Palm sander or random orbital?

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Hi all,
I need to buy a new sander, primarily for finishing. I was set to go get a palm sander, but a couple of friends are telling me I should get a random orbital instead. They claim that they can be just as good for finish work and better for coarser things. I question whether they are really as good for finish sanding, and I already have a straight disk sander for rough work.
I need to keep the cost reasonable, but I don't want to buy junk either. I'm looking at brands like Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee, etc. the money for brands like Festool isn't there. I think a 1/4 sheet palm sander or 5 inch random orbital sander, is what I'm looking at.
Does anybody have thoughts on this, and any recommendations in the price range I'm limited to?
Thanks, WayneJ
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This is just one mans opinion. I have found the ROS rather aggressive (even when using fine grit abrasive) when compared to an in line configuration. I suspect most wood workers find use for both. That's my free advise, guaranteed correct or your money back.
Joe G
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uses. I say that because a ROS can do a good job of sanding. But, in my opinion, a ROS, with rougher grit sandpaper, is a pretty effective wood removal tool. Even to the extent of being useful for shaping rounded or curved shapes. I have seen some guys do wood sculpting using a ROS with 40-60 grit sandpaper which does some pretty quick shaping.
For this reason, you have to be a little careful with a ROS to keep from digging in or unintentionally rounding an edge, even with smoother grits. If you are looking primarily for finish sanding, I would start with a palm sander. You probably cannot go wrong with most of the popular brands you have listed (except Festool, which is a good machine but out of reach for many). In my shop I have two of the Dewalt palm sanders for most finish work (I thought one of them was dying a few years ago; but rumors of its demise.......). I also have a couple of the Grizzly ROS which I paid around $20 to do the shaping and curving on projects like rocking horses, etc.
RonB
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SEE. I said what Grover said. I just blab more!!
RonB :^}
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On 1/3/2011 11:22 AM, WayneJ wrote:

I own a Bosch 5" ROS and it's been a good sander for the price.
I find an actual need for more than one sander for almost all projects. The Bosch ROS, and a 1/4 sheet sander (Porter Cable), have filled that bill for a number of years and beaucoup projects.
(Although having now switched to using Festool sanders (3), with the CT22E vac for virtually dust free sanding, none of the other sanders in the shop have had any use lately).
If you're budget every grows to consider one of the Festool sanders like the Rotex RO125 FEQ Dual Mode 5" Sander, it could well be the last sander you ever need to buy.
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WayneJ wrote:

I have both, prefer the palm which happens to be Dewalt. Actually, my favorite finishing sander for other than small things is a 1/2 sheet Porter Cable with a felt pad. Nothing beats it
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"WayneJ" wrote in message

(Amazon.com product link shortened)94079116&sr=8-1
I got one of these last year and was very pleased not only with its performance but the effectiveness of dust collection. With a shop-vac hose attached to the dust port almost no dust is left behind, I was surprised but happy how well that worked. I have a mouse sander but the only time it gets used now is when I need to get into a corner.
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WayneJ wrote:

I guess I'd start w/ "finishing what"?
That said, I've used the PC 5" ROS for years altho I've not bought a new one in nearly 10 now, I still have about 3 or 4. We used them on the barn exterior paint prep as w/ the 3" shaped T&G siding it requires a smaller and somewhat flexible pad to have any chance of getting in the coves. The will stand up to quite a lot of abuse (or at least would) although the later ones aren't quite as robust as the earliest it seems.
I prefer the form factor of the PC over the DeWalt and various others but that's a personal preference undoubtedly; I'd suggest trying them all on for size and heft before the purchase to see which suits your hands; I'm fairly small, bigger handed-guys might like something else better.
The one primary complaint I have w/ the newer ones is the "brake" they added (and I presume everybody else has one now as well). It does keep the pad from free-running when lifted but is nothing but an o-ring around a fixed stud and the driven shaft. Hence the braking action is continuous and the friction builds a lot of heat when used for long periods. This is both uncomfortable and leads to early bearing failures. If one only uses it for short intervals at a time, this might not be such a big deal but as noted, firstest thing I do w/ a new one is to take the pad off and remove the o-ring.
I also am not found of the change from 5- to 8-hole pads that seems to be all that is available any more...but, that's a little more of a nit.
Again, depending on what your work is primarily, but for most flat surface work and most cabinet/casework, a ROS will do fine enough sanding for finishing with proper paper faster than inline and I've never found the orbital markings to be discernible once get to the finer grits so it has never been an issue for me...
As another said,
$0.02, imo, ymmv, etc., etc., etc., ...
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wrote:

I wholeheartedly agree with your friends. _Finish_ sanding requires a ROS unless you're painting your work.

If you get a palm sander, just buy a cheapie for rough work. Here ya go, both sanders for under $30 total, both on sale now: http://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-quarter-sheet-orbital-hand-sander-40070.html http://www.harborfreight.com/5-inch-random-orbital-palm-sander-93431.html Add a handful of sandpaper packets and you're still just under the domestic sander price.

http://www.mytoolstore.com/compare/cpsand1.html Comparison sheet.
PM best ROS article http://tinyurl.com/3772v4p
I have the $25 HF 5" ROS and like it and am satisfied with it. I'll use a cabinet scraper as frequently as a sander, though. I think I have about 25 troublefree hours on the HF now. Whenever I buy a new tool, I let it run for about five minutes before it ever sees work. I lost a brand new chop saw by not doing that one time. (When new brushes are needed to carry a lot of amps from the start, proper brush seating to the armature is mandatory or they develop lots of heat very quickly, melting one or both.)
Look at the Makita BO5031K, the DeWalt D26451K, and the Bosch ROS20VSK random orbitals. The Bosches are said to be smoother than the Festeringtools.
I've found that a 1/4 sheet orbital palm sander takes off more wood in the same time than a random with the same grit paper. I found Ron and Joe's comments very unusual since they're the exact opposite of my experience. I find it much easier to control the ROS for delicate sanding work. (But I'm no expert, but I recently learned to let the tool do the work, to change paper more often, and I finally stopped leaning on my sanders.) A ROS leaves much smoother faces than do orbital palms, especially at grain reversals and changes, like cabinet door frames.
P.S: Get a cabinet scraper or two and try them INSTEAD of sanding some time. You will be entirely amazed, I guarantee.
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Thanks for all the replies, I appreciate the advice. I'm still a little unsure of which type to buy since there was some disagreement about which is best for finishing work. My first need is for a couple of honey do projects, especially a table.
Most likely I'll go for the palm sander unless I hear more to change my mind.
I won't be buying the HF palm sander, a neighbor gave me his non working, near-new one a few years ago, on the condition that I wouldn't try to get even with him after I used it. I repaired it (electrical problem), but found it to be a good example of just how cheaply something can be built and still work, at least for a while. I used it a few times and it did a surprisingly good job while it lasted except for the clips that hold the sandpaper which were really poor. It died again with mechanical problems and I tossed it.
WayneJ
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I've found my PC 7336 ROS to be invaluable, and I don't find it too aggressive with 220 or 320 grit discs (the variable speed helps).
I don't use a palm sander at all, but do swear by a couple of shopmade cork-padded doug-fir hand blocks.
scott
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I personally like the ROS best. I have 2 of the Dewally's. One that stays connected to the shop vac all the time w/a router variable speed unit on it and one that is VS that I use for the road or in shop I use it to rough sand. I used a Makita ROS on site once that was a friend of mine's and it was a lot more aggressive that mine. I find the finishing sanders numb my hands faster than they sand but when I used them, they were older models so the new ones might be better.
RP
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wrote:

I guess I am different than the others. I plane, scape, and only sand if needed. If I do sand, I will generally use the ROS up to 220 grit and hand sand with 220 garnet paper with the grain. This varies depending on the type of wood and the grain.
I do sometimes use a palm sander, but not as often as the others.
The main thing with the ROS is to use a light touch, and move the sander slowly along the wood. I move the sander 1" per second. Don't push the sander down into the wood. Just enough pressure to make sure there is contact.
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?

I had a palm sander for years and finally got a ROS. I now have two ROS and the palm hit the trash, never to be replaced. I have a DeWalt and PC. Once has course grit, the other fine.
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On Mon, 03 Jan 2011 09:22:55 -0800, WayneJ wrote:

I think it's a matter of opinion. I've got a Bosch ROS that I've had for years. I don't have a palm sander. With 220 or 320 grit on the Bosch it finishes well enough for me. If I want a smoother finish I go to a hand plane.
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The trouble with a ROS sander is that it will not get into tight corners. Do you want to hand sand there?
I have never seen a finish sander perform as well as the PC SpeedBloc, the bell shaped sander. That sander is a well tested design that has been around for many many years. It IS NOT a toy. I have owned 2 in the last 21 years.
Having said that I now own and exclusively use the Festool Rotex and Festool finish sander. I use them exclusively because I was/am tired of dealing with dust. With a vac less than 1% of all dust escapes either of thse sanders. The Festool finish sander is approximately twice the prce of the $90 PC SpeedBloc sander. Both Festool Sanders are great but the PC SpeedBloc will out perform the Festool finish sander if you don't mind the cloud of dust.
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So Leon,
I went looking at the festool online. I don't see where they sell an adapter to a vac hose. I only see dust bags accys. If I buy a Festool RTS 400 EQ, will I need to buy something else to attach it to my shop vac hose?
On 1/5/2011 3:17 PM, Leon wrote:

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"tiredofspam" <nospam.nospam.com> wrote in message

IIRC the Festool uses a 1" OD hose that fit over the sander manifold. Don't let that confuse you. ;~) If I had to listen to a typical shop vac I might consider a mask and not use the vac. I do use the Festool shop vac which is very quiet, more quiet than the sander in fact. there are lots of adapters that would probably get you going.
I do use a Fein adapter to adapt my Festool vac hose to my Kreg PH jig. If you have a Woodcraft or Rockler, or Festool dealer near by take your hose into he store and perhaps they will have a solution. I would not think that a 2" hose running up to the sander would be very easy to use, FWTIW.
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"Leon" wrote:

That's why Fein has triangular sanding pads as part of the multi tool.
Does a great job in the corners.
Add a ROS of choice and you are in business.
Lew
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I have a PC right angle ROS the Speed Bloc, the Festool Rotex and finish sander, and the Fein multimaster. With all that, I dont often use the Fein to do 50-100+ inside corners on a project, it is great for the tight spots but if the finish sander will get in there it is the only way to go if time means anything to you.
If you are working on wide open spaces the ROS/Fein would be the better choice.
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