Our step-up pick is the Makita XOB01Z LXT and it is intended to be powered with a lithium ion battery for longevity in power. It has a variable speed from 7,000 to 11,000 OPM, with a medium speed of 9,500 OPM. It has a smart electronic speed control switch that can be operated with one hand. What’s more, operator comfort can be achieved due to the ergonomic body design.
The budget pick is the BLACK+DECKER BDERO100 and this one also has a dust sealed switch to keep the dust away from ruining the inner components. What’s more, easy paper changes can be made with this tool due to the hook and loop system. It uses a 5-inch disk so it is ideal for small to medium sized woodworking projects out there.
A Little Background
A random orbital sander is a power tool that is used or sanding any surface, specifically and mostly wood. This kind of sanding power tool can be found in most woodworking shops, DIY stores and various hardware stores out there.
It is a finishing tool that is most commonly used by people who work in the wood industry and has a spinning motion to finely sand and evenly finish the item in question, such as a table or flat surface like the seat part of a chair.
This kind of sanding power tool comes in various formats, such as air powered, floor tool and electric powered. The electric one is the most common one because it can be supplied with power anytime and anywhere. It comes in either portable (cordless) or wired (corded), and both of them have their pros and cons. Floor sanding power tools are meant for wood flooring, while air powered ones are meant for shops and the like.
To use them, you will need sandpaper disks that are specially designed for the tool. The sandpaper disks can come in mostly 5 to 6 inches in diameter and it depends upon the manufacturing specifications of the sanding power tool as to what kind of disk it takes. Generally, they need to be replaced when they are no longer capable of sanding the surface of your table or chair, or any kind of woodworking item or product.
Contrary to popular belief, the unique mechanism of this sanding power tool does not create swirl marks when used properly. If you press the sanding power tool with just the right amount of force then it will most likely not create the swirl marks, which can ruin the finish of whatever you are working on. If you are not familiar with this kind of tool then you should have someone teach you the right approach to avoid swirl marks.
For collecting dust, the sanding power tool will usually be equipped with a vacuum connection. Dust can occur because you are sanding the wood surface. To keep your workplace allergy-free and also to keep it clean most of the time, do consider a sanding power tool that has an attachment option for a vacuum cleaner or at least a dust collector tool.
In terms of the vacuum cleaner, it can be attached to the bag itself or in the canister if it is a bag less system. This makes it mess-free when it comes down to the usage of this sanding power tool on any workplace or shop area.
The most common people who use this kind of sanding power tool include woodworkers, carpenters and anyone working with wood surfaces or doing some finishing, like in furniture. Basically, if your work involves finishing and wood, you will most likely need a sanding power tool to do the job properly. They create less swirls and many models today are more ergonomic to hold than the ones made before, making the job easier for you to do later on.
How we Picked
To choose the best random orbital sander, you need the following criteria:
Bare tool or battery included: you need to know if the sanding power tool is a bare tool or if it already has battery provided. Bare tools are much cheaper than the battery included ones, and are the most probable ones you will find on the internet. If you don’t want to end up with a substandard battery, you can go with a bare tool for your sanding power tool so you can look for the battery on your own.
Corded or cordless: some sanding power tools are cordless, meaning they run on battery power, while some sanding power tools are corded, meaning they run on outlet power or direct electricity. Whichever you choose is loosely depending on your needs. For instance, if you need a lot of power and don’t need to move around often, you can consider a corded one. Otherwise, cordless sanding power tools are great for mobile working with less fatigue.
Variable speed: a variable speed for any tool, specifically the sanding power tool, will be important so that the motor of the sanding power tool will not easily deteriorate over time due to the excessive usage of the constant speed that may not be needed for small jobs. You can adjust the speed of the sanding power tool depending on the job, so that you are not putting too much stress onto the motor of your sanding power tool.
Noise levels: you also have to consider the fact that all power tools will make noise in one way or another, but be sure that the sanding power tool produces less noise levels, or the noise levels are on a bearable level, so that you do not disturb others and that you don’t damage your hearing, especially if you live in a community where people may be sensitive to noises.
Ease of lifting: you also have to consider the weight of the sanding power tool but it should not give an impact to durability. Remember that the sanding power tool that might be too heavy may cause user fatigue. However, a sanding power tool that is too light may also be not worth it because you will have less stability and less durability from it.
Durability of the housing, motor and components: you have to consider the durability of the sanding power tool and the product as a whole before you invest in one. If you are a light user then cheap ones are okay but if for heavy duty and industrial usage, you should grab a sanding power tool that is worth buying and is not just a cheap one out there.
Ergonomic design: to prevent user fatigue, the sanding power tool should have an easy to handle design so that no matter the length of your work for finishing or sanding, it will be less painful because of the handling mechanism of the aforementioned sanding power tool which is clearly important for those who are into DIY projects and need to withstand hours of working and sanding anything.
Attachments included: some sanding power tools also have considerable attachments you can add, such as for vacuum cleaners and even free disks you can install on the fly when the primary sanding disk has gone dull. There can also be some buffering and auto detail components present in the sanding power tool.
Intended use: you need to know first where you intend to use the sanding power tool. Is it for commercial or industrial purposes or do you just need to DIY something at home? If so, consider a cheaper sanding power tool for home use, while a more expensive one for industrial use so that you will know that it is of heavy duty. Corded sanding power tools are ideal for heavy duty purposes but for mobile work, consider cordless ones.
Dust collection method: there should be, at the very most, a way to help the sanding power tool reduce on the dust spreading. Dust is everywhere when you use the sanding power tool, so it is good to have a mechanism or port or attachment that can be used to suck up the dust from your sanding power tool in order not to cause pollution in your work area. A good idea is to have a vacuum cleaner connection.
Size of sanding disk: most sanding power tools have a standard size of sanding disk of about 5 to 8 inches depending on the type and the usage of the sanding power tool that you intend for. At the very most, you will likely find those sanding power tools with 5 to 6 inches of diameter when it comes down to the sanding disk of the sanding power tool.
As our top pick, the DEWALT DWE6421K is an ergonomically designed tool that has a locking system that can be used with just one hand. This is done to keep the dust at bay along with the integrated vacuum locking system to keep your work area as clean as possible. The switch has also been known to protect against dust ingestion due to the construction. It has a fairly good speed of 12,000 OPM.
The powerful speed is due to the motor that runs up to 3 amps of power. It uses a standard 5-inch disk for sanding and it can also be connected with a DWV9000 universal quick connector for your vacuum cleaner that supports any 1 1/4 inch hose system. You can also use it for DWV010 or DWV012 dust collectors , if you have those. It works not just for wood, but also for soft metal, soft plastics and the like.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
The only concern but not a deal breaker with the DEWALT DWE6421K is that it does not come with extra sanding disks, but you can always purchase that separately from any hardware store, so it is not a major concern.
As our step-up pick, the Makita XOB01Z LXT has a mechanism that ensures a swirl-free finish that does not sacrifice valuable time in terms of working on any project due to the random orbit action at 1/8 inch. It is a cordless tool so it can be taken with you anywhere due to its portability. What’s more, an increased operator comfort can be achieved due to how ergonomic the construction of the body was designed, especially with the handle.
You can choose from 3 speeds: 7,000 OPM (low), 9,500 OPM (medium) and 11,000 OPM (high). You can get up to 20 minutes of run time in high speed and 40 minutes in low speed with this kind of tool once you have fully charged the battery. It is also a bare tool so you can easily pick a worthy lithium ion battery that you know is of quality build to make sure it lasts longer and easy to charge.
As our budget pick, the BLACK+DECKER BDERO100 has a dust sealed switch so that your dust will not interfere with your tool’s components (and with the air quality of your indoor or outdoor workplace area). The high removal rate is thanks to the powerful orbital action that is powered by the motor and the 5-inch sanding disk. It uses a hook and loop system so that you can make changes for your sanding disk on the fly easily.
The ergonomic handle also keeps your hands free from user fatigue due to the vibration of the motor. It also comes with one sanding sheet and a dust canister to collect the dust and throw it away where it won’t get into the air as particles. It is perfect for those who simply want maneuverability around their projects at a good price. It will most likely work on small to medium sized projects out there, even tables.
There were other sanding power tools that did not make it to our list because they did not have enough power to keep up with the competition and they also lacked instructions in setup, plus the blades and disks included were not that good and the motor fails often.
Best Random Orbital Sander with a Variable Speed
The Bosch ROS20VSC is something you should have if you want a tool with a variable speed. It has an easy to twist canister for capturing dust and debris from your current workspace. It has a motor that runs at 2.5 amps of power and can be adjusted with speeds from 7,500 OPM up to 12,000 OPM. As for the attachment of the disk, you won’t have to fuss over stability of each disk due to the 35,000 long-life hooks.
The micro filtering system is unique to this kind of tool due to the fact that it can capture anything within a 1/2 micron in diameter. What’s more, you also get a free carrying bag for the tool for convenient traveling and transport. The disk it uses is a standard 5-inch disk. It is corded so it is great for those who want a lot of power and aren’t bothered with mobility, such as working indoors or on a table.
Best Random Orbital Sander that is Air Powered
The Ingersoll-Rand 328B is an air powered or pneumatic tool that is also a dual action tool with its pad motion. The orbit size is 5/32 inch and it also has a uniquely designed ball bearing mechanism that has been balanced properly to avoid the bad swirls that may be produced by the cheaper tools out there. To avoid user fatigue, there is low vibration for the mechanism of the tool in general.
Unlike other sanding tools out there, it uses an 8-inch sanding disk and is of heavy duty build. It has a free speed of 825 RPM, has an loaded air consumption of 16 cfm (453 L/minute), an average air consumption of 4 cfm (113 L/minute) and has a powerful motor at 1/4 HP. It connects via any NPTF air inlet at 1/4 inch size. It is not too heavy at only 4.7 lbs and has a 1 year warranty.
Best Random Orbital Sander with Pressure Control Technology
If you want to avoid swirls caused by too much pressure, the SKIL 7492-02 can be a great tool for you. It also uses a micro filtration process to keep the dust particles at bay and keep your area allergy-free. It also keeps the tool components durable due to the dust seal switch. A faster stock removal can be experienced due to the simple orbiting action that is common to most tools like this.
It uses any 5-inch sanding disk and runs on a powerful motor at 2.8 amps. Whether you want a sanding tool as a hobbyist, a DIY person or a shop owner, this is a considerable choice due to its versatility. Take note that it is a bare tool so you can easily choose an appropriate battery for it. You also get a clear coated dust canister to know when you need to empty it out after each use.
Best Random Orbital Sander with Free Sanding Disks
The VonHaus 3.5 Amp is a powerful tool, but it also comes with free sanding disks – 9 for sanding and 3 for polishing, which is a must-have for those in the finishing business. It also comes with a collection bag to make dust collection breeze. It has a lightweight design that can reduce user fatigue in the long run so you can work on projects longer without straining yourself. What’s more, its powerful motor at 3.5 amps delivers constant power.
The variable speed dial is super easy to turn and switch, with speeds from 6,000 up to 13,000 RPM. The machine uses any 5-inch disk or you can use the included disks, just to be sure. The soft grip handle ensures that you won’t feel too much sweat and fatigue when you keep using the tool for hours upon hours of sanding projects. Also, the hook and loop pad has 8 holes for ease of attachment for the sanding disk.
Best Random Orbital Sander for a Woodworking Shop
For those who are maintaining a woodworking shop or any DIY shop for that matter, the Chicago Pneumatic CP870 can be a good choice for you. It has a free speed of 10,000 RPM, which can be sufficient for most projects out there. It is lightweight at only 4 lbs and is made with a quality metal housing. It connects via any air inlet (NPTF) at 1/4 inch to power it up, since it is air powered.
With only 8 cfm of average air consumption, it is a cost effective way of keeping your woodworking business up and running with a dual action sanding too. There is also a power regulator feature to keep the swirls away and the smoothness constant. It is notably quieter than other tools at only 85 dbA, so it won’t be a distraction to your neighbors. It can also prevent accidental start ups due to the throttle control that has a lock.
Best Random Orbital Sander that is Cordless
The Ryobi P411 One+ is a powerful tool that is cordless – meaning, it is powered by a battery, notably any lithium ion battery, for it to be used for mobile work that requires a lot of moving from place to place. It has a dust bag for collecting debris to keep your work area as clean as possible. The speed of this tool is up to 10,000 OPM or orbits per minute, which is an industry standard for most projects.
There is a good grip on the handle to prevent user fatigue and keep ergonomics to a maximum. It has a hook and loop connecting system to keep it simple for the user to attach the sanding disk. If you don’t like corded tools or often move from one place to another with your work nature then this kind of tool is a good match for your needs. It uses any 5-inch sanding disk as a standard.
Best Random Orbital Sander with a Low Profile Design
For a low profile and minimalist design, the 3M 20317 is a rather simple yet powerful choice. It can have up to 12,000 RPM or OPM and is air powered or pneumatic in its power source, so it is meant for shops as well. It has a powerful motor at 0.28 HP and it is super lightweight at only 2.3 lbs, so you can carry it anywhere without a lot of hassle.
The design of the whole housing is set to absorb and reduce vibration so that you can feel at ease without much user fatigue for longer periods of time when working on sanding projects. Additionally, the alloy steel lever makes switching between speeds super easy and convenient. It is not limited to wood, by the way – you can use it for fiberglass, composite materials, metal and the like. The action is so smooth that it does not give swirl marks.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the different kinds of tools you can use for woodworking?
A: If you are a woodworker or someone who works with wood projects, such as tables, chairs, furniture and the like, you will most likely have the following tools in your arsenal, shop or garage:
Bench belt sanding tool
This kind of tool is the simplest of all sanding tools and it loops through and through to sand large heaps of wood, such as tables and chairs. Its belt is usually made of either zirconia or aluminum oxide. Both of these types of belts can help sand your wood item nicely.
Handheld belt sanding tool
This is simply the handheld version of the belt sanding tool, and can come in a variety of sizes depending on the project that you need to finish. They are more suitable if you don’t like the idea of handling a large tool all the time, and if you only need to work on small projects. Most of them will have a dust collection bag.
Orbital finishing sanding tool
This one does not make use of belts, but rather, a spinning disk made of sandpaper that does not move in a loop, but instead, spins. Sanding tools are ideal for small projects but you need to be careful to avoid the swirl marks. They are, however, super lightweight, portable and cheaper.
The difference with the orbital and the random orbital one is that they spin differently. Orbital ones spin in one direction whereas random orbital ones spin differently, in a random motion, to prevent the problem of swirl marks appearing on your wood surface.
Q: What are the pros and cons of the different sanding tools?
A: Various kinds of sanding tools out there exist for different purposes, and all of them have their own share of pros and cons:
Belt sanding tool
1. Belt sanding tools are super powerful and are great for the first stages of your woodworking project, when the wood is still too rough.
2. The sanding belt and the whole mechanism is super stable as compared to an sanding tool, since it moves in just one direction only.
3. It can also be used for removing paint and wood material that is unwanted.
4. If you have a bench sanding tool then it will most likely be more durable than other types of sanding tools out there.
1. Most of them will be more expensive than sanding tools.
2. Belt sanding tools aren’t that ideal for final stage finishing because they might be too strong.
3. Belt changes are more expensive and more difficult to handle, as compared to sanding tool disk changes.
4. They are mostly not as portable as sanding tools.
1. It can work on most material types other than wood, such as metal, plastic and paint.
2. It is usually more portable to carry around.
3. Sanding tools tend to cost less for both the tool and the sanding disk replacement.
4. The noise levels are more bearable with sanding tools.
5. It is safer than belt sanding tools and is more targeted for beginners.
6. It is great for finishing projects at the last stage.
1. Since it is not as powerful as a belt sanding tool, it is not intended for first stage sanding.
2. It can produce swirl marks, unless you are working properly or using a sanding tool.
3. Sanding disks need to be replaced more often than belts, although they are cheaper.
Drum sanding tool
1. They are mainly used for wood flooring so that you don’t have to bend to the ground to sand your flooring.
2. It can help clear out imperfections on your wood flooring before you finish or coat it.
1. They can be very heavy as compared to other types of sanding tools.
2. They can also be more expensive, so they may need to be rented if you are on a tight budget.
Spindle and disk sanding tools
1. They are mounted on a base or table and this gives them super duper stability as compared to handheld tools.
2. They offer great sanding capabilities.
1. Controlling them is another story, as compared to other handheld ones.
2. They can be costly to buy and maintain as compared to handheld ones.
Q: What exactly is a sanding tool?
A: A sanding tool is a kind of sanding tool that makes use of a spinning disk that is around 5 to 8 inches, and spins in a random manner rather than in one direction. It can be used for sanding nearly any material, such as wood, metal, plastic, fiberglass and others depending on the grit or roughness of the sanding disk that you have.
Q: What are the differences between orbit and random orbit sanding tools?
A: Both of them are sanding tools, but they do have distinct differences, such as the following:
Sanding tools tend to get more swirl marks as compared to a sanding tool.
Sanding tools have solved the problem of swirl marks by spinning randomly.
Shape of disk
Sanding tools use a square shaped sanding tool.
Sanding tools use a circular shaped sanding tool or a sanding disk.
Sanding tools can have a price range of $30 to $50 depending on the brand that you have.
A sanding tool, since it is a specialized took, can cost more, at about $60 to $170.
Sanding tools are square so they can get into corners.
Sanding tools are circular so they cannot get into corners.
Sanding tools are for light sanding jobs because they don’t remove a lot of material and are only great for paint.
Sanding tools are for heavier sanding jobs because they can remove more material at once.
Q: What are the benefits of a sanding tool?
A: The sanding tool has been praised by many woodworkers because of the following benefits:
1. It offers a swirl-free finish as compared to sanding tools.
2. A sanding tool does not vibrate as much as other sanding tool types.
3. They are good for final finishing touches so they are safe for beginners.
Q: Why should you get a variable speed control for a sanding tool?
A: A sanding tool that has a variable speed control can be helpful for your job because:
1. It can prolong the lifespan of your motor.
2. You can adjust accordingly depending on the project.
3. Some project materials are heat-sensitive.
Q: What does the grit of a sand disk mean?
A: A sanding disk can have various grits, much like with regular sandpaper, which can impact the performance of your sanding tool. Here are the different usual grits of a sanding tool:
Grit number or size
Ideally used for
#100 or less
Sanding in the first process or for the initial sanding, as if you use it for final sanding then it might damage the wood finish. You should only use these kinds of grits for such purposes.
This kind of grit is about just right for scratch removal, old finish removal or for paint job removal.
The fine grit ones are ideal for the final stage of sanding, such as before you apply the stain to the choice of wood material you have. They do not sand too much so they are safe.
Q: What are the usual sizes of sanding tools?
A: A sanding tool will usually come in two common sizes: 5 inches and 6 inches. Both of them are great and they have the following features:
The 5-inch sanding tool, which is about 120 mm in diameter, is ideal for nearly all types of finishing and sanding, especially for final finishing before you stain the product or wood item. They work the best in most smaller projects that just need a lighter touch-up.
The 6-inch sanding tool, which is about 150 mm in diameter, is ideal also for all types of finishing and sanding, but not with final finishing because it can be too large to do so. You can use it for initial to medium stages or for really big projects involving sanding.
Q: What are the kinds of abrasives that are used for making sandpaper and sanding disks?
A: Sanding disks and sandpaper can be made out of any of the following materials:
This is the most common material used for sandpaper. It can be used on almost any kind of material, such as wood, drywall, metal and plastic components of any furniture or unfinished product. It can be used for both manual sanding and for power tool sanding.
This one is suitable for wood, metal, fiberglass and anything that is painted over. It will most likely be found on rather expensive belt sanding tools. This is why it takes some money to replace the belt on a sanding tool which uses zirconia alumina.
This one is ideal for those who need to remove more material as compared to aluminum oxide. It is ideal for removing debris from drywall, plastic, wood and metal that requires a lot of removal in the shortest period of time.
You will find them mostly on orbital and sanding disks due to their great removal properties. They are also more durable than aluminum oxide but can be a little harder to look for.
This one can be used for both manual and power sanding, and is a naturally occurring abrasive, which can also be used for sewing (emery cloth). It can be used for removing corrosion and paint.
Garnet is another naturally occurring abrasive, but it is more suitable for hand sanding or manual sanding. It is not as durable as other types of sandpaper out there, so it is great only for minimal projects.
Q: How do you avoid swirl marks with a sanding tool?
A: To avoid the mistake of making swirl marks whenever you use your sanding tool, you can do the following tips:
1. Use the right starting grit. Go for 80 grit in the first step to remove the stain or varnish.
2. Clean the material surface. This can help your sanding tool to do its job better.
3. Gradually adjust the grit. Start with 100, then 120 and don’t go to 180 grit all of a sudden.
4. Don’t push down your sanding tool. This can definitely cause swirl marks.
5. Avoid pushing it back and forth. This can avoid the likelihood of swirl marks.
6. Use the sanding tool in a mowing tool motion. This can avoid swirl marks along the way.
7. Only sand about 1 to 2 inch per second. Patience is a virtue.
Q: How can you prevent over-sanding your woodwork?
A: A simple way to prevent over-sanding any woodwork is to mark with a pencil on whatever you want to sand. In this way, you won’t have to fuss over something that you have over-sanded along the way. The key to this technique is by knowing when the pencil marks have disappeared, then you can swap the disk to another grit to avoid over-sanding.
Q: Is there a difference between OPM and RPM?
A: OPM and RPM are both terms used for sanding. OPM stands for orbits per minute while RPM stands for rotations per minute. OPM is exclusively used by sanding tools and sanding tools. There is no real difference between them, although it can be hard to distinguish the correct measurement for sanding tools because they rotate in an uneven manner as compared to straight-on sanding tools.
Q: What are the differences between corded and cordless power tools?
A: Corded and cordless power tools both have their pros and cons, such as the following:
Corded power tools
1. They pack a lot of power for an on-site job or task.
2. They don’t have limitations because you have unlimited amount of power supply.
3. They are ideal for heavy duty work.
1. They are not portable.
2. The wires can potentially cause accidents like tripping.
Cordless power tools
1. They tend to be more portable.
2. They won’t give you the risk of tripping over a wire.
3. They are ideal for beginners.
1. They are not as powerful as corded ones.
2. Recharging the battery can be a hassle for people.
3. You have a limited time for using them.
Q: What are the differences between electric powered tools and pneumatic tools?
A: Pneumatic or air powered tools have always been compared to electric powered tools:
Electric powered tools
Pneumatic tools are the best in terms of power, hence they are used in most industrial applications out there.
Electric powered ones can be strong, but not as much as pneumatic ones.
Pneumatic tools are usually more expensive.
Electric powered ones are generally cheaper.
Pneumatic tools are super lightweight, but the drawback comes with the compressor hose.
Electric tools are also super lightweight, and some of them are cordless.
Advancements in technology
Some pneumatic tools can be connected to Bluetooth for storing data.
Electric powered tools have always had these Bluetooth technologies.
Q: What are the common factors that contribute to swirl marks?
A: Sometimes, swirl marks are unavoidable, but here are some common factors that contribute to them appearing in your sanding work:
1. Wetness of the sanding wood
2. Sanding tool may have damaged parts
3. Too much pressure on the sanding tool
4. Moving the sanding tool too slowly
5. Using the wrong grit of sanding disk
Q: What are some of the hardest wood species to sand?
A: If your sanding tool is not as powerful as you think then it may be best to avoid any of these hardest wood species to sand:
Name of wood specie
Required force to sand
Katalox or Wamara
Cebil or Curupay
Q: How can you collect dust when sanding?
A: There are many ways to collect dust properly or manage dust when you are sanding:
1. Use a single stage dust collector.
2. Grab the HEPA filter of your old shop vacuum.
3. Always wear a dust mask or respirator when working with wood.
4. Choose an appropriately working air filter.
Q: What is the usual noise level of an sanding tool?
A: The sanding tool can have a noise level of 74 to 89 dB, depending on the brand that you purchase. Noise levels can play a role in keeping your workplace with less noise pollution and to avoid ear damage in the near future.
Q: Why shouldn’t you sand the board edge with a power tool?
A: Using a power tool on the board edge can prompt you to make more mistakes. Instead, manually sand that part to avoid over-sanding the material that you have. It takes time, but patience is a virtue in woodworking.
Q: How is polishing different from sanding?
A: Sanding is merely taking out the rough parts of the material, but polishing is making the surface of a sanded material shiny as much as possible. The two terms are often mixed with each other, but they actually mean differently.
Wrapping It Up
As a whole, the DEWALT DWE6421K is our pick for the best random orbital sander due to the ease of use in the locking system, the dust sealed switch, the good spin rate of 12,000 OPM and the simple yet effective vacuum locking system to protect against dust and debris and to prolong the lifespan of the motor itself and the other components while working on your wood or finishing projects along the way.