A random orbital sander uses rotary discs that move in a “random” fashion. They are used to remove any defects and leave the wood feeling smooth. There is a variety of different types that offer different benefits and suited towards different skill levels.
The best random orbital sander for woodworking is the Bosch ROS20VSK. This sander combines performance, dust control and value for money into a single sander.
They are powerful tools that matched with the correct grit sandpaper will completely smooth any type of wood. Unlike many other tools, the random orbital sander market is fairly saturated, which can make finding the best quite a mission.
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Best Random Orbit Sand Kit
|Random Orbital Sander||OPM||Weight|
|Bosch ROS20VSK||7,500-12,000||3.5 LBS|
|Bosch 3727DEVS||4,500-12,000||5.2 LBS|
|Makita BO5041K||4,000-12,000||3.0 LBS|
|DEWALT DWE6421K||8,000-12,000||4.0 LBS|
|Festool 571897||3,000-6,000||2.6 LBS|
There is a whole range of factors to consider when purchasing a random orbital sander. Comfort, vibration levels, ease of use, length of warranty and so much more. Investing slightly more into any power tool will result in a more reliable tool that will improve your work rate and the quality of your work.
Regular orbital sanders will spin consistency unlike the random orbital sander alternatives. The randomness is the key ingredient that prevents the swirl effect on your woodwork. Which is a end result of many other orbital sanders.
The only major drawback is the rotary discs can make it harder to sand corners. But they are still the favourite sander of choice by many DIY’ers. Below is a list of the best random orbital sanders that leave a smooth and swirl free finish to your woodwork.
Bosch ROS20VSK Random Orbit Sander
The Bosch ROS20VSK is a random orbital sander that weighs just 3.5 LBS but packs a powerful 2.5 Amp motor that delivers 7,500 to 12,000 OPM. It uses a 5 inch disc and has a 3/32 inch orbit diameter.
This orbital sander includes Bosch’s integral pad dampening system and a pad braking system. That prevents the dread swirling on the wood. It is a corded sander that has a variable speed dial so that it will be able to tackle any woodworking challenge.
It uses a microfilmer dust system to trap dust particles that can be as small as 1/2 micron in diameter. This will ensure that the user and anyone around will not breathe in any dust as well as keeping the workspace clean and tidy.
In terms of using this random orbital sander, it features an ergonomic soft grip top and body. This allows you for a range of grip positions for operation. The ROS20VSK also generates fairly low vibration thanks to a constant response circuitry as well as producing constant speed under load.
Overall, it is the best random orbital sander for the money with every feature you require for smoothing any type of wood to your desired finish.Check it Out
Bosch 3727DEVS Variable Speed Orbit Sander
For those that are looking to take their sanding to the next step or are a professional carpenter, the 3727DEVS is the premium model developed by Bosch. It uses a 3.3 Amp motor with a variable speed dial for tacking all woodworking tasks.
The 3727DEVS offers more control with variable speed that ranges between 4,500 and 12,000 OPM that can be set easily via the dial. It has an eccentric offset of 5/64 inch and will easily sand a range of wood to your desired smoothness level.
As with the ROS20VSK model by Bosch, it includes an impressive microfilmer dust system that captures dust as small as 1/2 micron in diameter as well an ergonomic body for comfort whilst using this sander.
The Bosch 3727DEVS is one of the best random orbital sander for professionals that require the extra power and OPM to tackle any tasks. The cheap orbital sanders are excellent for single tasks but may struggle with other tasks but not with this model.Check it Out
Makita BO5041K Random Orbit Sander Kit
The BO5041K uses a 3 AMP motor with an oversized sealed ball bearing design that results in a powerful random orbital sander. The variable speed control ranges from 4,000 to 12,000 OPM and is adjusted via the easy to use speed dial.
For those that intend on continuously sanding for long periods of time, the Makita features a “lock-on” feature for this exact purpose. To improve the sanding, it uses a large 1/8 inch random orbit action for a faster and smooth sanding finish.
The design of the BO5041K includes an adjustable front handle that makes corners and confined areas much more easier to tackle. Other important features include a “through the pad” dust collection system with a built-in vacuum port adapter for improved collection of dust.
Overall, it is a top rated random orbital sander for woodworking that ticks all boxes and offers excellent value for money compared to other sanders of a similar price range.Check it Out
DEWALT DWE6421K Random Orbital Sander
The 5 inch random orbital sander by Dewalt is one of their premium models and features a 3 Amp motor that spins to a maximum of 12,000 OPM. Unlike many of the alternatives, it has a smaller height, which allows for a closer look at the workspace.
The DWE6421 uses a vacuum locking system to collect the dust residue from sanding. It is compatible with a range of vacuums along as they use a 1-1/4 hose to connect to the Dewalt adapter.
With this random orbital sander, you get the reputable Dewalt 3 year limited warranty for peace of mind, which is fairly impressive for such a cheap sander. Overall, it is another top rated cheap random orbital sander that will be able to tackle a wide variety of woodworking tasks.Check it Out
Festool 571897 Professional Orbital Sander
The Festool 571897 is a random orbital sander targeting professionals that require the ultimate dust collection methods and performance to match. It is a low profile and low vibration sander that will run a day thanks to a brushless motor.
The electronic vibration control system and ergonomic grip ensure that the user does not suffer from fatigue and has the utmost comfort when sanding. In terms of sanding, it offers a fine 3mm stroke and has the performance of an air sander without all the bulk that comes with it.
It is the ultimate random orbital sander for professionals that are looking to upgrade from the Bosch, Makita and Dewalt alternatives above. It offers more power, more comfort and a better finish but all this comes at an expensive cost, which puts many DIY’ers off purchasing the Festool 571897.Check it Out
Random Orbital Sander Buying Guide
An orbital sander is a handheld power tool designed for sanding. It is fitted with sanding discs which have the capability of delivering random orbit action. Basically, the angle of rotation for the disk and head are variable. While the sander is able to spin in a circle, it is also able to spin in a slightly oval orbit usually around the center of the sander’s z-axis.
The spinning motion of the sander helps to ensure that sanding particles don’t make contact with the same part of the wood. In the end, the result is a fine and smooth finish.
As the best, quickest and easiest way to sand your wood project, it helps to make an unpleasant task much more pleasant. Surprisingly, the tool is able to handle other jobs quickly and efficiently. For starters, it’s perfect to stripping paint off your old furniture. Also, you can use it to smooth metal surfaces and composite materials.
Sanding discs remove excess paint not only from old furniture but also from cars and other materials. As a result, they help to prepare the surface – wood or metal – for painting. In addition, sanding discs help in straightening curves or shaping plastic.
Depending with the type of disc, there are some which will sand faster while others will remove rust from metal. As a shopper, it is important to ensure that your orbital sander has the correct disc. With the right disc, you are assured of a fine and smooth finish.
According to experts, the typical disc size ranges from 2 inches to 20 inches in diameter. When it comes to weight, it ranges from 0.63 pounds to 1.5 ounces. It is important to note that the size and quality of the sanding disk affects the end results.
A sanding disc connects to a motor which allows the disc to spin finally giving a smooth finish to any chosen surface. A vast majority of motors draw 2 to 5 amps of power. As the input power, it drives the motor which in turn spins the disc.
As a shopper, you need to concentrate more on the output power because it’s the power that allows your orbital sander to run the sanding disc. What you ought to know is that top quality orbital sanders consume more input power and generate higher power output.
Orbits per minute and not revolutions per minute measure the motor speed. Purchasing an orbital sander with 4,000 to 14,000 orbits per minute ensures the best results.
Orbital sanders are highly efficient tools and it’s common to find certain models with single speed while other with variable speed controls. Variable speed models are fitted with a trigger switch which allows users to change the spinning speed of the sanding disc.
They are highly useful to power tool consumers who work on delicate materials frequently. This feature helps to ensure lower heat during sanding. As a result, it lengthens the lifespan of your orbital sander as well as making it safe for use on fragile projects.
The rubberized trigger switch is available on a vast majority of orbital sanders. It provides better dust protection as well as improving the grip. There are models that come with a trigger switch together with a lock on the side for easier control.
When shopping for orbital sanders, you will find some models with a finer grit sanding disc while others with a coarse grit sanding disc. One is great for producing an increasingly scratch free surface while the other is good for rapid material removal.
As said earlier, orbits per minute and not revolutions per minute is the measure of speed for an orbital sander. The best models have a rating that ranges from 4,000 to 12,000 OPM. While outright speed may seem to be the best option, variable speed is the best.
A vast majority of variable speed models come with two to three switches. To achieve the best mirror-like finish, use a variable speed model.
Orbital sanders come with a dust collection system in place. It can either be a dust bag, a vacuum attachment with a hose to a bag or a micro filter dust container. During sanding, the base plate collects dust via holes found beneath the plate.
The particles are pulled off the working surface into the orbital sander itself and directed to the dust bag or sucked in by the vacuum attachment via a hose into a bag. If the dust collection system gets damaged, it means the saw dust will not be collected but instead it will remain under the sanding disc.
During spinning, the sanding disc will continue grinding the saw dust on the working surface finally damaging it which means instead of a smooth finish, you will end up with a scratched or uneven surface.
The dust control warranty protects the dust collection system against damage. A vast majority of manufacturers provide warranty coverage of 1 to 3 years. So, when shopping for an orbital sander, look for a model that comes with the dust control warranty.
Sanding Disc Grit
As a shopper, it is important to understand the grit number as this helps you identify the right sanding disc for your project. Grit refers to an abrasive surface usually expressed as a number – abrasive units per square inch.
For example, if you choose a sanding disc with a rating of 60 disc grit, you chose one with a lower number and if you choose one with 3,000, it means you chose one with a higher number. Below is a better explanation of the sanding disc grit value:
- 60 to 80 – this is extremely coarse sand paper. Its designed for grinding rust from metal
- 120 to 150 – Design to have a strong impact, this type of sanding disc removes surface debris very quickly
- 220 to 320 – Removes surface debris at a moderate pace
- 1,200 to 3,000 – For extremely fine surfaces. Basically, it provides excellent finishing.
The main sources of power for the majority of orbital sanders include corded, cordless or pneumatic. Below is more information that should help you decide which power source is best for your requirements.
As the most common type of orbital sander, it comes with a fixed power cord which is supplies the unit with power. The corded model restricts movement but a vast majority of manufacturers include a lengthy cord with every unit.
If you are planning no working on a large surface area, it is important to check the length of the power cord first before purchasing. Simply put, you should be able to sand around the middle of the surface without any restriction.
Unlike corded models, cordless models don’t require a power cord to work. They are fitted with rechargeable batteries, which give the user freedom of movement. The problem is the battery adds more weight. While it may not be noticeable, it can be tiring when sanding a vertical surface.
Additionally, the rechargeable battery requires recharging since a vast majority have a run time of 20 to 30 minutes between charging. By looking at the drawbacks above, it means a cordless model is suitable for sanding small surfaces.
Designed for professionals, pneumatic models are suitable for truck and auto body shops. Although they are light since they don’t have a motor, an air hose connected to a compressor restricts movement. Just like corded models, pneumatic models are also not that flexible which means this model is best suited for a professional setting.
For your DIY projects in your garage or home workshop, corded and cordless models should do.
There are two factors that define the performance of an random orbital sander include the amperage and orbits per minute. Corded orbital sanders can consume one to three amps which mean they consume less power. Less input power means less output power so if you will be doing a lot of sanding; it is highly advisable to opt for a model with higher amperage.
This is the same with orbits per minute. A model that consumes less amperage means the motor will receive less power. As a result, the orbital sander will produce fewer orbits per minute. This does not mean that the orbital sander is not useful.
Orbital sanders with less speed are suitable for a wide variety of jobs – from stripping paint from furniture and other surfaces to removing rust from metal surfaces.
Corded and cordless orbital sanders are suitable for your wood projects unlike pneumatic orbital sanders which are more suited for car and truck body shops. When it comes to the sanding disc, the right grit number for your wood projects starts from 120 to 3,000.
Selecting a sanding disc in the above range will allow you to perform a wide variety of tasks – from stripping off old paint from furniture to achieving a fine finish on your wood project. Don’t forget about the sealed switch.
Since sanding is a dust filled job, it is wise to purchase a device that comes with a sealed switch. Not only will this add to the longevity of your orbital sander but also it will prevent the dust from coming into contact with the switch area which might cause bigger problems when switching on or off the sander.
Different Types of Sanders
There are four types of handheld sanders , which include Belt, Sheet, Random Orbital and Detail sanders. Below is detailed descriptions of each:
As a popular tool that is common in most workshops, it features a sandpaper stretched over a pulley driven loop. The sander works by using brute force and speed thus giving your surface a smooth finish. Before sanding, a loop of durable abrasive paper is fitted between two cylindrical drums which form the pulley driven loop.
The front drum runs freely while a motor powers the back drum. A tracking adjustment knob is available which helps to keep the belt centered. The problem with this model is that replacing the belt occurs frequently especially when sanding rough and coarse materials. Also they are not known for their finesse.
They remove any type of finish from paint to stain. The most portable belt sander is the inline sander which is available in both cordless and corded versions.
The Sheet sander has a 50 year history of helping DIYers give their wood projects a great finish. It comes with a piece of sandpaper in a rectangular or square shape. If you select a square sander, pre-cut square sandpaper sections are readily available. The pad works in a small circular pattern and users can push it along the surface.
When using the sheet sander, users need to push the sander along the surface. Simply put, one should direct the sander along the wood grain as this decreases scratching. If one works against the grain, the final look will have a number of small spirals which means one will have to repeat the sanding process.
Some of the features available with the sheet sander include electronic speed controls, dust collection system and several grip styles among others.
Random Orbital Sander
As one of the most popular sander, it is relatively affordable to purchase and safer to use than a belt sander. Just like orbital sanders, Random orbital sanders use an eccentric orbital motion to sand which is different from a circular motion since it orbits at the center. As a result, it works by eliminating scratches on the surface.
The sandpaper connects to the machine using a Velcro hook and loop system which makes changing the pads, easy and quick. You don’t have to worry about the wood grain direction like when using a sheet sander.
The sandpaper has holes on the surface that collects dust when working. All the user needs is to connect a dust collecting system thus improving the sanding efficiency. The problem with this model is that it does not work well with corners.
Unlike the other sanders, the Detail sander uses triangular pads to fit in tight spaces where other sanders are unable to fit. The triangular pad is usually stuck to the sander using adhesive. To ensure a great finish, users must employ random orbital sanding motion.
With this model, the direction of the grain does not matter. The good news is that this model is suitable for cabinetry and furniture projects among others since it perfect for detail work.
How to use a Sander
As you probably know by now, sanders are highly efficient tools that enable you to remove the old finish, achieve a smooth finish and even have detailed edges. To achieve all that, you must use the sander as required. Using it wrongly for instance going against the grain instead of along the grain will damage your surface.
1) Safety first
The first step you need to take before turning the sander on is to wear eye protection, work gloves, work boots and overalls. As you already know, sanders generate a lot of dust and although they have a dust collection system, if you don’t protect your eyes, some of the particles or splinters will end up in your eyes.
2) Select the right sand paper or disc
Earlier on, we highlighted the different grit numbers and what projects they are suitable for. If you are planning on removing rust from metal, choosing a sand paper with 60 to 80 grit value. For a finer finish, look for sandpaper with a grit value of 180 to 240.
3) Switching on the machine and handling it
Orbital sanders are lightweight which means little pressure needs be applied during sanding. Applying excessive pressure will lower the OPM which affects performance and the end results.
4) Sanding and handling dust
When sanding, you can vary the pressure on the machine depending with the results you hope to achieve. Don’t press too hard on the sander to get the work done. When it comes to handling the dust, use a dust bag, micro filter dust canister or hook a vacuum via a hose. The latter should work fine.
5) Cleaning and Storing the orbital sander
To lengthen the lifespan of your sander, it is important to clean it after use. Follow the instructions as detailed in the owner’s manual. Once you are done, store the machine as recommended
Spending time to research and decide on a random orbital sander for your woodworking tasks is worthwhile. Simply going for the cheapest sander you can find will do the job of sanding but the finish, comfort and ease of use will not be as near to the standards of the random orbital sanders within this article.