There is a debate about whether to use a random orbital sander as a polisher or not; there are two sides to this debate; one side claims that it works great, and the other side proclaims that it doesn’t work at all! So what should I believe?
What is a random orbital sander?
A random orbital sander, also known as a finishing sander, is an electric-powered circular power tool. The primary purpose of these sanders is to remove paint or any other kind of surface coating by making uniform swirl-free scratches in the material. In addition, these sanders create less heat than standard belt sanders, so they don’t distort wood. The name random orbital sander comes from the fact that the machine makes circular motions as it operates and its unique feature of having no fixed orbit.
Can I use it as a polisher?
A random orbital sander is an excellent choice for removing paint, but it will not give you the results you are looking for when trying to polish your car. When using a random orbital sander as a polisher, the rotational axis of the pad will be slightly off-center from that of the backing plate. This offset rotation causes non-uniform movement and pressure as the pad rotates, causing an inconsistent polishing motion. Not only will this yield less than optimal results for your paintwork, but it can also cause permanent damage to your vehicle. As a result, it will leave swirl marks on your paint.
Besides, polishing compounds require a much higher rotational speed to break down the compounds and create a smooth finish properly. Using an orbital sander as a polisher will burn through the paint.
It is not to say that you cannot use a random orbital sander as a polisher; it’s just not such a good choice for one.
What should I do if I want to use a random orbital sander as a polisher?
You can use the random orbital sander as a polisher if you want. When using it, please be careful with your speed and pressure.
Besides, if you want to use a random orbital sander as a polisher, we recommend looking into getting or making a backing plate with radial slots or fins on it. It will allow the hook and loop pad of your choice to be held securely in place while giving the necessary support and movement needed for polishing.
Should I buy a pad to use a random orbital sander as a polisher?
Yes, it would help if you bought the pad. There are some random orbital polishers on the market, but most of them are designed to be used with Velcro-backed sanding discs.
Not every random orbital sander has polishing capabilities. The best way to find out is to read the user manual of the given tool and see if it says anything about polishing. It usually means a high-speed mode or something like that, a wider orbit. This way, it will cover a wider area, and you can use the tool as a polisher.