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Palm sander (Makita B04553) vs Random Orbital Sander

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Dan Steely

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Hi All,

I have a job coming up that will require sanding some walnut. I've had a palm sander for years but an considering buying a ROS (prob Makita).

Can anyone tell me the difference between the two types of sander an if the ROS will be a significant improvement on my old palm sander.

Many thanks.
 

TheTiddles

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Short answer, yes.

Longer answer, the random orbit tends to leave far less swirling. I bought a Makita ROS a good few years ago now and it’s one of those tools that I just wish I’d bought before (not huge money but seriously good)

Abranet disks are great, beware the pad saver at an edge as the softness of them very easily rounds over an edge.

Aidan
 

Doug B

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Depending on the stroke of the machine a random orbital sander can remove a lot of material compared to a palm sander, I use a machine with a 5mm stroke & for general sanding it is excellent, for finer finishing something with a 3mm stroke is better.
A good idea is to go for a model that offers different pads, I tend to mainly use a hard pad that minimises any chance of rounding over, but occasionally medium or soft pads can be advantageous.
Also a sander with variable speed is a good idea, my ROS gets used a fair bit for buffing finishes which it does very well but as I don’t want to generate heat the ability to reduce the sanders speed is quite important.
 

Eshmiel

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What are the older model palm sanders used for? They seem to take forever to remove any wood so perhaps they're meant only for fine finishing of jobs over your head or in some other spot where lightweight would be useful ...? An RO sander of the right configuration can do a better (swirl-free) finishing job anyway, can't it? I may be making an unwarranted assumption there, though, as I have no palm sander after becoming disenchanted with them by a useless Black & Decker a decade or two ago.

It's worth noting that there are different models of RO sander for slightly different purposes. As others mention, there's 5mm vs 3mm orbit, with the smaller orbits meant for that fine finishing. The 5mm can do a decent finish but are meant as a compromise between heavier wood removal and the final finishing sand. There are also 125mm and 150mm diameters of pad. It's surprising how much more sanding area the bigger one supplies. There are some smaller diameter versions too, for fiddly jobs in awkward places.

There is also the RO sander like the Festool Rotex, which can be switched to a mode that sands off lots in a short time albeit with a rougher finish. It can be switched to the normal RO mode for finer finishing too. I'm not sure if anyone but Festool make such an RO sander though ..... ?

If you want a sander that can take different pads of varying hardness - softness, that tends to mean the more expensive models. Those Festools again. But their hard pad really is hard whereas a lot of other single pad RO sanders tend to have a "compromise pad" - one not truly hard but allowing just a bit of squish. OK if you realise that and avoid pressing down on the sander at the wrong place on your work, such as over square edges.

Eshmiel
 

Droogs

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If you are just using it for occasional working then one of the 125mm pad offerings from Lidl will do all you need and give a much better finish than what you have. I do advise not to scrimp on the disks and would recommend Merka Abranet or Autonet mesh pads, they seem to outlast all the others and the open weave makes dust extraction very efficient.

hth
 

Dan Steely

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Many thanks for all your helpful advice on this.

Just a few words in defence of my old Makita palm sander: One advantage is that any abrasive roll can be used. Standard width roll is cut to 135mm length and fitted to the base. The PS comes with a perforator which punches 8 holes into the paper and, when running, a fan draws the dust through the machine, into the supplied cloth bag. Not a perfect dust solution - but not bad. Providing not too much pressure is applied, marking of the wood is minimised/negated.

I think it must be about 25+ years ago since I purchased my PS and it was after watching our kitchen fitters use the same model. I'm not sure if the ROS's were available at the time.

Many thanks for all your help.
 

TheTiddles

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Many thanks for all your helpful advice on this.

Just a few words in defence of my old Makita palm sander: One advantage is that any abrasive roll can be used. Standard width roll is cut to 135mm length and fitted to the base. The PS comes with a perforator which punches 8 holes into the paper and, when running, a fan draws the dust through the machine, into the supplied cloth bag. Not a perfect dust solution - but not bad. Providing not too much pressure is applied, marking of the wood is minimised/negated.

I think it must be about 25+ years ago since I purchased my PS and it was after watching our kitchen fitters use the same model. I'm not sure if the ROS's were available at the time.

Many thanks for all your help.
I have one of those too, a great tool for prepping for frames and skirting boards indoors for paint. The big ROS is not suited for this but on large panels of funky grain it’s a dream

Aidan
 
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