Random Orbital Sander VS Orbital Sander – The Difference.

Random Orbital Sander VS Orbital Sander

DY projects often require a sanding process. And the tool you use for that purpose needs some consideration. After all, the finish of a sanding work will highly depend on what type of sander you’re using. Two very popular sanders that are often mistaken to be the same are what I’ll be differentiating today.

You should already know from the title that I’m referring to a random orbital sander vs orbital sander discussion. Which one comes with what distinct ability and their individual pros and cons, let’s go through all of that so you don’t have confusion deciding the right sander for your project in near future.

Let’s Discuss Random Orbital Sander VS Orbital Sander Pointers.

The naming is the main reason why both of these sanders seem same. However, there are certain notes where they are different from each other. The most notable difference is the motion of operation. It’s the characteristic that you can use for instantly identifying a sander that could be one of these two varieties. Keep on reading, we have more to talk about…

The Orbital Sander – Targets Corners & Edges.

Starting off with the more conventionally used type and of course less expensive one too. The orbital sander. It comes with a foot shape liked square. And so, the tool works excellently when it comes to handling edges and corners. The design is on simpler side but it still works for most basic essential sanding needs.

The foot can accept a quarter of a sandpaper sheet 9×11. That is why it’s commonly referred to as the quarter sheet sanders. The foot makes a vibration for working. And then it moves in small circles or orbits that overtake the whole sanding mechanism.

Because of the square-like shape that orbital sander comes with, it becomes very easy to get tricky spots and sand them correctly. There are numerous woodworking projects that require you to work specifically on the corners or whole thing looks less professional. And the basic orbital sander is best option for you to reach that pro-like outcome.

Another fact about this type is that it’s compatible with regular sandpaper too. You just need to cut them for fitting well. So, if skipping the specific sanding disks is something you are worried about, don’t.

However orbital sanders are less aggressive on the material. And so, you cannot use them for getting rid of too much material. A bit of shaping and edging is what the sander works best with.

Another notable benefit of this sander is that you don’t have to worry about obvious cross-grain marks. Especially the ones that are more often with a belt sander or hand sanding. This is a great assurance that your projects will not be any time ruined by including an orbital sander.

One thing to pay attention however is the brand you’re buying it from. Because that can vary a lot of things including the scratch pattern as well as performance. You need to be watchful when picking a well-made orbital sander from a reliable brand.


The only problem with the orbital sander is that you will notice the sanding marks quite vividly. Then there’s the part that you won’t be able to get rid of bulk amount of material with sanding. And finally, some people think the sandpaper holding clamp is a bit less convenient.

Overall – If light sanding is what your project demands or you want to prepare a surface for sealing or panting, then the orbital sander will work best for you. It also helps in getting rid of old thin layers of paint from a surface. Wooden floor refinishing and corner sanding of baseboards are also notable uses of this sander type.

The Random-Orbit Sander – For More Material Removal.

Now the next type called random orbit sander does not come with any grain-related concern. Because the tool spinning to create oscillation will usually not go for a different pattern making. And so, implementing a 100-grit paper with this one can get you to work on more material removal with sanding compared to the other type.

Before entering the woodworking field, random orbital sander was actually a common thing for those who worked in automotive works. If you compare it to a typical disk sander, then there’s no continuous axis movement. It actually has a spinning motion. The shaft can easily oscillate off from center. And spin to create different types of scratch patterns that are not the same as each other.

As the random orbital sander basically makes unpredictable random patterns, you experience less cross grain scratching with its use. Also, in terms of more material removal, it’s not as great as a big belt sander. But it’s surely superior to the orbital sander to get rid of quite much of material.

With the modern models, you can even have the option to switch to less aggressive sanding modes. As these will occupy more than one variable speed feature. Also, the tool comes with hook-and-look sandpaper disks commonly. These are usually very simple to change compared to the quarter sheets variety.


The disappointing factor about random orbital sander its round surface that sands. Because of this shape, you cannot reach or work on corners and edges. Also, if you accidentally hold it in one place for too long, an excess amount of material will get removed. The price is also double that of orbital sanders. However, the upgraded performance does demand that much price rise.

Overall – For a pretty generous stock removal amount, the random orbital sanders are best choice. These are also going to be your ideal tool when working on huge projects such as wooden floor refinishing. Some small chores such as cabinetry sanding can also be handled with it.

Wrap Up

We are by the end of this random orbital sander vs orbital sander discussion. And hopefully, you now know pretty good pointers on where these two differ from each other. Knowing those disparities will help you choose the right sander for a particular job. As a beginner or maybe a semi-expert, you need to spend time learning such basic but helpful stuff every now and then. Good Luck!

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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