Pneumatic Random Orbit Sanders and Dust

Advice on dust collection efficiency with air-powered random-orbit sanders. March 26, 2010

I'm thinking about buying an air powered random orbit sander with self powered dust collection built into it. How well do these work at collecting dust compared to an electric sander plugged into a Festool vacuum? Is there a model that you're especially fond of? Are pneumatic sanders really that much better on your hands? I think I have enough air to power one.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I can't respond to the dust issue because we don't capture the dust at the sander. But I can state that if you think you have enough air, then you probably don't.

From contributor R:
Boy, they do use a lot of air. They can also be uncomfortably cool in a shop in colder weather with all that cold air blowing by. Nothing I have ever encountered beat Festool's ROS connected to their sander for effective dust collection. It is amazing.

Really though, buy or build a downdraft sanding table. It will make working with any sander far more pleasant, and having a dedicated sanding surface will improve your finishing since you won't be sanding on the same bench that you work on normally (less chance of glue or nicks in the table scratching the bottom of the part).

From contributor K:
I switched to pneumatic RO’s two years ago. I'd never go back. I use Dynabrade 5" ROs with central vac ready connections. In my case a downdraft table wouldn't work which is why I went with the central vac models. The dust collection works well, not perfect but well. Like contributor A said, unless you have a two stage compressor, you’re going to be out of air. I have a single stage 60 gallon that was great for staplers and pneumatic hold downs but can't keep up with one RO if ran continually.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all your responses! I've thought about buying one before, but everyone warned me about air consumption. However, I recently bought a cheap pneumatic sander for some messy work and I didn't have any problems with the compressor. Dust control is pretty important, and I do not have room for a downdraft table. Sounds like I should just stick with my current setup.

From contributor D:
I have two Dynabrades that I use with a Festool vac. One exhausts air at your hand and as contributor R said it’s cold in the winter. The other one came with a dust bag and exhausts into the bag - much more comfortable. Festool also has a R.O. air sander, though I've not used one. That extra hole in the center of Festool sanders does make a difference. There is less dust in air than the Dynabrades, and they’re fairly good.