Tested: 6-Inch Random Orbit Sanders

Sanding is boring—and a lot of work. Depending on the project, you might be attached to a vibrating, dust-generating machine for hours on end. But it’s so important to success on certain projects—furniture and wood floor repair, paint prep—that once I get started, it becomes (sort of) fun.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
Field test of 6-inch random orbit sanders

One thing that blurs the line between love and hate is a tool that delivers both a positive user experience and a super-smooth, swirl-free finish. Then there’s power: Precision is great when you’re using 120-grit paper to tune up a trim piece, but when you need to remove stock and existing finishes—say, for a wood floor repair—there’s no substitute for go-juice that propels 60-grit paper into raw wood. Of all the random orbit sanders I’ve used, I’m partial to the right-angle sander with a 6" pad—I find it easier and more effective to move around and hold for longer periods of time.

Whenever you talk about sanders, there’s no avoiding dust—and the easier it is to collect, the better. While removing dust with a vacuum tends to be more effective, it presents its own challenge in trying to avoid being perpetually tangled up with the hose. So a canister that works—and is easy to remove—makes sense. The more you have to fight the canister, the better the chances are you’ll spill the dust you’ve just collected.

All told, for a sander that’s going to get heavy-duty DIY use, low noise, high power, and uncompromising finish are key components.

Pro Tip

For knocking down finishes or evening up a work surface (what we call “stock removal”), you’ll need to make multiple passes with ever finer grits of sandpaper. Start with a lower grit to break up the finish or smooth uneven material, then feather it in with finer and finer grits. To open up the grain of a piece of wood and better enable it to accept a finish, 100-grit paper or finer is typically effective. You might not feel like you’re making progress, but you are.
–Mark Clement, Host, MyFixItUpLife

Related Articles

Products of the Week

A pendant light over the door adds a stately touch to the ubiquitous Victorian porch; Brass Light Gallery’s London Lantern mimics the design of 19th-century streetlights.

Brass Light Gallery

Interior and exterior architectural lighting for your home and garden, in styles from Victorian to '30s Modern. Select from 15 finish options. Made in USA since 1974. They also have a vintage/antique lighting department, and offer expert restoration services.

1_gallery_custom1

Unico System

A central heating and cooling system using "aspiration" technology to warm and cool homes evenly and quietly with flexible small ducts that weave through ceilings, walls, and even floors.