Orbital sanders are a mainstay in the woodworker’s workshop for a reason. They perform a basic function in practically all woodworking endeavors. People have been smoothing wood and lumber for thousands of years. Some historians surmise that the Hittites may have installed some of the first hardwood floors inside caves in the hills around the Black Sea.
The main purpose of the modern orbital sander is to remove material, smooth rough surfaces, and prepare them for further finishing. Woodcrafters and carpenters will sometimes use them to remove tool marks while smoothing out the shape of a workpiece, too.
That is among the reasons why, of all the power tools on the market, there are probably more models of orbital sanders than any other tool. DIYers who are into woodworking use them for carpentry, but they can also be useful in other applications such as automotive refinishing or metalworking.
- 1 The 5 Best Orbital Sanders on the Market
- 2 1. Makita BO5041K 5-inch Orbital Sander: Grace and True Grit
- 2.1 Good Sanding Speeds and Build Quality
- 2.2 Convenient Controls, Excellent Value
- 2.3 2. DeWalt DCW210 5-inch Random Orbital Sander: Another Classic from a Maker of Classics
- 2.4 A Velvety Smooth Finish for a Variety of Materials
- 2.5 All You’ll Need in a Cordless Sander
- 2.6 3. Makita XOB01Z Cordless 5″ Random Orbital Sander: Smooth, Cordless Convenience
- 2.7 Novel Switch Design, Excellent Basics
- 2.8 Great Value for Your Money!
- 2.9 4. Milwaukee M18 Random Orbital Sander: Finesse Without the Fuss
- 2.10 Great Dust Collection System
- 2.11 Convenient Controls for a Good Product
- 2.12 5. Bosch ROS20VSC Random Orbital Sander: Sturdy and Reliable
- 2.13 Easy Sanding, Good Ergonomic Design
- 2.14 Good Price Point, Reliable Sander
- 2.15 Choosing the Right Orbital Sander for Your Workshop
The 5 Best Orbital Sanders on the Market
Manufacturers have developed a wide variety of orbital sanders through the years. Each model is an attempt to outperform the competition. While there may be some overlap between different features, there is enough difference between brands and models to confuse anyone looking to buy just one orbital sander.
Of course, we’re always here to help. To narrow your options to only the best your money can buy, we tested a dozen or so from the most reputable manufacturers around today. Below are our picks for the best 5 orbital sanders of 2023.
1. Makita BO5041K 5-inch Orbital Sander: Grace and True Grit
Makita has built a reputation for producing durable power tools. The quality of the Makita BO5041K 5-inch Orbital Sander reinforces the company’s stature. This Makita power tool is equipped with a 120-V, 3.0-amp motor and comes with a set of abrasive discs of varying grit, a dust bag, and a carrying case.
The case comes in handy when storing and transporting the orbital sander and its accessories. The unit is relatively compact at 7.5 x 16.3 x 10.3 (L x W x H) inches, which means you can probably fit a few small tools into the case with the unit.
While our test unit did not have a dust extraction hose to connect to a vacuum, some retailers will include one as part of a bundle or promotion. Otherwise, you will have to buy an extraction hose if you need it.
Good Sanding Speeds and Build Quality
We used the BO5041K orbital sander on a deck refinishing job and were happy with the results. The tool performed better than we expected. You can rotate the handle on the Makita BO5041K out of the way when the task requires it. We used the feature a few times during our testing.
The variable speed control dial allows you to match the sanding speed to the material and has a range from 4,000 to 12,000 oscillations per minute (OPM). You can regulate the pad speed with a pad control and braking system on startup and shutdown.
The sealed switch and ball-bearing construction contribute to the tool’s reliability by protecting it against dust and debris. We found this helpful because there was quite a bit of debris on our test deck, to begin with. The results were excellent.
We noted, though, how the dust collection system on this particular model from Makita does not work as well as those on other orbital sanders we’ve used. Now, the BO5041K is a powerful tool capable of removing a lot of material. It produces a good deal of dust in the process.
We did not expect the dust collection system to suck up all the debris the sander produced, but we certainly expected it to at least do a better job at it. We had to do a significant amount of cleanup after we were done.
We also tested the sander on walnut planks that are eventually going to replace the cabinet doors in our test home’s kitchen. For this, we tried 5-inch 3M sanding discs, which worked great with the BO5041K, too. The discs adhered tightly to the pad, and we sanded several of the planks before we had to change the discs.
Convenient Controls, Excellent Value
The tool responds well to the two-finger trigger switch, which has a convenient lock-on button for continuous use. The large 1/8″ random orbit action delivers fast and smooth sanding and a swirl-free finish.
The result of the BO5041K’s combined features and power was a consistently smooth and even deck, ready for the sealer, and equally smooth walnut planks ready for our kitchen cabinets. We were so pleased with the BO5041K orbital sander that we knew at once it would rank high on our list. It was the first sander we tested for this list. It is also our first pick.
We say it is the best you can get for work on cabinetry, furniture, decks, and other general carpentry. We would recommend it to carpenters, cabinet makers, furniture makers, DIYers, and general contractors who are willing to pay for first-rate performance in an orbital sander.
While BO5041K’s does have a few minor areas for improvement, such as the less than impressive dust collection system and the undersized dust collection bag, we think the BO5041K is the best orbital sander on the market right now.
Considering the performance and overall functionality offered by the BO5041K, we think it represents good value for both professional woodworkers and avid hobbyists. Its premium build quality, thoughtful design, and exceptional performance make it a worthwhile investment.
2. DeWalt DCW210 5-inch Random Orbital Sander: Another Classic from a Maker of Classics
The DeWalt DCW210 5-inch Random Orbital Sander has earned the attention of professionals and woodworking enthusiasts alike. That said, no one in our test team had ever tested this particular model from DeWalt prior to the arrival of OBN’s test unit a few weeks ago.
The cordless DeWalt 5-inch Random Orbit Sander is a little heftier than the Makita BO5041K at 10.25 x 1 x 5.5 inches. As expected, the unit comes in the instantly recognizable yellow and black that is Dewalt’s signature motif.
Inside the box, we found a 20V max sander, a DCB112 charger, a DCB203 lithium-ion battery, a contractor bag, and a dust bag.
We first put the DCW210 to the test by using it on a few used pine boards we had stacked in a corner of our workshop. We were pleasantly surprised by the results.
A Velvety Smooth Finish for a Variety of Materials
After just a few minutes of sanding the first board, we had transformed a piece of lumber that was on its way to the junk pile into a velvety smooth board fit to join the shelves in the living room. The finish was so beautiful we decided it didn’t need a coat of paint. A layer of varnish sufficed.
The Dewalt DCW210 performed so well on the first board we decided to sand the entire stack. This cordless sander brought out the character of each board with consistent efficiency. Within a few minutes, we had finished sanding all the boards to a uniform soft, remarkable smoothness.
We used the orbital sander on hickory, beech, and ash, all with equally excellent results. The sander features a rubberized grip that offers a secure and comfortable hold, minimizing fatigue during extended sanding sessions.
All the controls you will need – the speed dial and the power switch – are conveniently situated within reach of the trigger.
The single 5Ah battery on the DeWalt DCW210 will run for about an hour on light sanding tasks. If you had two batteries, you could use the power tool for as long as you want. You simply charge one battery while another powered the tool.
Heavier tasks will, of course, drain the battery much faster. We stripped the paint off a rather large and old maple cabinet and the DCW210 battery sputtered out after thirty minutes. We weren’t put off by this at all. We had expected a little drop in the life of the battery, given the tougher task. But prospective buyers should note the need for extra batteries for heavy sanding tasks.
All You’ll Need in a Cordless Sander
We liked the DCW210. In our opinion, this orbital sander is all you’ll need in your workshop, whether you’re a professional or an avid DIY enthusiast. The variable speed control permits flexibility and enables precise control over the sanding process, preventing over-sanding or damaging delicate surfaces.
The speed range of 8,000 to 12,000 OPM provides you the versatility to sand a wide variety of materials and finishes with fantastic results. While slightly bigger than the Makita BO5041K, the DCW210 is compact and lightweight enough to allow easy maneuverability even in tight spaces.
The dust collection bag could be bigger, sure, but it is fine as it is for smaller jobs; and it won’t cost you too much to purchase an extraction hose and a bigger bag, anyway.
All in all, we think the DeWalt DCW210 5-inch Random Orbit Sander would be an excellent choice for professionals and woodworking enthusiasts alike. Its powerful motor and variable speed control make sanding tasks easy and hassle-free.
It is a bit pricier than other models, but the product’s overall build quality and performance offer good value for money. Whether you’re working on large woodworking projects or small-scale refinishing tasks, this sander would be a worthwhile investment that will deliver exceptional results.
3. Makita XOB01Z Cordless 5″ Random Orbital Sander: Smooth, Cordless Convenience
Third on our list is another product from Makita. The Makita XOB01Z Cordless 5″ Random Orbital Sander looks a bit like its slightly larger and more expensive cousin, the Makita BO5041K. This tool is about 5.16 x 8.07 x 6.89 inches and fits snugly in our hands while testing.
This sander has a good, solid feel to it at just a little under 3 pounds without a battery. (Of course, it gains considerable bulk and weight once a battery is attached.) But the rubberized grip provides excellent control, allowing for precise sanding in various positions. Our smaller staffers found the grip a touch unwieldy, but we guess these things are relative.
The Makita BO5041K comes with a dust bag, a 5″ round abrasive disc, a hook and loop system, and 120-grit sanding disks. Our unit did not come with a battery or a charger. We had to get those separately.
We tested the sander on a flat piece of lumber we are going to use for a small worktable. We were done before the battery ran out. Granted, we had already completed some initial sanding on the piece with a different machine, but we were still impressed by how quickly we achieved a smooth, soft, almost glassy finish with the XOB01Z.
We then snapped on the extra battery we ordered with our test unit and went on to testing. We used the sander to scruff the paint and sheen off an old chair, then to smoothen the finish of a pine trunk that will go into our office lounge.
In both instances, the XOB0IZ performed quite well, leaving a finish that was just too good to conceal with a layer of paint. We loved it.
Novel Switch Design, Excellent Basics
The three-speed switch on this Makita sander is something novel to us. You get 7,000, 9,500, and 11,000 OPM. Some of the newer corded models have dials to control the speed. As one reviewer has noted, for this Makita orbital sander, the speed control seems more like a battery-saving feature.
That is not to say that it does not function properly. It does. For our last test, we used the 7000 OPM speed to refinish a finely detailed bureau. The results were great, although we did opt to sand the finer details by hand, as we would have regardless of any power sanders we may have had around.
We nonetheless used the orbital sander to strip the original finish on the piece without so much as a single swirl or blemish on the lumber.
One of the things that struck us was how quieter this unit operated than corded orbital sanders. We love where they put the battery, too. It is just behind the handle. You can access it from the front or the top.
Great Value for Your Money!
The power switch on the XOB01Z is right beside the speed switch. Both are readily accessible. The pad brake on this tool works well. The orbital pad stops spinning a few seconds after you switch the tool off.
Makita’s claim is that you can run the XOB01Z orbital sander for 40 minutes in low-speed mode. The unit was delivered as promised, in our tests. But then some might not need to work on fine furniture as much as the run-of-the-mill sanding tasks in the average DIY workshop.
At any rate, the battery will fully charge in just 30 minutes. With the two 3.0 Ah batteries in your kit, you could get nearly continuous run-time if needed.
The bottom line? We think the Makita XOB01Z Cordless 5″ Random Orbital Sander is a well-designed and dependable tool that offers excellent performance for the money.
Its ergonomic design, good build quality, and reliable performance make it a smart investment for professionals and enthusiasts seeking a portable and efficient orbital sander for their sanding needs.
4. Milwaukee M18 Random Orbital Sander: Finesse Without the Fuss
The Milwaukee M18 Random Orbital Sander is a highly anticipated addition to Milwaukee’s renowned M18 line of power tools. Right out of the box, we were impressed by this model’s robust and well-constructed design, which we thought fittingly reflected the brand’s commitment to durability and reliability.
For our testing, we had the tool-only kit, the Milwaukee 2648-20 version of the M18. The package included a universal hose adapter, an extension adapter, a dust canister, and two disks of 80-grit sandpaper.
Milwaukee’s M18 line of tools typically allows for the cross-compatibility of batteries and chargers. If you already own other Milwaukee M18 tools, you may be able to share batteries and chargers, which can be cost-effective and convenient.
Great Dust Collection System
We found the robust but compact feel of the M18 orbital sander quite appealing. The unit is a solid 6 x 11 x 7 inches, and it has the look and girth of a professional quality tool.
The dust collection system is sturdy and fits snugly together. The sanding disks stay firmly attached once you mount them. To provide maximum versatility, the electronic speed dial will give from 7,000 to 12,000 OPM.
We first tested the M18 orbital sander to finish a drywall installation, using it to smooth joint compounds, reduce unevenness where needed, and create an even surface overall. This power tool performed satisfactorily throughout, although we did have to swap batteries three times to complete a rather lengthy task.
We then used it to smooth out cedar boards for an indoor flower box and a few oak planks for a cabinet door. The M18 comported itself well on both tasks, and we did all the pieces for the flower box without having to swap batteries.
The Milwaukee M18 Random Orbital Sander takes standard eight-hole sanding pads. It collects dust through eight larger holes, sucking the fine dust up and into the canister. The M18 probably has the best dust collection system of all the sanders we tested for this list. A paper filter helps to contain the dust in the canister.
Convenient Controls for a Good Product
The controls on this tool are laid out to accommodate easy use. You turn it on and off with a push-through switch. The switch is positioned so that you won’t accidentally turn it off. The variable-speed control dial is easy to adjust even while the sander is in use.
The 3.0 Ah battery we used for this M18 orbital sander gave us around 30 minutes of juice. Now that could be a problem for those who work on projects over extended periods. But you can always get an extra battery and use it while you charge the other.
But if you won’t mind the added weight, we recommend you get a 9.0 Ah High Demand battery for this unit. That should give you ample juice to work on heavier tasks at length.
We included the Milwaukee M18 Random Orbital Sander on our list of the best because we think it is among the best sanders out on the market. This sander beats the sander we have in our workshop hands down in terms of speed and the amount of material it removes.
We liked the efficiency and finesse of this power tool. The sander is smooth, fast, and rugged, and it does a good job. We also happen to like not having to fuss with an extension cord.
So, we say if you are shopping for an orbital sander for your carpentry and DIY projects, you would do yourself a favor by considering the Milwaukee M18.
5. Bosch ROS20VSC Random Orbital Sander: Sturdy and Reliable
The Bosch ROS20VSC Random Orbital Sander is a power tool designed for small to medium-sized sanding and finishing jobs. The ROS20VSC is equipped with a 2.5-amp motor, which we think should provide sufficient power for most DIY wood crafting tasks.
While we wouldn’t recommend this tool for sanding down the hardwood floor of a spacious home, we think this orbital sander would be perfect for most DIY projects that require paint stripping and woodworking.
Out of the box, the sander comes with a sanding pad, a sanding disc, a dampening ring, a dust canister, a vacuum adapter, and a nice soft carrying bag. You can opt to get a kit with a hard carrying case, but that would cost you a tad more. We bought a few extra packs of Bosch sanding discs for our testing, instead.
Setting up this orbital sander is easy. You simply align the eight holes that run in an inner ring of the pad to the corresponding holes in the sanding disc and press firmly. That is done, all you need to do next is to plug the sander into a 120-volt outlet.
Easy Sanding, Good Ergonomic Design
We put this Bosch orbital sander to the test by cleaning up three rough cedar planks for a bookshelf. The sander made quick work of the rough surface of the raw lumber. We were impressed by how easy the task was for the comparatively smaller motor on this tool, which provides a variable speed control that allows you to use 7,500 to 12,000 OPM.
We did not have to apply too much pressure to smooth the planks. For the most part, we just gently pushed the orbital sander along the grain of the wood. It did the work almost all by itself.
We then put the ROS20VSC to work on the surface of a study desk for the kids. The results were equally remarkable. After a pass with an 80-grit sand disc, we repeated the process with 60- and then 120-grain pads.
Now, we did notice that this orbital sander starts to heat up after about 45 minutes of continuous use. We had to stop at one point to give the device a few minutes to cool and rest. We did not mind the pause, but that is something a prospective buyer should consider.
This sander features an ergonomic design. The soft-grip top and body allow for comfortable and precise control during operation. You can hold the sander from the top, around the base, or from the front of the device.
The palm grips provide ease of handling and reduce user fatigue, making it suitable for extended periods of sanding. It’s light and small enough at 3.5 lbs and 9 x 5 x 6 inches for sanding work on overhead surfaces.
Good Price Point, Reliable Sander
In all, we think the Bosch ROS20VSC orbital sander is a good product. We liked its dust control system, which we thought was almost at par with Milwaukee’s M18 Random Orbital Sander.
We wish we could tell you that we did not encounter minor inconveniences with the motor heating up and the rather short power cord on the device. Those are things you should consider, though.
We favored the hook-and-loop attachment system for changing the sandpaper discs. The process was a breeze when compared to others. The pad dampening on the ROS20VSC is among the best of the tools in this list, helping you to prevent swirl marks on the workpiece.
Some so-called premium orbital sanders with comparable 2.5- to 3-amp motors can cost up to $100 for the same performance. Right now, the Bosch ROS20VSC sells at under $60 online. We think that is a fair price for a reliable, sturdy, good-quality tool that should fit the needs of most DIYers and woodworking enthusiasts.
Choosing the Right Orbital Sander for Your Workshop
The right orbital sander can make all the difference between an exceptional finish and total disappointment in a woodworking project. Before choosing one, it is important that you determine the purpose and intended applications for your orbital sander.
Consider your power and speed requirements based on the scale and intensity of your projects. Higher-powered sanders with adjustable speed settings offer versatility, allowing you to customize the sanding speed to different materials and applications. For heavy-duty tasks, opt for a sander with a robust motor to ensure consistent performance.
Meanwhile, corded orbital sanders provide a consistent and uninterrupted power supply as long as they are connected to a power source. On the other hand, cordless orbital sanders allow you the freedom to move around without being tethered to a power outlet. This increased mobility allows for greater flexibility and ease of use.
Ergonomics play a pivotal role in comfort and control during prolonged sanding sessions. Consider the weight, grip, and balance of the sander. A lightweight and well-balanced sander will minimize fatigue during use and permit you to work more effectively.
Investing in a high-quality orbital sander that suits your means investing in longevity, utility, and reliability. Examine the build quality of the model of your choice. Consider the materials the manufacturers used and the reputation of the manufacturer.
Reading customer reviews and seeking recommendations from experienced woodworkers can provide valuable insights into the durability and performance of various models will also help.
The list above should help get you started.