Best Random Orbital Sanders: Make Sanding Easier and Faster
Choose one of these random orbital sanders for faster sanding with less effort.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON September 21, 2021
A random orbital sander makes your sanding work infinitely easier and much faster. Featuring variable speeds and versatile sizes, these sanders offer maneuverability and the power you need for heavy sanding as well as for smooth, final sanding. Choose one of these quality sanders from the chart below to help you get the job done.
This 20V orbital sander is variable speed. It can achieve 8,000 to 12,000 orbital rotations per minute. It fits 5-inch sanding pads.
- There’s a textured rubber overmold grip to make holding it comfortable
- Has a dust port that fits a bag or directly onto a dust collector
- Motor can randomly die after extended use
- Unit also doesn’t come with a battery or charger
The 2.4-amp motor in this sander achieves 12,000 orbits per minute. It has a built-in dust bag. Fits 5-inch sanding pads.
- Sander features an adjustable grip with three possible positions
- Dust collector is easy to pop off and empty to make working faster
- Collection bag isn’t very big and could fill quickly
- Unit may not be durable enough for repeated and heavy use
Reduced vibration sander that has a 3.0 amp motor and operates at 7,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute.
- Sander is short, so it reduces the distance between the work object and the operator
- Only one hand needed to remove the dust bag
- Design, including the rubber “over-mold” in some areas, reduces fatigue
- Does not include connections to a standard Shop-Vac
- Battery not included
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Types of Random Orbital Sanders
A random orbital palm sander is a small version of your typical random orbital sander. They’re great for smaller-scale projects, like sanding patches of drywall, stripping furniture, or sanding away paint. Relatively affordable in price and powerful enough to deliver 10,000 orbits per minute or more, they’re great for everyday or at-home work. And random orbital palm sanders are also typically lightweight, comfortable to use, and compact in size.
A right-angle drive random orbital sander is a professional’s tool—or one that’ll get the job done when you’re tackling huge projects, like cabinet refinishing or pro millwork. These sanders are designed to work for hours at a time (or even all day long) without overheating. A right-angle drive random orbital sander can only achieve a slow sanding pace of about 5,000 orbits per minute, but it does tend to have a more powerful motor with between 3 and 5 amps.
An inline drive random orbital sander is another great option for large-scale jobs. It’s something of an in-between option—these sanders tend to be smaller than right-angle drive models and more similar to palm sanders, but they’re larger than your average palm sander. With an inline drive random orbital sander, you’ll be more in control thanks to the handles and the sanding pad placement.
DeWalt is one of the best-known brands in tools, both hand tools and power tools. So it’s no surprise that, since the company’s founding in 1922, DeWalt has built a reputation among professionals and home handypeople alike. With a special emphasis on woodworking tools like the DeWalt 20V MAX Orbital Sander, you can’t go wrong choosing a random orbital sander from this brand.
Founded in 1924, Milwaukee—or Milwaukee Tools, as it’s often known—is a brand that focuses on innovation in tools. All of the company’s products deliver professional-level results and offer great longevity, making electric sanders like the Milwaukee Electric Tools Random Orbit Sander fantastic choices whether you’re an expert or a first-time user.
Sure, Makita first started with an innovative electric motor in 1915. But today, this company is all about tools. Specifically, the brand sells power tools that are specially crafted to deliver impressive strength, performance, and durability regardless of what you use them for. Random orbital sanders such as the Makita BO5030K 5" Random Orbit Sander show just how strong the brand’s products really are.
Here’s a brand that’s all about power tools: Skil. If you’re looking for a company that knows power tools well, it’s hard to beat Skil’s level of expertise. As the brand that invented the handheld circular saw, Skil continues to innovate today and produce power tools that impress with their performance. You’ll love working with tools like the SKIL 5” Random Orbital Sander.
It’s important to choose a random orbital sander that offers variable speed, or variable speed control. This sole feature allows you to adapt and adjust on the job, changing up your working speed (or your sanding speed) as needed for different items and areas. You can find sanders that offer anywhere from two speed settings to as many as six speed settings. Lower speeds are great for fine sanding, while higher speeds are better for quickly sanding through rough surfaces. More speed choices means you’ll have more versatility and your sander will be able to accomplish more.
Sanding Surface Size
A random orbital sander features a sanding surface, or disc, that does the sanding. This is where you attach sanding pads, and it’s also the part of the tool that determines how small or large the sanding area is. Smaller sanders will feature anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of sanding surface, while your average sander features a 5-inch surface. Before you buy a random orbital sander, think about whether your projects usually have small or large surfaces. This will help you decide which sanding surface size is the right fit.
There are three different kinds of power sources that random orbital sanders can have: a power cord, rechargeable batteries, or compressed air. It’s important to think about which power source is best for your needs before buying. Corded sanders never run out of power; they just need an electrical outlet to get to work. However, they can limit your freedom of movement. Cordless random orbital sanders can be used absolutely anywhere, but they do need to be recharged frequently; most operate for just 30 to 45 minutes on a single charge. Compressed air (or pneumatic) sanders use a central air compressor to get their power, but this can require frequent pauses in your work to recharge.
While your average random orbital sander might be relatively small and compact in size, it’s important to take a close look at the tool’s weight. These power sanders can range in size — and the bigger they are, the heavier they usually are. Heavy random orbital sanders can weigh more than 7 pounds, but smaller models can weigh as little as 1.5 to 4 pounds. To reduce fatigue while you work, opt for a lighter-weight sander that still offers the right size sanding pad for your needs.
Best Random Orbital Sanders Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Always wear eye protection when sanding and grinding. Also wear a dust mask or, better yet, a respirator. Using a random orbital sander produces large amounts of fine dust particles that can produce lung damage and breathing problems.
- When sanding small areas or objects, it’s possible to hold your work in one hand and the random orbital sander in the other. But it’s better to use a clamp or hold-down to stabilize the object for better control and safety. Some recommend a piece of carpet hold-down for this.
- Be careful about the direction you’re sanding in. If you aren’t sanding in the same direction across your entire surface or project, you could run the risk of creating visible scratches or swirls. This might be hard to see clearly on a raw piece of wood, but once you apply a stain, those unwanted scratches will really pop. Take a close look at the wood grain so you can sand carefully and achieve a flawless finish.
- Always work slowly and with small motions rather than fast, wide sweeping movements. Slow, careful consistency will produce the most flawless results. If you move too quickly, or dart your random orbital sander from side to side repeatedly, you’ll likely wind up with big, visible scratches that you spot only once your work is finished.
Q: What Is the difference between a traditional orbital sander and a random orbital sander?
A traditional orbital sander has a square sanding pad and moves in an orbital manner. A random orbital sander, on the other hand, has a circular sanding pad and it moves in an elliptical manner. Use a random orbital sander for making major changes to metal or wood or for finer finishes.
Q: Are there different types of random orbital sanders?
Yes. Some random orbital sanders are pneumatic-powered and some are electrical-powered. Some sanders are cordless, while some are corded. Many random orbital sanders have some form of dust collection system. Most of these sanders are either 5- or 6-inch (the diameter of the sanding pad).
Q: What grade of sanding pad do I use?
It depends on what you are sanding. Grades range from 60 (coarse) to 240 (fine). A large, rough project requires a coarse pad; for smooth, final finishes, you should use a fine-grained pad.
Q: What is a random orbital sander used for?
A random orbital sander vibrates in tiny circles to get surfaces nicely sanded or polished—and because of this power tool’s very smooth results, it’s great for a wide variety of different tasks. One of these sanders can be used on wood, plastic, or even metal. So, you can put your random orbital sander to work on jobs like removing paint, finishing woodworking crafts, or even (with the right accessory, of course) buffing your car’s exterior or restoring its headlights.
Q: Are random orbital sanders and palm sanders the same?
You might have noticed that some of the random orbital sanders on our list above are also palm sanders. That’s because you can find random orbital sanders in a number of sizes—including compact palm sanders. While palm sanders can come in different forms, it’s also possible to find ones that are also random orbital sanders. Just make sure before you buy one of these tools that it’s really able to sand in little circles.
Our choice for the best random orbital sander overall is the DeWalt 20V MAX Orbital Sander because it is powerful and features variable speed control. If you’re looking for a great value, consider the well-built Beyond by Black+Decker Random Orbit Sander.