Random orbital sanders provide a solid degree of versatility for sanding needs. With a disk and head that offers variable rotation, these sanders can be well suited for rough work, like a belt sander, but they can also be used for finishing—depending on the variance of oscillation speed.
Hand-held, the random orbital sander provides a freedom of use that some of the other types of sanders lack, though they generally tend to be bit on the lighter side which may require an extra level of “elbow grease” for rough sanding. Moreover, depending on the grip and the design, these sanders can cause hand cramps after extended use.
While the sanding disk may not always feel quite as secure compared to other types of sanders, the random orbital sander still generally grips well enough with either adhesives or a hook-and-loop system, and is often one of the easier sanders to change the sanding surface for.
These sanders function similarly regardless the direction of wood grain and generally do not leave swirl marks. Quite often random orbital sanders will include a dust vacuum, though the effectiveness varies widely from maker and model.
The Makita Orbit Sander is powered by a 3.0 amp motor that offers variable speed control between 4000 to 12000 oscillations per minute. This allows the orbital sander to be used in a variety of applications whether you need to really grind down or just put those finishing touches on your project.
The front handle adjusts allowing you to fit the sander into those hard to reach places so you do not have to go back afterwards and sand it by hand. My time is limited and valuable, and there is little more annoying than having to use two tools for one job when the right tool will do.
The ergonomic palm grip is made from rubber to provide you the most control without sacrificing comfort, which comes in handy for those big jobs that have you sanding for an hour or more. I do not know about you, but I cannot afford to take a break every 30 minutes to an hour just to rub a cramp out of my palm. Whether your job requires you to sand for minutes or hours, your fingers will never get tired, because the large two-finger trigger twitch can also be locked on so you do not have to hold it down the entire time you are sanding.
The dust from sanding is not a problem as the Makita’s efficient through-the-pad dust collection system ensures that your site will need less follow-up cleaning when you are done. The vacuum port prevents dust from escaping outside of the pad and conveniently stores all of the dust until you are done with the job while providing an easy release to simply empty the vacuum bag when you are done.
There is no need to worry about gouging though, because the brake pad is engineered to provide a level, smooth sanding operation all the way through. And do not worry about the Makita leaving swirl patterns when you are done, because the large 1/8” orbital action leaves a smooth finish in no time at all. Still, even tough jobs are no trouble because the Makita uses hook-and-loop abrasive paper with a quick-change 5” 8-hole clasp.
You will not have to worry about durability issues, since the oversized, sealed-ball bearing construction ensures that your sander will be able to take the punishment and workload your biggest jobs demand. But this durability does not end with the sander’s body. The cord is also double insulated, so there is less risk of tearing or shorting leaving a steady stream of power for those long-haul days spent sanding for hours.
If you cannot already tell, this is my favorite of the three.
The DEWALT does not have quite as much versatility for job use as the Makita, but that does not prevent it from being an especially capable random orbital sander. It has the same 3.0 amp pushing the motor that the Makita does, but its oscillations per minute are not quite as variable. Still, this sucker can grind with the best of them sporting variable speeds from 7000-12000 oscillations per minute.
This means that for your deep sanding needs, the DEWALT has you covered, but it cannot be used as a finishing sander as well as the Makita. Also, the DEWALT does not use a trigger which is not a big deal, but is less convenient or easily controlled as the Makita. This minor difference in control is also felt in the grip which, while anti-slip, does not grip quite as well and does not feel as comfortable to hold for long periods of time.
However, the switch is dust-sealed, so you do not have to worry about any dust getting in there and gunking it up. This can occasionally be a problem for Makitas if you do not clean them regularly or have to use it for hours on end. However, the DEWALT is about 10 percent heavier which can be a blessing or a curse depending on what you are using it for.
The added weight means you have to lean on it less, but it also makes it even worse for finishing. You will not be disappointed with the DEWALT, but is more of a pre-mid game sander while the Makita and can be used at most steps along the way.
The Bosch is kind of the straggler of the group, though this by no means is meant to suggest it is poor along the line of Black & Decker. But, in the areas where the DEWALT comes up short against the Makita, the Bosch lags behind both of the others.
Much like the DEWALT, the Bosch has a variable speed range of 7000-12000 oscillations per minute, so finishing sanding is a no go unless you trust yourself completely. This distinction is especially relevant for the Bosch, because it is more than twice the weight of the DEWALT or the Makita at a hefty 7.7 pounds.
The good news is that for long-run use, this added weight makes it easier to keep using the Bosch without getting a hand cramp. You definitely do not need to lean on it quite as hard. This makes the Bosch great for prep or rough sanding where you might be sanding for longer periods of time and precision is less of an issue.
The weight also comes in handy ensuring that the pad does not slip out, but that is less of a concern because the 35000 long-life hooks do an excellent job keeping the pad in place as well. The canister design for dust works pretty well, but it is a bit smaller and made of plastic.
This means that even though it works better for your hands for long, hard sanding sessions, you may have to empty it more often. Moreover, the hard plastic design of the canister can sometimes get annoying, where the soft vacuum bags of the DEWALT and Makita have a bit more give.