The Best Orbital Sander in 2020 - Your Complete Starters Guide
Don't Feel Like Reading Our Orbital Sander Review? Here Is Our Top Choice
If you don’t have the time to read our best orbital sander post, we chose the Dewalt DWE6423K model as our top choice. It's a powerful sander that weighs only 2.9 lbs and is only 14mm tall. This Dewalt orbital sander is an impressive power tool that comes with a 3.0 Amp motor which can spin the circular pad at a speed of 8,000 – 12,000 OPM. The DWE6423K has a very sturdy build and ergonomic design that comes with a 3 year warranty.
For the average homeowner, sanding wood is not an activity that they do every now and then. Most of these guys would not even have an idea of where to start, or even what to use. But if you are one of those DIY kind of guys, then the best orbital sanders are for you. At some point in your usual home repair activities you will encounter wood that needs smoothening and what’s better to use than a random orbital sander.
Dewalt DWE 6423K
Ryobi P411 One+
Porter Cable 382
Black & Decker BDERO100
Our Top 6 Best Orbital Sanders for 2020
Before we get into detail in this orbital sanders review it is only fair that we discuss the difference between random orbital sanders and orbital sanders. It is easy to get the two mixed up.
Orbital Sanders vs. Random Orbital Sanders
- Orbital sanders are much older and simpler compared to their random counterparts. Orbital sanders are generally square while RO sanders have a circular shape.
- RO sanders use Velcro to attach sandpaper while orbital sanders use clamping mechanisms.
- Due to their differences in sanding action, RO sanders offer a much cleaner finish and the likelihood of leaving swirl marks is significantly lower.
Types of RO sanders
There are several types of RO sanders and they include:
- Right Angle Sanders: They are very common and most of you have probably come across them in your line of work. They give you that extra kick of power and speed, which allows you to remove any imperfections with ease. Their ergonomic size and design allows you to tough sand without much risk.
- Inline Sanders: if you are looking to complete some big sanding project then the inline sander is your go to sander. They have some of the strongest motors available in a sander. Aside from that they also offer variable speeds and the most intimate control. Once you get your hands on one of these you will not want to let go.
- Palm Grip Sanders: They are typically smaller and are best used for finishing fine surfaces. They are designed for the finer details such as framing and trim. Their small size makes it easy for the user to reach angles or areas that would not be accessible with a regular orbital sander.
Let’s get back to the best random orbital sanders, shall we?
The Dewalt DWE6423K is a powerful RO sander that offers attractive features at a very affordable price.Weighing only 2.9 lbs., the Dewalt random orbit sander is said to be one of the lightest if not the lightest in the small size category. It is only 140 mm tall making it easy to control. Its short stature makes it easy to handle due to the close hand position.
To make the sander even more comfortable to grip, Dewalt has added an extra layer of soft molding to the exterior.
Dewalt Sander Motor
The Dewalt orbital sander is an impressive power tool but what caught our attention is the 3.0 Amp motor. Under its hood is a small motor that offers enough power to perform finishing work and polish at nearly half the time you would get from other random orbital sanders.
Additionally, the motor features an air vent for adequate air circulation. This makes it easy for you to continue working without the danger of overheating even when undertaking heavy duty projects. Also, a cooler motor translates to longevity.
When we thought that it couldn’t get any better then came the variable speed control. The 3.0 amp motor can spin the circular pad at a speed of 8,000 – 12,000 OPM. These kinds of speeds are perfect for finishing work and make it easy for the user to adapt to the material on-the-fly.
Do you know what that means? It means that in your hands you have the versatility to work with different materials. What’s even better is that the speed dial is easily accessible on this Dewalt sander, you can increase or decrease the speed while sanding. High speeds such as 12,000 OPM will produce a perfectly smooth surface while the low speeds such as 8,000 OPM are ideal for polishing coarse surfaces. There is a speed for every surface.
The Dewalt sander quality is superb, which can be attributed to the impressive combination of a variable speed control and the 3.0 Amp motor. When activated, the motor powers up a fast spinning sanding pad that makes tiny oscillations leaving a polished, professional and smooth surface.
You can even adjust the speed for a customized and more personalized finish.
- Grip: The DWE6423K has a very sturdy build and ergonomic design. It also has extra over molding making it easy to grip and comfortable to use.
- Lightweight: It weighs less than 3 lbs. not the lightest we’ve seen but it is also not the heaviest. Don’t get us all wrong, 2.9 lbs. is light and will feel great in your hands. You are not likely to experience any kind of hand fatigue since the DWE6423K is easy to maneuver. It's weight-to-performance ratio is amazing.
- Vibration: Who likes noise? Nobody. With that in mind, Dewalt designed the DWE6423K to operate with very little vibrations. In fact, the unit is built in such a way that it is able to reduce/dampen vibrations produced by the spinning sanding pad and the motor. Dewalt is able to achieve this by adding a thin layer of rubber to the loop sanding pad, the 5-inch hook and the motor. This design ensure that the vibrations are as minimal as possible even when operating at 12,000 OPM speed.
Who doesn’t like a clean workshop? It takes so much time to rearrange all the tools in the tool kit or tool rack and now you have to clean up your workshop. The DWE6423K has a dust bag that attaches securely thus making it easy to collect dust.
It gets even better, the dust bag can be operated/attached one handed thanks to its one-handed locking mechanism. It allows you to secure it and remove it with one hand. In addition, your sander is compatible with other Dewalt parts such as the DWV012 or DWV010 dust collectors.
Dewalt Pros & Cons
Finally after waiting for so long we were able to get our hands on the Bosch ROS20VSK, a simple yet very effective tool. It is designed to handle general sanding tasks and delivers great performance at an affordable price. It is well built and will outlast most of its competitors even in a demanding environment.
When it comes to build quality the Bosch orbital sander is truly a gem. On the outside is a hard plastic shell cover that covers the gearbox and all metal motor housing. It has no ill-fitting seams and when held for the first time it feels more like a brick.
On top of the Bosch orbital sander is a rubber covered knob that acts as the primary grip. There is another patch of rubber on the body of the sander that should make it easy for anyone who prefers a more hands-on approach. The second patch allows users to hold down the sander at the base. However, it is important to note that the contours on the second patch are not well designed compared to those on the main grip. You will find that the main grip feels better in hand and the position is more natural.
At the front is a large power switch that sticks out like a sore thumb. It snaps in a position better than expected with its authoritative click. The power switch boasts of some impressive features such as the rubber membrane that protects it from dust.
Like with any sander, dust is obviously something you will have to contend with and it gets worse if your sander does not have an effective dust collection system. What better way to keep your store clean than with the best shop vacs ?
Bosch ROS20VSK Motor
At 2 ½ Amp, the Bosch sander is not the most powerful and neither is it the most impressive motor we’ve seen on a random orbital sander. The motor will offer a solid performance when used to accomplish a wide range of sanding tasks the only let down is that it fails to impress. At no one time did we feel that it performed a particular task better than any of slightly powerful sanders.
Don’t get us wrong, the Bosch model is a great tool with a powerful motor that can handle heavy duty tasks with ease it is just that it lacks that top-of-the-line performance.
The ROS20VSK has an average sized orbit diameter which when combined with the average rotation speed positions the sander in the middle. The ROS20VSK can handle everyday tasks with ease but when faced with larger and heavy duty tasks you are likely to run into some problems.
It features a variable speed motor that varies the speed from 7,500 – 12,000 OPM. The motor power tends to drop while in low speeds but still manages to keep the machine well matched to handle the task just like any other slow speed sander.
Unlike most of the classic sanders, the ROS20VSK has a canister filter instead of the classic cloth bag. The canister filter is designed to filter all minuscule particles out of its airstream. The filter actually works pretty well but only for a few minutes. What? Did you expect that it would clean the airstream for hours on end? It can but you would have to keep emptying the filter every few minutes.
Call it your rest in between work. You see, the canister can only filter a certain amount of particles and it reaches a point when the pores become clogged. When this happens airflow through its filter ceases, you are forced to empty the canister. It is not exactly what you would prefer for a long term project since it will slow you down. However, if you are working on a small term project that will not take too much of your time then the Bosch orbital sander is not a bad idea.
There is another way to get this done without too much hassle. You can opt to connect your sander to a dust collector. This will not only make your work easier but it will also make the whole experience enjoyable. Once the vacuum’s hose is connected to the sander it creates a tight bond, which gives the sander an amazing feel especially when dragging the vacuum hose behind the sanders.
As you would expect dust collection using dust collectors is more effective compared to using the company’s filter. The vacuum hose sucks in any dust that is produced by the sander through the large air duct into the collection drum.
The kit comes with a hose adapter that eases the connection process such that you can even connect hoses of different diameters.
The Bosch Sander In Use
After using the Bosch sander for a few tasks here and there, it is safe to say that it completed all the tasks as expected. We even managed to get surfaces with no swirls or any other imperfections. All we had to do was be careful and most of the surfaces we tried the Bosch sander on turned out great.
There is only one problem with the ROS20VSK, it is a great sander but that’s just about everything. It is not impressive in any way, it does get the work done but it does nothing more, it stops at that.
However, even with so many complaints there is still some good we found in this machine. It performed the tasks without sounding labored. Also, the sander held up well in our endurance test. It did get a little bit warm but the performance never changed.
The Kit Box
The ROS20VSK comes in a double-walled plastic case that is designed to protect your Bosch unit from any impact damage. It is so hardcore that you can throw it in the back of your truck and the sander would not be harmed in any way.
There are a few shortcoming. One, the kit box does have limited room. It can barely fit your accessories and it lacks a weather seal.
Bosch Pros & Cons
The ROS20VSK is a nice tool to have in your home tool collection. It may not impress but it gets the job done. It is not the most powerful nor is it the most aggressive. The dust collection canister has some issues, it works well but only for some time. It requires frequent cleaning but it can be connected to a vacuum hose for a hassle free dust collection.
Overall, the Bosch ROS20VSK is a nice power tool to have for small tasks.
This Makita model seems to have won the hearts of many homeowners due to its compactness and additional handles. If you look at most of the orbital sanders available today, you will notice that they have a fixed handling position. The Makita BO5041K orbital sander is different in that it has 3 unique holding positions.
One, it can be held by use of the long handle. You can also wrap your hand around its body or hold it from the top like any other palm sander. In addition to that, the handles are rubberized for easy handling and control. There is also a removable handle that can be adjusted to a position of your choosing. The removable handle comes in handy when sanding corners or tight spaces.
The removable handle consists of a knob with threads and a clamping bracket. It uses the knob and the clamping bracket to hold it in any position of your choosing along the circumference of the sander. It is important to note that you can’t secure the fore grip below the trigger.
Makita Sander Power
If you are a DIY homeowner who likes his/her tools compact you should check out the Makita BO5041K. It is a compact tool that houses a 3 Amp motor, which is powerful enough to tackle even the most demanding sanding tasks. The motor is controlled by a use of a trigger and the variable speed dial. When turned on, the sander manages to reach 4,000 – 12,000 rpm.
The trigger control is a much needed addition to the orbital sanders since it makes working with sanders a whole lot easier. You can now lock the trigger in one position in case you want to use any handle other than the long handle.
The BO5041K sander comes with a 7ft power cord that coils well and lies flat.
Makita Dust Collection
If we were asked to gauge the performance of the internal dust collection system we would say that the results were mixed. The main reason being that the motor and the fan causing the pressure difference necessary to collect the dust are directly linked.
What does this mean? If the motor is at a slow speed setting then the fan will also run slowly which in turn reduces the pressure differential. Thus the pressure produced is not enough to collect all the dust produced. If this happens you will either have to use the a shop vac or an external dust collector.
Fortunately, for us this problem seemed to disappear once we increased the speed of rotation. At high speeds, the Makita sander was able to collect most of the dust with ease. The dust was then ejected through the dust port.
There is also another problem we encountered. In the kit you will find a cloth bag was added as a substitute for a dust collector. It worked well for a few minutes until it was halfway full and began to clog. This resulted into a back pressure that lowered the efficiency of the entire dust collection system. As the efficiency decreases the sander reaches a point where it stops collecting the dust.
The bag works well but only if your task is small and will not consume a lot of time. If you know that your will spending the better part of your day sanding then don’t rely on the dust bag. Instead use a dust collector and combine it with a hose. As expected the efficiency shoots to near perfect.
The kit does not come with a hose adapter, which means that you will have to buy it separately. If possible opt for an adapter with a soft rubber material as it clings onto the dust port better than most adapters.
The BO5041K has a 5-inch pad attached to a hook & loop system for fast discharge. It is a strong system that can last for years as long you maintain your sander.
The Sander Case
Like every sander, the Makita BO5041K requires a carrying case which it has. The case is vacuum formed and boasts of double walls, which are nearly indestructible. It can withstand the typical abuse at a job site but it is not waterproof. So you might want to keep it covered when rain starts to fall. It can keep out the rain for a while but that’s just about it.
The Makita sander comfortably fits in the case leaving enough space for the extension cord and the sandpaper disks. It may not be the perfect case for those with pitch perfect organization skills but at least it works.
Makita Sander In Use
The Makita sander is a compact sander whose performance easily rivals similar models. Its greatest selling point is that it has a high rotation speed and compact size. Although it has a powerful motor, the BO5041K can easily be outperformed by sanders with larger pads or bigger motors.
That said, the Makita is still one of the most impressive sanders we’ve reviewed. Almost everything felt and worked right. At high speed settings the Makita is an absolute beast and feels great in your hands. The fore grip and the long handle provide a unique level of control that you are not likely to experience when using other compact sanders.
Everything becomes easy even getting into tight spaces and corners, the Makita BO5041K does it all. The best part is that the handle doesn’t get in your way instead it helps maintain the extensive cord out of your way.
The three handling points may not be the most essential parts of the sander but they do come in handy especially when trying to figure out the best way to hold your sander for maximum efficiency.
Next comes the finish quality. The Makita sander boasts of a very smooth surface that’s free from scratches.
At low speeds the power and sanding speeds tends to drop significantly. This means that the BO5041K is best suited for sanding small areas at slow speeds instead of large areas. That’s not all, the BO5041K tends to produce excessive vibrations even at low speeds. When this happens, two handed operation becomes a necessity rather than an option. This could be the reason the Makita sander has an additional grip.
At higher speeds, the vibration problem tends to cease allowing for multi hour tasks. It even becomes possible to use the Makita sander in a commercial shop. The cooling mechanism is well built and should offer long term service.
At full speed, the BO5041K becomes quieter such that two people can even have a conversation in a room where sanding is taking place.
Makita Pros & Cons
The Makita BO5041K is a great tool with a few unique features. It is ideal for professional/commercial use. It is very lightweight, comfortable to use, easy to control and easy to handle. The extra grip comes in handy when sanding at low speeds. It is ideal for corners, tight spaces and sanding up walls. Overall, the Makita BO5041K offers good value for money.
Although we wouldn’t consider the Ryobi P411 as our favorite, it is worth the mention. While brands such as Festool tend to have expensive products, Ryobi tends to keep everything simple. There are two things that Ryobi is known for, one, their products are designed for the average homeowner. Two, they have quality products at a reasonable price.
The moment we saw the Ryobi P411 we knew we had to try it out. We didn’t have much experience working with cordless sanders but when we saw the P411 our interests were peaked. There was no way we could say no to such a tool and include it in our review.
Ryobi Sander Build
The P411 is well designed and like many sanders it has vibrations. But instead of the usual kind of vibrations where you can’t control, the Ryobi orbital sander manages to keep the vibration as minimal as possible. The design of the over-molded grip is nothing short of impressive. It is easy to grip, handle and control.
Unlike the cordless Ridgid, with the Ryobi random orbital sander the built in battery does not get in the way of the user.
With the 18 volt battery, the Ryobi random orbit sander can run for about 35 minutes. Although everything is becoming wireless or cordless it is not advisable to buy the Ryobi product if you are sanding all day. The run time of the P109 battery can’t last that long. You would have to stop every time you ran out of power either to charge or change batteries.
We were a little bit skeptical when we realized the battery couldn’t run for long. It was clear that Ryobi would have to cut on speed to help save on battery life. Contrary to our expectation, the P411 had very decent speeds. At 10,000 OPM, the P411 is better than some of the models with cords.
It weighs about 2.5 pounds and uses the typical hook & loop pad systems. This means that the sander can work with the existing sanding disks. You can also hook it up to your typical dust collection system.
Although it has a locking switch, it lacks a variable speed control. You either turn your unit on or off, no in between.
The tool is easy to carry around and comes with a dust bag for a seamless dust collection process.
Ryobi Pros & Cons
If you are on a tight budget but would like to buy a random orbital sander, model 382 is worth checking out. Orbital sander reviews are easy to come by but very few are objective, which is why we opted to try out one of the cheaper models.
Our expectation was that the Porter Cable 382 would be a poor quality product that wouldn’t last a year or could do any hardcore tasks. At first glance, you can hardly differentiate the Power 382 from the more expensive models.
The 382 is not an exceptional tool and has no noteworthy features but one thing it is good at, is the price. It is the go-to product for first time users looking for a great tool at a reasonable price.
Let’s get into the specifics.
To get the price down, they had to sacrifice on power. Porter Cable opted to use a less powerful motor and quality materials in all the other parts. Another thing worth noting is that Porter Cable opted to use a fixed speed motor, which means that you can’t adjust the speed of the sanding pad.
Porter Cable Sander Build
The outer casing of the 382 is made of hard plastic and has no soft grip rubber. If there are no soft rubber grips won’t the handles be uncomfortable to grip? NO. You will handle the 382 by resting your hands on its body. To be honest, it does feel kind of weird but once you get used to it you won’t even notice.
The 382 5-inch orbit sander incorporates the use of a plastic membrane to protect the power switch from dust. The power switch tends to feel mushy but it always fulfills its primary function. Even with all the protection, it does not protect against accidental activation. This means that if you plug in the sander while the switch is still on, the 382 will turn on.
The sanding pad accepts eight hole hook and loop disks. We were able to test a couple of disks and each time the sandpaper disks were secured tightly it held up well even when used in heavy duty tasks. The plastic hooks also held up well, there was no visible damage to the plastic hooks. It takes time but the pads eventually wear out and when this happens the only hurdle is loosening the three screws.
PC 382 Sander Dust Collection
The 382 comes with a cloth canister and hose adapter for dust collection. You won’t require all these Porter Cable orbital sander parts since there is a dust bag that has been installed by the manufacturer. The dust bag works well but only for some time, you have to keep cleaning the bag every now and then. If you prefer not to clean the bag you are likely to experience reduced air flow through the dust bag.
When that happens you are forced to clean up your work area since the dust will be blown out onto the nearby surfaces. The whole process of cleaning sucks so how about you connect your sander to a shop vacuum. This has been made easier by the inclusion of a multi-port adapter that is compatible with hoses of different diameters.
The hose adapter installs on the Porter Cable orbital sander with the help of a friction fit. The whole process of installing the hose adapter takes seconds. Once it attaches, there is no movement allowing the user to continue with his/her task without having to check on the hose.
The addition of a shop vacuum to the dust collection system increases the efficiency of the system to near perfect levels. And since the 382 sander has a slow sanding speed the dust collector should have no problem trying to keep up with the amount of dust produced.
The Sander In Use
At only 1.9 Amps, the Porter Cable sander motor is the weakest out of these orbital sander reviews. The tale takes a turn when you get to the 12,000 OPM. The combination of a weak motor and a high OPM, that’s new. We were so intrigued that we couldn’t wait to use it.
The performance of the Porter 382 is actually not that bad. It can easily rival premium models in this category. The motor works well, in fact, we didn’t experience any problems while powering the sanding pad to the desired speeds. It works well and the final product is smooth and void of visible scratches.
We decided to put the weak motor to a true test of power. We swapped the sanding disk for a coarse grit disk and the results were below par. The weak motor slowed down the sander considerably. We were only left with one option to let it work at its pace, which is sluggish compared to its peers in the same category.
The sluggish speed will not be good especially for a commercial shop where time is a commodity.
Porter Cable Pros & Cons
The Porter Cable 382 may have a weak motor but it manages to perform its tasks well. The problem comes in when it is used for heavy duty sanding, its motor can’t handle that much work. It is in no way extraordinary but it holds up well when compared to top models especially when performing light-duty tasks.
At lower grits the sander motor tends to slow down revealing its shortcomings this in turn derails the sanding speed.
Overall, the sander is well built and has an effective dust collection system that’s made even better by adding a hose adapter for connecting a shop vacuum. Sure, the 382 model has several shortcomings mostly relating to the motor but if you can overlook these shortcomings you will save a lot. However, if you are looking for a powerful model you will have to fork out a few more dollars.
Conclusion On The Best Orbital Sander
It is not always about power and speed, sometimes it is about practicality, functionality and ease of use. We all have different tastes, what we like may not please you, kindly drop a comment in the comment section of our best orbital sander review telling us the model that you use and why you chose it.