Bob Vila Radio: Every DIYer Needs a Random Orbital Sander

Read on for the basics of a powerful yet precise tool useful for any number of building and repair projects, no matter your skill level or experience.

If you’re looking to create a really smooth finish on woodwork, your best bet is to use a random orbital sander—a power tool that finely sands, rounds edges, and removes coats of paint or vanish, all without leaving gouges or swirls on the surface.


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Listen to BOB VILA ON RANDOM ORBITAL SANDERS or read the text below:

The random orbital sander works in a unique way: It spins the sanding disk even while moving the disk in small ellipses. That way, no part of the sandpaper travels the same path in a given rotation. The result is that you can move the sander in any direction, including against the grain of the wood. Few power tools are easier or more satisfying to work with.

Disks usually attach to the sander by way of hook-and-loop fasteners or pressure-sensitive adhesives. Your local home center advise you on what grade of sanding disk to use for the job at hand. Note that while some random orbital sanders include a built-in container for dust, you should wear goggles and a mask anyway in order to protect your eyes and lungs.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!