however, is that they generally result in staining the object you’re working on.
When comparing sheet sanders to RO sanders, the most pleasant thing is the price of the former- sheet sanders. RO sanders are quite expensive in comparison to sheet sanders. In addition to their affordable price, sheet sanders can be used anywhere.
Random Orbital Sanders
Random orbital sanders, when compared to the previously mentioned sanders, are the strongest and most powerful type. They have a quite high-price in comparison to sheet sanders, but they have proved to be worth it. They are prep sanders, meaning that you can use them to remove multi-layered material, and they do so excellently even when dealing with tough surfaces. The main underlying difference between a random orbital sander and a belt sander is that the latter is used with tough materials which should be made even before being prepped.
While you can easily control RO sanders, more specifically those with multi-speed motors, sheet sanders cannot be manipulated. By control, we mean that, while an RO sander can also operate as a finish sander, a finish sander cannot operate as a prep sander. To transform your RO sander into a finish sander, you’ll need to use a fine grit paper.
As previously said, random orbital sanders work with circular sandpapers that are always attached to a sanding disc, typically with Velcro. The movement it makes is rather arbitrary, spinning and orbiting elliptically and simultaneously. That’s why it’s most likely to result in staining the object on which you’re working- unlike sheet sanders.
Orbital Sander vs Drum Sander: What’s the Difference?
Many people prefer not to resort to a professional and refinish their hardwood floors themselves. What may pose a problem for them; however, is to figure out what are the best tools to use. The way with which you’re going to sand your floor is what matters. There are mainly two ways, notably drum sanding and orbital sanding. Before making your decision, there are a few aspects which you need to consider carefully, namely: the floor’s state, the results you want to achieve, and your experience with sanding.
While drum sanders are quicker and harsher, the sanding process with orbital sanders is not as quick and harsh, but rather slow and gentle. With a drum sander, you have a piece of sandpaper sliding onto a square drum, and not all of the paper and the drum end up reaching the floor. Also, you’d be amazed at how aggressive, and fast drum sanders are when it comes to cutting wood. However, it’s not the same with orbital sanders. Orbital sanders operate with a grinding action in a basic, simple back and forth motion that makes the tool work slowly and gently.
Time and Labor
Drum sanders will save you much time since, as we have previously mentioned, they are so fast. This is a direct result of their unwavering harshness and aggressiveness. They’re the best choice you’d make if you’re going to finish many layers or deal with large places. When it comes to smaller rooms, you’d better resort to random orbital as they are not as harsh. Using drum sanders in these types of areas would result in harming and scratching the surface.
What’s really decisive to the final result you get for your floor when using drum sanders are the following factors: the speed at which you put the sander, the intensity of the pressure you make, the sandpaper’s grit, and the pace you make. Also, you need to be well-experienced with drum sanders until you can finally do it right. When working with orbital sanders; however, it all depends on the weight of the sander, as it’s the only element that is responsible for adjusting the appropriate pressure required for the sanding process.
When using an orbital sander, you don’t have to keep up with the grain of the wood so that you make the final, soothing touch. Even if it’s your first experience with sanders, it’s quite easy and simple to use a random orbital sander, that’s why it’s more likely that you won’t make mistakes and that you’ll be satisfied with the results. To make sure you won’t damage the floor in any way, you’d better try to maintain the sander in motion whenever the sandpaper touches the floor, no matter what type of sander you use.
Which to Use
The decision you’re going to make when choosing the type of sanders to use is mainly based on the condition of the floor. If your hardwood floor is coated with multiple layers of finish, had been hurt or damaged in any way, then they need the harshness, toughness, and aggressiveness of a drum sander.
Be sure that you won’t get better than a drum sander to do this job for you. However, if the floor doesn’t need anything more than some refinements and a slight sanding, then you’d better use a random orbital sander. If you are to sand across the wood grain, as it’s the case with small hallways, closets or entryways, orbital sanders are most appropriate and most recommended.
What Is a Random Orbital Sander and What Does it Do?
Finishing our best Random Orbital Sander review with a question that gets asked a lot when one is first discovering sanders: what is a random orbital sander and what does it do?
What a random orbital sander is good for is its ability to provide you with excellent woodwork along with an impressive surface finish, even more so with stained surfaces. It offers, in so little time, a better finish than any other type of sander, seeing how it’s mainly a finishing tool.
What gives it this edge?
The answer is the use of random orbit technology.
Now, any other sander would rotate along a fixed axis, but not a ROS. As the name suggests, the orbit in which the rotating movement manifests is totally random, meaning that it allows drastically fewer chances for the swirls to appear. That is why you get an excellent finish in a remarkable time.
Should I Get a Low-Cost or a High-End Model?
Woodworkers, especially beginners, tend to ask whether they should go with a budget-friendly or high-end model all the time, regardless of whether they’re getting a sander, Sliding Compound Miter Saw, Cordless Circular Saw, Tile Saw, Chainsaw Mill, Table Saw, Cordless Tool Set, or even Chainsaw Chaps or Circular Saw Blade set. Funny enough, one of my neighbors asked me whether he should get an expensive chainsaw or a chainsaw under 200 bucks just this morning.
This is no simple question to answer, as it all boils down to how you’re going to use the best random orbit sander. If you’re going to use it frequently and regularly, go for something that won’t fail before the due date of its warranty. This means a high-end model. If not, lower cost sander can do the trick for a while.
In any case, you’ll always want a machine that performs beautifully, which will justify the price tag in our opinion. Reliability, convenience, and lifetime warranty are also important, but they can be overlooked when compared to performance.
When it comes to the best high-end models, your best bet is with DEWALT, Bosch, and Makita. If you can really spend some cash, look into Festool. As for the lower end models, you’ll find Porter Cable, Skil, Ryobi, and Black & Decker as safe choices.
In our best Random Orbital Sander review, we tested both high-end and affordable models, bringing you the best of both categories, so rest assured as our guide is for you no matter your budget.
To get a clear idea of how some high-end brands compare against each other, check our comparison of DeWalt and Milwaukee.
Hey, we’ve reached the end of our roundup of the best random orbit sander models available today. Yes, all good things must come to this moment, but at least we had fun together, and we learned something along the way. That’s what’s most important.
What we have here today is only a drop in a sea of various sanders on the market. But this small example is enough to give you a clear idea of the wide variety of products and the broad range of features that you can expect from all the different brands.
Luckily for you, you now acquire the ancient knowledge of the realm of sanders. Backed up with what you now know, you can delve deep into the wild, knowing exactly what to look for and what to avoid. Eventually, you will land upon the best random orbital sander that will suit you perfectly. We’re only glad that you chose us to help along the way with our Random Orbital Sander review.
Go on now, but don’t forget to visit once in a while. Stay safe!
- Our own experience