In this guide we’ll take a look at the best orbital sanders for the UK market.
I’ve compared performance, pad size, build quality and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
What Is The Best Orbital Sander?
In a rush? Here’s my top choice…
The best orbital sander for the UK market!
Sanding and finishing wood, plastics and other surfaces by hand is difficult, boring and tiring. The best random orbit sander, as far as I’m concerned, is the excellent Makita BO5031/2. It’s supremely comfortable to use, lightweight, powerful and it doesn’t vibrate too much. I love it.
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Orbital Sander Reviews
Makita BO5031/2 240V 125mm Random Orbit Sander Review
Up next is one of the world’s favourite Japanese tool brands, Makita. The BO5031 is one of the best random orbit sanders you can get, and it’s a fair bit cheaper than the DeWalt as well.
Boasting an intelligent electronic constant speed control, the powerful 300 Watt motor powers the 125 mm pad up to 4,000 – 12,000 opm, an impressive range of speeds that makes this sander ideal for all sorts of tasks. This sander has the muscle to tackle any sanding job you throw its way.
I’ve always liked the build quality of Makita tools, and the BO5031 doesn’t let them down. At 1.3 kg, it weighs enough to feel sturdy but not so much that it’ll tire you out quickly.
Another handy feature is the placement of the variable speed wheel- with a little practise you can change speed with your thumb during operation and avoid melting plastics when sanding them down.
The dust collection bag is small, but it works well enough to keep most of the dust from getting into the air. It’s a well-built and powerful random orbit sander that will last for years if you treat it well.
Bosch PEX220A Random Orbit Sander Review
If you’ve got any interest in DIY at all, you’ll know about Bosch. The German tool titans have been making some of the best orbital sanders, drills and saws for more than 130 years. The PEX 220 A random orbit sander is part of Bosch’s “green” line of DIY level tools- and you can pick up this excellent sander from one of the best names for a bargain price.
The all-important part of any random orbit sander is the grip, and you can tell Bosch have thought hard about ergonomics here- it’s really nice to hold and the rubberised overmoulding is in all the right places for grip and vibration dampening.
The 220 Watt motor isn’t quite as meaty as the Makita, but it still spins the 125 mm sanding pad up to 24,000 opm- not bad for a tool that’s less than half the price. It’s also a single speed tool, which might put some off, but it’s a good all-round speed for sanding, nevertheless. At 1.2 kg, it competes with the best random orbit sanders on the list and takes the standard hook-and-loop sanding pads you can find just about anywhere.
Now onto the feature that sets the PEX 220 apart from the competition- the dust filter. Rather than opting for a simple bag that fills with dust, Bosch have gone a step further and invented a dust collection box with internal filters that works quite well, but unfortunately has a rectangular port shape that won’t fit external dust extraction systems.
Meterk Random Orbit Sander Review
One of the better budget brands out there, Meterk produce a wide range of honest tools that get the job done and don’t cost too much. Their take on the random orbit sander is surprisingly good, comes with an impressive accessory kit and even a tool bag for a low price.
The grip has been quite cleverly designed on this sander- Meterk have added a rubberised grip handle to the back of the sander, which turns it into a two-handed tool. It’s not as comfortable to hold one handed, but it’s nice to have the two-handed option.
You get six different selectable speeds from 6,000 – 13,000 opm, and this is all powered by a large 300 Watt motor. The drawback to all this power is a much heavier sander at 2.3 kg – you’ll need to use the two-hand grip if you’re sanding large areas after all.
The dust extraction system, like the Bosch, is a rectangular box rather than a bag, but Meterk have thought to include a handy port adaptor so you can plug it into your shop vac if you want more effective dust collection.
What makes this one of the best orbital sanders for DIYers is the accessory kit- you get 20 sanding discs, a wool disc, cotton disc and sponge disc thrown in for good measure- You can get working straight away and unless you’re doing heavy work, they’ll last you for quite a while.
Tacklife 350W Orbital Sander Review
Another low-cost but good-quality tool brand, Tacklife have been producing innovative and reliable tools for the home and garden since 2015. The PRS01A random orbital sander is a powerful beast that is robust and well built.
That’s right, it’s a 350 Watt sander, the most powerful on the list. But weighing in at less than 2 kg, it’s got a surprising power to weight ratio. The big motor powers the sanding discs up to a reasonable 13,000 opm, but there’s a bit more vibration to deal with on the higher speed settings.
The rubberised grip has a nice feel to it- I’m not a huge fan of the narrow grip shape but it does cut down on some vibration and should be fine to use for longer periods. The dust collection system is rather good on this sander as well- you can see stray bits of dust being sucked into the pad as you sand, and the filtered dust collection box does the job it’s designed for.
Tacklife have thrown in 12 sanding pads to top it off- six 80 grit and six 180 grit 125 mm hook and loop pads. Overall, it performs really well compared to the best orbital sanders on the list and is an ideal addition to any DIYers sander collection.
VonHaus 430W 125mm Random Orbit Sander Review
Manchester-based homewares and DIY champions VonHaus have made it their business to come up with one of the best budget random orbital sanders you can get your hands on. And with a large, adjustable front grip, you can definitely get both hands involved in your next big job.
Powered by an impressive 430 Watt motor, you can spin 125 mm sanding discs from 6,000 up to 13,000 opm using the variable speed control tucked under the front grip. Weighing just under 2.8 kg it’s on the heavier side of things, but it’s not enough to be cumbersome or hard to control.
But it’s the ergonomic design that sets the VonHaus orbital sander apart from the competition- you can choose from three different rubberised grips and make use of the lock on switch to rest your trigger finger when you need to.
VonHaus have doubled down on the versatility stakes as well- they’ve included nine sanding pads of three different grits, but also three polishing pads as well, opening up a whole new way to keep your car clean as well as your timber sanded.
Hi-Spec 2A 240W Random Orbit Sander Review
If you want a reasonably powerful random orbit sander for general DIY tasks and you’re not bothered by a big brand name, the Hi-Spec random orbit sander is a great choice to make. Simple, reliable and functional, it’s a handy tool to have around.
The 240 Watt motor spins the sanding discs up to 12,000 opm and even though it’s not a variable speed tool, it’s more than enough for removing paint or varnish from a range of surfaces. The rubberised handle is pretty comfortable, and the big rubber on/off switch has a nice positive action.
Hi-Spec have included a range of sanding pads as well, two 60 grit, four 80 grit and four 120 grit to get you started. They’re not the best orbital sanding pads you can get but are fine for light DIY use.
At just over 1.6 kg, it’s nice and light without feeling cheap, but they have skimped on the cable a bit- it could be much longer. The dust collection box is handy, and you can plug in your shop vac easily too.
Jellas Orbital Sander Machine, 125mm Review
Another decent budget sander, the Jellas isn’t the best orbital sander in the world, but for the price, you can’t really complain. For the money you get six variable speeds and a comfortable overmoulded rubber grip that stretches back across the tool for extra comfort.
The 240 Watt motor powers up the sanding pads to an adequate 13,000 pm and controls the surprisingly strong dust extractor suction when in use. The grip isn’t difficult to hang on to, but you must make sure you don’t cover the exhaust vents with your palm to avoid overheating.
The three-metre cable is a welcome feature on this sander, as are the 12 included sanding pads. It’s not the quietest sander and there’s a fair amount of vibration, but when you factor in the cost, it’s a DIY level tool that’s not designed to be run for extremely long periods of time.
Things to Know Before Buying an Orbital Sander
The best random orbital sander does the hard work of sanding for you; it’ll extract the dust and help to reduce scratches, all in a compact and comfortable palm grip tool.
One of the biggest problems with sanding is trying to avoid scratches in the workpiece. Whether you’re sanding by hand with a block or using an electric belt or detail sander, there’s a good chance you’ll leave scratches that are a pain to remove.
In steps the random orbit sander- as it sounds, instead of moving in a predictable way that can lead to scratch marks, the path of the sanding pad is randomised with an offset cam that creates ellipses as well as standard rotations. Sounds complicated, but it’s basically a wobbly head that means you don’t get those irritating tiny looping scratches common to detail sanders.
Anyone who works with power tools for a living will instinctively know that getting a good grip is the key to drilling accurate holes, sawing straight lines and sanding down materials quickly and efficiently.
The bit where your hand goes on a random orbital sander is for more than just grip though, the best ones reduce the vibrations that travel up your arm and tire you out, especially when you’re sanding acres of timber or plastics.
Most of the best orbital sanders are single-handed machines, they’re light and nimble to use but still pack a punch when it comes to smoothing out surfaces. Try out a few different sanders before you find a grip that’s comfortable and lets you work for long periods of time without having to rest a shaken arm.
There’s no way around this- sanding is a dusty, dirty job. It’s not just messy, it’s harmful as well. Fine particles of dust in your lungs can be extremely bad for your health over time, so make sure you’re sucking as much out of the air as possible.
All the random orbit sanders I’ve featured on my list come with dust collection systems- either little bags or filtered boxed that promise to remove the dust from the air and stop the sanding pads from clogging up so quickly. They work, to a point, but it’s always a better idea to connect your sander to a shop vac if you can.
A standalone dust extraction system will help to keep the dust out of the air and away from your lungs and won’t fill up and need changing every ten minutes. The little dust extraction bags are great when there’s no alternative, but for the best results you should invest in a shop vac if you can afford it.
Most orbital sanders take 125 mm sanding discs, and they usually attach with a hook and loop system. Convenient and quick to change, you can go through the grits without needing special tools or much patience either. Just make sure you’re lining up the dust extraction holes on the pads.
You can almost always elevate an average power tool with premium accessories- an average drill with a professional drill bit can do a lot of good work, and the same can be said for sanding. You can save some of your hard earned money in the long run if you get hold of quality sanding pads. As they say, “you buy cheap, you buy twice.”
Orbital Sander FAQs
If you were to use normal rotational energy in a sander, it would remove material, but you would also create a lot of circular shaped scratches. In order to shake things up and create what’s known as `an “eccentric pattern”, the best random orbital sanders use an offset cam to rotate the sanding disc and wobble it a bit to make sure the grit doesn’t move in the same direction for enough time to scratch the surface.
The most common way to use a random orbit sander is with discs of different grit sandpaper to smooth out and finish surfaces like wood or metal, ready for painting or varnishing. They’re great because they’re easy to handle and can remove a lot of material quickly, but they’re also effective at other tasks.
If you attach a polishing disc, you can use your random orbital sander to clean up paintwork, varnish or clear coat without using all that much elbow grease. The same random orbit that helps to avoid scratches in timber or plastic will work wonders on your car’s paintwork. Add a little polishing compound and you’ll buff things up to a deep shine in no time at all.
As with any power tool, practise makes perfect, but there’s a few techniques I use to get the most out of my sander:
Try to keep a firm, even pressure on the sanding pad to avoid creating ridges and get the most out of each sweep of your hand.
But don’t press too hard. A great mantra for using any piece of equipment is “let the tool do the work” Your sanding discs will last longer, and you won’t get nearly as tired.
Use a pencil and scribble across the work surface- this will help you keep track of where you’ve sanded, and once the pencil marks have disappeared, you’ll know you’ve sanded enough.
Use a variety of sanding grits- Usually the trick is to work up in numbers- start with a low grit to remove the bulk of the material and change for higher grits to create a smooth, glass-like finish.
This is probably the most important tip for using even the best random orbital sander- go slow! There’s no rushing if you want to get the best results, it’s as simple as that, the slower you go the more random the orbit, the less noticeable scratches there will be and the better the finish overall.