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Getting a smooth finish is a vital part of many projects, from completing wall and ceiling decorating projects to finishing a piece of furniture. In each of these cases and many others, an electric sander is the perfect answer to the perfect finish. But, do you go for a belt sander or a random orbital sander? There are numerous reasons why a random orbit sander should be your tool of choice, but then you are left with deciding which of the many orbital sanders on the market is right for you. Our panel of equipment experts and DIY enthusiasts have compiled a list of the best random orbital sanders to point you in the right direction.
The Best Random Orbital Sander
The efficient and compact BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander provides a high removal rate and a high-quality finish. Its compact design improves its maneuverability and brings you closer to the work surface to give an improved view and greater control. The random orbital sander features a hook and loop system for fast and easy paper changes and a dust-sealed switch to reduce the risk of dust and debris entering and clogging the machine.
5-Inch random orbit sander
Powered by mains electricity
Hook and loop paper change system
Includes dust sealed switch
A high material removal rate
- Weight3 pounds
The Makita Random Orbit Sander Kit has a 3.0-amp motor and a large 1/8-inch random orbit action for fast and smooth sanding that provides a swirl-free finish. Its variable speed control gives you complete control and enables you to match the sanding speed to the sanding job you are doing. The corded tool is comfortable to hold and has an adjustable handle that makes it easier to get into confined areas and corners. A large two-finger trigger switch and lock-on button further increase comfort and make continuous use much simpler.
3.0 amp motor
Variable speed 4,000 – 12,000 OPM control dial
1/8 inch random orbit sanding action
Ergonomic rubberized palm grip
Adjustable handle with two-finger trigger switch and lock-on button
- Weight3.09 pounds
The heavy-duty DEWALT Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander features a hook and loop paper attachment system for speed and convenience. Its 3-amp motor and variable speed settings provide precision and control, while rubber over-mold grip and separate counterweight improve comfort and reduce vibration. The orbital sander’s short design enables users to get closer to their work, while the dust-sealed switch protects against dust ingestion and improves the lifespan of the switch and the machine. The sander also features a one-handed dust bag for improved dust collection to keep your workspace clean. Alternatively, you can attach the dust port to another vacuum using the right size hose and Quick Connector.
5-inch random orbit sander
Heavy-duty design with hook and loop paper attachment
3 amp motor and variable speeds (8,000 – 12,000 OPM)
Counterweight and rubber over-mold grip
Dust-sealed switch and one-handed dust bag
- Weight4 pounds
The versatile and reliable Bosch Random Orbit Sander features variable speed control and a 2.5-amp motor. Sanding discs attach using a hook and loop system, making changing the discs quick and easy. The sander includes a microfilter system that collects and traps fine dust, while the dust canister includes a dust level and is easy to detach for emptying. The sander is lightweight and comfortable to use, with a soft-grip top that offers multiple grip positions. User comfort is further enhanced with the sander’s low-vibration operation, and the constant response circuitry maintains control and speed while you work.
5-inch random orbit sander and polisher
Variable speed control with easy to use dial
Lightweight with 2.5 amp motor
Hook and loop sanding disc attachment
Microfilter dust collection system
Low vibration operation
- Weight3.5 pounds
The easy-to-use corded SKIL Random Orbit Sander comes complete with pressure control technology and a 2.8-amp motor. It runs at a speed of 12,500 OPM and includes a dust collection system with microfiltration. It also has a built-in vacuum dust port and dust sealed switch to improve the longevity and effectiveness of the sander.
5-inch random orbit pressure controlled sander
2.8 amp motor and 12,500 OPM
Microfiltration dust collection system
Dust sealed switch
Built-in vacuum port
- Weight4.7 pounds
The VonHaus Random Orbit Sander is ideal for a range of large and small sanding jobs. It features six variable speeds up to a 13000 RPM that allow you to choose the right speed for each sanding job. The corded electric sander is ergonomically designed for user comfort with a rubberized palm grip and is compact enough to fit into tight spaces and corners. It also features a dust extraction system, including a collection box, which allows you to keep your workspace free from dust and debris.
5-inch random orbit sander
6 variable speeds up to 13000 RPM
Ergonomic design with rubberized palm grip
Light and compact
Dust extraction and collection system
- Weight3.65 pounds
The Electric Orbital Sander by Bosch features a 6-inch sanding disc and two sanding modes to help you complete a host of different tasks with ease. The 6.5-amp sander works in both random orbit mode and aggressive turbo speed mode for when you need a little more power. The corded electric sander has variable speed controls and constant response circuitry polishing pads to maintain pad speed even under heavy loads. Its pad dampening system helps to prevent swirl marks, giving you a smoother finish. The sander also features a passive dust collection system that requires a hose and vacuum to work and a hook and loop disc attachment system for speedy pad attachment.
6-inch random orbit sander with aggressive turbo speed mode
6.5 amp motor and variable speed controls
Constant response circuitry and pad dampening systems
Hook and loop pad attachment
Passive dust collection
- Weight7.3 pounds
The variable speed TACKLIFE 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander features a high-performance dust collection system to help keep your work area clear from dust and debris. The 3-amp motor can work at up to 13000 OPM while still providing a smooth, high-quality finish. The electric corded sander has a rubberized palm grip for comfort and control. Situated at the top of the sander, the switch is integrated into the grip, making it easier to use and control. The sander has low noise and low vibration operation, making it ideal for indoor work; however, it is not suitable for wall sanding as the dust is too fine for the collection system.
5-inch variable speed random orbit sander
Speeds of up to 13000 OPM
A high-performance dust collection system
Low noise and low vibration
- Weight3.4 pounds
The battery-operated Random Orbit Sander by Makita uses an 18-volt lithium-ion battery that provides 20 minutes of run time on a full charge. The sander can run for up to 40 minutes on a single charge at low speed. It is ergonomically designed for comfort and features a one-touch electronic speed control for switching between low, medium, and high speeds. The dust-sealed switch improves the lifespan of the sander, while its large 1/8-inch random orbit action provides a swirl-free finish.
Cordless 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander
Three speeds – 7,000/9,500/11,000 OPM
40 minute run time on low speed (20 minutes on high)
1/8 inch random orbit action
- Weight2.9 pounds
The Festool Random Orbital Sander is ergonomically designed to be comfortable to use regardless of the hand size of the user. It is lightweight and compact and ideal for extended overhead and vertical use. The electric corded sander includes stepless variable speeds that make small adjustments easy. Its balanced vibration stop provides smoother operation and great results, while its Jetstream design provides efficient dust removal and increases the lifespan of the sanding pads.
Lightweight and compact random orbit sander
Stepless variable speeds
Balanced vibration stop
Efficient dust removal
- Weight3.63 pounds
Best Random Orbital Sander Buying Guide & FAQ
One of the many reasons to choose a random orbital sander over manual sanding is that you are more likely to get a smooth and even finish. You are also more likely to have some energy left at the end of the job. If you have ever tried sanding a large area, particularly overhead or at an angle perpendicular to your body, you know how much strain this can put on your muscles. However, to gain the most from your electric sander it is important to buy the right one for the job you are doing. In this part of the buying guide, we explore random orbital sanders in a little more detail. We look at the key features you should look for when buying one, how random orbital sanders compare to belt sanders, and how you should use an orbital sander to get the best possible finish. The guide also provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about random orbital sanders.
Features to Look for When Buying a Random Orbital Sander
All random orbital sanders work in the same basic way. The circular sanding pad moves in an elliptical pattern and small circular motions to provide a smooth and even finish. The sanding method allows the user to work against the grain of the wood, meaning that sanding can be achieved faster without scratching or otherwise negatively affecting the quality of the finish. However, within the random orbit sander type of sander, there are different features that affect how easy the sander is to use, both generally and in relation to specific jobs. Some of the key features to look for when purchasing the best random orbital sander include:
- Variable speed control
If you work with a different range of materials, then you definitely need an orbital sander with variable speed controls. This increases your control over the sander when working on small or tricky areas and allows you to cover larger areas more quickly. Variable speeds also enable you to use lower speeds and therefore create less heat when working with delicate or fragile materials.
- Sealed switch
If dust enters the switch area of the random orbit sander it can affect your ability to turn it on or off. It can also get further into the machine and cause problems with many of the moving parts. This affects the effectiveness, longevity, and the safety of the machine. A sealed switch stops dust from being able to enter the machine and reduces the associated risks.
- Dust collection system
Sanding creates a lot of dust and this dust has to go somewhere, it can collect under the sanding disc, sit on the area that you are trying to work on, and fly around the room; getting into literally everything else. A dust collection system reduces the amount of dust that enters the atmosphere. This provides a safer and cleaner working environment. However, when looking for an orbital sander with a dust collection system check whether it is already attached to the sander or requires a hose and vacuum attachment.
- Ergonomic design
While the specific holding position you need will depend on the type of work you are doing and your personal preference, it is important to choose a random orbit sander that is comfortable to hold, and which reduces fatigue and the strain on your muscles. Look for sanders with multiple grip positions, molded handles, or that are lightweight, particularly for sanding above your head or for use on walls.
- Hook and loop paper attachment system
This makes changing the sanding papers/discs much easier and quicker, meaning you can get on with the job at hand.
Random Orbital Sander Vs Belt Sander
Belt sanders and random orbital sanders are both built to sand and create a smooth finish; however, they are very different tools, each with their own benefits and key uses. In this section, we take a close look at these sanders to help you decide which you need for the task at hand.
- Belt sanders
These are larger, more aggressive machines that are designed to move a lot of material in a very short space of time. The basic design of a belt sander consists of a motor that is attached to two rotating drums. A sandpaper belt sits over and around the two drums. As they rotate the sandpaper belt moves. This allows you to run it across the surface you are working on.
Belt sanders generally come in four different sizes from 3x18 to 4x24. The larger the sander, the more aggressive and difficult to control it becomes. In untrained hands, the 4x24 belt sander can very easily damage the surface it is being used on. Smaller machines are more versatile and are easier to control.
Belt sanders are not designed for fine work or shaping. They are designed for working large flat areas and are beneficial if you need to strip coatings for the surface as well as sand it. Belt sanders give an even finish on surfaces such as floors because of the breadth of the sander.
- Random orbital sanders
A random orbital sander is very different in its design. A basic orbital sander moves the sandpaper in small orbits or circles, allowing you to precisely sand small and shaped areas. The random element comes in when the sander also includes an offset drive bearing that allows the sander to work in an elliptical pattern. This provides a much smoother finish and reduces the likelihood of circular patterns being left in the finished surface.
Random orbital sanders are smaller and lighter than belt sanders; this improves their maneuverability and means that they are much better suited to close work, shaping, and polishing. While they can be used on larger flat surfaces, they do not have the power of a belt sander and would find a floor hard going. They are not designed for stripping coating such as paint.
Both sanders are great machines, as long as you have the right one for the job at hand. While you wouldn’t want to strip and sand an entire floor with a random orbital sander, you also wouldn’t want to try and polish a door know with a belt sander.
How To Use Orbital Sander
To achieve the best results with your random orbital electric sander, follow these simple tips:
- Prepare your workspace carefully, ensure it is ventilated and that you have space to move around the item you are sanding if needed. Also, check that you have enough length on your power cord. You do not want it pulling out of the electrical outlet, causing the sander to stop suddenly.
- Check that you have the right grain sandpaper and that it is correctly attached.
- Prepare your dust collection system before you turn on your machine.
- Always turn the sander on and let it come up to speed before making contact with the surface you want to sand.
- While the sander can work against the grain, you get the best results working in the direction of the wood grain.
- The sander does not need pressure to be applied to make it work. Allow it to do the work.
- Do not tip the sander on its side to attack low spots.
- Keep around three-quarters of the sanding pad on the sanding surface at all times.
- Take your time, check the progress of your work regularly. You can always sand more off, but you can’t put it back on if you take too much off.
- Ensure you lift the sander off the surface that you are sanding before you turn it off.
Best Random Orbital Sander FAQ:
Q: What is an orbital sander?
A: A random orbital sander is a hand-held power tool that is used for sanding. It combines aggressiveness with finesse, allowing it to deal with a wide range of sanding jobs. This makes it extremely versatile and ideal for shaping and polishing. It’s smaller size and weight make it easy to use and less likely to cause fatigue than other larger sanders.
Q: How does an orbital sander work?
A: An orbital sander is powered by either a rechargeable battery or mains electricity. It has a round sanding pad that the sandpaper sits on. The motor drives the sanding pad which rotates, allowing you to sand evenly. As well as spinning, a random orbital sander moves in elliptical orbits, meaning that the sander never travels the same path twice. This reduces the risk of swirl marks and gives a smoother finish.
Q: What is the difference between an orbital sander and a random orbital sander?
A: The terms orbital sander and random orbital sander are often used interchangeably. If the sander has a round sanding pad, then it is likely that it is a random orbital sander. However, an orbital finishing sander is a slightly different machine.
An orbital finishing sander is easily identified by its square sanding face. It is designed to be lightweight and easy to control. However, it is, as its name suggests, a finishing sander. It, therefore, does not have the power of a random orbital sander.
Our Top Pick
Out top pick is the efficient and compact BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander. It provides a high removal rate and a high-quality finish. Its compact design improves its maneuverability and brings you closer to the work surface to give an improved view and greater control. The random orbital sander features a hook and loop system for fast and easy paper changes and a dust-sealed switch to reduce the risk of dust and debris entering and clogging the machine.