Choosing the best random orbital sander can help greatly to get the wood finish you require for your next project. A random orbital sander differs greatly from a belt sander in how the action of the sander applies the friction from the sanding disk to the surface of the material.
A Random orbital sander as the name suggests moves the disk in a circular fashion that is adjusted slightly as it spins to give a some what random disk action. The randomness is said to help increase the smoothness and evenness of the sanded finish.
Why do you Need a Random Orbital Sander?
Random orbital sander allow you to cover a lot of surface area in a short space of time. The pad runs in a random elliptical motion that can give a much smoother finish than regular orbital sander.
One of the main advantages of using a random orbital sander is that you do not have to religiously stick to sanding with the wood grain. Other sanders require that you do not cross the grain or otherwise you can leave sanding spots that look bad.
Due to the fact that you do not need to sand with the grain a random orbital sander can be used by just about anyone regardless of their skill level.
Random Orbital Sander Reviews
Best Random Orbital Sander
Dewalt D26453K 3 Amp 5-inch
The D26453k from Dewalt is the best random orbital sander available to buy on the market right now.
It combines an array of excellent features, top notch quality and best in class build quality.
The Dewalt orbital sander has a 3-Amp variable speed motor that can run in a range between 7,000 and 12,000 OPM. It takes a standard 5-inch 8 hole sanding pad using a hook and loop system, meaning switching out different sanding disks is quick and easy.
The higher OPM is generally required for wood types from hardwood species. The variable speed control is perfect for getting the correct power required for either soft or hardwood and allows you to use the sander for both very fine finishing work or removing heavy material depending on your needs.
- 3.0 Amp variable speed motor
- 7,000 to 12,000 opm
- Controlled Finishing System
- Anti-slip grip and top
- Comes with cloth dust bag
- Weight 3.4 pounds
- 3 year limited warranty
This orbital sander features Dewalt's proprietary Controlled Finishing System(CFS) that helps to reduce gouging during startup - something that can ruin an almost complete surface as you attempt to add the finishing touches.
It's random-orbit motion that has a 3/32 inch orbit. The smaller the orbit the less likely you are to create unsightly swirls especially on heavily cross grained wood. Yet at the same time with the correct grit sanding paper it can still remove heavy material, thanks in part to the max power 12,000 OPM.
The design of the D26453K features an ergonomic handle that helps reduce grip fatigue. The handle and top is coated in an anti-slip material that which helps to keep your grip comfortable when used for extended periods. The fan is a dual-plane counter balanced one that helps to reduce the strain on the wrist that can otherwise be associated with a single fan design.
The amount of dust that the Dewalt produces is minimized by the addition of a high capacity dust bag. For added convenience the dust bag comes with a vacuum adapter that should fit any standard shop vac or extractor.
The best orbital sander for the money it won't let you down!
Makita BO5041K 5-Inch
The Matika is a close run second to the Dewalt above. It is equipped with a similar 3 Amp motor that has a over-sized sealed ball bearing for greater durability.
yet is adjustable from 4,000 to 12,000 OPM so there is a greater range that you can adjust to find the best finish on your project.
The speed range is greater but so too is the random orbit action at 1/8 inch. The smaller the action the finer the finish, so the Dewalt has the Makita beat here. Of course the smaller orbital action does not always guarantee a finer finish. The grade of sandpaper you use and your skill and care and attention can usually be the main deciding factors.
- 3.0 Amp variable speed motor
- Variable speed 4,000 to 12,000 opm
- Ergonomic non-slip grip
- Pad control system
- Adjustable front handle for ease of use in corners
The Makita uses a through-the-pad dust management system that can help reduce the chances of fine dust entering the air. It also has a high capacity dust collection bag that is as you would expect capable of being used with a shop vac.
To reduce the potential of start up gouging Makita use a "Pad Control System" to control the speed of start up helping to eliminate potential marks.
Black & Decker BDERO100 5-Inch
For those on a budget or just in need of an orbital sander for a one off job then the Black and Decker is a smart choice.
It is a fraction of the price of the others in our list of best random orbital sanders yet can still deliver a pretty decent finish if used properly.
It is slightly under powered compared to the rest with a 2 Amp motor but still spins up to 12,000 OPM. The Black & Decker has a pretty simple no frills design. There is a well coated anti-slip grip on the main handle that is easy to grip.
Dust collection is by a small canister and to help keep the dust out of the electronics the main switch is sealed to help extend the usage life.
- Hook and loop system for easy changing
- Sealed dust switch
- 2 Amp motor
- 2 year limited manufacturers warranty
- Dust canister
Bosch ROS2OVSK 120-Volt Variable Speed
A great mid range choice this sander from Bosch is capable of keeping up with some of the more expensive orbital sanders out there.
Priced roughly between the Black & Decker and the Dewalt(if you choose the soft bag) it is perfect for the occasional woodworking or those in need of something a bit more robust than a cheap sander that won't last too long.
Capable of operating from 7,500 to 12,000 OPM the disk on the Bosch uses a pad dampening system that should help reduce swirl marks.
A built in microfilter system helps to filter out dust particles down to 1/2 micron in diameter. It has a simple to twist off dust canister so emptying is quick and easy. The sander is also capable of being used with a standard 1-1/4 inch or 1-1/2 inch shop vacuum or Bosch vacuum hose.
The internals are further shielded from dust via a sealed switch.
It has the usual soft grip top and main body that you would come to expect from a random orbital sander.
- Variable speed
- Pad damping braking system
- 7,500 to 12,000 opm
- Weighs 3.5 pounds
- Microfilter Dust system
- HookTight hook and loop disc attachment
Porter-Cable 382 5-Inch
Another great mid-ranged orbital sander the Porter Cable 382 is actually the lowest powered in this line up at 1.9 Amps.
It still spins up to 12,000 OPM and is a fairly light sander at just 3 pounds. A solid choice for the occasional user as Porter Cable are a brand known for their build quality.
The durability is backed by a sealed main switch and sealed ball bearings both helping to reduce the chances of dust clogging and damaging the electronics and the main motor.
It features the same dual blade counterbalanced fan design as the DeWalt to help reduce vibration and torque from the fan so you can have a less stressful grip and reduce hand fatigue.
- Dual-plane counter balanced fan
- 1.9 Amp variable speed motor up to 12,000 opm
- Weighs 3 pounds
- 3 year limited warranty
- Controlled finishing system
Best Orbital Sander Buyer's Guide
The majority of manufacturers will quote their sander based on a rating called orbits per minute(OPM) and the motors power is usually expressed in Amp's.
What features to look for in a random orbital sander:
- OPM - does the sander have a variable range that can set the OPM? Usually between 4,000 and 12,000.
- Dust extraction system - does it come with a dust canister, can it be used with a standard shop vacum hose?
- Weight - Too heavy and it will apply too much pressure to the surface, too light and you will have to apply additional force which adds to fatigue.
- Sanding disk attachment - Hook and Loop is the industry standard method for attaching the sanding disks to your sander.
- Cost/Specifications: Ultimately you need to balance performance/quality in line with your budget.
- Usage - Are you going to be using and abusing your sander for extended periods of time on large surface areas?
Ideally you would base your decision on your usage needs. If you are looking for a no frills sander for a one off job or the occasional project then you don't need to buy the best.
However if you are using your sander for all of your projects quite regularly then making the decision to buy the best tool for the job is a wise decision. The best random orbital sander for your need swill balance both features and price.
How to Use an Orbital Sander
Clearly any powered sander is going to be a fairly simple tool to operate that requires little training. However, to get the best possible finish from your sander then there are a few key points that need to observed.
The first is how you use the sander to get the best possible performance from it. Secondly is safety. Like any power tool a sander does need to be operated within a few safety guidelines to help keep you safe and those around you.
A random orbit sander works by oscillating the sanding disk in a fairly random manner. As opposed to a belt sander that just rotates the sand paper as a belt in one direction. They're main advantage is that you do not have to strictly stick to sanding with the grain.
Because they are not required to stick to sanding with the grain you can cover a large area very quickly and can be a little bit more aggressive in how you use the sander.
Be aware that random orbit sander can suffer from leaving swirl marks on start up. Some of the models listed above have built in features to help reduce this. Care and attention should be taken to not pres too hard on the sander until it is up to full working speed.
Always try to sand a sample area of your surface first. Preferably an area that is not easily seen on the finished article. Doing so allows you to gauge the correct speed of the sander and the correct grit of sanding paper to use on it.
Overtime you will become more familiar with what speed/paper works best for each specific material you wish to sand.
As a general rule sand paper grit rated 30 to 100 are more useful for stripping multiple layers of paint or for some slight leveling and shaping of wood.
Paper of grit 100 to 180 can be used for finer finishing work or for smoothing out slight scratches on a flat surface.
A higher speed combined with a higher rated sand paper will deliver the best results for fine finishing works. Conversely a slower speed and lower rated grit paper will be better for stripping of heavier paint or smoothing out more pronounced scratches or uneven parts of a piece of wood.
When ever you are using any kind of tool in your workshop whether it is a power tool you need to be aware of some basic safety precautions when using that tool. All power tools carry some degree of risk due to the electric current running through the tool.
- Always concentrate on what you are doing
- Never leave a sander running on your workbench unsupervised
- Keep the sander away from water, that includes making sure your hands are dry
- Keep an eye on the electrical cord, never position yourself or the sanders cord in such a way that the sander may run over the cord. Also make sure the cord does not tangle in other tools near your work area or that it may trip you up
- Always wear appropriate eye protection whilst using your sander
- Always use your sander in a well ventilated area
- If your sander has the ability to connect to a shop vac then make use of it even for small jobs. Breathing microscopic wood dust is very bad for your respiratory system and if you have a good ventilation system then always use it