Random orbital sanders are among the most essential DIY power tools that are almost certain to be found in almost all the households as well as workshops. Its work is to make the sanding process much quicker and easier. Just like any other tool, a good quality sander ought to have enough power and features to tackle all the necessary tasks with high levels of efficiency, speed and quality. The best random orbital sanders thus need to be versatile, durable, dependable, reliable and easy to use. Read on…
Last update on 2018-02-21 PST - Details
Why a Random Orbital Sander
It is very common for people to confuse between the orbital sanders and their close brothers- the random orbital sanders. The main difference between the two lies on the shape of the base as well as the material removal mechanism.
The round bases of random orbital sanders vibrate as it also spins thus allowing for a more efficient material removal mechanism. When this is combined with the speed variability characterized with most of these tools, the user achieves different smoothing results ranging from smoothing rough planks all the way to finish surface preparation. Some of the Random orbital sanders are also characterized with some advanced mechanisms such as the Turbo mode attributed for an even more efficient sanding performance.
The ROs mainly come in 2 pad sizes namely: the 5 and the 6 inch pads. Anything using pads more than 6 inches can be considered as a pneumatic sander whereas those less than 5 inches are detailed sanders.
Top 5 Best Random Orbital Sanders on the Market
Are you are an enthusiast of the top notch tools that the market offers, and then the DWE6423K is the best random orbital sander within this industry. This is a newer and upgraded version of the DEWALT D26451 and D26453 single speed and variable speed respectively. Featuring a powerful 3.0 Ampere motor capable of variable running speeds of between 8,000 and 12,000 OPMs, the product is sure to let its users accomplish any sanding tasks at their disposal. The model is shorter than its predecessor, thus making it easier to control and to maneuver. An impressive attribute is the fact that though high in performance and the superior in the random orbital sander industry, the product happens to be about 25% cheaper than a good number of the high end orbital sanders.
- A powerful 3.0 Ampere motor capable of spinning the pads at between 8,000 and 12,000 OPM. Such a variable speed performance is necessary for improved versatility
- The switch is protected from dust by a dust-sealed design mechanism thus protecting it from dust ingestion thereby resulting in longer life performance.
- A simple machine that’s easy to use as well as easy to maneuver yet featuring a very solid construction. The dust bag features a one-hand vacuum locking system for easy dust collection
- Designed with reduced vibrations, and an additional rubber over-mold to further reduce the vibrations in critical areas thus considerably reducing user fatigue.
- Switch a bit awkward to use.
- Shorter cord and connection to certain shop vacuums may prove difficult.
This is yet another fantastic tool, so impressive and versatile that it can be used both at home for DIY projects as well as for professional/commercial use. Featuring enough power that’s generated by its 3.0 Ampere motor, the product handles heavy responsibilities without bogging down or getting hot. A variable 4,000 to 12,000 OPM is easily adjustable to be able to match different tasks. The tool is lightweight and ergonomically designed thus making it very comfortable to use, courtesy of the smooth sanding action. Its 1/8 inch random orbital radius ensures that resultant fewer swirl marks and overall smoother results together with reduced instances of over sanding are greatly dealt with. In other words, this is a high performance tool that’s easy to control and to use.
- 3.0 Ampere motor that’s very powerful, offering fast but smooth finish and sanding results.
- A wider variable speed control dial capable of running speeds between 4,000 and 12,000 OPM. This necessitates for the matching of sanding speeds with a wider range of applications.
- A lightweight construction, in conjunction with its adjustable front handle, for easier sanding in confined areas as well as in corners. The dust collection system is impressive.
- Ergonomically designed with a rubberized palm grip as well as a rubber handle for improvement of user comfort thus better control.
- Reduced noise, resulting in a very quiet performance under low speeds and average noise when at full speed.
- At lower speeds, the dust collection is a bit poor.
- The kit doesn’t come with a shop vac.
It is one of the most powerful random orbital sanders, courtesy of the 6.5 ampere motor capable of offering variable speeds ranging from 3100 to 6650 OPM. Though not the fastest sander the market has to offer, a Turbo mode, together with a finishing mode, have been featured in the design. The Turbo mode is very eccentric for aggressive stock removal, an attribute that makes users want to completely forget about the belt sanders. Turbo mode leads to the removal of up to five times more material as compared to the normal random orbit sanding mode. It is therefore the beast you should be using when working on projects where there are lots of pallet planks and rough timber.
- A powerful 6.5 ampere motor offering variable speeds for versatility of performances. The motor is responsible for the heavy sanding as well as the extension of the random orbital sander life. Cheap replacement pads of different firmness are available for different tasks.
- Dual mode with a random orbit mode necessitating for a fine swirl-free operation and a Turbo mode designed to enhance for aggressive stock removal.
- Constant Response circuitry system for maintenance of pad speed when subjected t heavy loads. The system thus protects the tool against overload.
- Start-up torque is greatly reduced by the Soft start design. A vacuum port effectively necessitates for dust-free sanding.
- No vacuum port locking mechanism.
- The turbo mode requires the user to have some firm grip on the handle.
For those having extremely tight budgets yet they want a random orbital sander they can rely on, then considering this product from Black and Decker is a wise idea. Though it can’t match the likes of Makita and Bosch, it is the best tool you can get at its price. The product is ideally a compact basic Random Orbital Sander for handling any small project. It isn’t characterized with any fancy features and isn’t the most powerful. However, its capacity to smoothly run small projects as well as its ease for use by beginners makes it to continue growing in popularity.
- A 2.0 ampere motor that runs 12,000 OPM thereby providing a superior finish.
- Dust sealed switch designed for keeping the switch free off debris and dust thus prolonging the life of the switch.
- Random orbital action results in high removal rate together with high-quality finish.
- Paper changes made easy by the provision of a hook and loop system. It also features an ultra compact and efficient design.
- One of the top sellers on Amazon because of performance and probably the best budget friendly random orbital sander.
- Noticeable vibrations thus not very comfortable for use by the small-handed.
- Not as powerful.
No fancy features accompany this tool, but it is a pretty and straightforward sander for use. It will properly and appropriately fit into your palm thus giving you maximum control over the tool. It is also very easy to use hence its tag as a top quality compact sander for the entry level craftsmen. Two metal clamps have been provided for making sanding paper attachment pretty easy. If the clamps don’t hold properly, a stick can be used on the sand paper. Its resultant speed of 13,500 OPM is the fastest on this list, and one of the best middle speed range random orbital sander. It is also characterized with a low-vibration design that seems to effectively reduce user fatigue when the work is being done.
- 2.0 ampere motor that moves 13,500 OPM thus making it the fastest RO sander on the market.
- Compatible with the regular cheap sanding paper that effectively makes it cost efficient.
- Counter-balanced low-vibration design for a reduced user fatigue.
- Fast and efficient tool that is easy to use hence making it one of the best tools for the beginners.
- Dust-sealed switch for prolonging the life of the switch.
- An inferior dust collection system.
Factors to Consider in Random Orbital Sander Selection
a. Power Source
There are three main power source types namely:
i. The corded-mains operated RO sanders
ii. The cordless-battery operated RO sanders and
iii. The Pneumatic sanders-Operated by air compressor
It is imperative that you know that a power source highly determines the power of the corresponding motor as well as the tool’s weight. Battery operated RO sanders are characterized with less power but are heavier when compared with the other two. The main reason for the added weight is on the battery itself.
Comparing all the three types, I would recommend that one goes for the corded tools. However, when portability is an issue of consideration, you can always find some battery operated RO sanders that will still do an impressive job for you.
Go for the pneumatic sanders only if your tasks are professional grade and you are willing to spend on additional air compressor equipment for it to run.
In a nutshell, a corded RO sander will be characterized with more power and they are also more reliable as there will be no need for worry about the battery charge as is the case with the cordless sanders. But since the cord can at times be a bit too cumbersome or even get in your way as you work, you may want to consider otherwise. On the contra wise, though the cordless/battery operated machine may not have the problems associated with cording, such machines are known to be unreliable and less powerful.
b. Random Orbital Sanders Styles
RO sanders come in three main styles namely the Palm-grip style, the right angle style, and the large in-line sander.
- The Palm-Grip Style: In this style, the user easily holds the grip with efficient maneuvering of the device across narrow projects. It is the simplest form or RO sander, requiring the least effort. The Palm-Grip RO sander is used for small and narrow projects only
- The Right Angle Style: If you need extra power for your work, this should be the most appropriate style for you. The style features products that have gears designed to serve as connections between the motor of the unit and its sanding pad. It shouldn’t go without mentioning that the overall orbit speed of this style is usually relatively much lower than that of the palm style sander. However, they have a better pushing force, a very useful feature when you are trying to eliminate paint from the surface of your wood project.
- The Large In-Line Sander: It typically comes handy for large sanding projects which require variable speeds at some points on the projects surface. The powerful motor of these sanders are capable of accommodating all the various speeds. Before buying this style, know that you will need to use both hands during device operation.
c. Motor Power and Speed
On average, the lowest power RO sanders have a 2.0 ampere power rating with the highest having a 5 ampere power rating. However, there are few instances where some products go beyond the average limit. Look for those machines that have the highest output power possible.
The fact that two sanders have the same power rating doesn’t necessarily imply that they have similar performances. The tool’s effective use of the input power is what’s important. It is therefore important that as you consider the input power rating, also look at the output power as you make a choice.
The pads vibrate between 4000 and 14000 Orbit per Minute-OP. Ideally, the more rapid the vibrations, the quicker the sanding operation will be. However, it is imperative you look for tools having variable speeds as some tasks, especially the final touches, may require lower speeds. The wider the speed variability of the tool, the better it is for your tasks.
d. Base Plate
This is the main part of the tool that needs more attention during design and construction as it determines the flatness and smoothness of the resultant finished sanding. It is where the sanding paper is attached to, mainly with the use of a hook and loop system, though some models makes good use of the stick on paper technologies. Most of the modern models feature holes at the base for removal of sawdust thus reducing surface scratches.
It is worth noting that the base’s foam part wears out after some time thus needing replacements. When buying an RO sander, try to consider those that have readily available and cheaply acquired replacement base foams.
e. Trigger Switch
The trigger switch of an orbital sander is always very susceptible to damage resulting from debris and dust that easily gets its way into this part of the tool. Nowadays models are incorporating triggers that feature a rubberized sealing system for enhanced dust protection. Better control can also be necessitated by triggers that feature side locks.
f. Dust Collection
Most of the modern sanders are also featuring some dust collection mechanisms. Such mechanisms may feature dust bags that are connected to the holes found in the base plates. Sawdust is thus collected into the dust bags. Some of the best dust collection systems feature bags with shop vacuum attachments or micro filter dust canisters. Other than the obvious reason of keeping your workspace clean, the dust collection systems always help reduce the instances of sawdust scratching the surfaces you are working on. The result is a more precise result.
This is the factor that is probably considered first by most of the folks. Obviously, you cannot afford buying what your bank account isn’t capable of handling. Though a sander can be too expensive for you to afford, it is a rule of the thumb that the more expensive sanders, on average, are always much better performers than the cheaper ones.
The RO sanders ought to be as lightweight as possible. It is in common knowledge to many that the heavier the sander, the faster you will get fatigued. The tool’s accompanying case also ought to be as lightweight as possible for easy movement in case you are a mobile contractor. If yours doesn’t have one, consider buying one.
i. Speed Control
Traditionally, random orbital sanders have always featured a single speed operation. Most of the modern ones, especially those featuring more powerful motors, come with variable speeds. The variable speeds are controlled by some speed control dials or trigger switch systems to allow the users to use different speeds for handling a range of tasks.
The primary factor in the production of anything is always the human factor. Even with the best of power and machine design, you will never realize your optimum performance if you aren’t comfortable while performing the tasks with your machine. This is the reason why you should always consider a machine that has been ergonomically designed to comfortably fit in your hands thus giving you absolute control over it. A rubberized grip and handles is such an ergonomic feature. Some sanders have been designed in such a way that the user can wrap their hand around them. These are the relatively smaller designs. The smaller sanders on the other hand feature some barrel/pistol handles with some coming with an additional handle on their front also for better control. Such are important attributes worth being considered with high regards.
k. Vibration Reduction
This is especially a primary factor of consideration if at all you are considering using your tool for extended periods. Sanders work by a vibration mechanism. The downside of such a mechanism is that it can really make you be fatigued when working or longer hours. Modern designs have been engineered with vibration reduction mechanisms. Such are the types of sanders worth spending your buck on.
Sanding disks are attached to the sander’s base plates either by stick mechanism or the more common hook and loop system. This system necessitates for faster paper changes. Usually, the disks feature six to eight holes that make dust removal very effective. Disks are available in stores in batches of various grit sizes.
Having gathered all the prerequisite information needed as a guide to understand one RO sander from the other, it is now time to either make a decision by choosing one of the above reviewed products or to begin the search for a valuable product. There is no one single sander that is universal for everyone and every need. It is your needs and ability that will help you determines that which is good for you. Going for a product that isn’t powerful enough will be frustrating, making you regrets having wasted your money on it. Just take your time, jot your needs, highlight the qualities you need from a tool, consider your budget and start your search. Ensure that the RO sander you go for has slightly more that your needs instead of less.
As much as there are impressive random orbital sanders on the market, there is none that matches the DWE6423K DEWALT 5" Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander. This is a powerful 3.0 ampere rated RO sander that’s capable of spinning the pads within a variable speed range of 8,000 and 12,000 OPM. It is easy to use, features a dust-sealed switch design for protection and is also characterized with a reduced vibrations performance thus reducing the chances of getting fatigued. The machine has been ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and control, is very versatile and also has one of the best dust collection mechanisms. If all the other products on this list are stars, then the DWE6423 is a super star.