Sanding is an important part of any woodwork. It might not be the focal point of your DIY woodwork, but it surely determines the quality of the work. For most average homeowners who are interested in DIY woodworks, the beauty and finishing quality of any DIY furniture is the life of that particular piece of art.

There are many types of sander available on the market. Belt sanders, orbital sanders, and random orbital sanders are the most popular of them and appropriate for woodworks. However, belt sanders are bigger in size and mainly used by professionals. On the other hand, orbital sanders and random orbital sanders are perfect for household uses. Although they have a similar name, there are many critical differences between their technology and applications. In this article, I am going to explain these two sander types in detail so you know all there is to know about orbital sander vs random orbital sander.

Orbital Sander

Orbital sanders have been in use for a long time. They are perfect for ultra-smooth finishing. Due to them being well known for providing smooth finishes on the furniture’s surface, many people call them ‘finish sanders.’


Orbital sanders have a rectangular sanding shape and you can use normal sanding sheet on them. Usually, they accept the ¼ size of a sanding sheet. That’s why they are also known as ¼ sheet sander or quarter sheet sander or palm sander.

Ease of Uses:
Since orbital sanders accept conventional sanding sheet, it is very convenient to use. You can use any residual hand sanding sheet with an orbital sander. However, the process of attaching the sheet is complex than random orbital sanders.

Special Use:
Because of their rectangular shape, orbital sanders can sand edges and corners where other electric sanders can’t reach. With an orbital sander, you can easily sand the inside of a cabinet, stair corners and many more.

Timid Sanding:
Another distinctive feature of orbital sanders is that their degree of sanding. They are less aggressive in sanding in comparison to random orbital sanders or other sanders. This makes them perfect for finishing. With an orbital sander, the chance of ruining your woodwork is minimal.

Swirl Mark:
Although the orbital sanders have rectangular sanding edge, their inner sensors move in a constant orbital fashion as their name suggests. Because of this, sometimes they leave some blur marks of sanding. Sanding only in the direction of wood-grain and moving the sanders all time are the ways of avoiding any such sanding mark.

Dust Vacuum:
Orbital sanders come with attached dust vacuum. This dust vacuum sucks the wood particles to reduce any inconvenience to its user. However, using eye protection and a mask is still recommended.

Orbital Sanders or quarter sheet sanders are very lightweight, easy to use and comparatively cheap. The best thing about orbital finishing sanders is that you don’t have to know how to use these types of sander. However, because of their lightweight and less aggressive sanding degree, they are only effective for final furnishing process.

Random Orbital Sander

The random orbital sander is a hybrid design of a disk sander and an orbital sander. Similar to the belt sander or disc sander, they are capable of aggressive sanding. At the same time, their random orbital motion ensures smooth finishing of an orbital sander. Furthermore, their effective design surpasses the limitations of belt sanders and orbital sanders.


Random orbital sanders have a disk-shaped sanding edge, which runs in an orbital motion like orbital sanders. With its disk shape sanding edge, it can provide both heavy sanding and finishing sanding.

Unlike orbital sanders, the oval sanding motion of random orbital sanders is random. The oval pattern of random orbit sanders spins constantly, which means it never follows the previous orbit. Thus, random orbital sanders do a great job in providing a better finishing quality without any swirl marks on the surface.

Speed Control:
Speed control is another great feature of random orbital sanders. You can set the sanding speed high to low, which makes using random orbital sanders perfect for both heavy sanding and finishing sanding. You can sand uneven surface or rough to touch surface easily with a random orbital sander.

Special Sanding Sheet:
Random orbit sanders use special sanding pads. Unlike other electric sanders, random orbital sanders have vel pro attaching system, which is super easy.

Because of these features and convenience in use, Random orbital sanders are now the most common and widely used sanders. However, since it can sand a lot of wood in a matter of seconds, you need to be careful with a random orbital sander.


Both the orbital and the random orbital sanding machine have special uses and advantages over one another. However, if you are struggling to decide the best sander for furniture between a random orbital sander and a sheet sander i.e. orbital finishing sander, the following table might help.

No. Distinctive Features Orbital Sanders Random Orbital Sanders
1. Sanding Motion Sand in repetitive oval direction Sand in non-repetitive oval direction
2. Sanding Degree Less aggressive. Both Aggressive and Less Aggressive
3. Speed Control Don’t have any speed control feature. Have a speed control feature.
4. Sanding Edge’s Shape Rectangular Sanding edge, perfect for corners and edges Disk-shaped Sanding edge
5. Uses Only for finishing purposes. Usable for both finishing and heavy sanding purposes
6. Price Within $30 to $50 Within $70 to $150
7. Sanding Pad and Attachment Accepts normal sanding sheets Special sanding papers with quick sticky attachment features

Finally, both orbital sanders and random orbital sanders have special utility in the woodwork. If you want quality woodwork, you should have both kinds of sander at your disposal. Combining these two sander types, you can get the best sanding result. With random orbital sanders, you can prepare your woodwork for the final stage and orbital sanders can provide ultra-smooth finishing in corners and edges where no other sanding machines can reach. However, if you are thinking about picking any one kind of electric sander, then random orbital sander can give you the highest utility. With its speed control feature, you can have both heavy sanding and furnish sanding.


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