May 5, 2022

How fast does an orbital sander spin

An orbital sander is a handheld tool designed to sand wood and other surfaces with rounded edges. The sander’s rotating sandpaper pad rotates over a spinning spindle, which spins faster than a traditional sander. The faster the spindle spins, the faster the sandpaper will rotate, giving you a smoother surface. So, How fast does an orbital sander spin? This post will go into more detail.

How fast should a random orbital sander spin?

A random orbital sander should be able to reach 1-inch per second speeds. This figure is based on an average maximum power generated of 12,000 OPM (oscillations per minute.) Depending on the motor you get, you should reach a minimum of between 8,000 and 12,000 OPM. The speed is not very quick, but it is adequate to handle most wood projects sufficiently. It works patiently to help ensure your endeavor is fruitful because by slowing down, you spend less time sanding overall.

Uses of an orbital sander

Orbital sanders have several uses. Woodworkers buy these tools to carefully sand wood, metal, and plastic. Some typical applications of the product include sanding joint compounds or polishing. The versatility you achieve is mainly dependent on whether the orbital sander has variable speeds and which attachments are supported.

man sanding a piece of wood

Common Uses

  1. An orbital sander is perfect for dealing with unwanted saw marks that often come with substandard wood pieces. 
  2. Leveling a piece of old furniture to make it even and balanced is an excellent way to prepare wood for a refinish. 
  3. You can use an orbital sander to deal with any remaining stain when you have recently used a chemical stripper.
  4. They are mainly suited to flat areas because of the wheel’s shape. Non-flat surfaces like your bathtub might be challenging to handle with a random orbital sander.

Orbital sander jumps around

An orbital sander that jumps around is likely out-of-balance or out-of-square. This problem means that you will require a new backup pad to solve this defect. Especially when working on a flat surface and you notice the sander pulling back and forth, this is a sign of a defective backup pad. You can individually remove the PSA disks, but it is often better to change the entire pad for safety reasons. Working with a pad that jumps around will put undue stress on the bearings, and if these fail, you can sustain injury and damage. 

As for edges/corners, it is pretty standard for the sander to jump around. These edges are uneven and will likely jump periodically. Force is generated here in one direction and then bounces back to normal. You can expect this every second or two.

Belt sander speed for wood

Belt sander speed is defined in terms of SFPM. It is the scientific definition of your belt grinder’s speed in linear feet per minute. The appropriate speed for a belt sander used for wood cutting is 2940 – 4920 SFPM. As this rate increases, so does your cutting speed. You should be able to reach these speeds with minimal heat generation. It is important to note that the best belt speed for your wood is not always the same. The speed you choose will differ based on the type of abrasive grain and grit grade you choose.

How to avoid orbital sander marks

Ensure you maintain a slow and steady speed, and you won’t have any noticeable swirl marks. Operating the random orbital sander at speed above 1-inch per second can cause some unpleasant swirl marks to appear. It is ideal to avoid swirl marks by cleaning any objects stuck between the sandpaper and the wood. These obstacles are expected in a woodworking shop and might often be a stray piece of grit or a more significant bit of dust.

Random orbital sander speed settings

Orbital electric sanders can reach high speeds of up to 10,000 RPM. For professional woodworkers, this is sufficient power because it needs the care to operate the machine without the consumer pressing too hard on the sander. Experts often recommend using your sander at the highest speed because you can achieve intricate designs when you combine this with good technique and pressure. 


  1. A faster speed will save you time. A more rapid sanding job can make greater profits because you can produce more. 
  2. Using the device at a higher RPM will help you sand more finely. It will be more aggressive to handle stock removal and stripping paint or rust. 
  3. More extraordinary skill means you can attempt a wider variety of projects. 


  1. Heat generation is one of the common problems associated with running an orbital sander at high speed. It can lead to motor failure if the sander is hot to the touch. 
  2. Operating a sander at high speeds requires more outstanding expertise. It is not recommended that beginners run their machines at such high rates because it needs steady hands. 

In conclusion, the dial on most orbital sanders ranges from 1 (low) to 6 (high) speed. It is best to have the dial set between 4- 6 to quickly generate sufficient power to complete projects. You can use a slower setting for paintwork. For this material setting, the dial between 2 and 3 is best. The lowest setting isn’t recommended for any sanding situation.

Orbital sander not spinning fast

Motor problems

A problem with the orbital sander’s motor will cause it to run slowly until it stops completely. There is a chance that the engine is not correctly oiled or experiencing friction, therefore not able to spin fast. Replacing the motor will likely solve this problem.

Shaft Problems

Pneumatic orbital sanders commonly have shaft breakdowns. When these problems occur, the sander will usually stop spinning. It is also quite common that the sander will spin very slowly. Replacing the shaft will likely fix the problem and return the orbital sander to full speed. These orbital sanders are not designed for long periods of usage.

How does a random orbital sander work

Orbital sanders come in three designs: air-powered, electrically powered, and orbital floor sanders. They are designed for spinning at high speeds and sanding down surfaces. Consumers who choose a handheld option will need air and electric-powered options. Conversely, an orbital floor sander is the biggest and is a large machine that can roll. The primary function of an orbital sander is a sanding disc that is spanned simultaneously.

David D. Hughes

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