Random-Orbit Sanders


These mid-size sanders take on the brunt of our sanding chores. Find out what sets them apart.
By Glen D. Huey
Pages: 58-63

From the October 2008 issue #171
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As we prepared to test random-orbit sanders, we considered the vast number of tools available. In order to make the test manageable, we decided to limit the test to variable-speed tools with 5″ pads.

The reason for selecting tools with 5″ pads is that most stores carry a wide variety of grits in that size. But why should you purchase a variable-speed sander versus a single-speed sander that costs a few dollars less? Where it helps, in our opinion, is when you have to deal with boards that aren’t exactly flat, such as where you’ve worked a glue seam with a scraper and ended up with a slight valley on the surface. A sander can move wildly as you traverse that valley. At high speeds the sander has the potential to “walk” and create sanding scratches that require additional attention. Slower speeds allow more control.

Next, we envisioned an article full of charts demonstrating how different these sanders are. But as testing began, we discovered that each sanders does the job it is supposed to do. Each one sands a surface smooth and flat without leaving huge swirls.

What we found to be the most important aspects of these sanders were attributes that do differentiate the tools: How the tool fits your hand, whether the switch is easily accessible to most hands, and how easy the tool is to control. The other important issues are dust collection and whether or not the tool is aggressive.


From the October 2008 issue #171
Buy this issue now