What is an Orbital Sander? Orbital vs Random Orbital Sander

If you want a super fine finish to your woodworking project, you have to use a sander for that. With the right one, you can get your job done much faster with better results.

There are various types of Sanders available for sanding. They serve different purposes & they are found in almost all woodworking shops. Some of the most useful ones are Orbital sanders, belt sanders, drum sanders, DA sanders, etc.

The two main types of orbitals are random orbitals and sheet sanders. They are the two most popular machines in the woodworking world, well known for their versatility. If you ask any experienced woodworker which sander he prefers the most in his everyday work, the answer definitely will be an orbital sander.

These handheld power tools are easy to operate & perfect for getting a smooth finish.

What is Orbital Sander?

An orbital sander is a power tool that is used to sand and polish the surfaces of wood, metal, glass, stone or other materials. They are often equipped with replaceable sanding disks of various shapes and grits. For example, an 80-grit disk would be good for rough shaping; a 100-grit disk for general use; 120-grit for finishing.

It is a square-shaped power tool. Because of its shape, it’s perfect for sanding corners & flat edges. It has a circular motion. It has only one motion which makes it different from a random orbit sander. It uses regular sandpaper. The most preferred sandpaper on an orbital sander is a quarter sheet sandpaper. Any number of grit can be used on the sander. Attaching or removing the sandpaper is really easy on this sander.

What is an orbital sander used for?

An Orbital sander is mostly used for a super-smooth finish to a wood surface. It is also used on different types of surfaces like metal surface, plastic surface. It is also an ideal tool to be used in painting & carpentry jobs. The using process is also very easy. But there can be swirl marks if you sand across the wood grain.

As it holds a medium-powered motor, it is mostly preferred for light sanding jobs. Small size of the orbital sander makes it suitable for sanding corners & edges.

What Is Random Orbital Sander

Random orbital sanders are round-shaped tools that deliver two-movement at the same time. The sanding pad vibrates & oscillates, therefore making a random orbit movement. As a result, it gives a super fine finish. It combines speed & aggression which gives an advantage over others.

What Is a Random Orbital Sander Used For

A random orbital sander is used for the rapid removal of material from the wood surface. Because of its dual movement, it never sands the same place twice. So, it avoids creating any scratches on a surface. Also, you don’t have to move it along the wood grains.

Most of them have variable speed control, which makes you able to control the speed as you want.


Orbital Sander VS Random Orbital Sander

Orbital and Random Orbit Sander sounds kind of similar, right? But don’t get confused with the name. They are quite different from each other.

Random orbitals move in all directions while sheet sanders only move in one direction at any given time.

They are also different in size. A random orbital sander is bigger in size & also holds more power. It is used for bigger projects. A random orbital sander will be more aggressive on wood while a circular orbital will be less aggressive for finishing work.

When sanding a plane surface, a random orbital sander provides more accuracy.  Also, It leaves less visible swirl marks. Installing the sanding disc is comparatively easy in it.

Parts of an Orbital  Sander

The body structure of the orbital & random orbital sander is almost the same except for the shape of the sanding pad. 


The body is made in a way so that it can be grabbed comfortably. The body also covers the motor which drives the sanding pad.


The switch is used for turning on/off. Normally it’s found on the front side.


There are different types of grips. For example, pistol grip, palm grip. The grip varies on the sanding job it is going to be used.

Barrel grip

A barrel grip allows the user to grab & control the sander comfortably.

Dust bag

It normally has an attached dust bag that collects all the dust produced while sanding. The dust bag is normally attached to the backside of the machine.

Sanding pad

This is the part where sanding discs are attached. It rotates and oscillates and helps the sanding disc to do its job.

Sanding disc

A sanding disc is a round or square-shaped paper made of abrasive materials. It does all kinds of sanding

jobs. Sanding disc comes with a different number of grits. Different grits have different usage.

Types of Orbital Sanders

There are basically three types

  • Electric
  • Air-powered
  • Floor sanders

Among these three types, Electric & Air-powered sanders are hand-held tools. All three are used for different purposes.


Electric sanders are corded power tools & can be used for all kinds of sanding.  They are more popular among professional woodworkers and DIYers. 


The air sander is also called a pneumatic sander. Generally, they are lighter than electric sanders, as they don’t have any motor. To operate a pneumatic sander, a separate air compressor is needed. They are mostly used in the automotive industry.

Floor Sander

Orbital floor sanders are used on hardwood floors. They come with a handle that you have to roll through the floor. It removes dirt & few coats of finish from the floor as it removes only a few layers at a time.



Orbital sanders are one of the most user-friendly power tools out there. Easy to handle & very helpful for any woodworking project. Both Orbital & Random Orbital sanders are very important for any woodworking job. They both have there unique advantages that will help you a lot with your work.

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