Why Use a Random Orbit Sander?

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Sanding is not exactly everyone’s favorite task, especially if you have to do it by hand. For small surfaces, it’s not so bad, but for bigger projects, sanding by hand may quickly turn into an exhausting and time-consuming process. However, with a good power sander, you’ll do the job much more quickly, and you’ll get better results, too.

There are several types of power sanders, starting with an orbital finishing sander, which is good for ultra-smooth wood sanding. Then there’s the random orbit sander, which is something you want to use for more demanding projects. Finally, for those heavy-duty tasks, there are belt sanders which will easily remove paint and varnish from different surfaces.

If you’re just starting with woodworking and you’re planning to buy some tools, you’re probably wondering which sander you’ll need. A good recommendation would be to get a random orbital sander, as it’s quite versatile and you can get skilled with it fairly quickly. These sanders come in various shapes and sizes, and with different price tags, so there’s something for everyone.

How Does a Random Orbit Sander Work?

When looking at a random orbit sander, one of the first things you’re going to notice about it is the circular pad, which the sanding disk is attached to. Another thing you’ll notice are the holes which are used to extract the dust into a dust collection bag that attaches to the sander. Alternatively, some manufacturers offer the possibility of attaching special dust collection systems, for those more demanding tasks. As you already know, sanding generates a lot of dust, so having this ability to collect it is very helpful. Still, it’s recommended to wear safety goggles, as well as a respirator mask in order to minimize any health risks while you’re working.

The ‘orbit’ part in the name of this tool already tells you a lot about how it works. Namely, the pad itself spins and moves in an elliptical pattern. This pattern is, as you can already guess from the name – random. This ensures that there are no swirl marks on the surface, and you get an equally smooth finish.

What are Random Orbit Sanders Capable of?

As versatile as it is, the random orbit sander will probably quickly become one of your most frequently used tools. For starters, you can use it for more delicate tasks, such as smoothing corners. It’s even better if you get a model that has variable speed, which will give you more control over the sanding process, and you can achieve even better results. There are models where you can adjust the speed between 8,000 and 12,000 orbits per minute, depending on the surface you’re working on.

Another task a random orbit sander is capable of is stripping down paint, and this is certainly one of the more common scenarios DIYers use this tool for.  Depending on the size of the sanding pad, you will quickly get the desired effect, without any swirl marks that usually occur when you’re sanding by hand with sandpaper or sanding blocks.

Size & Comfort

And speaking of the size of the sanding pad, you will find that random orbit sanders come in two different sizes – 5 and 6 inches. The former is used more frequently, as they are more popular with DIYers. They are also a bit easier to maneuver, which is important when you’re using them for a prolonged period of time.

And speaking of comfort, random orbit sanders come with different handles, the most notable being the palm grip handle, which makes using this tool very easy even for those less skilled woodworkers. On the other hand, we have sanders with a D-shaped handle, and there are also models with a barrel-grip handle


Random orbit sanders are available at various price points, depending on the particular brand, the features, and the optional equipment they come with. For example, you can get a new sander for as low as $30, which will fit in any budget. Of course, if you want some more advanced features, such as variable speed, that’s going to cost a bit more, and especially if you want to purchase a separate dust collection system.

Get Ready to Sand

A good random orbit sander is an indispensable part of your woodworking shop, no matter how skilled you are. If you haven’t already purchased one, you can easily find something that will fit in your budget, and you can soon begin to really perfect your woodworking skills. You’ll probably ask yourself how you even managed to live without one all these years!