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Early last year I started looking around for a decent palm sander, because after building numerous bookcases and other wood projects, my arms ached like hell. I’d tried other models in the past, and found many of them difficult to control, which led to mixed results in use. After lots of pawing at display models, I decided to try the Bosch 5″ random orbit model — and discovered why so many pros love this model. Read on past the jump to find out why it’s one of our favorite tools of 2007.

Unlike the old square models, the Bosch fits perfectly into my hand, making it far easier to sand for long periods. Its speed control allows fine adjustment of exactly how much material you’re removing, and it’s easy to adjust the speed control with my index finger without shutting down the tool or letting go of it.

Best of all, the random orbit motion leaves no grooves at all. Yet you can still angle the edge into a corner or a large bump to remove material more quickly. Sanding discs attach via a simple hook-and-loop system, and pre-cut 5″ discs are available in damn near any grit right at the local big-box retailer.

I’ve wielded the Bosch against fiberglass, resin, Bondo, wood, and just about every other material you could imagine in the TM shop over the last year, and though it’s a bit dirtier than when I bought it, it still chugs away. I suspect that this tool is often overlooked by other publications because it’s so simple: it just works.

Unlike some of the other tools in our ’07 top ten, this one’s a bit pricey. I spent $65 for it, and having burned through hundreds of discs, I’d pay more if they asked it. (Don’t tell Bosch!) If you’re looking for a quality, durable, reasonably-priced palm sander that’ll make your life in the shop easier, this is your baby.

5″ Palm-Grip Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander [Bosch]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

 

18 Responses to TM’s 2007 Favorites: Bosch’s 5″ Palm Random Orbit Sander

  1. Lew says:

    I own a similar 5″ Palm ROS from Black and Decker. I agree it is a great tool and over the last 10 years, I have been unable to kill it. Works like it should – every time. Make sure you buy the sanding discs in bulk – you will use them.

  2. PutnamEco says:

    Try hooking it up to a shop vac. Definitely helps with the clean up, and cuts down on huffing dust,

    Festools RO 150 FEQ, CT 33 combo really rocks.
    Like a cross between a disc grinder and a random orbit sander.

    http://www.festoolusa.com/ProductDetails.aspx?id=7&prodid=571594

  3. Fred says:

    My first “finishing” sanders were Rockwell’s (read Porter Cable) – a #330 1/4 sheet sander – and a #505 1/2 sheet sander. Both still work after 30 or more years. I moved over to random orbit – a Porter Cable #7336 – 6 inch diameter machine that looks a bit like an angle grinder. I think this may have been the first RO sander that I ever saw – its a single speed unit and it still works. By 1998 a decided to add a Bosch 3725DVS – a 5 inch model – which I use a lot for fine work. The PC 7336 is still my favorite for wooden garage doors and outside trim.

    I’d look a Festool products – but think they are too pricey.

  4. Jason says:

    I have, what I guess is an older model than what is pictured here. The sander works fine, but the dust bag, well, is a fabric bag and is tearing off. It’s also difficult to detach/attach. I guess they fixed the problems with the above model.

  5. Frank Townend says:

    These are great little sanders. I guess as we get older the elbow grease dries up.

    Funny typo in your post. You stated “simple hook-and-look system”. So true, we put the pad on the bottom of the sander then turn it over to “look” to see if it is attached.

  6. Sean O'Hara says:

    Awesome catch Frank! Also so very true, I can’t count how many times I look to make sure it’s attached even though I know damn well it’s there.

  7. Simon says:

    I figure a palm sander is so cheap that is should be standard tool along with your hammer since it makes sloppy carpentry work look professional. I really like to sand rusty metal, tools, table saws etc with a palm sander also.

    (BTW the 3X Norton pads are worth the extra money)

  8. SuperJdynamite says:

    Small oops: the “street pricing” link goes to pricing for Hobart welding gloves.

  9. Norton155 says:

    How easy is it to hook up a shop vac to this sander for dust collection? I’m new to woodworking and the only method of dusk collection I have is a 20 gallon shop vac. My hose is round and the dusk bag inlet looks rectangular on all the pictures I have seen. Does anyone have a source for these types of adapters? Thanks.

  10. Jim German says:

    I picked up this sander last year and have to agree that it works quite well. However I do have two gripes about it, the first is the backing pad on mine is already very worn and needs to be replaced (not a particularly big deal but I have to order it online so its irritating). The other gripe I have is that it doesn’t have normal (read: round) exhaust port so you need an adapter to hook up a shop vac. Its only a little piece of plastic, but once again its not avalible at the local big box, so I’ve gotta order it online (which of course means I haven’t, since I’m lazy) For how cheap a piece it is, I think Bosch would do well to include it with the sander.

  11. Fred says:

    There are some vacuum hose adapters for Bosch (and other sanders).
    Here’s one link:

    http://www.amazon.com/Bosch-VAC004-35mm-4-Inch-Adapter/dp/B0000AV781

  12. Kyle says:

    You also picked the best 5″ sander, according to Fine Woodworking. I’ve purchased a load of tools this year…. based on reviews in Fine Woodworking. Many of them are Bosch.

  13. This is only slightly related, but now that Bosch owns Skil, what’s the difference in the quality of their tools? I know Bosch is the “pro” line and Skil is the “homeowner” series of tools, but do they share a lot of the same internals…other than the motors which seem to be universally more powerful on the Bosch stuff?

  14. Fred says:

    There have been many consolidations in the tool business. Skil was once a full range tool supplier – from low end to professional tools. When Bosh acquired them into Skil-Bosch tools (aslo Dremel, Rotozip, Vermont American et. al.) they seem to have decide that most of the Skil brand would be applied to the lower end.
    I think that the same is true for Black and Decker – with their Dewalt, Delta and Porter Cable lines being aimed at a more professional audience – with some blurring of the lines.

  15. Michael W. says:

    I made a simple DIY hose adapter from one of those $2 rubber shop vac adapters that you can buy at Home Depot (or similar places). I just tape it on with Gorilla Tape and sand away. Doesn’t work as nice as the Bosch one, but it’s less pricey and the shipping time was way shorter.

  16. kt says:

    the bosch is good for most jobs, although i’ve found that it sometimes has a tendency to buck. and you really can only use it on flat surfaces, since it is pretty hefty. the makita, however, is very smooth. and because it is so light, you can use it on some concave moulding edges. i’ve worked with so many sanders in my old job. my only complaint about the makita is that the pad wears out a little fast. but i was using it for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, so…. i would recommend the makita over the bosch.

  17. Teacher says:

    I have several sanders but my one RO sander is a PC 5″. It was the last of my six sanders I bought and I now wish I had gotten it first.

  18. Mel says:

    Finished sanding my stairs in under an hour. Just needed a little varnish remover for the tight corners but boy does it reach right up to the edge without sanding the perpendicular surface. Excellent!

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