What random orbital sander would YOU recommend?

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Forum topic by Josh posted 06-02-2011 08:29 AM 8343 views 1 time favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Josh's profile


1226 posts in 2591 days

06-02-2011 08:29 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have, or had (depending on your vantage point), a Crapsman, I mean, Craftsman random orbital sander that sputtered out on me last week. The pad spins like it always did, but when I put it in contact with wood, the spinning virtually stops. And it started smoking on me. Plus, the discs themselves are really cheap anyway. They are the hook and loop type (Velcro). I think Craftsman makes them cheap so you have to buy those cheap sanding discs pretty often. Cheapo Sears.

Anyway, I am in the market for a good sander. At my job we use Porter Cable sanders, block and random orbital, that last a nice long time. At my previous job we used pneumatic (air!) sanders by the name of Ekamant, I think. They are really sweet, but probably way expensive. Does anyone know of a sander that isn’t all that expensive but will hold up well for at least a couple years?

I am all ears. Lemme have it!

Thanx in advance to you nice people that will respond. Respond kindly, that is.


-- Tree, wood, and box lover from Pennsylvania

26 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2992 days

#1 posted 06-02-2011 09:12 AM

I own and use a Ridgid 5” ROS. I like its dust collection and smooth start features most. I like the location of the on/off switch the least, because I have arthritis and it’s hard for me to operate. I may buy the bigger 6” version of this machine when I start my kitchen remodel project because the sand paper pads last longer and work faster.

I suspect the Dewalt, Ryobi, Millwaukee, and Porter Cable are also virtually the same machines. The hook and loop pad is interchangable between at least three of these brands. I bought a Ryobi replacement pad and it fit my son’s Ridgid (just like mine) perfectly.

Many folks on this site like Festool, but I could not justify the cost personally. It’s not that the Festool is not a good tool; it is a very good tool, just very expensive. I can buy 5 or 6 other tools for what one Festool costs.

The hook and loop pad attachment is far better than the sticky type in my opinion. It will self destruct if you let the sand paper pad wear through, however; that’s why my son needed a replacement.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3096 days

#2 posted 06-02-2011 03:03 PM

I have a Festool Rotex (dual mode) ROS and there is no question that it is absolutely the best ROS available. However, it is expensive. I can’t cost justify it – but I don’t feel like I need to. How many people can cost justify their boat or motorcycle or whatever brings them pleasure?

I mention Festool because I don’t think many people are aware of the dual mode concept. With a larger orbit (and a course grit), the tool removes a lot of material in a hurry. With a smaller orbit (and a finer grit), it leaves a much finer, smoother surface.

There are other brands that offer dual mode. I’m quite sure Bosch makes one.

It seems like most conventional ROS have a mid-sized orbit that is not optimal for either function.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10519 posts in 3450 days

#3 posted 06-02-2011 03:17 PM

Here’s my choice. By Surcare.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2627 days

#4 posted 06-02-2011 03:27 PM

I own a 6” bosch that I am rather happy with. It has variable speed and a good feel to it (feels solid). That being said, if I were buying a new one tomorrow I would be a low profile sander. There has been a couple of times I wished I could get my sander into a tight spot that a low profile would have been able to make.

View northwoodsman's profile


242 posts in 3768 days

#5 posted 06-02-2011 03:37 PM

I have 3 Porter-Cables that work well. All 333 VS’s. The new version (#343) is nice. Someone just had them on sale for $39.95. The best part is that if you ever need parts, the big box stores have the replacement pads and the small belt that goes under the pad. A variable speed is nice.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Albert's profile


509 posts in 3611 days

#6 posted 06-02-2011 04:06 PM

I got tired of buying replacement pads for my Porter Cable (worked fine otherwise) so I bought a Ridged at HDepot. I don’t like the ridgid very much because of the switch being difficult to use and the sander has a very noisy high frequency squeel. I think I will go back to the PCable.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3308 days

#7 posted 06-02-2011 05:17 PM

Gene, Is that all you’ve got????? LOL (Actually, that’s pretty cool)

You might want one of these.

Realisticaly, First of all. I too would recommend Festool, but I understand that frequently is not practicle from a budget standpoint. I have the ES 125 EQ which is much cheaper than the Rotex that Rich mentioned. It is a great sander. I have a Porter Cable I hate, but they do have many very good models. I personally would choose Bosch if Festool were out of the picture.


View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2676 days

#8 posted 06-02-2011 05:44 PM

crank49 – be careful with the 6” Rigid. I tried it and returned it after the first use. The motor housing got almost to hot to touch. Very underpowered. The 5” Rigid is a much more capable sander. I abuse – I mean use – 2 of them regularly 4 to 6 hours a day with no problems.

The 6” was a disappointment because I really liked the feature where you could select 1/8” orbit or 1/4” orbit. The 1/8” was for finer sanding operations and the 1/4” for really hogging material off. Either setting resulted in the really hot motor housing.

Returned it to the orange store, no questions asked.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4147 days

#9 posted 06-02-2011 07:19 PM

I currently have a Craftsman (that’s on loan to someone and I’ll probably never get back, but that’s okay), a Makita quarter sheet sander (which I use when I want to generate dust, like when I’m gap filling with cyanoacrylate), a Black & Decker mouse (which hasn’t been out of its case in years) and a Festool ETS150/5 EQ. And I’ve got a sanding disk on an angle grinder for when I really wanna remove stock.

The Festool is my go-to sander, and every time I use one of the other ones I’m reminded of why.

If I were to buy a new sander right now it’d be the Festool Rotex RO 90 DX.

That probably doesn’t match your price requirements, but as I’ve ranted before, given what I spend on wood an extra hundred or two bucks on a sander gets lost in the noise. And I buy wood on the cheap…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3292 days

#10 posted 06-02-2011 07:58 PM

I have and highly recommend the Festool RO 90DX….it is their newest sander. It has an agressive setting for rapid removal….can be changed to a triangular profile sander for doing tight places…and has the best dust control available (in my opinion). Yes, Festool is more expensive, but this tool replaces 3 or so sanders that you would need….compared to that….it is a deal.

I also have a Festool RO150 and a 150EVS….both are also excellent and I would recommend them for folks that need individual sanders for specific purposes. I use them alot less due to the RO90. I would say that the Festool line of sanders is the cream of the crop…and you pay for that.

I also have a Bosch 5” that is an excellent sander…..I bought the Bosch a few years before the Festools. Bosch makes a great tool and for a great price and will perform adequately….but the Festool line is definitely the best in the business right now.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2661 days

#11 posted 06-03-2011 02:37 AM

Alright, I have many sanders that include Porter Cable, Craftsman (corded and C3), pneumatic, Dewalt and Skil.

Let me tell you about the Skil 7492-02 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander With Pressure Control 2.4 Amp that we have two of (and why).

We had a large white Corian solid surface countertop refinishing job some time ago where we had cuts, gouges, scratches and overall dull finish. I mean USED looking. I decided to go with the high dollar 3m Hookit Trizact system that has pyramid-shaped disk abrasive that stay sharp and usable down to all-used-up. (Highly recommended, by the way). As we got finer and finer, we finally ended with a smooth, scratch-free glossy like-new finish. Paid.

The funny thing is the two sanders were less than $95 with tax. We spent nearly $200 on all the disks.

I saw these Skil ROS at around $45 US each and really liked a few things about them:
1) The Pressure control technology – Monitors sanding pad pressure applied for optimal finish – well it worked great. It tells you how hard you are bearing down. We started pretty aggressive with the first discs so I was afraid we might remove more material in some areas and less in others. This lighted visual feedback helped us keep the pressure consistent.

2) Pad brake – creates a gouge-free finish. We were using a “barely wet” technique to keep the dust well.. not dust. The pad brake feature seemed to help as we started and stopped with the more aggressive starting disks.

3) Micro-filtration captures and contains fine dust particles – this was not necessary for that wet job, but since I have used and like that it has this feature.

3) Clear view dust canister – Removes guess work of when to empty container. Again, on the wet job all it did was tell me (by being clear) that I wasn’t sucking wet paste into the filter. That’s good to know… and at a glance.

4) Built-in vacuum port for maximum dust collection. On the wet job we did not use vac, but I have used it since with the shop vac attached and it did just spiffy.

So, I have two of them and they paid for themselves the first hour of use. I am going to use one to put it into a sander stand project I just saw today on Woodsmith tips. The other I will use as designed. They seem to be pretty rugged.

The Festools look sweet. I’d bet a steak dinner they are totally righteous. At $375 they better be.

I’m not a cheap a$$. I have a $5000+ Clarke American Floorcrafter drum sander. It is the shiznit. It is fast and big and accurate and in the right hands it can’t be bettered regardless of price. It CAN be price justified. It pays for itself in a couple of years and then can last forever after. It is justifiably value added versus the alternatives.

No way would I pay 10 times as much for a random orbit 5” sander.

When one of these dies, I’ll laugh all the way to the garbage can on how quickly it paid for itself.

Most importantly in my opinion: I could not ask for anything more from the results they gave.

So if you go cheap you might want to take a look at these.


David Grimes

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3072 days

#12 posted 06-03-2011 02:55 AM

I like my Bosch ROS quite well as it operates smoothly and cancels out the vast majority of vibrations, so it’s comfortable to use for an extended period of time, if need be. I don’t think they make the model I have anymore, but from my experience, I’d buy one of their newer ones to replace it if they are comparable to the older one I currently have.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View zzzzdoc's profile


550 posts in 3025 days

#13 posted 06-03-2011 03:08 AM

I have both the Rotex and ETS 150/3 Festools. I find I reach for the ETS 150/3 far more than for the Rotex. The Rotex is a beast. Great when you want to hog off a ton of material, but unwieldly.

The ETS 150/3 is a dream. Incredibly low vibrations and impressive dust collection.

-- Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3669 days

#14 posted 06-03-2011 03:10 AM

I recommend springing for a 6” sander unless you do small
work or are strictly looking to save money on the sander.
The 6” sanders remove much more material and sanding
goes significantly faster.

Bosch makes a 2-mode sander similar to the Festool Rotex,
Bosch 1250DEVS

I have 2 Rotex sanders and they are excellent in terms of
dust collection and comfort in use. Reasonably fast as well.

I have heard good things about the Rigid 6”.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3072 days

#15 posted 06-03-2011 03:21 AM

There are lots of good suggestions here, which begs the question: What is your intent for this sander? Are you looking for something smaller for more detailed work/lighter in the hand, or something more powerful/larger to really remove material?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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