Best Random Orbital Sanders of 2017 – Top Picks & Reviews

Random Orbital SanderIs it the right time for an upgrade from sanding blocks to a random orbital sander? If you’re ready to graduate from building cutting boards and picture frames to building fully-fledged furniture, then yes.
Before owning a random orbital sander, I used paint to cover up my inability to create a smooth surface finish. Sanding by hand was much harder than painting. But, once I got an ROS, I switched from painting to staining, leading to a quantum leap in the quality of the finished product.

If you’re serious about advancing your craft, you can’t put off buying a random orbital sander for long. In fact, your presence here shows you’re already considering buying one, which in my opinion is a very smart move.

MODELPRODUCT DIMENSIONSITEM WEIGHTUSER RATINGPRICE
DEWALT DWE6423K
DEWALT DWE6423K
10.4 x 7.2 x 6.2 inches
4 pounds

4.7/5

$$$
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Makita BO5041K
Makita BO5041K
7.5 x 16.3 x 10.3 inches
3.1 pounds

4.7/5

$$$$
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Bosch ROS20VSC
Bosch ROS20VSC
9 x 5 x 6 inches
3.5 pounds
4.5/5

$$
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PORTER-CABLE 382
PORTER-CABLE 382
8 x 9 x 7 inches
3.6 pounds

4.3/5

$
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Black & Decker BDERO100Black & Decker BDERO1007 x 5 x 6 inches3.2 pounds4.5/5$
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But, the process of buying your first ROS is both exciting and intimidating. I want to eliminate the intimidation so that you can fully enjoy the excitement. With that in mind, I’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you find the best random orbital sander for you.


The Best Random Orbital Sanders of 2017

This article has two main parts. The first part covers our picks for the best random orbital sanders of 2017. Going through this section will help you establish a baseline for what to expect from a great ROS. From there, the second part will push your understanding to a deep level. You’ll learn what factors to pick, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to balance price and performance. So, if you’re ready, let’s get going.

#1 DEWALT DWE6423K – Our Top Pick

DEWALT DWE6423KOther leading brands, such as Bosch and Makita, offer products that come close to the DEWALT DWE6423K. However, none of their offerings balance price, performance, and purchase protection like the DWE6423K does.

The DWE6423K is a 3 A variable-speed ROS that runs between 8,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute. Despite the power, this tool provides a virtually vibration-free user experience. The rubber overmild grip and low-profile design add to the comfort and usability. And, it has a reliable hook and loop system too.

While these factors contribute to this product’s success, the reason it is the best random orbital sander on the market is its warranty. The DWE6423K comes with a 3-year limited warranty, along with free service for a year and a 90-day money back guarantee. Within the free service period, DEWALT will repair and replace any damaged components, even the ones damaged from normal use. I’ve not seen a warranty offer better than this one anywhere on the market.

The only major negative I see is its non-standard dust ejection port. Unless you buy the DEWALT Universal Quick Connector, you cannot hook your shop-vac to this sander. What’s worse, this accessory costs about 17 dollars. Although the detachable dust collection bag does its job very well, a standard port would propel the DWE6423K to perfection.

Pros

  • Powerful motor
  • Durable construction
  • Reliable hook and loop system
  • Industry best purchase protection

Cons

  • Non-standard dust ejection port
  • Expensive
  • Shop-vac adapter not included

#2 Black & Decker BDERO100 – Best For The Money

Black & Decker BDERO100I always exercise caution when buying low-cost power tools. The purchase decision has more to do with sacrifices, as opposed to gains. While the Black + Decker BDERO100 is a fully-functional random orbital sander, does its economy come at the price of performance? That’s what you’re about to find out.

The BDERO100 is a 2 A single-speed ROS that runs at 12,000 orbits per minute. This power and speed configuration is ideal for light sanding. For this reason, relying on this tool as your main sander will severely limit your capabilities.

Although this tool’s build-quality and design far surpasses that of other low-cost random orbital sanders, it suffers from two noteworthy issues. First, the dust collection system functions poorly. Unless you hook it to your shop-vac, this tool traps less dust than it fails to trap.

Second, the hook & loop system wears down sanding pads rapidly. The sanding pads come undone much earlier than their grits wear away. This raises the operating cost, offsetting your initial savings.

Surprisingly, this tool comes with a 2-year limited warranty. Low-budget products don’t usually come with more than a year’s warranty. So, this offer is a great benefit. Okay, so should you buy this tool? I strongly recommend that you don’t go for a low-cost random orbital sander. But, if your current situation leaves you with no other option, the BDERO100 is the best random orbital sander for the money.

Pros

  • Very economical
  • Durable build
  • Good warranty

Cons

  • Low-power motor
  • Poor dust collection without shop-vac
  • Low-quality hook & loop system

#3 Bosch ROS20VSC

Bosch ROS20VSCUntil DEWALT came along and blew us away with its awesome warranty, the Bosch ROS20VSC was the reigning ROS. It’s powerful, compact, easy to use, durable, and functional. Although it comes with only a year’s limited warranty, this tool is a cost-effective alternative to our top pick, and here’s why:

Buying the DEWALT DWE6423K and the universal quick connector will cost you close to $100. The Bosch ROS20VSC, which costs around $60, includes a vacuum adapter. So, if you own a shop-vac, purchasing the ROS20VSC makes more economical sense. And, if you don’t own a shop-vac, the dust collection system on the ROS20VSC is as good as the one on the DWE6423K.

However, this Bosch ROS is a little less powerful than the DEWALT one.  The ROS20VSC is a 2.5 A variable-speed ROS that runs at 7,500 to 12,000 orbits per minute. Although there’s a slight difference in power, this tool runs as smoothly and comfortably as our top pick.

Both companies are established brands in the power tool industry. So, under what circumstances is the ROS20VSC a better purchase than the DWE6423K? The ROS20VSC is the ROS to go for if you want a tool that syncs with your shop-vac out of the box. It’s also a better option for people on a strict budget, but unwilling to settle for a low-cost tool like the Black & Decker BDERO100.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Powerful motor
  • Shop-vac adapter included

Cons

  • 1-year warranty

#4 PORTER-CABLE 382

PORTER-CABLE 382The PORTER-CABLE 382 is another excellent low-cost random orbital sander. Its 1.9 A motor is a little less powerful than the Black + Decker BDERO100’s 2 A motor. But, the 382 comes with a warranty offer that matches DEWALT’s. Consider this, for a $40 purchase you get a 3-year limited warranty, a year of free service, and a 90-day money back guarantee. At this price, this is a steal.

Despite being a low-cost product, the 382 runs smoothly. The ergonomic body houses a durable motor. The dust collection system works well, but it feels a little flimsy and fills too quickly. Also, you need an adapter to hook it to your shop-vac. But, these are exemptible faults in a budget-friendly product.

The main issue you’re likely to face with this machine is its lack of power. The 382’s motor does not have the amperage to perform anything more than light sanding. It’s unlikely that this tool alone would meet all your sanding needs. Therefore, the limitations may soon force you to buy a more powerful sander.

That said, I restate my general dislike for low-cost random orbital sanders because they are more limiting than they are expansive. But, if you’re looking for a quick buy, the Porter Cable 382 may work well for you.

Pros

  • Very cost-effective
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent purchase protection

Cons

  • Low-power
  • Dust collection system needs improvement

#5 Makita BO5041K

Makita BO5041KThe Makita BO5041K is the random orbital sander that everyone dreams of owning. From performance to functionality, each aspect of this tool showcases its premium quality. For instance, the 3 A variable-speed motor runs between 4,000 and 12,000 orbits per minute. The extended low-speed range gives precise control over sanding operations. Plus, the tool has two-finger trigger switch with lock-on mode.

The tool has a high-capacity dust collection system and built-in shop-vac adapter. It also has removable front handle that lets you switch between two-handed and one-handed operation. Its durable body and rubberized grip provides comfort and control. Most importantly, the large 1/8-inch orbital action leaves little to no swirls and leaves an extremely smooth finish. And, the tool comes with a sturdy hard case for storage and transportation.

So, where’s the catch? Well, this tool is expensive. It costs around $100. Now, I believe the merits of the tool justify its price tag. But, my issue is with the warranty. For a tool this expensive, I want more than a year’s warranty. Unfortunately, that’s all you get with the Makita BO5041K.
Considering the price of the machine, the warranty is a major turn off. That’s why I sadly place this tool in the fifth place rather than the place it could have been – at the top.

Pros

  • Powerful motor
  • Durable body
  • Comfortable grip
  • Broad speed range
  • Excellent dust collection
  • Built-in shop-vac adapter
  • Removable front handle
  • Hard carry case
  • 1/8-inch orbit for superior finish

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Terrible warranty

Factors to Consider When Buying a Random Orbital

A random orbital sander (ROS) helps you craft impressive woodwork with brilliant surface finish, especially on stained surfaces. Primarily a finishing tool, a random orbital sander gives you a better finish within less time and effort than other sanders do. What’s the secret behind this? The random orbit technology, of course.

Unlike normal sanders, which have sanding pads spinning along a fixed axis, the sanding pad on a random orbital sander spins around a random orbit. The random orbital motion of the sanding pad drastically reduces swirl marks. As a result, you get a high-quality finish without compromising material removal speed.

But, to get the full advantage of this amazing tool, you must choose the product wisely. Wrong decisions regarding critical factors negates the positive benefits of buying an orbital sander. So, in this section, we’ll go over the factors to prioritize and pitfalls to avoid.

What are the top factors I must look for in a random orbital sander?

People who use a random orbital sander usually describe their experience as optimal when the following factors fall into place:

  • Superior Dust Collection: Sanding produces a lot of fine saw dust. If allowed to float around your woodshop, the fine dust leads to respiratory diseases. It also makes your workshop hard to clean. Investing in an ROS with high-quality dust collection eliminates these problems.
  • Shop Vacuum Compatibility: While working on large projects, such as sanding a table top, the dust collection bag’s capacity falls short. On large projects, connecting the ROS to a shop-vac makes more sense. That’s why you must make sure the ROS fits your shop-vac, either directly or through an adapter.
  • Dust Protected Body: The dust that sanders create are just as harmful to the tool as they are to the user. Fine dust passing through the tool’s body can harm the motor and bearings. It can also ruin the switching mechanism. In the interest of longevity, buy a tool that protects its internal parts from dust.
  • Multi-Grip: Most random orbital sanders offer only one handed grip, some models offer two handed grip, and a few of them offer both. Two handed grip improves control, but it creates accessibility issues. One handed grip allows you to sand hard to reach areas, but grants less control. The best way around is to get a tool that allows you to switch between the two grips easily.
  • Variable Speed: The ROS community doesn’t give variable speed as much credit as it deserves. This is an important feature. If you plan on owning just one ROS, it must be a variable speed ROS. Variable speed allows you to decrease the orbits per minute (OPM) for fine sanding and increase the OPM for fast material removal. You can achieve the same effect with a single speed ROS by changing the grit of the sanding pad. But, why do things the hard way when there is an affordable alternative?

What pitfalls should I avoid while shopping for an ROS?

Now that we’ve covered the factors that win favors from customers, let’s turn our attention to the factors that cause buyers to frown:

  • Vibration: Although the sanding pad of an ROS is supposed to vibrate and wobble, a well-made machine transfers very little of that vibration to the user. High vibration becomes particularly disconcerting during long operations. The best way to gauge the extent of vibration is to visit a shop where you can try various machines yourself. The next best thing is to rely on customer reviews.
  • Motor Failure: Even top brands are not immune to this possibility. However, the likelihood of motor failure increases among lesser known brands. The motor is the best place for manufacturers to cheap out. So, beware of low-cost products from obscure brands. Also, go for products that have reliable warranty.
  • Underpowered Motor: Manufacturers express the power of a random orbital sander’s motor in amps. For light sanding a 2 to 2.5 A sander will do. But, for medium to heavy sanding, you need a sander that is rated at least 3 A. Don’t worry about the orbits per minute (OPM). In and of itself, high OPM means nothing. High OPM on a low-power motor is useless. Yes, it will rotate fast, but it won’t have much sanding power.
  • Low-Quality Hook & Loop: The quality of the hook & loop system, or the lack thereof, annoys the heck out of ROS users. The hook and loop system allows you to attach the sanding pad to the sander. It works exactly like Velcro. Before buying your sander, make a note of how frequently people complain about unruly pads.

Should I buy a low-cost model or a high-end one?

As you go up the price bracket, you get more performance, reliability, lifetime, and convenience. Whether you’re an intermittent user or a frequent one, performance matters. So, putting money on performance features is a clever idea irrespective of the kind of user you are. However, the last three parameters are more relevant to heavy users.

For instance, if I use my random orbital sander every day, I need it to perform well consistently for at least its warranty period. And, I don’t want it to wear me down as I use it. So, the decision to go for a low-cost model or a high-end model directly correlates with how much you’ll use the tool. In other words, unless you work on a schedule, you don’t need an expensive ROS.

Great, I’m excited about buying an ROS. What are my options?

The leading brands in random orbital sanders are DeWALT, Bosch, and Makita. But, if you have the budget for it, get a Festool ROS. They are excellent, but out of most people’s range. At the other end of the spectrum, there are low-cost ROS brands, such as Porter Cable, Black & Decker, Ryobi, and Skil. But, before you buy any of these machines, consider all the factors that we have discussed. However, if you find all that analysis bothersome, revisit the products listed in the article and choose one from there.


Conclusion

So, what have we learned based on our in-depth analysis of random orbital sanders? First, avoid low-cost random orbital sanders if you can. But, if you must buy one, the Black & Decker BDERO100 and the Porter Cable 382 are your best options. Next, if budget isn’t an issue, buy the DEWALT DWE6423K along with the DEWALT Universal Quick Connector.

Alternatively, you can buy the Makita BO5041K, which is the best performing ROS on our list. However, you will miss out on DEWALT’s amazing warranty offer. Lastly, there’s the Bosch ROS20VSC for those who seek the middle ground between low-cost and high-end models.

The product selection here represents only a small section of the products on the market. But, even within this small sample, you can see how much each tool varies in performance and economy. Now, imagine extending the investigation to the total sample space.

Fortunately, the information here creates a sound framework for you to compare products. With this guide by your side, you can make informed decisions about what you want and don’t want in your random orbital sander. Using what you learn here, you can easily find the right random orbital sander with no trouble at all.