A dual action (DA) sander can be a very versatile tool. You’ve probably heard that a lot and agree with it. Well, that’s not always the case. There are small differences between some DA sanders that can make all the difference in the world when it comes to using them on a project.
Just because you know how to use a sander doesn’t mean you’re sure on how to pick the best one for the job. Find out what separates some of the best DA sanders, in my opinion, and figure out how your next investment can set you up for years’ worth of projects.
My Top DA Sander Picks for Skilled Users and Amateur DIY Guys
Before I start on the reviews, you should know that a DA sander is a random orbital sander. The use of either term in the review titles below, random orbital or DA sander, is based on the individual manufacturer’s preference for its tool.
A dual action sander has two actions: one with the spindle (of the motor) locked to the pad, the other isn’t locked but has a bearing between the spindle and the pad. The pad is moving in orbits in both actions, but with the bearing, it’s a random orbit, and therefore random orbital. You will be using your DA sander in the much more powerful random orbital mode most of the time.
- My Top DA Sander Picks for Skilled Users and Amateur DIY Guys
- Know the Tool’s Limitations
- Do You Need Multiple Disk Size Compatibility?
- Extra Features to Look For
- How Much Does the Motor Really Matter?
The BDERO100 comes with a 2A motor. It’s not powerful on paper but I still find the tool quite good at removing materials to achieve a smooth finish.
The tool works with sanding pads of different grit sizes which is very important. This allows you to customize your finish and achieve a well-polished surface.
This orbit sander may seem a tad too basic for some folks. I think judging it by its cover would be a mistake. Though it lacks some high-end features, the BDERO100 is very affordable and designed as an entry-level tool.
This tool comes in two sizes – 5” and 6”. This allows you to pick whichever version fits your project best, knowing that you can get 12,000 revolutions per minute on both devices. The speed can be controlled, which should give you a lot more control over the finishing process.
The lightweight design also allows you to take full advantage of the tool and use it in vertical and overhead sanding projects. The motor is powerful enough to handle both wood and metal.
Granted that this is not a professional tool as advertised, but I appreciate the Gedu’s low center of gravity, reduced vibrations, and speed control as they come together to create a very versatile tool that any DIYer should enjoy using.
This tool comes with a powerful 4.5A motor. In addition, this is a relatively large sander that does a great job of reducing vibrations, which makes operating this orbital sander a breeze. It also helps that you get to control the speed as that also makes it easier on the hands.
Variable speed and raw power are ingredients for success. Add to that a 6” disk that covers plenty of area and you should be able to use this Porter-Cable DA sander on the softest wood to the rustiest metal.
The adjustability of this power tool is most impressive. I like that you can remove the side handle to improve your grip and control. This is quite necessary at times considering that the sander is on the heavier side or when you don’t enough room. Of course, you can also customize the speed which should let you tackle a wider range of projects.
The Hutchins is often bandied about as the best dual action sander, so you can expect it to have a price tag to match the status. I can honestly say that it is one of the most versatile. It works with 5, 6, and 8-inch diameter sanding pads which means that you can take on pretty much any sanding project. And, one of the best things about it is that it comes with a metal finger guard.
The motor is powerful and reaches up to 10,000 RPM. However, the design uses a rather unique air efficiency system that doesn’t need too much air to reach maximum power. This should help prevent the pad from wobbling and give you very low feedback.
The fact that it uses less air also makes it rather quiet in comparison. However, I have to point out that although this is easy and fun to use on both wood and metal, the handle is not included. You can use it as is by gripping and pushing down on the motor, but you’re going to love that it’s designed to accept custom handles as befit your needs.
The Ingersoll-Rand 311A is another example of a powerful DA sander. I like its top free speed of 12,000 RPM even though this model makes quite a bit of noise. It may be a more suitable choice if you have a workshop than working at home.
Apart from that minor inconvenience and the fact that the dust collector hose is not included, the 311A handles itself really well. The built-in speed regulator allows you to tackle various projects on both wood and metal and the 6” sanding disk is more than enough to finish things quickly.
It’s interesting that even though this power tool weighs just around 2 pounds, it’s still an ergonomic design. That and the low vibrations make it very user-friendly and versatile as it should work well in overhead applications too.
I’ve rarely been disappointed by a DeWalt power tool. That’s why I wasn’t surprised by the choice of a 3A motor in the DWE6423K. It’s a good balance between raw power and noise control.
A speed controller is included. This will let you choose the right setting for your finishing work based on the material you’re using. What’s even better is that the dial is easily accessible so you can make adjustments on the fly.
I was pleasantly surprised by the compatibility with sanding disks of various sizes and grits. The tool is not too heavy but not the lightest either. That being said, its ergonomic design, low vibrations, and easy-access speed dial make for a smooth finishing experience.
If I was in the market for a powerful rust remover and smooth finisher, the Chicago Pneumatic CP870 DA Sander would be one of my top picks for sure. It has a free speed of 10,000 RPM and a very durable hard plastic casing.
It may look like any other DA sander on the market but this power tool performs and feels like it’s made to last. The compatibility with sanding disks of different sizes is welcomed especially since this model is sold with just a 5” disk.
In terms of noise and vibrations, you shouldn’t expect much of either. The gadget is balanced and will serve you well both inside your home and your garage. The ergonomic aluminum grip is fairly solid and should give you total control over the amount of pressure you put on the tool.
Know the Tool’s Limitations
You may know how to use a DA sander and you may think you know what all the specs imply. But there is a common misconception about ‘no vibration’ sanders that I would like to clarify.
When shopping for a new or your first DA sander, it’s important not to be seduced by the promise of zero vibrations. No matter how well-built and how isolated the motor is, every sander will have some levels of vibration.
This is particularly noticeable as you switch among materials of different densities and surfaces. Most of the time, when you increase the speed, you’ll also increase the intensity of the feedback, but that may also depend on the pressure and the grit.
Some DA sanders will have significantly lower vibrations than others, but never so low in intensity that you won’t feel them.
Do You Need Multiple Disk Size Compatibility?
You don’t really need this but it’s not a bad thing to have when done properly. A lot of DA sanders can accept smaller or larger-sized sanding disks. But many of them will give you a hard time when you’re trying to make the switch.
As I said, compatibility and ease of use are great but not everyone needs that. If you’ve had some practice with sanding and polishing then you should be able to make do with a 6” disk on just about any project.
Extra Features to Look For
There are two important features that I value more than say a built-in speed controller. The first one is a finger guard. Safety is important no matter how easy the power tool is to use and how experienced you are. A finger guard and a throttle lock that prevents accidental startups are worth the extra money when you can find them.
The secondary feature I value a lot, and so should you, is a dust collector system. Finishing work makes tons of mess, and if you work on particularly small projects with intricate detailing, a makeshift vacuum collector system might not be good enough.
This is not to say that being able to regulate the speed doesn’t have its merit. It turns a regular DA sander into a very versatile tool. You can make smooth or coarse finishes a lot easier and you can grind metal just as easily.
How Much Does the Motor Really Matter?
Last but not least, let’s discuss raw power for a moment. As you’ve seen on this list, there are motors anywhere between 2A and 4.5A and there are certainly even more powerful ones on the market.
But I would be lying if I were to say that the more powerful your sander motor is, the better. That’s definitely not always the case. Most 2 and 3A motors can achieve up to 12,000 RPM. The rated motor current draw is just a rating; it’s all about how it’s put to work with the rest of the components. This is not unlike how you shouldn’t judge a car strictly by its engine size.
It’s the quality of the sanding disk and your appreciation of how much pressure to apply that is definitely going to make a much bigger difference in the end.
The size of the sanding disk also matters a bit more than the motor current draw. The bigger the disk is the faster you get the job done.
The Bottom Line
As you know, DA sanders come in various shapes and sizes. Some manufacturers obviously have an edge when it comes to balancing out certain features, but you don’t always have to pay top dollar for that edge.
To pick the best DA sander for your projects, focus only on the features that you need. If you work with both wood and metal in projects of different sizes, you may need spring for a more capable DA sander than less demanding users.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.