Last Updated on August 23, 2020
The process of buying a random orbital sander is both exciting and intimidating. There are so many brands, individual product models, features, price ranges, etc. to choose from.
That’s the reason why we set out to review over 35 different random orbital sanders. We compared them based on criteria such as power, feel, warranty, features, overall value for the money, and the list keeps going. We then selected our 10 favorite picks for you to look at below.
Going through this section will help you establish a baseline for what to expect from a great random orbital sander. From there, the second part will push your understanding to a deeper 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.
|Best Overall||DEWALT DWE6423K||
|PORTER CABLE 7346SP||
|Best Value||BLACK+DECKER BDERO100||
|Makita BO5041K RO||
DeWalt managed to hit every note in designing and manufacturing the DWE6423K. It’s got a good, strong motor, does as good a job removing stock as it does in smoothing out wood, and has features to prevent it from wearing out its users. It does a good job collecting dust and keeping it out of its internal workings, and the price is right.
Other sanders are better in some of those individual categories, but none of them add up to produce this kind of across-the-board quality. The one gripe we had with it is that it can be a job to empty out. If you’re grinding down a lot of wood, that will probably get downright tedious.
However, this is still one of the best orbital sanders of 2020.
Bosch’s 1250DEVS isn’t too powerful a sander, but it comes pretty close. We don’t say that ironically. This thing is big. It has a 6.5-amp motor, and you can switch it to “turbo mode” to really strip down wood. It also comes with a soft torque start, so if you aren’t entirely ready for its power, it won’t fly out of your hands. If you’re looking for sheer brute strength in a random orbital sander, this is the one you want to aspire toward.
We say “aspire toward” because the price will frankly price some people out. It’s more than twice as expensive as our top pick. Something else to be wary of is that because Bosch put such a premium on power in this random orbital sander, it’s not nearly as good at producing a smooth finish as it is for taking down raw stock.
Porter-Cable’s six-inch Random Orbit Sander packs power and versatility into a frame small enough for everyone to use. One thing worth noting is that it requires two hands to operate. A selling point for orbit sanders is that you can use and control them with only one.
For that, however, you get a powerful 4.5-amp motor that allows it to get the same work down with fewer orbits per minute than other random orbit sanders. At higher speeds, it’ll chew down wood. At lower speeds, it’s gentle enough that it comes with a polishing pad so you can use it on your car. That’s a great range of potential.
It is expensive, more so than most of the other random orbital sanders we looked at. If you want something that can sand down wood one hour and then buff out your car the next, it’s probably worth the investment. If you don’t need something quite that versatile, you can find a less expensive option.
If you’re shopping for a random orbit sander on a budget, Black+Decker’s BDERO100 is a perfect option. It’s by far one of the most affordable sanders available and a significant upgrade from using sandpaper and your hands.
It’s lightweight and compact. That means you can easily keep it under control. That makes it especially attractive to people who aren’t built so sturdily. That control also makes it a good choice if you want just a light touch.
It would be perfect for detailed sanding except that it also vibrates quite a bit. While it won’t rip away wood you want intact, it might jiggle a bit and cause issues. The two-amp motor is also pretty underpowered, especially compared to some of the other sanders we reviewed.
This is definitely one of the best random orbital sanders for the money as of right now.
We strongly considered making the Makita BO5041K our top pick for the same basic reason we gave that ranking to the DeWalt DWE6423K. It’s flat-out good at just about everything. It’s good for sanding down stock or giving a finished project a smooth surface. It’s also pretty comfortable to use, so you won’t get worn out using it all afternoon.
It has a front grip. You don’t need to use it, because the motor is only three amps, but if you want better control, that option is available. That grip also lets you get right in and sand in corners much better than competing models.
There were two reasons why we dropped it to the fifth rank. The first is that it’s pretty expensive. You can get similar performance for less money in our top pick. It also doesn’t do as good a job collecting sawdust. A messy work environment isn’t just hard on the tools, it’s also less safe for the user.
The TACKLIFE Orbital Sander is another good budget option that is perfect for light jobs. It’s worth noting that Tacklife is new to the world of general household tools, but it’s better to judge it by performance than by brand name.
It performs just like you’d expect a sander in its price range to. It does a good job giving something a nice, smooth finish. One thing that stands out is its dust collection. Dust collection is a constant struggle for tool designers, and Tacklife got it right.
It’s still only best used occasionally and not for heavy-duty work like sanding down rough stock. It also vibrates quite a bit, which harms its utility when it comes to detailed work.
We call the SKIL 5″ Random Orbital Sander a great bargain for a reason. If you’re just looking for a basic random orbit sander, this is one, and it comes at a pretty attractive price. That’s different than a best for the money model in that a best for the money model offers little extras that make it a great for-dollar investment.
One thing Skil gets right is the dust collection. If you’re generating a lot of waste, that can be a pretty big deal. Truthfully, you wouldn’t want to use this one enough to where a great dust collection system starts to become a feature worth paying for.
It has a 2.8-amp motor, which is not much power. You’re not going to buy this to sand down stock wood. You’ll buy it to finish a project. If you know why you’re buying this and what you’re paying for, it’s a good deal. If you’re looking for something more versatile, look at alternatives.
When forced to devote any thoughts to EnerTwist’s Random Orbit Sander, most of them were a deep, abiding boredom. It’s an affordable sander option that leaves you with just one question: Why?
We’ve looked at other budget random orbit sanders that basically do the same thing, which is to sand a project to a smooth finish. Aside from using random motions to prevent its head from leaving a pattern mark in the wood, however, that’s really all this one does.
Its 2.4-amp motor is the least powerful of any we looked at. It’s not suitable for sanding down stock. It’s also uncomfortable when used at length. It’s affordable but it’s not a very good value. You can do better for only a few bucks more.
TOPVORK’s Random Orbit Sander is a lesson in why, when shopping for something, you shouldn’t just automatically go with the lowest-priced one available and assume it’ll be pretty functional. Based on day-to-day prices, this one is the most affordable random orbit sander we looked at. If you’re really limited in your budget, it’s one you could consider, but we’d suggest paying a little more for a sander you can actually use.
The underpowered motor is unsuitable for anything but the lightest jobs. The dust collection is a joke, and in fact, the collector will just fall off for no apparent reason. The sandpaper also has a habit of falling off. That’s fine, because the sandpaper that comes with it is poor quality.
How do you get ranked dead last in a group of ten random orbit sanders? You perform like the WORKPRO 5-inch Random Orbit Sander.
Some of the sanders we’ve looked at are so underpowered that they’re suitable only for really light work. The WORKPRO takes that and ramps it up a notch by also being unsuitable for light work. It’s low-priced, but sanders suitable for light work polish wood to some kind of smooth finish. This one actually chews that wood up. If it had a more powerful engine, you could use it for eating down stock. It doesn’t, and where it ought to have a light touch, it just makes things worse.
Knowing how to buy a random orbital sander starts with knowing why they’re called that. Once you know that, you know how all those other factors work.
The heaviest, most powerful sanders are belt sanders, which are essentially a motor running a conveyor belt around which travels sandpaper. They’re incredibly powerful, even dangerous, machines and are best used to take rough stock down to the size you want. It’s straight-on, brute force. On the other side of the electric sander spectrum are orbit sanders. These are sanders on which the sandpaper face moves around in circles as you move the sander around whatever you’re sanding.
While this is great for smoothing out a project or cleaning corrosion off metal, if you’re not careful you can leave marks in the pattern of the sanding action. This is because the action is always consistent. A random orbit sander still moves that sandpaper around but in random patterns. This prevents it from leaving pattern marks.
It’s a fair question to ask why they still make orbital sanders. Moving the head around in random patterns requires extra power and size. For things designed to get great detail, randomized orbits require too much size and power. That’s also why random orbit sanders tend to exist between belt and orbital sanders.
People frequently want random orbit sanders that can sand down pieces of rough wood like a belt sander and smooth out a project like an orbital sander. Whether one can pull off both successfully starts with the motor’s power. The sanders we looked at have motors in the range of 2.4 to 6.5 amps. The higher the amperage is, the more powerful the motor is.
For finishing work, you don’t want an overly powerful sander, even if you can govern its output via a variable speed switch. Sanders for heavy work generally require both hands and heavy control. Sanders designed to put a finishing buff on a chessboard or something similar require a deft, light, one-handed touch.
These are measured as orbits per minute, or OPM. The higher the number is, the more detailed the work you can do. The lower it is, the more scraping off the sander will do. All the sanders we looked at were variable speed models, with a range of OPMs instead of one static number. Have an idea what kind of work you plan to do with your sander, so you know what kinds of OPM numbers to look for.
One thing that leads to pattern marks with orbital sanders is user fatigue. People use one for a long time, get tired, and stop paying attention. The next thing they know, there’s a sanding pattern imprinted onto their project.
While random orbit sanders address that through random orbits, user fatigue contributes to sloppy work. Look for features that promote comfortable use to reduce strain on your hands, wrists, and fingers, especially if your project will take a while to complete.
Related to comfort are the vibrations that the machine makes when in operation. A sander that moves around while in operation requires special care and probably a tighter hold. That can wear someone down pretty quickly.
It can also affect the quality of your finished work, so it merits special consideration. One of the primary uses for random orbit sanders is to polish a finished project. That means steady, even strokes. Consider whether one sander vibrates more than another when comparing.
The longer you use a sander on wood, the more dust you create. If you’re sanding down rough stock, the dust will tend to be bigger particles. If you’re doing fine work, the dust will likewise be smaller. It’s unhealthy to breathe dust, regardless of size. It’s also not good to have it swirling around your tool. Look at a sander’s dust collection system.
For years, tool makers have had trouble getting dust collection right. That’s starting to change, but one solution is that many tools are compatible with shop vacs. If you have a shop vac in your workshop, find a sander that can attach to it. Wearing a dust mask is also a good idea.
The random orbit sanders we looked at cost anywhere from the price of a family eating lunch at a fast food place to that of a new flat-screen television. That’s a wide range. The first thing you can do to narrow it is knowing what you’re going to use the sander for. Low-priced sanders tend to be less powerful and suited to lighter work. More expensive ones tend to be the most powerful and aren’t intended for anything delicate.
Be honest about your budget and then start figuring out what you need, what you want that you can afford, and what’s out of your price range.
Here are some other sanders we have reviewed:
-> Palm sanders
We gave DeWalt’s DWE6423K our top spot because it basically gets everything right, and that includes the price. The Bosch 1250DEVS is a straight-up beast and can chew wood right down, but it’s not quite so good if you need to smooth your finished project. We like the versatility and power of the PORTER-CABLE six-inch Random Orbit Sander, and we like that it comes with a polishing pad. We just didn’t like that its design requires two hands to use it. BLACK+DECKER’s BDERO100 is your best choice if you’re shopping on a budget, but it’s underpowered and vibrates too much. The Makita BO5041K is a great all-around random orbital sander that we considered for our top rank, but it fell short on price and dust collection.
TACKLIFE’s Orbital Sander is a good budget choice for light work, but it also vibrates an awful lot. SKIL’s SR211601 5″ Random Orbital Sander is a good bargain for just a basic sander. If you need something more, look at alternatives. EnerTwist’s Random Orbit Sander is uncomfortable to use and unsuitable for significant projects, which minimizes the value you get from its low price. TOPVORK’s Random Orbit Sander is the most affordable model we looked at. There are reasons for that, and none of them are good. The WORKPRO 5-inch Random Orbit Sander seems like it ought to be a good candidate for a light finishing sander. Then you use it and it chews up your working surface.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!