RIDGID ORBIT SANDER REVIEW
The Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbital Sander (RON) is one of the most popular models among DIYers because it offers high performance at a low price. It’s a great tool for hobbyists or professionals looking to save money.
If you’re just starting out with woodworking, then RON might be your ticket into the world of sanding. If you’ve been doing it for awhile, then RON may still be working well for you.
What Is Ridgid?
Ridgid is a brand name used by several companies including Ridgid Industries Inc., which manufactures various types of products such as hand tools, furniture accessories and other household items. They are based in El Segundo, California. Their website states they have offices in New York City and London.
Ridgid is known for their rugged and reliable products. They produce many different types of tools ranging from screwdrivers to drills.
Some of their most popular brands include Ridgid Screwdriver, Ridgid Drill Bit Driver, Ridgid Hand Saw and Ridgid Floor Saw.
Why Buy A RON?
There are many reasons why someone would want to buy a RON like I did. The first and foremost reason is they’re dirt cheap. For less than a hundred bucks you can have a sander that will last for years to come. You could buy several RON’s for the price of one orbital sander by other more popular brands. This makes them great for anyone on a budget or even for someone who doesn’t do a lot of woodworking projects.
RON’s are very easy to use and take little effort to master. Even for a complete novice it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to learn the basics of how to use one.
I’ve found that they’re lightweight and relatively quiet when compared to other orbital sanders which is nice because they cause less fatigue and less disturbances to those around you.
They’re very durable and even the more affordable models of RON’s are known to last for a very long time. I’ve had my model for about 6 years now and have no complaints.
I used it nearly every other day when I was in college and it’s still going strong. Granted I haven’t used it in the past couple years, but I’m hoping it’ll be good to go when I get around to using it again.
How Does a RON Work?
The main purpose of a sander is to, well, sand. It may sound like a simple concept, but it involves a bit of physics and engineering. I’m not going to get too technical on the inner working of an orbital sander, but here’s the basic idea:
There’s a spinning disk (or in some cases, two) at the base of the sander. The disk has ridges on it that move around and sandpaper attached to them.
A motor powers the disk and causes it to spin. As the disk spins, the ridges make contact with the sandpaper and push it forward. This is why it’s called an orbital sander; it is making an orbital motion (it’s name doesn’t have anything to do with space). As the disk moves in a circular motion, it also pushes the sandpaper forward in a straight line (or more of a straight line than a circular motion would produce). As the sandpaper moves forward, it makes contact with the material that is being sanded and does what it’s supposed to do.
The whole assembly can be adjusted up and down to allow for different levels of material to be sanded (more on that later). There’s also a pad on the bottom of the assembly that acts as a lever, which helps provide more power to the motor.
What Do You Need To Know Before Buying a RON?
The first thing you need to consider is how much you’re willing to spend. The average price for an orbital sander is between $20 and $100 U.S. The more you spend, the better quality you’ll get. As I mentioned earlier, RON orbital sanders are known for their cheap price and long lasting quality. The most basic models can be bought for less than $20 and the professional series (called the Pad-e-master) sells for around $200 U.S.
Most of your decision will come down to how much you’re willing to spend and what exactly you’ll be using it for. If you do a lot of woodworking or find yourself using an orbital sander a lot, it might be worth the investment to buy one of the more expensive models.
They’re typically lighter, quieter, and easier to use.
The cheaper models are still great though and if you don’t do too much woodworking they’ll work just fine.
One thing to keep in mind is that some sanders don’t come with a pad (the piece that holds the sandpaper). While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s annoying having to buy one (or two) that are specifically made for your model of sander.
If you can, try to find one that comes with a pad (or pads in some cases).
What Kind Of Sandpaper Do You Need?
Most sanders use a specific kind of sandpaper called hook and loop or hook and latch. The sandpaper is covered with tiny little hooks (or latches) that catch on the opposing piece of sandpaper and cause it to stick to the pad or the material you’re sanding.
Most people buy sandpaper in a range of different grades from extra-coarse to extra-fine. The higher the number, the finer the grit is and the smoother the finished product will be.
If you were sanding down wood to make it smooth, you would start with an extra-coarse grit and finish with an extra-fine grit.
You don’t necessarily need all those different kinds of paper though. I’ve found that starting with a medium grade (50), then going over the same area with a fine grade (100) works just as well.
Either way, the basic rule of thumb is the finer the grit, the smoother the finished product will be.
How About Accessories?
Most RON sanders come with a few different accessories. One of the most common is a dust shroud. This is a plastic cover that attaches to the front end of the sander and shrouds the sanding disk. It’s designed to keep the dust and debris from flying all over the place (and more importantly, in your face).
Another common add-on is an extension pole. This allows you to sand things that are a little higher than the sander itself (for example, the ceiling).
There are also special add-ons for more specific jobs (like sanding the edges of door casings or rounded surfaces). While these are great if you need them, they can be a bit of an investment if you don’t.
How Do You Use An Orbital Sander?
Orbital sanders are a lot like other power tools in that there is a specific way to hold and use them for maximum efficiency and safety. (This also goes for things like drills and lawn mowers).
Here are a few tips on how to operate your sander:
Wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris (I can’t stress this enough).
Don’t hold the sander too tightly. The weight of the sander should do most of the work, you shouldn’t have to force it.
In most cases, you’ll want to sand with the grain rather than against it. This will help prevent the wood from splintering or cracking and will give a smoother finish.
Stick with it! It can be a bit tedious going over an area multiple times with different grits of sandpaper, but it’s necessary for a professional looking job.
How Do You Repair an Orbital Sander?
Just like any other power tool, sanders need occasional maintenance and repair. Fortunately, most of the time you can perform most of this maintenance yourself in a matter of minutes. In some cases, you might need to take it to a local repair shop and have them fix it (this could get expensive).
Sources & references used in this article: