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.
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.
This article has two main parts. The first part covers our picks for the best random orbital sanders of 2018. 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.
|Black & Decker BDERO100|
(Best for the Money)
|Bosch ROS20VSC||$$||4 lbs||4.5/5
|PORTER-CABLE 382||$||4 lbs||4.2/5|
|Makita BO5041K||$$$$||3 lbs||4.1/5|
Other 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 5″ 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.
I 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 orbit 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.
Until 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.
The PORTER-CABLE 382 is another excellent low-cost 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.
The 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.
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.
People who use a random orbital sander usually describe their experience as optimal when the following factors fall into place:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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