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Best Random Orbital Sanders of 2021

Updated
Oscillating sanders get results quickly.

If you are looking to purchase a random orbital sander and don’t know where to start, this is the article for you.

We give you the lowdown on the best random orbital sanders, informing you why they are so good and what features and benefits they have.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features
Product Image of the Makita BO5030K 5' Random Orbit Sander, with Tool Case, Teal
Best for Cars
Makita Random Orbital Sander
  • 12,000 OPM
  • 3-amp motor
  • 1.25-inch orbit action
Product Image of the CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded (CMEW231)
Best With Dust Collection
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbital Sander
  • Has vacuum hose connector
  • Sealed power switch
  • 3-year warranty
Product Image of the DEWALT 20V MAX Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch, Cordless Kit (DCW210D1)
Best Cordless Random Orbital Sander
DeWALT Random Orbital Sander
  • Brushless motor
  • Variable speed control
  • Cordless tool
Product Image of the PORTER-CABLE Random Orbit Sander with Polishing Pad, 6-Inch (7346SP)
Best for Decks
Porter-Cable Random Orbital Sander
  • 4.5-Amp motor
  • Maximum 6,800 OPM
  • Detachable side handle
Product Image of the Bosch ROS20VSC Palm Sander - 2.5 Amp 5 Inches Corded Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander/Polisher Kit with Dust Collector and Soft Carrying Bag, Blue
Best for Woodworking
Bosch Random Orbital Sander
  • Only weighs 3.5 lbs
  • Impressive 12,000 OPM
  • Integral pad dampening system
Product Image of the BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (BDERO100)
Best Budget Random Orbital Sander
Black+Decker Random Orbital Sander
  • Has a dust collection bag
  • Great value for money
  • Lightweight at 3.15 lbs
Product Image of the Ingersoll Rand 6' Air Random Orbit Sander 300G
Best Pneumatic Random Orbital Sander
Ingersoll Rand Random Orbital Sander
  • Central vacuum dust control
  • Swirl-free finish
  • Only weighs 2.75 lbs

What Do You Use a Random Orbital Sander For?

Random orbital sanders are used to sand and smooth a variety of surfaces and materials. They can shape, polish, and remove rust. They are effective on wood, metal, plastic, sheet material, and non-ferrous metals.

Random orbital sanders are loved by hobbyists, woodworkers, professionals, and contractors. They have even found a home in auto repair shops and garages across the land.

How To Choose the Best Random Orbital Sander?

Before you look at the specifics of a random orbital sander, first decide how you will use it.

What Material?

If you sand a plaster wall, you might want to choose a sander with less power. If you are removing rust or polishing metal, a more powerful random orbital sander will work better.

For heavy-duty work like sanding hardwood floors, go heavy-duty and choose a sander with enough grunt to deliver the goods.

How Often?

Occasional users would be better off investing in a cheaper model with lower performance but does enough to deliver satisfactory results. If you use the sander every day in a professional capacity, power, speed, and ruggedness should be at the front of your mind.

For frequent users, the random orbital sander needs to be versatile enough to tackle most tasks. If you need a sander for a one-off job, choose a model that caters to your specifics.

Power

The power comes from a motor and is measured with an amp rating. Most random orbital sanders range from 2.5 to 3.3 amps. The power of the motor is a good indicator of how effective the sander will be.

A sander with a lower OPM but a more powerful motor can be more effective than a model with a weaker motor and a higher OPM.

So, in short, if power is your main concern, focus on the amp ratings.

Sanding Speed

The speed of your sander is measured in two ways. Both reflect the sander’s performance, but one records the number of revolutions per minute (RPM), while the other deals with the orbits per minute (OPS).

OPM

This is a much more reliable method of recording the speed of your random orbital sander because the pad orbits or oscillates. However, it does so on a non-fixed axis, unlike orbital sanders.

It’s worth noting that whatever speed is recorded, it is done so under zero contact with a surface. The sanding disc spins freely, thus measuring a faster rate. Once you make contact with a material surface, friction will slow your sander’s speed dramatically.

So, in essence, we are saying that you should take the maximum speed rating with a pinch of salt.

RPM

RPM is a misleading term when dealing with random orbital sanders. The sanding disc oscillates rather than revolves, so trying to measure the revolutions is impossible because the disc doesn’t spin.

Fixed sanders and orbit sanders spin on an axis, making RPM the relevant measurement of speed.

Dust Collection

Dust is dangerous, which is why you should always wear an N95 facemask. Dust contains particles of the material you are working on, which could have adverse effects on your eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs. Inhaling sawdust could lead to severe asthma or lung cancer.

For this reason, removing the dust is paramount to safer working practices. When you speak to owners of random orbital sanders, dust collection is regularly cited as the thing that most disappoints them about their sander.

Here are some dust collection pointers:

  • What size is the dust collection unit? If it’s too small, it will fill quickly and result in you stopping to empty it. This slows you down. Sizes vary considerably between makes and models.
  • How easy is it to remove and empty? Because you will be emptying the dust collector regularly, you will want it to be a swift and hassle-free process.
  • How effective is the dust collector? Some models are better than others. Look at the size of particles it collects. Microscopic particles are invisible to the eye but not to your dust collector. Well, that’s the hope anyway.

Variable Speed

A sander that allows you to switch speeds is useful because you can work on different materials and surfaces. Metalwork requires a higher pace than plaster walls, while hardwood floors need a random orbital sander that operates at different speeds to softwood.

Cordless Vs. Corded

Go anywhere or restrict yourself to a plug? Lose power as the batteries drain, or get continuous runtime without fear of performance loss? These are all valid questions that need answering, so we created a pros and cons section to help.

Cordless

Pros

  • Go anywhere.
  • No trailing power cord.
  • No extension cable.
  • More convenient.
  • Advanced brushless motors.

Cons

  • Requires batteries.
  • More expensive.
  • Power loss as batteries drain.
  • Charge time.

Corded

Pros

  • Cheaper.
  • Zero power loss.
  • No charging.
  • Lighter.
  • More robust.

Cons

  • Trailing cables.
  • Trip hazard.
  • Needs a plug socket.
  • Restricted maneuverability.

Sanding Pad Size

For larger projects, choose a 6-inch sanding pad. It covers more ground in less time. For lighter duties, go for a sander with a 5-inch disc.


The Best Random Orbital Sanders of 2021

Random orbital sanders come in all makes and models, with differing performance levels. Getting the one that’s right for you is a challenge. Here are our top 7 models.

1. Makita 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander

Best Random Orbital Sander for Cars

This Makita sander has a 3-amp motor that generates 12,000 OPM, and thanks to the rubberized grip, it is easy to control. The 5-inch pad is excellent at delivering ultra-smooth results, which is ideal for car body shops, where detail matters.

The sander base has 8 portals that suck away the dust and collect it into a bag that attaches to the exhaust system. The on/off switch is handily placed for one-handed control, and the unit has an oversized ball bearing for longevity and increased ruggedness.

Makita products are respected across the globe, and this random orbital sander is no exception.

Why We Love It

Efficient Dust Collection

The sander base contains 8 suction holes that draw away the dust as you sand, depositing it into a handily placed collection bag.

3-Amp Motor

The motor is powerful enough to generate 12,000 orbits per minute to deliver fast and efficient material removal that makes working with car paintwork possible.

1.25-Inch Orbit

Not only does the sanding pad rotate, but it also orbits using a 1.25-inch random action. It ensures that polishing car paintwork is a breeze and you get the best results.

Keep In Mind

Case Costs Extra

If you want the hard-wearing carry case, it is an extra expense. You don’t have to have it, but the tool would be better protected when you take it on the road.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 2.87
Dimensions (inches) 15 x 7x 10
OPM/RPM 12,000 OPM
Amps 3
Size of pad (inches) 5
Price $$$
Warranty 1-year

2. CRAFTSMAN Random Orbital Sander

Best Random Orbital Sander With Dust Collection

This CRAFTSMAN matches the Makita for power and speed, generating 12,000 OPM from a 3-amp motor. This is the best dust collection random orbital sander thanks to the hose connection that allows you to extract the dust through a dry vacuum system.

It ensures the total removal of harmful pollutants. If you don’t want to use the vacuum, it comes with a dust bag that easily clips onto the tool’s exhaust. This model has a sealed power switch to stop dust from getting into the electronics.

The pad size is 5 inches, and it comes with a 3-year warranty that knocks spots off the Makita warranty.

Why We Love It

Vacuum Hose Connector

Keeping you safe from dust and debris is paramount if you want to avoid lung problems further down the line. Connecting your sander to an extraction vacuum removes the dangers and keeps you safe.

3-Year Warranty

The length of the warranty is a great indicator of the manufacturer’s confidence in its product. This CRAFTSMAN comes with a 3-year warranty, giving you ample, hassle-free sanding and polishing.

Great Price

This random orbital sander is cheaper than the Makita, even though it matches it for performance. It makes this model incredible value for money.

Keep In Mind

One Speed

This model only comes with one speed, meaning you cannot increase or decrease the tempo to cater to different materials.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 3.5
Dimensions (inches) 10.13 x 5.5 x 5.75
OPM/RPM 12,000 OPM
Amps 3
Size of pad (inches) 5
Price $$
Warranty 3-year

3. DeWALT 20V MAX Random Orbital Sander

Best Cordless Random Orbital Sander

If you are looking for a cordless random orbital sander, this DeWALT is an excellent choice. It has a maximum of 20 volts and variable speed control that ranges from 8,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute, so you don’t suffer a lack of power from not being plugged in. This is thanks to the 2 amp-hour lithium-ion battery.

Like the CRAFTSMAN, you can attach this sander to a dust extraction vacuum to completely remove all the dust. The pad is 5 inches, the grip is rubberized for increased grip and control, and you also get a sealed on/off switch.

This pack comes with a carry bag and a charging port for the battery, plus a dust bag.

Why We Love It

Brushless Motor

Brushless motors are the latest in motor technology. They are so efficient, they increase the runtime of your lithium battery considerably. It all adds up to completing your projects faster and more efficiently.

Vacuum Hose Connector

The 1.25-inch hose connector enables you to hook up to a dry vacuum system to extract all the dangerous dust particles. Dust extraction is a key safety feature of any orbital sander.

Cordless Convenience

What could be more convenient than connecting the battery and getting started right away? There is no need to mess about with power cables or extension cords. Plus, you can take this tool anywhere, and it will still work.

Quality Brand

Everyone loves DeWALT products. They are an American success story, famed across the world for quality and performance.

Keep In Mind

Super-Expensive

While this is a quality tool, you cannot escape the fact that it is super-expensive compared to some. This model costs over 4 times the price of others on the list.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 4.8
Dimensions (inches) 11.54 x 10.12 x 5.75
OPM/RPM 12,000 OPM
Amps 20 volts (Cordless tools are rated in voltage)
Size of pad (inches) 5
Price $$$$$
Warranty 3-year

4. Porter-Cable Random Orbital Sander

Best Random Orbital Sander for Decks

When you have a major project to complete, like laying garden decking, this Porter-Cable sander is a real winner. When sanding wood, sometimes it’s better to have a more powerful motor and a lower OPM.

This model has a 4.5-amp motor, making it one of the most powerful, but the OPM only reaches a maximum of 6,800. It also has variable speed, so you can switch between surfaces and materials.

The other great addition to this sander when fitting decking is the detachable side handle that gives you greater purchase and control. On the downside, Porter-Cable class this as a lightweight model, but comparing it to others in its class, this sander is heavy at 6 pounds.

This sander also comes with a polishing disc and a 6-inch sanding pad, making it the ideal tool to cover large areas.

Why We Love It

Powerful Motor

This Porter-Cable comes with a powerful 4.5-amp motor that ensures you get all the grunt you need. While it isn’t the fastest, it gives you increased torque.

Variable Speed

You wouldn’t drive your car at one speed only, so why would you accept it when sanding? Changing speeds increases your versatility and the range of materials you can work on.

Detachable Side Handle

The handle increases your grip and control when applying the sander to heavy-duty applications like laying decking. It also improves the sander’s balance.

Keep In Mind

Weighs 6 Pounds

Compared to other random orbital sanders, this model is heavier than most at 6 pounds despite the claims that it is lightweight.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 6
Dimensions (inches) 11.5 x 10.5 x 6
OPM/RPM 6,800 OPM
Amps 4.5
Size of pad (inches) 6
Price $$$$
Warranty 3-year
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5. Bosch Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander

Best Random Orbital Sander for Woodworking

Bosch has been making quality power tools for decades, so it is only right that we feature one in our review. This model is small and compact, making it an ideal sander for carpenters and cabinet makers.

The 2.5-amp motor may not be the most powerful, but when you are working with wood, precision and efficiency are the key ingredients. It has a no-load OPM of 12,000, but thanks to the variable speed, you can drop this to 7,500.

This Bosch is designed to eliminate swirl marks on the wood, thanks to a unique integral pad dampening system. Plus, you can attach this to a dry vacuum system to extract the dust. If you choose the bag collector, it traps particles as small as 0.50 inches in diameter.

Why We Love It

Small Motor, Big OPM

Even though this sander has a 2.5-amp motor, it still generates an impressive 12,000 OPM. That rivals some of the larger sanders like the Porter-Cable with a 4.5-amp motor.

Variable Speed

Variable speed gives you greater control, which is vital if you are a cabinet maker. Changing the speed to match different surfaces and levels of detail ensures a smoother outcome.

Lightweight and Compact

This sander only weighs 3.5 pounds, which is just under half the weight of the Porter-Cable. It’s ideal if you work for long periods and want to reduce hand fatigue.

Keep In Mind

Lacks Power

Beyond woodworking and cabinet making, this little sander might struggle to take on heavier tasks. You certainly wouldn’t want to sand an entire floor with this thing. It would take some time.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 3.5
Dimensions (inches) 9 x 5 x 6
OPM/RPM 12,000 OPM
Amps 2.5
Size of pad (inches) 5
Price $$
Warranty 1-year

6. Black and Decker 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander

Best Budget Random Orbital Sander

If it’s value for money you want, then this Black and Decker orbital sander takes the prize. You can buy 5 of these and still spend less than one DeWALT cordless model. And just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it won’t perform.

The motor is 2 amps and generates 12,000 OPM, so while the power may be lacking, it still reaches speeds to rival others. This is a lightweight and compact model, weighing just 3.15 pounds.

The on/off switch is also sealed to avoid any dust getting in, and the dust collection system ensures pollutants stay at bay.

Why We Love It

Budget Price

You cannot deny that this sander is cheap. It costs a fraction of most to make the list, making it ideal for a beginner.

Dust Collection Bag

Removing and storing the dust in an easy-to-reach bag helps keep you safe by removing most of the dust from the atmosphere.

Lightweight and Compact

This sander only weighs 3.15 pounds, which is even lighter than the Bosch model. Reducing strain on your hands and wrists is vital if you want to keep working for longer.

Keep In Mind

Lacks Power

This Black and Decker only has a 2-amp motor, meaning that industrial-strength tasks like floor laying and decking are beyond its capabilities. This orbital sander is better suited to lighter tasks.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 3.15
Dimensions (inches) 7 x 5 x 6
OPM/RPM 12,000 OPM
Amps 2
Size of pad (inches) 5
Price $
Warranty 2-year limited

7. Ingersoll Rand 300G 6-Inch Random Orbital Sander

Best Pneumatic Random Orbital Sander

When it comes to air tools, Ingersoll Rand is world-class. This pneumatic orbital sander delivers efficient performance via compressed air. Thanks to the unique design, you can achieve a swirl-free finish on metal and wood.

It is lightweight, weighing just 2.75 pounds, which gives you the freedom to work for extended periods. The only downside to an air orbital sander is that you need an air compressor, and they don’t come cheap.

Expect to add a sizable chunk of money to your budget. Plus, air compressors make the air tool less transportable because wherever you go, you need to drag the compressor.

Why We Love It

Vacuum Dust Control

This sander connects to a central dust extraction system, removing all traces of harmful particles. It keeps you safe and your lungs free of contaminants.

Super-Lightweight

This air tool has few rivals when it comes to weight. At just 2.75 pounds, you can keep working for longer because your hands and wrists get placed under less strain.

Perfect for Heavy-Duty Tasks

If you have a substantial project on the go, like decking or flooring, this pneumatic sander has a 6-inch pad to cover greater surface areas more efficiently.

Keep In Mind

Requires a Compressor

Always factor in the air compressor when shopping for an air sander. If you already have one, check it is compatible with this tool because if not, you will have to spend many dollars getting a new air compressor.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 2.75
Dimensions (inches) 8 x 6.5 x 4.75
OPM/RPM Not stated
Amps N/A (Motor is 1.5 horsepower)
Size of pad (inches) 6
Price $$$
Warranty 1-year limited

Random Orbital Sander Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Dimensions OPM/RPM Amps Size of pad Warranty
Makita Random Orbital Sander Cars 3 lbs 15 x 7x 10″ 12,000 OPM 3 5″ 1-year
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbital Sander Dust Collection 4 lbs 10.13 x 5.5 x 5.75″ 12,000 OPM 3 5″ 3-year
DeWALT Random Orbital Sander Cordless 5 lbs 11.54 x 10.12 x 5.75″ 12,000 OPM N/A 5″ 3-year
Porter-Cable Random Orbital Sander Decks 6 lbs 11.5 x 10.5 x 6″ 6,800 OPM 4.5 6″ 3-year
Bosch Variable Speed Sander Woodworking 4 lbs 9 x 5 x 6″ 12,000 OPM 2.5 5″ 1-year
Black+Decker Random Orbital Sander Budget pick 3.15 lbs 7 x 5 x 6″ 12,000 OPM 2 5″ 2-year limited
Ingersoll Rand Random Orbital Sander Pneumatic 3 lbs 8 x 6.5 x 4.75″ N/A N/A 6″ 1-year limited

Random Orbital Sander FAQs

What Is the Difference Between Orbital Sanders and Random Orbital Sanders?

It all comes down to the spinning action of the sanding pad. Orbital sanders spin on fixed access, moving in a set rotational pattern. They are sometimes referred to as rotary sanders.

A random orbital sander has an oscillating disc, meaning it moves on the axis as it spins rather than simply rotating. This method removes more material with less effort because of the way the pad moves.

Is a Random Orbital Sander Good for Wood?

Random orbital sanders are excellent for use on wood. They have a lighter touch, so they are less brutal than belt sanders, removing finer grains to give a super-smooth finish. They can also polish wood to a superior finish compared to orbital sanders that simply rotate.

Can You Buff With a Random Orbital Sander?

Random orbital sanders are stalwarts of body shops and auto repair centers, thanks to their ability to buff the metal to a high gloss finish. They are effective because the pads are interchangeable, meaning you can use a coarse grain for rust removal and achieve a smooth finish with a polishing pad.


We’ve Come Full Orbit

We know how useful random orbital sanders are and how effective they are at sanding and polishing metal, wood, rust, and non-ferrous metals. Using an orbital sander saves you time and increases your efficiency.

If you have a flooring project coming up, or want to buff the paintwork on your car, what are you waiting for? Get a random orbital sander in your life ASAP!

Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.

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