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  • Random Orbital vs standard orbital sanders

    Can anyone tell me if there is an advantage to owning a variable speed random orbital sander over just a standard orbital sander? And I guess while I'm asking... 5" over 6". And what those advantages might be? Thank you very much! Marty

  • #2
    Re: Random Orbital vs standard orbital sanders

    Welcome to the forum Marty, if nobody's said that already. I miss Milwaukee. Got some neat pix a few years ago of the MFD's repair facility down on the south side. Anyway, ROS -- fixed speed is what I have. I don't think I've ever really wished I had variable speed while using it. Variable speed will give you a bit more control, help with getting into smaller areas a bit, like a corner. Five in. vs. 6 in. is basically one of heft and power. The 6 in. is a bit more powerful and probably a little larger motor to motivate it. The 5 in. will again get you into a smaller area like corners (at least closer to the corner). I have a 5 in. fixed speed. Have worked the he!! out of it (Makita) and wouldn't trade it for the world. Used it on wood and metal and plastic and fiberboard, melamine, etc. Also depends on how much you want to spend and how much is available to spend. Variable speed will be more costly, so will the larger ones. Lot of times, the 6-inch will have more of a "grinder" style grip rather than a palm grip. Hope that helps somewhat.
    Oh, bet you remember the Usinger fire downtown next to (was it) Photoart or Reimers? back in about Dec. of '75. Major fire, multiple alarms, smoke all over the downtown area. Wow, what a mess.
    Jim Don
    PS Enjoy your retirement, I know how hard MFD lads worked over the years and you deserve every leisure moment you get.


    • #3
      Re: Random Orbital vs standard orbital sanders

      The random orbital sander has pretty much relegated the finish sander to old technology status. The ROS makes quicker work of sanding as it will hog off more material in less time than finish sanders do and also leave less swirl marks behind. 5" or 6" will more than likely be a personal preference choice. Most will find a 5" will do just fine but if large area sanding jobs are the norm for you than the 6" would probably be the better choice.

      I own both types and my ROS's easily see 98%-99% of my hand sanding work. I do however prefer the finish sander for edge sanding.
      Teach your kids about 30 percent of their ice cream.


      • #4
        Re: Random Orbital vs standard orbital sanders

        Marty, welcome. There’s such a big advantage to the random orbital that I see no comparison. It’ll tale off a lot of material in a hurry. A few months back I picked up another one. As I’m a frequent visitor to the Woodcraft store in Pompano Beach Florida I asked about THEIR thoughts on the ROS’s and the dust they create. ROS’s do cut a lot. One of the guys gave me a demo of the Festool ETS125 random orbital sander. He connected a shop VAC (Festool) to it and proceeded to sand a board. He then told me to run my hand over the board. Naturally it was smooth. Then he said “look at your hand.” There was very little dust on my hand. I was impressed. I asked “how much is this little jewel.” After the paramedics revived me I walked out of the store. I ended up getting a BOSCH ros20VS (5”) at Lowes for much, much, much less than the Festool. I connected my RIDGID shop VAC to it, sanded a board, ran my hand over it and low & behold the result was the same as the Festool. The BOSCH also comes with a dust collection canister that works pretty darn well. Also, the variable speed will let you use it on delicate or narrow material. A definite advantage. After you get your sander consider picking up a product called the “Sander Sitter”. It works great. Check it out at “”


        • #5
          Re: Random Orbital vs standard orbital sanders

          I have too many random orbit sanders - Ryobi, Makita, Bosch, and 2 Ridgids (1-5" and 1-6") I agree with the recent review of random orbit sanders in one of the recent woodworking magazines and would rank them 1- Ridgid (far superior to any of the others in terms of both wood removal and stability, 2- the Ryobi believe it or not is more stable and smoother than either the Makita or Bosch, 3 - Makita - it wobbles more than the first two and removes less wood than the Ridgid and 4 - the Bosch which wobbles more than any of the others and removes less wood than the others. The Bosch does do a good job with dust control, but all of them have better dust control if you use the abranet sanding pads which I use for finish sanding after getting the wood sanded and fairly level with a lower grit regular sandpaper. I thought I was nuts until I saw the review which agreed with my observations. Go with the Ridgid RS2600 for $69.95.