An orbital sander (or random orbit sander) performs 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.
Why the Random Orbit Makes a Difference
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 orbital 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.
Get a Grip
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 hand placement on a random orbital sander is for more than just grip though. The best random orbit sanders have a soft grip that reduces the vibrations that travel up your arm and tire you out, especially when you’re sanding acres of timber or plastics.
Most random 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.
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 orbital sanders I’ve featured on my list come with dust collection systems- either little dust bags or filtered boxes that promise to remove the dust from the air and stop the sanding pads from clogging up quickly. They work, to a point, but it’s always a better idea to connect your orbital sander to a dedicated dust extractor if you can.
A standalone dust collection 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.
Hook and Loop Pads for Easy Disc Change
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 collection 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, “buy cheap, you buy twice.”
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