Best Random Orbital Sander – Why You Need To Do Your Research

Sanding is one of our favorite parts of woodworking, so finding the best random orbital sander, was a crucial step in our journey. Now we can share it with you!

One of the most satisfying parts of any DIY project is finishing the wood. The culmination of shaping this piece of nature into a functional (hopefully smooth) piece of furniture or decor; it's just so satisfying.

Well kiss that satisfaction goodbye if you don't have a good orbital sander. In fact, we aren't happy with just good.  We are going to show you the best random orbital sander for the money! 

Quick Look: Best Random Orbital Sander

Random orbital sanders are essential when finishing all of your DIY wood projects. They make things go much quicker than sanding by hand, and your furniture will look cleaner, more professional, and will help keep the stain even.

Below we will explore the top models of random orbital sanders, discuss which features should be important to you, and help you decide which is the best random orbital sander for you.

Features of Random Orbital Sanders

Orbital Sheet vs. Random Orbital Sanders

There are two major types of motorized sanding tools. The older technology, orbital sheet sanders, work by using a motor to move standard sandpaper attached to the tool back and forth. Sheet sanders work well for large, flat surfaces, and are generally cheaper. It’s also easier to find standard sandpaper that can be cut down to size rather than the specialized disks that random orbital sanders require.

Random orbital sanders are a newer technology and have recently taken off in terms of popularity. They work by moving rotary disks in a “random,” elliptical fashion, which leaves a much smoother, cleaner, more-professional looking finish. They work great for cleaning up a finish job that doesn’t look quite smooth enough. However, they are far more expensive, can easily ruin a piece if not used carefully, and aren’t great for working on small spaces or corners.

Choosing between a sheet sander and a random orbital sander will depend on the type of jobs you typically tackle. The random orbital sanders are much more versatile. So, for the occasional DIYer that is doing general projects, it is likely worth buying a random orbital sander.

However, serious woodworkers will probably benefit from owning one of each. You will definitely run into situations that are better suited for a sheet sander, and vise versa.  

Types of Random Orbital Sanders

There are several different types of random orbital sanders. Although all of these sanders will work for your general projects, they do have pros and cons that you would do well to know.

Palm grip sanders are great for more fine-tuned sanding, like in narrow corners, fragile features, or small spaces.

Right angle style sanders are good for projects that require a little more power, like removing paint or glue. They offer a slower motor speed that allows for the user to press harder on the surface, offering a rougher sanding.

Large inline sanders are more customizable and can be used for big projects. They’ll need two hands to operate, but they often offer far greater speed customization that allow for their use on a variety of projects.

Variable Speeds

Controlling the speed of your sander is an important factor when working on wood surfaces. A lower speed is required for more fragile surfaces, and you can use a low speed to sand between coats of paint or wood stain. On the other hand, a faster motor speed will allow you to power through tough surfaces, and also make quick work of large jobs.

A sander that offers variable speeds can bridge the gap between the different settings and is thus a more general tool for a DIYer to own. If you work on a wide range of different projects, that’s something you should think about.

Dust Control

Many sanders will come with attachments like dust bags or dust guards to keep the onslaught of wood shavings at bay. Purchasing a sander with these included dust collection features is an important thing to consider, especially if you work indoors.

Some sanders are capable of being attached to shop-vacs, further preventing your workshop from becoming inundated with wood dust. This is a feature that those who work in small, indoor areas should consider. Dust can quickly build up in the course of a DIY project, and your lungs will certainly thank you for the cleaner air.

Portability and Miscellaneous Accessories

As with any tool, the different orbital sanders out there will vary greatly in terms of build, accessories, and materials. Some sanders have more ergonomic, comfortable grip, which will make longer projects much easier on your hands. Others come with high quality carrying cases, making your tool portable, which is an important feature if you move around a lot.

Other features, like longer cords, trigger locks, sealed switches, and pad breaks can make or break your decision to buy a sander.

  • Longer cords give you flexibility when working on a large piece.
  • Trigger locks prevent you from having to hold in the trigger, a nice feature if you’re working on a project that takes a long time.
  • Sealed switches will prevent dust from entering your tool, extending the life of your sander.
  • Pad brakes will prevent you gouging your project with an inadvertent motion--a lifesaver for the clumsiest among us.

Comparisons

DeWalt D26451K Random Orbit Sander

best random orbital sander

The DeWalt D26451K is a fantastic sander for the general DIYer. It’s got a rotational speed of 12,000 rpm, which is a good middle-ground between creating a smooth finish and having the power to tackle tough jobs. It’s fairly expensive at around a hundred bucks, but it can be used as a sander and a grinder with external accessories.

What we like:

  • Very durable design makes it long lasting

  • Included dust bag to keep your workspace clean

  • Comfortable, ergonomic grips

  • Easy to replace sandpaper

This sander is the perfect middle ground tool for general projects, and would be a great addition to any workshop. It also has a dust-sealed switch, which prolongs the life of your sander, as well as a port for a vacuum. This is a fantastic all-around product and should definitely be considered when purchasing a orbital sander.

Some downsides include the non-variable speed, which limits the scope of projects you could potentially do with your sander. Some of the plastic attachments, such as the switch cover or the dust bag clasp may crack with age, as they’re made of slightly cheaper plastic than the body of the sander.

Bosch ROS20VSK 120-Volt Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander

best random orbital sander

This Bosch orbital sander is a little cheaper than the DeWalt one, and it also includes a 120-volt variable speed motor. This will obviously make the list of your possible projects a little longer--now you can sand fragile pieces with the same tool that you can use to power through tough, caked on paint or glue. That’s not the only thing we like about this product--it also has features like a “anti-spillback” dust canister that will prevent the dust from coming back towards the motor, for example.

What we like:

  • Variable speed motor gives more flexibility

  • Great fabric carrying case makes this sander very portable

  • Sturdy dust hopper prevents huge mess

  • Light, portable casing with comfortable grip

The variable speed and the small size give this sander the ability to leave smooth, quality finishes on fragile pieces. Because of the small size, however, it will be a pain to do huge projects requiring lots of elbow grease--if you tend to do more of those types of projects, it might be worth it to get a bigger, more powerful sander. If you’re in the market for a great general orbital sander, though, this offering from Bosch is hard to pass up.

Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander

best random orbital sander

The Black & Decker BDERO100’s main draw is its affordability. This little sander packs a motor speed of 12,000 rpm into a tiny 5” casing that will set you back less than thirty bucks. This compact sander is great for around-the-house DIY projects, such as refinishing a porch, some cabinets, or an old coffee table. It even has some of the features of more expensive sanders, like a dust collection bag, a carrying case, and a side handle.

What we like:

  • Affordable without sacrificing performance

  • Small enough to tackle very small projects

  • Comfortable grip

  • Dust collection bag and canister

The BDERO100 is probably not as durable as some of the more expensive sanders on this list, but that’s to be expected. It also does not include a sealed switch to prevent dust from entering the casing. The dust canister/bag is not nearly as effective as the DeWalt sander, and this Black & Decker model also lacks a vacuum adapter.

All-in-all, though, it’s hard to fault this little machine for its deficiencies because it’s so darn affordable. This is a fantastic tool for a DIY beginner or someone who limits themselves to relatively modest projects.

Makita XOB01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Random Orbit Sander

best random orbital sander

This Makita model is a little different than the sanders we’ve talked about so far. It has a variable speed motor with speed settings at 7,000, 9,500, and 11,000 rpm. It has an orbit radius of ⅛” that is marketed as being engineered for “fast material removal,” so this tool might be better for more coarse projects and maybe not so great for working with antiques.

The most intriguing feature of this sander is the fact that it is cordless! With the included battery, you will get 20 minutes of high-speed sanding or 40 minutes of low-speed, so we recommend purchasing a second battery unless you only rarely plan on using your sander.

What we like:

  • Convenience of being cordless

  • Variable speed settings offer project customization

  • Ergonomic, comfortable handle (although you won’t be holding it for long, with a short battery life)

  • Large ⅛” orbit to make sanding jobs speedy

This is not a sander meant for large, complicated projects that will take more than a few minutes, due to its short battery life. However, you won’t find a more convenient and effective sander for household projects than this Makita model.

PORTER-CABLE 7424XP 6-Inch Variable-Speed Polisher

best random orbital sander

This Porter-Cable sander/polisher hybrid offers a lot more customization than the other sanders on this list. Meant for more fine-tuned sanding, the variable motor can be adjusted between speeds of 2,500 rpm to 6,800 rpm. It has a handle that can be switched from the right side to the left side, increasing comfort and control of the sander. This thing is great for more specialized projects like marine, automotive, or antique furniture.

What we like:

  • Its 4.5 amp motor and variable speed settings make it a versatile tool

  • It’s got the longest cord of any sander on this list at ten feet

  • Doubles as a polisher--great for cars and boats

  • Counter balance in the handle prevents excessive movement, smoothing the final result

If you’re looking for more of a pure sander, you might be better off investing in one of the other tools on this list. But the Porter-Cable polisher is capable of small woodworking projects in addition to being a fantastic car and boat care tool. If you’ve ever worked on a paint job on your boat or car, you know how difficult it can be to get things perfect. This polisher will make those jobs a piece of cake.

Conclusion

Orbital sanders are among the most important tools for a DIY project. No matter how soundly a piece of furniture is built, if the surface of the wood looks subpar, you won’t be satisfied with the finished product. Finding the best random orbital sander can be the difference between a mediocre piece and a masterpiece.

In our opinion, the best random orbital sander for someone in search of a good, general sander to have in their workshop is the DeWalt D26451K Random Orbit Sander. The orbital sander from DeWalt is a reliable, durable sander that will be great for most sanding projects and will last a really long time.

To be sure, owning an orbital sander can take you from a hobbyist to a genuine DIY pro. Doing a little research and selecting the best random orbital sander for you is important, and we hope that this guide has helped you do that.

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