Sanding by hand might work with smaller tasks, but if you do any amount of woodworking, it will get old fast. Random orbital sanders make sanding a lot less tedious by adding a lot of “oomph” to the job, but they’re still light and small enough for household use.
Most random orbital sanders are corded electrics, so you’ll need to do your work close to a steady power supply. However, there are a handful of battery-powered models available, too. Finally, though less common, some are pneumatic (or... air-powered) – these models are noted for their durability, but you’ll need an air compressor to operate them. Whatever you choose, be sure to wear eye protection to help keep flying dust and debris out of your eyes. A dust mask can also be a good choice, depending on your model’s dust control abilities.
Need more guidance? Here are six of our favorite random orbital sanders:
A reliable random orbital sander noted for its ease of use, the DeWalt D26453 just gets the job done without a lot of fanfare, experts and owner say. It has a 5-inch disc and a 3-amp variable speed motor to power through any sanding task at 7,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute. Experts with Popular Mechanics say this sander does a great job of keeping vibration to a minimum, making it a cinch to control.
This DeWalt comes with a handy zippered cloth carrying case, a dust bag with a built-in vacuum adapter, and an easy-to-grip textured handle. A controlled-finishing system helps ensure smooth operation, particularly on start-up when there is sometimes a chance that a sander will gouge whatever you’re working on. Air Tool Guy says the dust-sealed switch and fully sealed ball bearings will also help it stand the test of time. At 3.5 pounds, it’s light enough for most jobs, though not the lightest on the market. There is a three-year warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Like the DeWalt D26453, the Bosch ROS20VS gets raves from experts and owners, but has a slightly friendlier price point. The motor is a little less powerful at 2.5 amps, and sanding speed range is slightly narrower at 7,500 to 12,000 orbits per minute. Still, reviewers say efficient dust collection makes it a pleasure to use this 5-inch disc machine.
Popular Mechanics compliments this model’s “pleasingly long” handle – it allows two-handed use – and says the filter does a great job of trapping sawdust. Like the DeWalt, it also has a dust-sealed switch and vacuum-hose adapter for more intense jobs, and comes with a soft-sided carrying bag. It also weighs about the same as the DeWalt at 3.5 pounds. While most owners say this is a great little sander and a smooth operator, a few grouse that the hook-and-loop pad doesn’t hold their sanding discs on firmly enough. It’s backed by a one-year warranty.
If you’ll only need a random orbital sander for very light or infrequent household tasks, overspending doesn’t make a lot of sense. The best-selling Black+Decker BDERO100 earns raves for doing a great job at a rock-bottom price. Like the DeWalt and Bosch models, it has a 5-inch disc, though the motor is less powerful at just 2 amps. Sanding speed is also a fixed 12,000 orbits per minute, making this model a little less versatile.
The BDERO100 features a dust-sealed switch to keep grime out of the tool, a hybrid dust canister for more efficient dust collection, and an easy-to-grip rubberized handle. However, it does not come with a vacuum hose adapter or carrying case. Despite that, most owners say it does a great job for the price, especially for simpler tasks. A few say their sanding discs fly off too easily and say the dust collector doesn’t do a great job, though. It is slightly lighter than the DeWalt and Bosch at 3.2 pounds and is backed by a two-year warranty.
If you’re a frequent woodworker and have a little more cash to spend on a top-of-the-line random orbital sander, the Bosch ROS65VC-6 has a little more of everything: more power, more versatility, more features. It features a variable-speed 3.3-amp motor, a 6-inch disc and a wider speed range from 5,500 to 12,000 orbits per minute.
This die-cast aluminum Bosch has an integrated dust-trapping filter and screw-off cap to grab dust during smaller jobs, but there is also a vacuum-hose adapter for larger, more dust-intensive tasks. Experts with Pro Tool Review say vibration control is excellent, and they love the trigger lock that allows the sander to run without users holding down a button. Owners love the power and low vibration of this model, but some grouse that it should come with a carrying case at this price. This powerful sander is also heavier than others at 5.3 pounds, so take note if you need something that won’t weigh you down during a lot of overhead work, for instance. It’s backed by a one-year warranty.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
Tired of being tethered to a power cord? You can stop worrying about staying close to an outlet with the Makita XOB01Z, powered by a rechargeable 18-volt lithium ion battery. It has a 5-inch disc and a three-speed motor that operates at 7,000, 9,500 or 11,000 orbits per minute. And if you’re worried about runtime, don’t be: You’ll get 20 minutes of power on high speed and 40 minutes on low – enough for all but the most intense sanding tasks.
The Makita features one-touch electronic speed control, an ergonomic handle, and a speed-control system that prevents gouging during start-up. There is a dust-sealed switch, sealed ball bearings and an attached dust collection bag. The battery doesn’t add too much weight -- this sander weighs about 3.6 pounds, right in line with our top picks. However, reviewers caution that you’ll have to purchase a battery and charger separately, adding to your bottom line. It’s backed by a one-year warranty.
If you’ve already got an air compressor (or are willing to invest in one), the air-powered Ingersoll Rand 328B Geared Orbital Sander can handle a large workload without the chance of breakdowns that can befall electric-motor sanders. Built for heavy-duty tasks, this sander has a large, 8-inch pad to get the job done quicker.
This Ingersoll Rand has a ¼-inch air inlet and accepts a minimum hose size of 3/8 inch. Average air consumption is 4 cubic feet per minute. It has durable balanced ball-bearing construction and weighs 4.7 pounds. Note that there is no dedicated dust collection system, so it’s not for environments that can’t get a little dirty. Reviewers say this is a great pick for larger jobs, and they’ve had similar models for years and expect this one to last for the long haul, too. It’s backed by a one-year warranty.
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