A random orbital sander is a great tool to have around no matter what your preferred surface to work on is. They’re the best technology around when it comes to making sure that you get a clean smooth finish on the workpiece.
There’s a lot of them around, however, and someone who’s investing in their first would do well to get some suggestions and do their research before they make the leap.
Best Overall !
For the novice woodworker or DIYer who doesn’t have a huge budget, this small sander stands out from anything near the price point but don’t expect it to work miracles.
Top 5 Random Orbital Sanders
|Name||Pad Type||Pad Size|
|Black & Decker BDERO100|
|Hook and Loop||5”|
|Hook and Loop||5”|
|Bosch ROS20VSC||Hook and Loop||5”|
|Bosch 3727DEVS||Hook and Loop||6”|
When Should You Use a Random Orbital Sander?
Random orbital sanders are best for finishing a piece where you don’t need to be aggressive for stripping things down. Their unique motion pushes them in a semi-random ellipse which means that you won’t have repetitive patterning when you’re stripping things down, instead ensuring that there’s a fairly uniform surface instead of gouges and swirls left over.
Larger random orbital sanders fit a niche somewhat between palm sanders and belt sanders, allowing for a smooth finish and removing a substantial amount of material.
The sanders both vibrate and move their pad in an ellipse. This means that you can usually avoid the circular marks left by finishing sanders without having to finesse the entire device to avoid them.
If you’re only going to buy one sander for your workshop make it a random orbital. They’re not perfect in all respects but they offer the best of all worlds in a single electric sander.
What to Look for in a Random Orbital Sander
Since they’re fairly complex devices, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re looking for to ensure that you end up with a sander that will meet your needs handily. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as hard as you’d think to make sure that you end up with a great sander, but suiting one perfectly to what you’re planning on doing can be a little bit harder.
Random orbital sanders come with two different varieties of pads, and they aren’t interchangeable between sanders.
Hook and loop sanders use a Velcro pad. These pads are more expensive overall, but the convenience of changing them out is great if you’re planning on a lot of high volume sanding.
Stick and peel pads, on the other hand, are cheaper but take more time to change. It’s up to you if the lower cost is worth more of your time while you’re in the workshop, of course.
Most of these sanders come with either a 5” or 6” disc. Smaller discs make more sense if you’re doing a lot of detail work, and larger ones are better if you’re planning on working big, flat surfaces.
Try to figure out what you’ll be doing more of while you’re picking out your sander for the best results, if in doubt it’s usually better to go with a smaller pad. They’ll be cheaper when you purchase them and can fit into details better.
A single speed random orbital sander will generally run from 10,000-12,000 rpm. It’s a good speed for general sanding, but variable speed allows you to do a lot more.
Finish sanding is best done in the range from 6,000 to 10,000rpms and polishing is usually done even lower at 4,000 to 6,000. This means that a variable speed sander can be quite a lifesaver when it comes to making sure that you have the optimal tool for the job.
The size of the sander itself will vary pretty widely, depending on what you need to do. In general smaller sanders will not only use smaller discs but also allow you to work with details much easier. They’re limited in how much force you can apply, however, and are best used for finishing and polishing rather than heavy duty jobs.
Larger sanders will allow you to use more force during the course of your job, making cutting into things a little bit easier as well as allowing for wider control on flat surfaces.
Let’s face it, sanders throw off a lot of dust when they’re in use. Without some form of dust collection you’ll probably have to use a respirator, but most random orbital sanders worth their salt will have some form of dust collection built in.
There are a couple of types of common dust collection mechanisms. Built in bags can be handy, but you’ll still want to wear a mask in almost all cases. They’ll collect dust as things go along in a filter or bag.
Vacuum ports require a separate shop vac to take care of things. These ports are the best option for a workshop which already has the tool ready, and you’ll be able to work comfortably with only a light mask in most environments using one. They also limit the agility of the sander a little bit, so it’s something of a trade-off.
Which sander you decide to go with is mostly based on what you’ll be using it for. Visualize the kinds of things you see yourself doing most frequently before you drop the money and you’ll be a lot happier. The best sander, after all, is one which you find yourself using frequently and without discomfort.