Dynabrade makes an entire line of high quality sanders for both the automotive and industrial markets. This particular one produces its own vacuum when in random-orbital mode for collecting dust and sending it on to a dust-collection system. There is a 1-1/2 inch vacuum port on the handle for connection to standard hose fittings. It’s adjustable speed, with a high end of 12,000 RPM and the orbital action is 3/16 of an inch. The control for switching between standard and random orbital is recessed to prevent accidental bumping and the motor is covered with a soft grip housing to protect the user.
This is the original version of National Detroit’s sander which has been copied successfully by many other manufacturers. Since the pad is always changing planes, you don’t have to worry about the abrasive clogging up while the motor produces up to 10,000 RPM. One really nice thing about this sander is the larger orbital action which is much larger than most at 3/8 of an inch. This allows faster material removal, less scratch tendency, lower heat buildup, and longer pad life due to less loading. It comes vacuum ready, so you can hook it up to your shop vac or dust collection system.
The 311A from Ingersoll Rand features a built in muffler for quiet operation and could make a real difference in your work experience. It weighs just four pounds, one of the lightest around and makes a big difference for operator fatigue. This sander runs at 10,000 RPM and the air consumption is 4CFM and 17CFM under load. It has an adjustable built in regulator for speed control.
The Chicago Pneumatic CP870 is a manual set dual action sander running at 10,000 RPM, consuming 5 CFM and produces .5 horsepower. It has a regulator to match the speed to the job and there is also a lock off feature in the handle to prevent accidental starts, adding to tool safety. At a total weight of 4 pounds, it matches the Ingersoll Rand for lightweight use.
Campbell Hausfeld has been a favorite for dual-action sanders on woodworking boards, likely because of a combination of high quality and reasonable prices. They produce a wide range of air powered sanders, many of which are for industrial uses but this is more of a general-purpose homeowner model. This sander works well for wood, fiberglass and auto body fillers, making it a good investment for a lot of different projects. An onboard air regulator controls the speed for fine work and the patented ergonomic design is supposed to be one of the most comfortable ones around. It’s designed to work off of 13 SCFM at 90 PSI, producing 10,000 RPM.
I’ll have to admit it; I’m a sucker for innovation. This Rockwell sander is a very unique design, specifically created to reduce vibration, thereby reducing fatigue. The pad is two-part, consisting of an outer ring around a central round pad. The two counter-rotate, directing the vibration into the workpiece, where it helps with the cutting action rather than into your arm, where it only helps make you tired. You can actually sand faster with this sander, than a conventional random orbital. The only problem is that you have to use their special sanding disks.
This model replaces the RK4245K, making it the second generation of this technology. While I can’t say why Rockwell revised the design, I’d have to say that they learned from the first one and wanted to improve upon the design. I definitely approve.
They’ve given this one a pad brake, which helps to eliminate any swirl marks and gouging when stopping, the most critical time. They’ve also installed a really effective dust collection system, which uses a cyclone air action to extract the dust into a plastic canister, rather than a cloth bag to filter it. The base is cast aluminum, to help guarantee flatness.
This is probably the most versatile dual-action sander I’ve ever seen. It’s actually a three-mode sander, with a standard random orbital mode. an aggressive sanding mode for material removal, and a polishing mode for use on finishes. It also comes with two different shoes including the typical round shoe as well as a pointed shoe much like a mouse sander.
A removable edge protector prevents damaging adjacent surfaces while working. All of the options install tool-free for a quicker and easier work experience. Like all of Festool’s line, this tool is designed with integral dust extraction for a cleaner work area and to prevent dust from damaging your finish.
For people who are expecting to get a little more out of their random orbital sander, Bosch provides this dual-mode unit. The 6.5 amp motor has more power than you’d normally expect to get out of an orbital sander and the dual-mode allows you to select whether you want fast material removal or a fine finish. A soft start feature makes it easier to deal with all that power, preventing the sander from jumping out of your hands when you start working.
This sander is variable speed to match the material you’re sanding and there’s circuitry imbedded in the unit ensuring speed remains constant, regardless of the load. An internal vacuum port allows connection to a dust collection system while a side-mounted handle will attach to either side for better control.
Milwaukee does it again, producing a tool that has more power than their competition. This sander has a 3.0 AMP motor, making it the most powerful random orbital sander out there. If you’ve ever leaned on a sander to get out a bad spot and had it bog down on you, you’ll appreciate the extra power.
Although the sander comes with a dust bag, it’s really designed to work with a dust collection system because the dust bag just doesn’t cut it. Just hook it up to a shop-vac with either a 1-1/4 inch or 2-1/4 inch hose with it and you’ll hardly see any dust. The electronic soft-start goes a long way towards eliminating start-up jerk which causes a lot of gouges as well as wear on the brushes and bearings. This sander is also variable speed, allowing you to adjust the sander from 7,000 to 12,000 oscillations per minute.
This sander from DeWalt is probably the most comfortable model there is to work with. While it really doesn’t look like it (especially since they didn’t give this sander any rubber coatings), the knobby plastic “handle” areas are comfortable and very easy to hold onto. In the power department, this tool is comparable with the Milwaukee, having a three amp motor. However, it seems Milwaukee always gets a little more juice out of their motors than anyone else does. This sander is variable speed, so that you can set it to match the work you’re doing.
If you’re looking for versatility, this sander from Black & Decker wins, hands down. They’ve really put a lot into this package, creating a sander that can be used for a wide variety of applications. The “SmartSelect Dial” automatically adjusts your sander for your application, changing speed and sanding style to be best for your substrate. The two amp motor runs up to 8.000 rpm, or orbits per minute (OPM). They’ve even included four interchangeable bases for all sanding needs, including a round replacement shoe for use as an orbital sander, such as in automotive finishing applications.
Base change-out is push button and accomplished without any tools. Their integral dust collection system is probably one of the best on the market. Like other mouse-type sanders, the sandpaper at the point of the sander tends to wear out faster than the rest of the pad. Black & Decker has dealt with this problem in the common manner, by making their sanding sheets with extra points which can be replaced, leaving the rest of the sheet intact.
Skil comes in with the newer version of their Octo mouse-style finishing sander. This sander comes with a very unique feature, a series of LEDs letting the user know if they’re putting too much pressure on the pad. I’ve known a lot of people that this could help, especially those that think they have to push the sander through the workpiece.
Skil’s sander runs at an amazing 12,000 OPM, 50 percent faster than the Black & Decker that I’ve got as the #1 pick. It also comes with 8 attachments that can be used in place of the tip part of the sanding shoe. That greatly helps in the versatility area, especially when sanding unusual shapes.
It’s hard to have a list of power tools, without including Milwaukee on it. More than anything, they’re the experts in high power tools. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about an electric screwdriver or a worm drive saw, theirs will put out more power than anyone else’s. Such is the case with this 1/4 sheet palm sander as well.
With a 3.0 amp motor, it’s a powerhouse which allows you to really bear down on the sander when you need to get some impurity out of a finish or some deep saw marks out of the edge of a board. The cast pad is nicely padded, reducing any risk of swirl marks, so you can have a smooth finish. The top of the sander is removable for easy brush replacement and other service tasks. Although it comes with a dust-collection bag, it works better when connected to a vacuum hose. Adapters are provided for both 1-1/4 inch and 2-1/4 inch hoses. The large paper clamps make changing sandpaper easy.
Makita’s sander provides 14,000 OPM for fast smooth finishes. The sander’s motor and operating mechanism sports ball-bearing construction for smoother operation, lower vibration and long life. A large clamping lever makes it easy to change paper and the sanding pad is backed by a cast aluminum shoe, with an efficient through-the-pad dust collection system. It will work with the included dust collection bag or a dust collection system. The switch is also rubber sealed for extra-long life.
There are two really great things about Hitachi’s entry in the palm sander competition. First of all, their overmolded handle is probably one of the most comfortable available. This is something that Hitachi really shines at and overall, their tools are extremely comfortable to work with. The second thing is the speed. This baby runs at an amazing 14,000 OPM, making it the fastest palm sander I’ve seen. The advantage of this great speed is it helps maintain an incredibly smooth finish, not giving opportunity for gouges caused by the same oversized sanding particle staying in the same path.
This is the first traditional styled palm sander I’ve put in this list. Overall, I think the mouse style sanders have it beat for versatility. However, if you’re after economy, a traditional square 1/4 sheet sander will beat a mouse any day. The one drawback to those mouse style sanders is paying for the special Velcro backed sanding sheets.
Although this is technically a multi-tool, I rate it the highest for both multi-tools and detail sanders. The main thing that this tool has going for it, when compared to others, is the clamping system, the only truly universal clamping system out there which is able to accept anyone’s accessories. It’s also extremely easy to use since the clamp is tool-free, with a top mounted over-center lever. This clamp provides over one ton of clamping force, so you never have to worry about your sanding pads or other accessories coming loose. This upgraded version of the tool has a 3 amp motor to provide plenty of power. It comes with a number of accessory blades, plus a sanding backing pad and several sanding sheets/pads.
I had to get Fein on this list, as they are the ones who invented the detail sander/multi-tool and their quality is excellent even though they are a bit pricey. However, as with any other tool, you get what you pay for. This upgraded tool has a 350 watt motor, making it more powerful than the older 250 watt version. Although this is called a detail sander, it comes with a wide assortment of accessories for cutting, scraping, and sanding. Like the Rockwell, this has a top mounted tool clamp. The clamping system is tool-free as well, although not as universal as Rockwell’s system. Overall this is an excellent tool.
Like all of Festool’s lineup, this sander is designed to connect directly to a dust-collection system. That’s something Festool believes in strongly and it shows in their tool design. They also believe in quality and this tool speaks quality all the way around. It has a 2.5 mm orbital stroke, which is considerably bigger than many others. This means that there will be less swirl pattern in the finish and the tool will work faster for you.
This is an air driven detail sander, so you’ll have to use it with a compressor. While that might be a bit inconvenient for some people, one nice thing it does is to make a smaller barrel diameter and a lighter tool. That’s great for people with small hands, such as women. The head is angled from the handle, giving more clearance for your hands. It is only designed to be used as a sander, not a multi-tool. In fact, I don’t think multi-tool accessories will fit on this one.
If the other sanders are detail sanders, than I’d have to call this one a fine detail sander. This tool is designed to run off of 12 VDC, from a 1.0 A or larger Micromot transformer so don’t think you can just buy it and plug it in. Check their website to make sure you’ve got everything on hand you’ll need.
The truly great thing about this is that it’s a pencil sander with eight different pads. That’s four straight ones and four angled ones, in a variety of shapes. These can get into places that the other detail sanders I’ve mentioned can’t even think of thus allowing this sander to be used for shaping, finishing carvings, and may other truly detailed jobs with irregular surfaces.
Festool has long been known for their top quality tools. One of the company’s focuses with their power tool line is to have everything designed to be compatible with their dust collection systems, to create an integrated system. This sander, like all the rest of their tools, is designed to be connected directly to their dust collector. It can also be used with the included Turbo dust bag.
Sanding sheets adhere with a hook and loop system, or integral clamps. The 3/32 inch stroke provides for fast action and consistent results, even on lightly veneered surfaces. A variable speed control allows you to match the tool’s speed to the work you’re doing. While these units are expensive, for those that can afford them, they’re worth it.
Bosch OS50VC 120-Volt 3.4-Amp Variable Speed 2-Sheet Orbital Finishing Sander with Vibration Control
Bosch’s 1/2 sheet sander stands out from the crowd for its excellent dust collection system. It really doesn’t couple easily with a dust collection system, but that’s okay, as the integral through the pad system works extremely well. The dust canister is hard, with an integrated paper filter for optimum dust filtering down to 1/2 micron. Not small enough to be considered HEPA, but pretty darn close.
Bosch has added a variable speed control to the powerful 3.4 amp motor on this one, an improvement over their last model. Set the speed, pull the trigger and there’s even a trigger lock to hold it on. Bosch has also put a lot into vibration control, making this tool much more comfortable to work with. Their SheetLoc sandpaper holder works extremely well and you can flush sand up against a vertical edge on three sides. The extra thick closed cell foam pad conforms to the work surface extremely well.
Makita actually produces more than one sander in this category; however, I feel this model is their best. It has variable speed from 4,000 to 10,000 OPM to match the work being performed. The pad and clamp are designed to accept both hook and loop sanding sheets and half sheets of standard sandpaper, giving more options to the woodworker. Although it will easily connect to a dust collection system, it has an internal dust collection system, which uses disposable paper bags. The bag itself forms the filter, and can be taken off to be disposed; much faster and better filtration than cleaning out a cloth bag.
I don’t normally like putting two tools from the same manufacturer on the same list, even if they are as good as Festool. Nevertheless, I decided to include this sander from Festool because it’s so unique. While this has a rectangular shape, like the other sanders we’ve looked at, it’s only got a 3-5/32 inch x 5-1/4 inch pad. That doesn’t make it a quarter sheet sander or any other typical category of sander and this model has been designed for use in situations where a narrower finish sander is needed, without going to a detail sander. The drive is the same as its larger cousin, just in a smaller package. Sanding sheets are attached via hook and loop.
For those that can’t afford to put a lot of money into their sander, Craftsman puts out a nice 1/3 sheet sander. The 2.5 amp motor runs at 11,000 OPM, making this a very fast sander to work with. An onboard dust collection system includes a micro-fine dust box for a cleaner work environment. The grip is designed to reduce vibration and rubber over-molded for comfort. Onboard LED work light illuminates your work surface, something you don’t normally find on these sanders.