Best Random-Orbit Sanders
Random-orbit sanders have the muscle and the finesse to turn rough wood smooth
A random-orbit sander's jitterbug motion eliminates the swirls and curlicues that disk and orbital pad sanders leave behind. And random-orbitals can traverse different grain directions without leaving a scratch.
At left, clean wood emerges from beneath multiple layers of paint after just a few minutes of attention from a Fein 6-inch model. A vacuum sucks away virtually all the dust through holes in the sanding pad, keeping the surface of the sandpaper cool and clog-free; about $519, feinus.com
Festool's sanding pads remove dust through an patented center vent as well as through holes on the edges, for the ultimate in dust-free sanding. We found this 6-inch, pistol-grip sander to be well-balanced, vibration-free, and effective at all speeds, as you might expect from a tool at this price; about $250, festoolusa.com
A squishy gel pad helps absorb vibrations when you hold the top of Black & Decker's lightweight 5-inch sander; or you can grab the mug-style handle. We thought it was less efficient at dust extraction compared with the other sanders here; about $40, blackanddecker.com
Of the 5-inch sanders we looked at, the Bosch palm-grip has the least vibration, the easiest-to-reach on-off switches and variable speed controls, and a pleated paper filter that's the next best thing to an external vacuum; about $90, boschtools.com
Ridgid's 5-inch palm-grip sander shows surprising oomph for a tool this size, and it can be connected to a shop vacuum. We like its 12-foot cord and the plug that lights up when it's getting power; about $70, ridgid.com
Makita's 6-inch barrel-grip sander switches between standard random-orbit finish sanding and more aggressive "forced-rotation action" for the ultimate in scour power. Hook it up to a vac and hold on tight—you'll need both hands to keep it under control. $240?$300, makita.com
Soup up your random-orbit sander with these pads and accessories.