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
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?
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.
To a certain extent they are two different tools, for different
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
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.
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.
(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.
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
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., ...
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
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
P.S: Get a cabinet scraper or two and try them INSTEAD of sanding some
time. You will be entirely amazed, I guarantee.
You do not need a parachute to skydive.
You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw
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
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.
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:
"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.
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
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