Updated 9 March 2022
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. All of the random orbital sanders were tested in a carpentry workshop with access to a workbench, high quality sandpaper with various hole spacings, stains and a range of test pieces of different materials. The test pieces measure 300 x 70 mm.
The sanders have been used constantly for a long period, but have also been tested in detail over a number of precision tests. For example, sanding results have been assessed by sanding a piece of ash with sandpaper grain sizes of 80, 100, 120 and 150. After this, we have stained the ash test piece with a dark stain to see if the sanders have left circular marks. The dark stain makes it easy to distinguish the results.
When the stain has then hardened, we also tested sanding this away to assess the removal ability, using 80 grain sandpaper. The random orbital sanders have also been used to sand chopping blocks made from cross-cut timber, to impartially assess dust extraction and battery life. We have assessed a number of factors during these tests, of which the most important are:
Performance: How long does the sander run for before the battery dies? How strong is it? Does it have a good balance between strength and battery life? How quickly does the battery recharge again? What's the end result like?
Ease of use: How easy is it to find your way around the sander? How quick and easy is it to replace the sandpaper? What's the work environment like when using the machine? How easily accessible are buttons and controls?
Build quality: What's the noise level like? How well does the sander collect the dust? Does it make any strange noises? How strong is it?
Other aspects we have considered include ergonomics, functionality, design and guarantee. All parameters have been examined in relation to the price of the sander and the results it achieves, producing a final score that reflects its value for money.
User-friendly and time efficient with impressive end results
Type: Battery-powered (Li-ion) Voltage: 18V Sanding disk diameter: 125 mm Speed control: Yes (6 step) Oscillation: 2.4 Unloaded speed: 7,000-11,000 rpm Oscillation speed: 14,000-22,000 osc/min Weight: 2.1 kg Dimensions (LxWxH): 300x135x150 mm (with dust bag on) Noise level: 88.5 dB Miscellaneous: Soft start, integrated motor brake Accessories included: Sandpaper, dust bag Guarantee: 6 year
The AEG BEX18-125 is best random orbital sander of 2020 as it produces a very neat end result while simultaneously being time efficient. It has extremely good random orbital movement, and a very high maximum speed. It removes material quickly and efficiently, while providing a perfect finish in a very short time. Because the machine has such an even, neat movement pattern, it's easy to control. We are also impressed by the dust extraction. If you connect the included nozzle to your workshop vacuum cleaner, it's even better - but it's actually perfectly sufficient without. However, the battery life is short. The machine doesn't include a battery, but we tried it out with a 4 Ah battery and it lasted for 25 minutes. So we recommend that you buy two batteries if you don't already have an extra AEG battery. This enables you to swap between them.
The BEX18-125 has a speed control that makes the sander very versatile. You can reach this with your thumb, provided that you're right-handed. Other than this button, there's also a start button. This is nicely accessible and easy to find. One advantage of the BEX18-125 is that you can start it right on the material to be sanded because it has a soft start and brake function. Another advantage is that it doesn't vibrate too much, so you can run it for a long time without your hands getting tired. Other than the battery life, it actually only has one disadvantage, and that's a minor detail - the fact that it's slightly rear-heavy. This means that it's best to use it with a two-hand grip to create an even pressure. Otherwise, this is a very good random orbital sander. It feels nice and solid and the rubberised handle gives a good grip. The sandpaper stays in place well thanks to the Velcro attachment. Given the value for money and the fact that you get a very long guarantee, we can't help but recommend the BEX18-125. It's ideal for anyone who wants a battery-powered sander that produces really good results. And who doesn't want that?
Extremely good end result from the Rolls Royce of sanders
Type: Mains powered Power: 350 W Sanding disk diameter: 125/150 mm Speed control: Yes (stepless) Oscillation: 5 mm Unloaded speed: 4000-10,000 rpm Weight: 1 kg Noise level: 73 dB Miscellaneous: Soft start, integrated motor brake, app support, temperature monitoring, constant speed Accessories included: Plastic box, 1 x 125 backing pad, 1 x 150 backing pad, electric cable, Abranet discs, 2 pad savers Guarantee: 2 years (3 if you register it)
The Mirka Deros 5650CV is a top class premium machine that offers lots of features. For example, its 350 watts produce the same performance as a comparable machine of around 500 watts.
But the best thing about it isn’t how much material it removes. It’s the end result, which is really excellent – to all intents and purposes perfect – every time. And the working environment is practically dust-free too.
We gave the machine a tough test on hard woods, from planed to a final sanded result, increasing gradually from 80 to 240 grit. Each time, once oiled and stained, the wood surface was entirely free of scratches. This is rare. We pretty much always find small scratches when testing sanders.
At the same time, the Deros 5650CV is a neat random orbital sander. With a weight of barely 1 kg and a compact shape, it can easily be operated with one hand. This means that you have the other hand free to rotate and adjust the material.
To further improve the user-friendliness, it alerts you if you're pressing it too hard against the surface being sanded.
It’s easy to change the sanding disc, but you do need a key. The Festool Rotex has a better – tool-free – solution for changing the sanding disc, for example. But on the other hand you rarely change the sanding disc.
We love the fact that you can change the size of the sanding disc, and also that the construction makes it possible to use the machine both with your right and left hand. The machine body has rubberised grips and is incredibly neat and light.
You can connect the Deros 5650CV to Mirka’s own mobile app via Bluetooth, which means you can measure vibration levels and set a time limit for sanding. This won’t necessarily be useful for the general homeowner, but it’s very practical for professionals who do a lot of sanding and want to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and other joint problems.
If we were to be really fussy we might complain about the cable attachment, which is a bit reluctant to let go of the cable.
But overall it's quite clear that Mirka specialise in sanding. They have a very good range of sandpapers and every detail in the machine has been carefully considered for long-term use. There are also what are called “pad savers”, which are cheap extra pads you can buy to protect your sanding disc still further. These are really good, for example if you're using net sanding discs.
If you aren’t going to use Mirka’s own sandpapers, you should choose a sanding disc with a lot of holes to make sure the dust removal works properly.
The Mirka Deros 5650CV is the Rolls Royce of sanders. It’s an excellent buy for both the professional user and the hobby user prepared to pay more to get the best possible sanding result. The 5650CV also produces a dust-free environment, with good ergonomics and has a user-friendly design and a wide range of accessories.
Multifaceted sander for polishing, sanding and corners
Type: Mains powered Power: 400 W Sanding disk diameter: 90 mm Speed control: Yes (stepless) Oscillation: 3 mm Unloaded speed: 3500-7000 rpm (eccentric) 260-520 rpm (ROTEX) Weight: 1480 g (measured) Noise level: 88.9 dB Accessories included: Storage box, round sanding pad, corner sanding pad, protector for sanding pad, sandpaper
The Festool RO 90 DX FEQ-Plus is a multifaceted random orbital sander that you can use for both sanding and polishing. It utilises the clever ROTEX system. On top of the sander is a control which you set to use for sanding (ROTEX) or polishing (orbital) or if you want to release and change the sanding pad. The latter means you can connect a triangular sander that allows you to sand perpendicular corners with precision.
This random orbital sander has a protector at the sanding pad. If you sand lots of edges, you can do this with the protector on first and then change the pad. This works very well where you have edges or where wall meets material. If you need to sand a mirrored door, for example, you often have an edge where you want to get in and achieve an even result, and this does an excellent job.
The ROTEX part works in such a way that the shaft is locked and it just rotates, while the random orbital sander moves around its own axis. So the ROTEX part removes more material, which means that, for example, the RO 90 DX FEQ-Plus is excellent for removing paint and varnish. If you want to do fine sanding instead, random orbital mode is the better choice.
The end result is an excellent finish. You get very few scratches in the material. The fact that you can also run the ROTEX separately makes it quick to do rougher sanding and then fine sanding to achieve an attractive surface.
The Festool RO 90 DX FEQ-Plus doesn’t come with a dust bag. You’re expected to connect this machine to a suitable vacuum cleaner, and then it’s super efficient at getting up the dust. But obviously it’s still a disadvantage that you don’t have a bag because you’re not always standing near the vacuum cleaner.
The power cord can easily be disconnected and removed, and can then be used with many of Festool's other tools.
This is quite obviously a great random orbital sander. What makes it so good is that you can use it for so many different purposes. It probably isn’t the model to buy if you just need to fine sand a wooden table or the like, but if you have a larger range of tasks where you want to avoid making several purchases, it’s perfect.
The Festool RO 90 DX FEQ-Plus is pretty expensive. But it can be used for corners, edges and larger surfaces. It also handles both fine and rougher sanding as well as details. In short, it’s a multifaceted random orbital sander that produces a very acceptable finish.
Affordable and lightweight with cable
Type: Mains powered Power: 300 W Sanding disk diameter: 125 mm Speed control: Yes (6 steps) Oscillation: 2.8 mm Oscillations per minute: 4,000-12,000 rpm Weight: 1.3 kg Dimensions (LxWxH): 153x123x153 mm Noise level: 82.2 dB Miscellaneous: Soft start, integrated engine brake Accessories: Sandpaper, dust container User manual: Manual
The Makita BO5031K is a very lightweight, compact random orbital sander. It fits comfortably in the hand, offering a good grip thanks to the rubberised details on the handle and the machine body. The vibrations aren’t bad, and the sound level is comfortable.
Once out of the box, the only assembly you need to do is push a dust container onto the exhaust, or alternatively connect the exhaust to a vacuum cleaner. The dust container stays in place well even though it isn’t locked in any way.
Regardless of whether you have the dust container on, the BO5031K creates a lot of dust. The sanding result, on the other hand, is good. You get a very good finish, even if it does produce a certain amount of noticeable swirl marks, which is a good result given the price. The BO5031K can also be adjusted in six steps depending on how powerful you need it to be and what sort of precision you want in the end result. It’s also relatively easy to control regardless of mode.
The sandpaper is held onto the sanding plate with Velcro and remains firmly attached even over time. The Velcro system makes it very quick to change sandpaper.
The Makita BO5031K is ideal for anyone looking for a mains-connected orbital sander at a very reasonable price. It doesn’t produce premium results, but if you’re a hobby carpenter it will more than suffice.
Easily controlled sander that produces a very good end result
Type: Battery-powered (Li-ion) Voltage: 18V Sanding disk diameter: 125 mm Speed control: No Oscillation: 1.3 mm Unloaded speed: 12,000 rpm Weight: 0.9 kg Dimensions (LxWxH): 190x130x137 mm Noise level: 88.5 dB Miscellaneous: Soft start and brake Accessories included: 1 sanding sheet, dust bag Guarantee: 2 years
The Black & Decker BDCROS18N is an impressive sander both in terms of movement pattern and end result. It barely produces any vibrations at all, and is every easy to control - so easy that you can operate it with just one hand. We also achieved a faultless result in a very short time, without any scratches or unevenness in the test piece. It starts and brakes gently, which means that you can start it on the surface to be sanded. We give the BDCROS18N a big extra score for this. Machines that don't have this function risk scratching the material they're sanding. However, the dust filter feels very plasticky. It bends easily and the dust extraction is insufficient. It's also lacking a nozzle for a workshop vacuum cleaner. On the whole, this means that the work environment is worse from a health viewpoint.
Black & Decker only include a 1.5 Ah battery, which we managed to get 13 minutes' working time out of. This is pretty good given the battery size. But if you're going to be doing a lot of sanding, we recommend you instead to buy a higher capacity battery - ideally two, so that you can swap between them. However, this machine's major disadvantage is the charger. The charging time is several hours, which is really not acceptable. It's also a shame for an otherwise really good fine-finish sander. It's neat and light, with colour-marked buttons and a comfortable grip. However, a minor disadvantage of the BDCROS18N is its sanding capacity. This is OK, but far from the best. We'd also have liked to see speed control. Overall this means that this is a sander best suited for anyone who wants to do the final sanding of an object to obtain a fine, scratch-free surface. Here, it gives an excellent result that requires no overpainting - unless you want to, of course!
Sander with stepless speed control and good dust extraction
Type: Battery-powered (Li-ion) Voltage: 18V Sanding disk diameter: 125 mm Speed control: Yes Oscillation: 3.2 mm Unloaded speed: 6,000-24,000 rpm Weight: 1.4 kg Noise level: 88.4 dB Accessories included: Support handle, dust extraction, 1 sanding sheet, paper assistant Guarantee: 3 years with registration, 2 years without User manual: PDF
The Bosch AdvancedOrbit 18 is a random orbital sander with good sanding capacity and a very welcome stepless speed control that works extremely well. The sander produces a very good sanding result, provided that you learn to control it. However, this isn't the easiest thing in the world, not even for someone used to fine-finish sanding. For example, the machine doesn't have a motor brake. The sudden stop this produces means that you risk damaging the item you're working on. We therefore recommend that you lift the machine up before you stop it. The machine also has a tendency to jerk and wobble worryingly during use. When you've learned to counteract this with the support handle, the end result is good, but it's not particularly comfortable to use. We would have preferred a solution that involved a more ergonomic working method. It also rattles quite a lot during use, and the various parts vibrate and feel rather plasticky. Overall, we get the feeling that the build quality doesn't really match up to the price. But it works throughout the test period. You also get a good guarantee if you register the product.
AdvancedOrbit 18 has a reasonable battery life. A battery isn't included with the machine, but we tested it with a 2.5 Ah battery. Despite this having quite a low capacity, we got 15 minutes of run time under load out of it, which is fine. If you buy a larger capacity battery, you extend the working time. Alternatively you can buy two batteries and alternate them. This means that you can charge a battery while you're using the other one. The dust extraction on the AdvancedOrbit 18 is acceptable. The filter is placed directly beneath the machine and collects the majority of the dust. The filter can also be dismantled so that you can clean it thoroughly. However, it seems that a certain amount of dust remains in the machine. Fortunately the outlet is circular, which means that it fits some workshop vacuum cleaners. If you have one of these you can keep your work environment properly clean. The AdvancedOrbit 18 is suitable for anyone who is prepared to spend a little more time learning to control the machine. This is then a random orbital sander with a number of advantages, particularly for anyone who already has Bosch products in their toolbox, as the batteries are interchangeable.
Bosch 18V Power for all 18V 125mm Cordless Random orbit sander AdvancedOrbit 18 Bare unit
Bosch 18V Power For All 18V 125mm Cordless Random Orbit Sander Advancedorbit 18 Bare Unit Green, Black & Red
Bosch 18V Power for all 18V 125mm Cordless Random orbit sander AdvancedOrbit 18 Bare unit
Time efficient sander for surfaces to be painted
Type: Battery-powered (Li-ion) Voltage: 18 V Sanding disk diameter: 125 mm Speed control: No Oscillation: 2.5 mm Unloaded speed: 10,000 rpm Oscillation speed: 20,000 osc/min Weight: 1.6 kg Noise level: 88.5 dB Miscellaneous: Soft start Accessories included: Extra nozzle, 3 sandpapers Guarantee: 2 years
The RYOBI 18V R18ROS-0 is time efficient when it comes to removing wood and has satisfactory dust extraction. It has a movement pattern that means it carries out complete rotations. This makes it very effective at removing wood, but because random orbital sanders are often intended for final finishing, this solution may cause you problems. The sanding plate leaves small but clear circular marks behind. So the end result is OK, but no more than this. However, it's very good at quickly removing paint and varnish from wood. It also has an efficient dust extraction system. This ensures a good work environment despite it lacking a nozzle to attach a vacuum cleaner. The biggest disadvantage of the 18V R18ROS is that it lacks speed control. This means that it's difficult to adapt the speed to the task or the material.
The 18V R18ROS is OK in energy efficiency terms, given that it's quite a cheap sander. It doesn't include any batteries, so you choose the battery capacity yourself. We tested it with a 5 Ah battery, which gave about 30 minutes' working time. That's enough to allow a spare battery to recharge, but much less than the stated 50 minutes runtime for this battery. The R18ROS produces quite a lot of vibration and so it's not comfortable to use for longer sessions. However, it does have a rubberised grip that fits the hand well. The design is compact and easy to understand. The sander also feels well balanced. However, the battery indicator is poorly positioned on the underside of the machine so you have to turn it off to check the remaining battery. On the whole, the construction is appealing. The R18ROS performs best on surfaces that are to be painted, doing a quick and sufficiently good job. But it's too coarse for surfaces that will be the final finish.
Lightweight and easy to use
Type: Mains powered Power: 250 W Sanding disk diameter: 125 mm Speed control: Yes Oscillation: 2.5 mm Unloaded speed: 7,500-12,000 rpm Weight: 1.3 kg Dimensions (LxWxH): 300x135x150 mm (with dust bag on) Noise level: 88.5 dB Miscellaneous: Soft start, integrated engine brake Accessories: Sandpaper, dust bag Guarantee: 6 years User manual: PDF
The Bosch GEX125-1AE Professional is a random orbital sander with comfortable, rubberised surfaces both on the handle and around the machine itself to give you a good grip. Vibrations from the sander are about average and you always have good control over the machine – even on slightly smaller surfaces.
The GEX125-1AE may be a blue Bosch tool, but it differs only slightly from the manufacturer's green "budget” range. What most sets them apart is the price. The final finish and performance, on the other hand, are really not very different in practice. You get a finish that’s fine if you’re going to paint it afterwards, for example. But if you're only intending to apply varnish afterwards, however, this isn’t the right machine for you.
It gives a reasonable result, but far from the best in the price range. We also felt there wasn’t really much difference in the different speed settings on the machine.
You attach the sandpaper easily with Velcro. The paper stays put well and doesn’t really move even during longer sanding sessions.
The GEX125-1AE promises an almost dust-free working environment. And in practice it does a decent job. But when we test on tougher materials, it gets clogged quickly. You need to use a vacuum extractor if you want to have a 100% clean working environment.
Overall, the Bosch GEX125-1AE Professional is a decent random orbital sander, but with a rather high price tag.
A random orbital sander is a sander with a circular sanding plate that sands with an oscillating movement pattern. This means that you get a really good result - provided that the sander is well balanced and has a good movement pattern with a suitable speed and level of vibration. This is a tool that's excellent for sanding paint or varnish from wood, or for doing a final sanding of your woodwork before you paint it. Random orbital sanders are also good for creating a neat final finish on material that isn't going to be painted.
When comparing sanders, you can say that a belt sander is intended for heavy rough sanding, while a random orbital sander is a finer sander that can also to an extent be used for removing larger areas of wood.
When you're buying a random orbital sander, you first need to consider your budget, and what you'll be using the tool for. Some sanders are good at removing larger areas of wood, while others are better at fine sanding. The very best can do both things.
The sanding plates on random orbital sanders both rotate and vibrate. With the right balance between these factors, the grain will never hit the same place twice. However, if it rotates too quickly the grain will hit the same spot, which results in a circular mark on the material. When you're looking for an orbital sander it can be useful to choose one with speed control. This means you're able to choose how quickly you want it to rotate.
Random orbital sanders are available both as battery and mains powered versions. There are even hybrid models that you can run on the battery but where you can also attach a mains cable if the battery runs out. Battery power has the advantage that you aren't limited by a cable. If you have large pieces of material to be sanded, or you're in an environment where the nearest power outlet isn't nearby, this is an advantage. The disadvantage, of course, is that you have to remember to recharge the battery between sessions. However, the lithium ion batteries used today don't discharge between uses. So you can recharge your batteries and then store them on a shelf until it's time to use them. Naturally, the advantage of mains powered machines is that they're always ready for use and that they aren't limited by battery life. However, battery-powered tools are becoming increasingly mainstream as lithium ion batteries are constantly increasing in capacity.
Other than the power supply and speed control, a number of other factors are important. The noise level is one such, and the amount of vibration is another. Dust extraction is also important. All of these aspects are crucial if you're to have as clean and healthy a work environment as possible. Other important parameters are aspects such as ergonomics, build quality and guarantees.