Polishing, finishing, and sanding are necessary tasks if you want your latest woodworking project to look professional. Unfortunately, doing all these jobs by hand is not something you’re going to look forward to.
With an orbital sander in your workshop, you can make light work of removing rough spots, imperfections, varnish, or paint. It is one of the most versatile and top-performing types of orbital sander and one of the most compact. But how do you choose the best orbital sander?
There are both corded and cordless models available, each with its own pros and cons. I’ll be looking at these in this review and buying guide, along with a selection of other essential features.
I’ve looked closely at several options for both types of orbital sander and created two lists for you to consider.
Just in case you’re pushed for time and urgently need an orbital sander for your latest project, my top choice for a corded orbital sander is the DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421).
If you think you’d prefer a cordless model, my first choice is the DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, Tool Only (DCW210B).
Best Corded Orbital Sanders
- Top Pick – DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421)
- Top Premium Pick – Makita BO5041K 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander
- Top Value Pick – BLACK+DECKER BDERO100 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander
- CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded (CMEW231)
- BOSCH ROS20VSK Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander
Best Cordless Orbital Sanders
- Top Pick – DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, Tool Only (DCW210B)
- Top Premium Pick – Makita XOB01Z Cordless 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander
- Top Value Pick – PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Random Orbital Sander (PCCW205B)
- Milwaukee Electric Tools 2648-20 M18 Random Orbit Sander
- Ryobi P411 One+ Cordless Battery orbital sander
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 My Top Picks for the Best Orbital Sanders 2021
- 2 Best Corded Orbital Sanders in 2021
- 3 Best Cordless Orbital Sanders in 2021
- 3.1 Top Pick – DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, Tool Only (DCW210B)
- 3.2 Top Premium Pick – Makita XOB01Z Cordless 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander
- 3.3 Top Value Pick – PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Random Orbital Sander (PCCW205B)
- 3.4 Milwaukee Electric Tools 2648-20 M18 Random Orbit Sander
- 3.5 Ryobi P411 One+ Cordless Battery orbital sander
- 4 What is an Orbital Sander Used For?
- 5 What to Look for When Choosing the Best Orbital Sander
- 6 Conclusion
My Top Picks for the Best Orbital Sanders 2021
There are plenty of different sanders to choose from if you need to have the perfect finish for your latest project. However, not all of them work the same or deliver the same results. One of the most significant advantages of an orbital sander is that you don’t have to worry about the direction of the grain.
To make the information in this review more manageable for you to digest, I’ve divided my review into two sections: corded and cordless orbital sanders. I’m going to start with my top 5 corded orbital sanders.
Best Corded Orbital Sanders in 2021
To help me compile this list, I considered a selection of different features, including power, size and weight, orbit speed, dust collection, and ergonomics. I’ve narrowed down your options to the following five top-rated products.
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421)
Using a 3 Amp motor, this random orbit sander from Dewalt spins the sanding pad at 12,000 orbits/minute, which is more than enough for most sanding applications. Such speeds also mean you can use it on various surfaces other than wood, such as fiberglass and metal.
The handle of this tool is shorter than many other brands, allowing you to get close to the piece you’re sanding. When you need to change the sanding pads, it’s a simple case of removing them as the tool uses a hook and loop system.
All critical areas have rubber over-mold to limit dust production. There is also a rubber dust skirt, and the power switch is also sealed to protect it against dust and to increase its life.
There is a dust bag you can remove with one hand, or the option to attach a vacuum directly to the sander via a 1¼¼
At just 2.9 pounds, this is a lightweight orbital sander to use, with ergonomics further improved thanks to Perform and Protect Technology. What this does is reduce vibrations via a counterweight inside the tool.
The only downside is that you need to change the dust collection bag quite regularly. That being said, there is the option of connecting the tool to a vacuum.
- Reduced vibration for improved comfort.
- Light and easy to use.
- Excellent dust collection and protection.
- Quick sand pad changing.
- Dust bag needs emptying regularly.
This 5” random orbital sander weighs only four pounds and is simple to use. The pad spins at a nimble speed, and its design is robust, especially when it comes to keeping the dust out. Sanding pads are effortless to change, as is the dust port you attach to your vacuum.
For more details or to make a purchase from the Amazon store, click on the link below.
Top Premium Pick – Makita BO5041K 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander
If you often need to tackle larger jobs, this orbital sander could be what you need. The additional handle at the front of the tool certainly makes it more comfortable to use if you’re sanding floors, for example.
Being able to use two hands rather than one is much less tiring. Plus, it provides improved control when sanding in restricted corners. The handles are also rubberized, which is another useful feature with regard to ergonomic design.
A 3 AMP motor powers this random orbital sander, so there are no compromises on the speed or power. With its variable speed control dial, you can adjust the orbital sander for speeds between 4,000 and 12,000 orbits/minute, depending on the task. The orbit action is a relatively large ⅛”, which allows you to work briskly.
With its lockable trigger switch, you don’t have to keep your finger on the control and can take advantage of using both hands.
You can use the vacuum-port adapter for collecting dust, or there’s a built-in collection bag that has a higher capacity than many other orbital sanders.
This random orbital sander is very efficient at collecting the dust, but you will need to clean the vacuum filters frequently. How frequently depends on what you’re sanding and the grit of the paper you’re using.
- Ergonomic to use.
- Adjustable orbit speed.
- Lockable trigger switch.
- High-capacity collection bag for the dust.
- Vacuum filters will need frequent cleaning.
This tool comes with a higher price than some of the other orbital sanders on my list. But you’ve only got to look at the additional features to understand why. The price includes a tool case, ergonomic handles, variable speed, high capacity bag for collecting dust, a trigger switch you use with two fingers, and ⅛” orbit action.
For pricing info and more specs, follow the link below.
Top Value Pick – BLACK+DECKER BDERO100 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander
This sander is excellent value for money and ideal if you want a sander for smaller jobs. It works particularly well in tight spaces and for tackling edges and corners. It weighs just a little over three pounds, so it’s also much lighter than some of the other sanders on my list.
The motor is 2 AMPS which is more than enough for all those lightweight sanding jobs. The speed it delivers is fixed, but it is an impressive 12,000 OPM. This is comparable with many other higher-priced sanders.
It has a rubberized grip on the handle in terms of comfort, and the dust collection system helps keep the work area clean. The power switch is also lockable with reduces user fatigue.
The tool does lack a variable speed switch, but this means you have to be careful not to get carried away.
- Perfect for smaller jobs and in awkward places.
- Powerful enough for smaller jobs.
- Rubberized grip on the handle.
- Lacks a variable power switch.
For the smaller sanding jobs, you need to do this random orbit sander performs more than adequately. It may be low in price, but that doesn’t mean it’s missing any essential features such as a lock-on power switch, comfort grip, dust collection bag, and hook and loop sandpaper change.
For more information about this product, click on the link below.
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded (CMEW231)
This is an excellent starter tool for the beginner, whether you’re a professional or hobbyist. The powerful 3 AMP motor delivers 12,000 OPM, which means you can finish or sand different materials, including wood.
This sander has a sealed dust switch, so you don’t need to be concerned about its durability, and the duct collection feature helps remove the dust from your workpiece.
The design lets you use it for long periods as the vibration is much lower than many other sanders available. Hence, you can use it for more extended periods.
The purchase includes a sanding disc and a dust collection bag, but it lacks the adapter for attaching a vacuum hose. You have to purchase this separately. The port for the attachment is 1¼”.
- Dust-sealed on-off switch.
- Purchase includes a dust bag and sanding disc.
- Robust 3 AMP motor.
- Additional purchase is required for the vacuum hose.
In this budget-friendly package, you get everything you need to get started. The motor delivers a maximum of 12,000 orbits/minute, the onboard collection system keeps your work area clean, plus the sealed power switch means you don’t need to stress about your tool clogging up.
BOSCH ROS20VSK Variable Speed Random Orbital Sander
This sander from Bosch has a very sturdy feel about it. All the seams fit tightly, and the hard shell that covers the metal housing for the motor and the gearbox is plastic. A rubber membrane also protects the power switch from dust.
The primary grip has a rubber cover, and if you prefer to use two hands, there’s a rubber patch on the sander’s body.
Inside the tool is a strong 2.5 AMP motor that’ll handle most everyday jobs. You can also vary the speed to match the task. Speeds range from 7,500 to 12,000 orbits/minute.
The dust collection system comprises a canister rather than the usual cloth bag. The canister includes a very effective filter, but you will need to empty it frequently. The other option for collecting the dust is to attach the tool to your vacuum.
The only negative thing about this tool is that the secondary grip on the tool is not very well designed in terms of its contours.
- Internal workings well-protected from dust.
- Variable speeds.
- Canister for dust collection.
- Secondary grip is not as comfortable to use.
The ROS20VSK may not be the most powerful tool on my list, but it will get most general sanding jobs done. The dust canister does require frequent cleaning but if you want a hassle-free option, connect the tool to a vacuum.
To make a purchase or for additional details, follow the link below.
Best Cordless Orbital Sanders in 2021
I’ve examined similar features for this second list of top-quality cordless orbital sanders but restricted my investigations to cordless models.
Top Pick – DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, Tool Only (DCW210B)
This very versatile orbital sander from Dewalt comes in at the top because of its quality features. You can use it for sanding large-scale projects such as hardwood flooring, but it performs equally well for much smaller projects you have to do around the home.
It’s a very comfortable tool to use thanks to the grip with rubber over-mold. This feature is especially useful when tackling large projects and to help you keep a firm grip on the tool.
The brushless 20V motor is durable and can deliver speeds ranging from 8,000 to 12,000 orbits/minute. You can control the speed of the tool to match the speed you require for the application. Thanks to the brushless motor, you can also expect a longer runtime with a single charge compared with other models.
For easy and quick paper changing, the Dewalt uses a hook-and-look system that doesn’t mean lots of downtime. The dust bag is also swiftly locked in place with one hand.
To collect the dust, you can attach the tool directly to a vacuum system using a 1¼” hose, but you will need to buy the connector separately.
- Brushless motor for extended run time.
- Feels comfortable and secure in your hand.
- Variable speed from 8,000 to 12,000 OPM.
- One-handed sandpaper and dust bag change.
- Vacuum connector sold separately.
With this efficient orbital sander, you can get into the smallest of spaces. You can adjust the speed of the motor to match the application, and it feels comfortable when you’re using it. The runtime on the battery is impressive, and because there’s no cord to drag around, you can use it wherever you need to.
If you want more information about this product or would like to purchase it from Amazon, use the following link.
Top Premium Pick – Makita XOB01Z Cordless 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander
The 18V Lithium-Ion battery that powers this sander has a runtime that should see you through most of your intense sanding application. It also has three speed settings of 7,000, 9,500, and 11,000 orbits/minute so that you can match it to the application.
This premium tool comes with some great features such as the speed control that requires one-touch, pad brake that reduces free spin, body and grip that’s been ergonomically designed.
Another valuable feature is the Star Protection Computer Controls. This trade-marked system helps to protect the tool’s battery from overloading, overheating, and over-discharge.
The batteries you use are also noteworthy in that they are more dependable and durable than many other 18V batteries on the market. The batteries charge 3x faster and last 50x longer.
When you buy a premium-priced power tool, you’d expect to have everything you need to get started. This isn’t the case with this model because the charger and battery are sold separately.
- Speeds can be set to match the application with one touch.
- Pad brake.
- Reduced risk of overheating, overloading, and over-discharge.
- Efficient 18v battery packs.
- Charger and battery pack not included in the purchase.
Makita’s cordless sander features many of the extras you’d expect when paying a higher price for a tool. All the essentials such as ergonomic handle, variable speed, and quick-change sanding pad are there, plus there are a few extras. The battery-saving and protection features make it worthwhile paying a little extra.
Check out pricing details or make a purchase using the following link.
Top Value Pick – PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Random Orbital Sander (PCCW205B)
This is the latest addition to the Porter-Cable 20V Max cordless tools, and it comes in at a great value price. You can use it to complete your sanding work efficiently and quickly.
The tool is low-profile, making it much easier to control and allows you to sand in restricted places.
There is a collection bag for effective dust removal, or you can attach it to a vacuum using a port that you can change according to the diameter of your vacuum hose. To keep the dust out of the tool and increase longevity, the switch is completely dustproof.
The only disappointing thing about this tool is that the battery’s runtime is minimal. If you don’t want this to hold you up, you’ll be better off buying two rather than one battery. It’s also worth noting that the batteries are interchangeable between other Porter-Cable 20V cordless tools.
- Low profile for those difficult to reach places.
- Effective dust removal.
- Interchangeable batteries between other 20V tools.
- Disappointing battery runtime.
If your budget is limited, this 20V random orbital sander from Porter-Cable will not disappoint when it comes to performance. It is a very basic tool, but for those quick sanding jobs around the house or in your workshop, it’s more than adequate.
Click on the following link for pricing info and to make your purchase.
Milwaukee Electric Tools 2648-20 M18 Random Orbit Sander
This variable speed sander packs quite a punch despite its size. You can change the tool’s speed according to the application, from 7,000 to 12,000 orbits per minute. The orbit diameter is 3/32”.
When you purchase this tool, you’ll get a number of accessories such as the universal hose adaptor, detachable canister for collecting the dust, and an extension adaptor for your vacuum. You can almost use the tool right out of the box because it also comes with two sandpaper discs that are 80 grit.
Before you use the tool, you’ll have to purchase the battery pack, unless you’ve already got one lying around at home. But they are readily available along with a charger from many online stores, including Amazon.
- Universal hose adaptor and extension adapter included.
- Variable speeds from 7,000 to 12,000 OPM.
- Comes with 2 x 80 grit discs
- Charger and battery have to be additionally.
Many of the sanders on my lists don’t include all the accessories you need, but this tool from Milwaukee does. The only things not included with your purchase are the battery and charger. However, this is not dissimilar from many other brands.
Click on the link below to check prices or to find out more.
Ryobi P411 One+ Cordless Battery orbital sander
This sander from Ryobi is a little different from many of the other sanders in this review. The maximum number of orbits is only 10,000 OPM which some users might find limiting. It does, however, have some other more exciting features.
The level of vibration is minimal, which allows you to use the tool for much longer. An over-molded grip is easy to hold and effortless to control. Weighing just 2.5 pounds means you can carry it around and use it for extended sanding tasks. However, you are going to be restricted by the battery runtime.
You can hook the tool up to any existing dust collection system you might have, or you can use the dust bag if you need to move around.
Somewhat disappointingly, you can only expect it to last around 35 minutes, which means you’re not going to use it all day long. It also lacks a variable speed control.
- Low vibration.
- Comfortable to grip, handle, and keep under control.
- Relatively short battery runtime.
If you regularly need to sand small pieces, this sander from Ryobi could match your requirements. It weighs less than a bag of sugar, so you’re not going to feel fatigued. The battery only lasts for a little over half an hour, but this shouldn’t be an issue for all those sanding jobs around the house.
What is an Orbital Sander Used For?
With a random orbital sander, you can prepare new molding, strip paint from furniture, or clean up in between finishing coats. You can also use it to clean and composite materials and metal.
The tool’s versatility is all down to the way it moves. The sandpaper disc, for example, moves in a circular motion. At the same time, the sander’s pad rotates in an oval. As a result, there is no abrasive particle on the sandpaper disc that follows an identical path more than once.
Compare this with an orbital sander that just moves in a circular motion, and you’ll appreciate the difference.
Ultimately, this type of sander can produce a finish that has no swirls, even if you’re sanding across the wood’s grain. The same can’t be said for vibrating sanders which also remove material more aggressively than an orbital sander.
If you want to remove large amounts of material from flat surfaces, a belt sander is more effective. For curved surfaces, a disc sander is more productive. If you want to sand in small corners, a detail sander will be more effective. Likewise, a palm sander is best for working on small pieces.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Orbital Sander
Before you search for the best orbital sander, there are a variety of characteristics you must consider. To help you make sense of the options, I’ve compiled this helpful guide.
Orbit sanders power is usually rated in motor AMPs. Typically, they range from 2.5 AMPs to 3 AMPs or above.
This rating is a good indication of the power of the motor. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some sanders have a low OPM but a higher power rating, and vice versa.
Find out more about how to calculate a tool’s power rating by watching this video:
How much power you actually need depends on how you plan to use your sander. If the tasks you undertake tend to be larger, for example, flooring, a high-powered tool will allow you to finish the project quicker.
For more delicate and smaller projects, a sander with less power will be acceptable.
How your sander is powered is also a fundamental thing to consider. Should you choose corded or cordless? Both have their pros and cons.
If you can access an electrical outlet easily, then a corded sander is best. On the other hand, cordless is better if you plan to work outside or you’ll be working where there is no electrical outlet. How long the cord is should be something you think about because a long cord will allow you to sand a wider surface area without having to use an extension cord.
Cordless tools are incredibly portable, but the time you can use them is limited. If you choose a corded tool, you have to be more aware as there is a risk of tripping or getting caught up in the cable.
Orbit speed is possibly the first thing most people will consider when comparing orbit sanders. It is the speed the sanding pad spins at. Sometimes, orbit sanders include an RPM rating, but this is not a correct figure because this tool doesn’t spin on a fixed axis. Instead, it oscillated randomly.
The OPM is measured when the pad spins freely. In other words, it’s not making contact with any surface. As soon as the sanding pad touches a surface, the orbital speed will decrease dramatically due to friction.
While OPM is something worth considering, don’t be tempted by a high-speed rating alone. Other factors, for example, power, are equally important.
Having the option to adjust the speed of the tool is a helpful addition. Random orbital sanders have the potential to produce an aggressive amount of sanding motion to remove material. If you’re not careful, you’ll remove more material than you want to.
If the speed is variable, it gives you more flexibility. You’ll be able to use it for general sanding applications, finish sanding, and polish.
Being able to collect the dust is critical when undertaking any sanding applications. You can produce a massive amount of dust whether you’re sanding metal or wood. Should you ingest such minute particles, it could lead to respiratory problems.
Similarly, allowing it to collect on your work surface will slow down your progress and could damage your tool, wear out your sandpaper quicker, and make the tool less effective.
For your sander to work as efficiently as possible, the dust you create must be removed efficiently and simultaneously as you sand.
Generally, you can expect there to be a couple of options. The tool could have an integral dust collection system, or you may be able to attach it to an external collection system such as a vacuum cleaner.
Key factors to consider include:
- The dust collections size: You’ll have to empty larger collection units less frequently.
- Ease of removal and emptying: Look for a dust collection system you can change with one hand.
- Effectiveness: The size of the particles a system can collect tend to vary depending on the tool. Look for one that can collect the smallest particles possible.
Size and Weight
If you only plan to use your sander for horizontal surfaces, such as sanding a floor, the size and weight of the tool shouldn’t be much of an issue for you.
Nevertheless, if you plan to sand overhead or vertical surfaces, how much your sander weighs could be crucial.
If you want to sand vertical surfaces, such as the side of a kitchen shelf or vertical furniture, and will be moving your sander vertically up and down, too much weight will lead to fatigue very quickly. This will ultimately reduce the amount of time you can sand and how effective you are.
When it comes to size, you’ll be able to use a smaller sander in hard-to-reach or tight places, but it won’t be as efficient to operate over larger areas.
Comfort and Ergonomics
Many factors can affect the ergonomics and comfort of a power tool. The handle, for example, should feel comfortable and include a soft over-mold or rubberized grip. Not only will it keep hand fatigue to a minimum, but it will also make the tool easier to control and reduce the risk of it slipping out of your hand.
Another feature that can reduce arm and hand fatigue is a secondary handle. It will make the tool more convenient to use, plus you’ll be able to apply the optimum amount of pressure when sanding. If you need to use the tool overhead or vertically, an auxiliary handle will make the tool more user-friendly.
A lockable power switch will allow you to hold the tool securely and not have to worry about keeping your finger on the trigger.
A tremendous amount of vibration can be created by sanding power tools. Your goal should be to find a sander with the lowest possible levels. It will rescue user fatigue and make and sanding tasks easier to bear. If you can’t find a sander that promises low vibration levels, features that will help include comfort over mold or rubberized grips.
Finally, being able to change the grit paper effortlessly would be a bonus. One of the most straightforward systems is hook and loop. It reduces downtime, and you can probably do it one-handed.
The warranty that comes with your sander is a vital consideration. You can expect a standard warranty for a random orbital sander to last 1 to 3 years. It might not sound like a huge difference, but if a tool comes with a three-year warranty, in effect, it triples your sander’s life.
Which random orbital sander is best for you depends on where, how often, and how you plan to use it. If you’re able to find the right one, it will allow you to work safely, correctly, and ultimately more effectively and efficiently.
Whichever one you decide on, its primary functions will be the same as any other random orbit sander. There will, however, be some subtle differences that make the tool more comfortable, safer, and efficient to use.
All the brands and models on my lists come highly recommended, but if you want me to highlight a corded and cordless model, I’ll put forward the following:
- The best corded random orbital sander: DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421)
- The best cordless random orbital sander: DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, Tool Only (DCW210B)
Both of these sanders possess the most vital features: powerful motor, effective dust collection systems, variable speed control, ergonomic features, and are flexible to use.