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Buying Tips for Random Orbit Sanders

Random orbit sanders are among the most versatile power sanders available. They can be used for sanding jobs ranging from preparing new molding to touching up a metal surface.

Since there are so many types and models of random orbit sanders available, it is very important for buyers to consider their needs in order to choose the best one. Below are seven things to keep in mind when buying a random orbit sander.

buying tips guide random orbit sanders

Buying Guide for Random Orbit Sanders

Grip Type. Random orbit sanders come in four different grip types. Palm grips are the smallest, lightest and easiest to use. They are suitable for light jobs such as sanding drywall or stripping paint. Pistol grip sanders are larger, require two hands to operate, and are significantly more powerful.

They are perfect for sanding tabletops and cases. Right angle sanders are heavy-duty power tools that work very quickly, even on large, rough jobs. Finally, pneumatic palm-grip sanders are powered by air compressors. These sanders are compact, powerful and versatile.


Power Source. As previously mentioned, pneumatic palm-grip sanders require air compressors. The other three grip types are electric. Electric models are usually cheaper and more portable, which is convenient for moving between separate job sites or even between rooms in the same home.

Air compressors can be expensive to purchase and are often bulky and difficult to transport. The buyer should consider the tool’s power requirements and how they fit the job at hand. Read Also: Buying tips for Electric Chainsaws


Comfort and Ease of Use. Pistol grip sanders are small enough to hold in one hand and can be used easily, even by novice operators. Larger sanders typically require two hands and are a little more difficult to control. Furthermore, within each grip type there are many variations on a common theme.

Since sanding jobs usually involve holding the tool for an extended period of time, the buyer should try out many different models and determine which one feels most comfortable in the hand.


Grit Material. The most economical sanding belts use grit made of aluminum oxide. This material is good for all-purpose wood sanding, but tends to wear out relatively quickly. Better quality belts have grit made from ceramic aluminum oxide, which is slightly more expensive but tends to last longer.

The belt itself may be made from paper, which is cheap but tears easily, or longer-lasting but less economical cloth. Often, choosing the longer-lasting varieties can save the buyer money in the long term, since the belt will not need to be replaced as frequently.


Grit Coarseness. The grit rating of a sanding belt indicates the coarseness of the sanding surface. Ratings range from the most coarse 24 to a fine 320. In general, a low, coarse grit leaves a rough finish, while a fine grit leaves a very smooth finish. The buyer should consider the desired finish when picking a sander.


Grit Type. Closed-coat grit is compacted tightly in the resin, which is ideal for use on metal or hardwood surfaces. Open-coat grit, on the other hand, leaves plenty of space to prevent resin buildup or clogging. This sort of grit is ideal for high-resin woods such as pine, or any painted surface. The buyer should consider the surface to be sanded and choose the grit type accordingly.


Sawdust. Random orbit sanders, tend to produce huge quantities of sawdust. This can be a health hazard, especially if the wood being sanded is pressure-treated or is covered with lead-based paint. All sanders have some means of dealing with dust, but better sanders have more efficient methods.

The best sanders can be hooked up to a shop vacuum or other dust removal system, keeping the entire machine clear. This not only stops the health risks, but also keeps the machine in good working order by preventing clogging.