Variable Speed for a Random Orbit Sander

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Forum topic by paxorion posted 04-11-2014 06:43 PM 1550 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1107 posts in 2074 days

04-11-2014 06:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question sander

I was wondering if other LJs can shed light on a question has been burning on my mind for a few months. What is the practical use of variable speed for a 5” random orbit disc sander in woodworking. Is it useful for woodworking? If so, when would one take advantage of the lower speeds?

-- paxorion

13 replies so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2605 days

#1 posted 04-11-2014 08:50 PM

I never use the vs on my ros.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1276 posts in 1662 days

#2 posted 04-11-2014 08:56 PM

I have a porter cable, it’s not variable speed. But I attach a speed control on occasion.

Actually I hardly use an ROS anymore.

But when doing delicate work, I found the speed too much.
There are times when I just wanted to just take the fuzz off.
I now use a Bosch 1/4 sheet sander for that. It does a better job in general, but it eats paper. The ROS doesn’t. So if I didn’t have the 1/4sheet I would use the speed control more often when wanting to do verticals, delicate work…
It just give me that little more control.

-- Jeff NJ

View PaulDoug's profile


1550 posts in 1732 days

#3 posted 04-11-2014 11:33 PM

I have one and can’t remember a time I changed the speed. Not saying I haven’t but it would have been so rare that if there was a big price difference, I wouldn’t but one with speed control.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View dawsonbob's profile


2887 posts in 1783 days

#4 posted 04-11-2014 11:38 PM

My Bosch has variable speed but, come to think about it, I’ve only turned the speed down once or twice. I have to agree with PaulDoug in that, if there were a big price difference, I’d probably buy the single speed one.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 1577 days

#5 posted 04-12-2014 01:29 AM

I have an older 6” Porter Cable. The slower speed will give you more control at times. That is useful for what I do.

View jmartel's profile


7959 posts in 2178 days

#6 posted 04-12-2014 01:38 AM

I change the speed on mine. High speed for initial sanding, lower speed for final sanding and more delicate work.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2841 days

#7 posted 04-12-2014 02:20 AM

I use variable speed for edge sanding, or for smaller parts. It is easier to control, and gives you more options. My Bosch has variable speed, but it is underpowered anyways. I wish my Dewalt had variable speed.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View bigblockyeti's profile


5140 posts in 1749 days

#8 posted 04-12-2014 02:26 AM

I have a right angle Porter Cable and I have used it with very fine sandpaper sanding really small stuff where maximum control and minimum material removal is needed.

View stnich's profile


118 posts in 2952 days

#9 posted 04-12-2014 01:13 PM

I have four RO sanders. One does not have variable speed which I keep 60 grit paper on it for
hogging off a lot of material. The three others have 80-100-120 grit papers. Since they are used for
different applications they are at different speeds. And I do adjust the speed depending on the wood
I’m sanding. One advantage to have multiple sanders is that I don’t have to constantly change the sandpaper
which decreases the life of the hook and loop pads.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2950 days

#10 posted 04-12-2014 04:06 PM

I have the porter cable variable speed sander also and use the slower speeds for sanding very small or delicate parts.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3613 days

#11 posted 04-12-2014 07:44 PM

Yes much more overal control when sanding smaller delicate stuff, mouldings etc . Alistair ps I do use mine a lot

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2074 days

#12 posted 04-13-2014 02:58 AM

Hmm fascinating, so it sounds like the majority of people find variable speed helpful when sanding…
  1. delicate surfaces parts/curves
  2. different woods (lower speed for softer wood?), for better control over sanding rate

Also I’m not in the market for a new sander, but rather just a question of hypothetical benefits/practical uses of variable speed. Thanks everyone for sharing…

-- paxorion

View dirtycurty's profile


44 posts in 1606 days

#13 posted 04-14-2014 10:17 PM

woodchucker, have you tried using a spray adhesive on your sanding pad of your 1/4 sheet sander? I have never done it myself, I don’t even own one, but I have read other forums saying that it really helps to keep your paper from tearing up and binding.

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