10 Best Random Orbital Sanders of 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
Finishing work is an important step in any project. You want the best finish possible, whether you’re working on a personal project or you’re on the job site. A good random orbital sander can help with that. The trick is finding the right one.
There are hundreds of options out there, many from brands you’ve never heard of. How do you know which sander you can trust to get a smooth finish in record time? We’ve taken some of the work of that decision away by creating a list of reviews of the top ten random orbital sanders. Armed with this and the buyer’s guide at the end of this article, you’ll be better equipped to make the sander decision that’s right for you.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Makita BO5041K Random Orbit Sander||
|Best Value||BLACK+DECKER BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander||
|Premium Choice||PORTER-CABLE 7346SP Random Orbit Sander||
|TACKLIFE PRS01A Random Orbit Sander||
|SKIL SR211601 Random Orbital Sander||
The 10 Best Random Orbital Sanders – Reviews 2020
1. Makita BO5041K Random Orbit Sander – Best Overall
Makita makes a top-of-the-line random orbit sander. With lots of special features and plenty of power, it’s sure to make your projects a breeze.
The three-amp motor provides ample speed for your projects. It has a variable speed control between 4,000 and 12,000 rotations per minute (RPM), which enables you to suit the speed of rotation to the project you’re working on. The motor also provides a controlled start-up. The two-finger trigger is located on the handle for convenience, and a thumb-activated lock-on button allows for continuous action.
The body of the sander is just 3.09 pounds. At 7.5: x 16.3” x 10.3”, it’s nice and compact for easy storage and transportation. The body also comes with rubberized grips in all locations where you’ll put your hand for additional comfort while working. The internal mechanism is sealed ball bearing construction to prevent debris from interfering with operation. It has an adjustable front handle so you can maintain control when sanding in tight corners.
The dust collection system is also top notch. It features through-the-pad dust collection and a built-in vacuum that collects dust in a bag at the rear of the unit. It also features the ability to connect to a shop vac for added dust collection capability. Unfortunately, you’ll need to buy an adapter to make this change.
The pad operates on an ⅛-inch random orbit, which allows for swirl free finishes. It attaches to the sand paper via quick-change hook and loop.
The unit comes with a dust bag and hard carry case.
In addition to the vacuum connection, which requires an adapter, there is one caveat. This unit starts to throw discs after some use. The hook and loop seem to wear out inordinately quickly.
2. BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander – Best Value
Black+Decker makes the best random orbit sander for the money. It has a 2-amp motor, so doesn’t provide quite the speed of some other sanders. However, it’s very compact at just 7” x 5” x 6” and 3.16 pounds.
It features easy hook-and-loop disc changes. It also has a dust-sealed switch to prevent debris from interfering with the mechanism.
The unit comes with a dust bag. A built-in vacuum delivers dust to the bag to help maintain a clean work area.
On the downside, there’s no variable speed control, so you’ll be working on each project at full speed, regardless of your desire. There’s also no side handle for additional control. The sander doesn’t like working on surface areas less than that of the sanding pad. When you do, you have a habit of losing discs.
3. PORTER-CABLE Random Orbit Sander – Premium Choice
Porter Cable’s random orbit sander is excellent. It can be used either as a sander or a polisher. In fact, it comes with both a sanding wheel and a polishing pad.
The motor is 4.5 amps, which puts it on the high side for random orbit sanders. That motor delivers 2,500 to 6,800 orbits per minute. It’s on a variable speed dial, so you can match speed to your application.
The unit is made of ball and roller bearing construction, which makes it sturdy and able to put up with punishment. It also has a two-position side handle. It can be adjusted to suit both right-handed and left-handed users.
One of the downfalls of this unit is its size. At six pounds and 11.5” x 10.5” x 6”, it’s a little bulky. This makes it clumsier to use than some other models.
There are a few other negative features with this unit. One is that the shaft attaching the pad to the motor is not very robust. As a result, it can sheer under heavy use, rendering the sander useless. The pads are not hook and loop, but sticky pads. This is inconvenient but can be resolved with an aftermarket product.
4. TACKLIFE PRS01A Random Orbit Sander
Another option for a random orbit sander comes from Tacklife. It’s a variable speed sander with six speeds. The settings allow for speeds of up to 13,000 orbits per minute, making it one of the faster sanders on this list.
It isn’t the most compact sander on this list, but at 3.4 pounds and 10.1” x 6.6” x 4.9”, it’s very easy to handle. The small size allows you to get into tight spaces and corners easily. It has a rubberized palm grip to decrease discomfort and fatigue during use.
The ball and roller construction provide some benefits. It’s low vibration and low noise, which makes it more comfortable for both your arm and ears.
The unit comes with 12 pieces of sandpaper. Unfortunately, there’s no carry case included.
One of the bad sides of this unit is that the dust collection is not as good as advertised. During tests, we ended up with dust all over the shop. It’s also not suitable for wall sanding, as the particles are too small to be pulled into the system. The collection bag is also difficult to handle. It takes a great deal of effort to take it off or put it back on. Finally, the power cord is shorter than might be desired.
5. SKIL SR211601 Random Orbital Sander
Another speedy sander option comes from Skil. It runs a 2.8-amp motor. It has variable speed control with six settings. The speed goes up to 13,000 orbits per minute, making it one of the faster sanders on this list.
While the dust collection isn’t the best, it does come with a unique feature. The dust canister is clear plastic, which is easy to remove and clean and allows you to see when the collector is full.
This sander is also very compact. At 3.44 pounds and 7.87” x 4.8” x 5.51”, it’s very easy to handle. The low profile makes it easy to get into tight spaces and corners.
The Skil sander comes with two features designed for comfort. It has a soft rubber grip to protect your hands during extended use. It’s also engineered with counterweight balance, which reduces fatigue from vibration.
It also has a special feature that means the rotation only engages when it’s under pressure. This means it runs at a slow speed when you first start it, and won’t run away when you remove your hand.
To balance out the positive, there are also some negative aspects to this machine. The speed control is in an awkward position. It sits underneath your working hand, so it’s easy to accidentally change speeds while you’re sanding. The unit also has bad dust management. While the dust collection unit is unique, you still wind up with dust all over the place while sanding. A better solution would be to attach a vacuum to the unit, using an aftermarket adapter kit. Finally, the hook and loop wear out quickly, which means the sander starts throwing sanding discs.
6. CRAFTSMAN CMEW231 Random Orbit Sander
Craftsman’s sander is in the middle of the power range for the sanders on this list. It has a 3-amp motor that runs the sander at 12,000 orbits per minute. That’s plenty of speed for most projects. Unfortunately, there’s no variable speed adjustment, so you can’t customize the speed to your specific application.
The dust collection is solid and the unit comes with a dust bag. It prevents dust from spraying all over the shop. However, the bag fills up very quickly, so you’ll spend a lot of time emptying it unless you attach it to a shop vac. Speaking of shop vac attachments, the specifications say that this unit can attach to a 1¼-inch hose. That’s only true if you purchase an adapter kit to allow the connection.
The sander uses hook and loop disc attachments. This makes it easy to replace sanding discs as you work. In this case, the hook and loop are solid. You won’t wind up with free-flying sanding discs.
It’s relatively compact. At 3.5 pounds, it’s easy to handle and the dimensions (10.13” x 5.5” x 5.75”) allow you to get into some pretty tight corners. You’ll still need a detail sander for very narrow areas, but this one should serve you well in most cases.
Two other features are a peg hook for hanging the sander on the wall and a dust-sealed switch to prevent debris from interfering with operation.
The only other downside is the size of the grip. It’s a little bit large for people with smaller hands. This can make it clumsy to operate.
7. DEWALT Random Orbit Sander
The Dewalt random orbit sander offers another solid tool. The body is 3.4 pounds and 10.3”1 x 5.69” x 6”, making it lightweight and easy to handle. It has molded rubber handholds in all the critical areas where you’d normally put your hands during sanding. It’s also very light on vibration. Both of these factors contribute to a very comfortable sanding experience. The switch is dust-sealed, which is good because this thing kicks up a lot of dust.
It sports a 3-amp motor that runs the sander at 12,000 orbits per minute, which is fairly standard on this list. It applies 1,400 inch-pounds of torque. It’s plenty for most applications. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have adjustable speed, so you’re running at 12,000 the whole time. On the plus side, it has a rapid shutdown mechanism, so you’re not waiting for the motor to slow down before you set it to the side.
The dust handling system leaves a lot to be desired. It has a skirt, which helps direct dust into the collection system. The dust bag is handy because it has a one-handed locking system. Unfortunately, a lot of dust escapes. In addition, the bag fills up quickly. The solution is to attach it to a shop vacuum. However, this requires an additional adapter. The result is that this unit is best used outside.
There are a few more negative points on this unit. It throws discs and doesn’t come with a carrying case of any kind.
8. EnerTwist ET-OS-280 Random Orbit Sander
The EnerTwist random orbit sander has 6 adjustable speeds. It runs from 5,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute, depending on the needs of the project. All this runs from a 2.4-amp motor.
It has a 3-pound, 6-ounce body and measures at 9.3” x 5” x 7”, making it very lightweight and portable. It’s also easy to transport and find a place to store it. The body has a 3-position grip, which is rubberized to protect your hands while you’re working. It includes a 6.6-foot power cord.
The disc attachment method is hook and loop, which makes paper changes a snap. It also comes with polishing pads, so you can use it for that job as well.
The dust management system includes a dust-sealed switch and a dust collection box. Unfortunately, the dust seal makes the power button hard to press. The dust collector doesn’t collect small particles, so it’s not appropriate for drywall or other fine-dust applications. In addition, the dust collection isn’t particularly effective even for larger particles. It doesn’t easily fit a vacuum attachment to help ameliorate the problem, so you’ll have to find an adaptor to make it work.
In addition to bad dust collection, there are two other problems with this machine. The first is that it’s poorly balanced, so it jumps around while you’re working. The second is that it’s high vibration, which can cause discomfort during prolonged use.
9. TOPVORK Random Orbit Sander
The 13,000 orbit-per-minute Topvork random orbit sander is another product in our lineup. It is adjustable at 6 speeds. All this runs from a 2.5-amp motor.
This is a truly tiny sander, making it easy to handle for long durations. At 3.53 pounds, it’s very lightweight and at 6.”3 x 5.91” x 3.15”, it’s practically the size of your palm.
The product advertises a microfilter dust removal system. In this case, it doesn’t mean much. We wound up with dust all over the shop. It also has a dust-proof switch. Keep in mind that this sander is not suitable for wall work. The dust system won’t handle it, and the manufacturer warns that it will cause the machine to smoke. The clear dust collector is handy if it would ever fill. On the other hand, it has a tendency to fall off, so perhaps you’re better off attaching the unit to a vacuum.
The unit comes with 15 sandpapers and polishing pads.
There are a couple of features that make this comfortable to use. First, there’s a rubberized palm grip. Second, it’s relatively low noise.
There are some serious down sides to this unit. It has no carry case. It’s a high vibration unit, so be ready for numb fingers. It doesn’t maintain power at low speeds. In addition, it slows down under pressure rather than maintaining speed. The on-off switch is a pain to operate. Finally, the filter assembly has to be taken apart to empty the filter.
10. WORKPRO Random Orbit Sander
The Workpro random orbit sander brings in the rear of our list. It has 6-speed variable control between 5,000 and 12,000 orbits per minute. It runs on a 2.5-amp motor.
The body of this unit is larger than some at 8.66” x 5.12” x 6.3”, but definitely not the largest sander on this list. Despite that it weighs in at only 3.66 pounds.
Workpro tries to make operation as comfortable as possible. It includes a soft rubber grip for additional comfort. It also offers less vibration and noise, two nuisances that a good shop can do without.
The order includes 10 sanding pads.
There are some unfortunate features to this purchase. The first is that it doesn’t spin as well as desired under pressure. The spring on the collection bag rips the bag open. While we’re talking about the bag, it doesn’t attach or detach easily. It also falls off without warning. The overall dust collection is substandard. The brushes wear out fast.
But wait, what’s this? An additional bonus? It’s true! In addition to the reviews above, we’re offering a buyer’s guide. Follow the following characteristics in order to help you further narrow down your sander decision.
Your sander should be able to do up to 12,000 orbits per minute. Anything less, and it’s a no-go. In fact, there are sanders on this list that can do better than that.
In addition, a good sander comes with variable speed control. This allows you to adjust your speed to the project at hand. Not every function requires full speed.
Keep an eye out for high-powered sanders. The lower the power, the more likely it is to stall out under pressure. So, look out for sanders that have 3 amps or above.
Size and Weight
As usual for a power tool, the lower you can get these numbers, the better. That said, there are some units out there that offer superior handling despite their size, such as the Makita on this list. It’s important to compare size and weight to function and capability. However, when it’s a question, the smaller the better.
Every point of contact should be rubberized. If it’s not, there’s a problem. Prolonged use with bare plastic can result in blisters which prevents productivity. Look for units that provide protection in every area where a sander can be held.
Noise is a constant nuisance in any shop. The less noise the better. Look for units that don’t create a lot of extra sound.
Vibration can cause not only discomfort but injury during prolonged use. Look for tools that cause less vibration than more.
Dust collection is a huge problem with sanders. Even if they advertise top-of-the-line systems, dust can sometimes escape. Look for units that prevent dust from covering your shop like a blanket.
Accessories are where it’s at! The more, the better. Look for tools that come with a carrying case, especially. It’s a pain to carry your tools individually. In addition, some tools come with pads.
Here are some other sanders we have reviewed:
-> Palm sanders
Welcome to the end of the road. It’s your next purchase. Our top choice was the Makita BO5041K Random orbit sander. It has a ton of features you’ll love. If you’re looking for the budget version, go with the Black+Decker BDERO100. With plenty of awesome features and a dirt low price, this one is the bee’s knees for the bargain shopper.
Shopping for tools is like walking through a minefield. You never know if your next purchase is going to blow up in your face. Luckily, we’re here to offer you detailed reviews and a buyer’s guide. It’s like a map to get you to the other end of the field. Thanks for reading, and happy hunting.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Random Orbital Sanders – Reviews 2020
- 1. Makita BO5041K Random Orbit Sander – Best Overall
- 2. BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander – Best Value
- 3. PORTER-CABLE Random Orbit Sander – Premium Choice
- 4. TACKLIFE PRS01A Random Orbit Sander
- 5. SKIL SR211601 Random Orbital Sander
- 6. CRAFTSMAN CMEW231 Random Orbit Sander
- 7. DEWALT Random Orbit Sander
- 8. EnerTwist ET-OS-280 Random Orbit Sander
- 9. TOPVORK Random Orbit Sander
- 10. WORKPRO Random Orbit Sander
- Buyer’s Guide