WARNING! No sugar-coatings beyond this point.
Best Random Orbit Sanders by Category
BLACK + DECKER
For anyone working on a tight budget, this is the sander for you. At only $40 on Amazon, the BLACK + DECKER orbital sander will produce the same results as any of the other sanders on this page. Plus, it’s one of the few sanders in this price range that offers decent ergonomics.
If you have a bucket list of projects to complete, you’re better off with a higher quality sander. With the two BLACK + DECKER sanders that’s we’ve owned, both of them broke within a year after about 3 or 4 projects. Needless to say, we’ve switched to a different brand. Lastly, we found the dust collector was tilted too much to be effective.
Of the higher-end random orbit sanders, Bosch generally wins on price. The base model is only around $60, and the variable-speed model is cheaper than similar options offered by DEWALT or Makita. Also, the Bosch sander is the most compact in size, making it great for operating in tight spaces. To finish it off, the sander has excellent ergonomics, vacuum hose compatibility, & a feature that minimizes swirl marks.
We really don’t have any complaints about the Bosch random orbit sander. However, some people may be disappointed that the manufacturer’s warranty is only for a year long. While that’s shorter than others, the warranties for orbital sanders are generally difficult to redeem. Thus, we try not to pay much attention to them.
This one is our personal favorite. After two years of regular use, our own DEWALT random orbit sander still runs like new. The sander consistently produces excellent results and has yet to have any mechanical issues. Additionally, the ergonomics offer supreme comfort that enables the user to operate the sander for extended periods of time. And to top it off, this sander has one of the best functioning dust collectors that we’ve ever seen. Plus, the sander is also vacuum hose compatible.
Price is the only real grievance we have with this sander. However, you get what you pay for when it comes to certain power tools. Some woodworkers may be disappointed that there isn’t a second ergonomic grip for you other hand as seen in Bosch & Makita models. From our perspective, that’s a non-issue because we rarely use two hands on the sander.
The Makita random orbit sander won’t disappoint you. It offers all the same features as DeWalt & Bosch including vacuum hose compatibility & a feature to minimize swirl marks. In terms of ergonomics, Makita wins a close race since the variable-speed option offers the most amount of hand configurations. Lastly, Makita’s variable speed option offers the widest range of any of the sanders in this review.
As odd as it may seem, the plastic carrying case really bothered us. It’s bulky and is priced inconsistently across models. For the base model, it’s actually cheaper to purchase the sander with the bulky carrying case than to buy the tool individually. On the other hand, the variable-speed sander has a $30 up-charge if you want the case included.
We suspect that the PORTER-CABLE sander is a bare-bones version of DEWALT’s. Reason being is that when Stanley BLACK + DECKER bought PORTER-CABLE, they merged PORTER-CABLE’s operations with DEWALT’s while keeping BLACK + DECKER on its own. While we don’t know this for fact, we were surprised to see consumers generally consider this a 4-star sander despite no ergonomics whatsoever.
For whatever reason, an inexpensive ergonomic grip didn’t make the cut for this sander. While ergonomics don’t matter for most tools, anything that vibrates continuously needs some added comfort. And while we didn’t experience this ourselves, other users have reported sharp plastic edges on the sander. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for an economical option, you may want to consider BLACK + DECKER over this option.
If you still haven’t made up your mind, we have an even more in-depth review where we compare BLACK + DECKER’s orbital sander vs. DEWALT’s.