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Random Orbit Sander Speed

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  • Random Orbit Sander Speed

    I was wondering about the utility of any variable speed random orbit sander.

    Let's speak generically please.

    Say your sander has a variable speed control 1-6 or slow to maximum speed say 12000rpm

    Most of the well known sanders that are variable run 2-4amps and a maximum of 12000rpm
    and a low end of about 7000rpm

    when do you use a slower speed?

    When does the sander remove maximum material? slower or faster?

    Cactus Man

  • #2
    Re: Random Orbit Sander Speed

    The grit of the sandpaper has more to do with the speed of material removal than RPM's in most cases. One would probably have more control of the material removal in very soft woods with a VS sander but in most cases I can't see spending the extra money for a sander with VS versus one without. I've never owned one and quite frankly I've never run into a situation where I thought a VS option would be nice to have.
    I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.


    • #3
      Re: Random Orbit Sander Speed

      I have two VS ROS's (Ryobi and Ridgid) and frankly I can't say that I use whatever speed appropriately. Most of the time I just have them set at about 80% of maximum. As BadgerDave said, I think the grit of the paper probably matters more.

      However, I do recall using a wood filler product on some old built-in furniture that had to be repainted. At the time, I got some glazing from trying to sand that off and ended up reducing the speed of my Ryobi to the minimum setting, and it seemed to sand better... but then again, it may well have been that I was putting too much pressure on the thing too. It was one of the first applications I used my (new at the time) ROS and I could very well have been applying too much pressure and that could have caused the heat and therefore the glazing.

      Reading test reports in past magazine articles (Wood Magazine IIRC) the ROS is most efficient if you just let the weight of the sander do the job, as applying more pressure appears to reduce the efficiency and cause more wear on the sander. Unfortunately, it is something that I have to continually remind myself of.

      Sorry this isn't more definitive, but I'm not sure if any speed setting is better than another.



      • #4
        Re: Random Orbit Sander Speed

        Thanks guys,
        I slowed my sander down slightly and I'm seeing much better results.
        At maximum speed I suspect the sandpaper gets too hot! and thus reduces the sanding ability.

        I'm doing some rough sanding right now with 60 grit and the slower speed seems to provide a better result.
        I'm not working with quality material here..I'm sanding construction grade lumber for a farm house table project

        As a side would really be nice if the box stores and even local lumber yards would get better quality boards!
        Even for structural work I'd hesitate using some of their lumber as it has so many cracks, twists and cupping!

        Also take a tape measure with you as even the boards from the same lot can vary over 1/4" in width!

        But then here in the desert we have cactus not trees ha ha ha

        Cactus Man


        • #5
          Re: Random Orbit Sander Speed


          Lumber is terrible any more, especially from the big box stores. For just about all of my recent house projects I buy 1 x 10 x 8 ft #2 "Common" stock and then cut it down to size or edge join it for wider needs. Unforntutely the premium local yard doesn't let me pick out my own and I've had some problems with what they've sent me... which they will replace without much hassle, but I still hate going through that circus.

          Our local Lowe's is horrible with it's plank stock, hardly deserving of firewood, much less anything that I can work with. Home Depot stock is much better but even then it's certainly NOT #2, or at least what used to be #2 back in the 60's. Boards are mostly cupped, too often split and most often edge damaged. I've had to go through as much as three pallet loads to find a dozen-plus decent boards.

          I decided at the beginning of my "library project" that I simply couldn't affor oak or maple and the added weight was also of concern. So, I've used nothing but pine there and have painted everything. While that irks me to great extent (if would have been beautiful if I could have done it in oak), I keep telling myself that it's for holding the books and it doesn't have to be "furniture".

          "2 x" stock has been absolutely deplorable from Home Depot every since it first opened here. I ***** at the guys (like it's their fault, but admittedly it isn't) that you'd think their suppliers would at least let the trees reach their teens before hacking them down. Where else can you get a 2 x 4 with a dozen knots for every linear foot, except from some pathetic tree that was less than a foot in diameter when cut?

          Last year, I wanted to make a small table and wanted to find some clear 2 x 4 stock which I could rip to make the legs. I couldn't find any and ended up taking apart some old clothes racks which I had made back in the late 70's. That stock was simply cheap spruce "studs", but it was almost completely clear. You don't find stock like that anymore, or at least it is very rare and probably imported from Sweden or somewhere. Now I guess they just call it "white wood"... as I guess it's no longer necessary to pin the classification down further.

          Here in NY's southern tier, there are forests for as far as the eye can see, mostly hardwoods like maple, beech, ash, etc.; but still, there are fairly large stands of pine and spruce to be found too. I keep telling myself that I ought to get a chainsaw and a portable guide or something. I have a few relatives and friends who own lots of acreage and I could undoubtedly just go out and harvest a lot of my own stock, just from fallen trees. But my wife brings me back to the reality that I'm now 67 and I'm not too suited for hauling such things out of the backwoods.