Review: Porter Cable 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

The goal of any power sander is to provide its user with the maximum sanding speed necessary to create the smooth finish that is desired. Some models offer a valiant try, but wind up failing at the end of the day. The Porter Cable 5-inch random orbit sander is one of the success stories that you’ll want to consider. Featuring a controlled system that allows for a controlled pad speed under variable working conditions, we found this sander to be an extremely useful tool.

There are a number of features that are worth looking at because they contribute to a final result that is quite consistent.

  • It has a proprietary start-up system that allows you to have controlled sanding speeds throughout each phase of use. This is particularly useful when you’re trying to smooth out a seam or remove an old coat of paint or varnish.
  • The 1.9-amp motor is a little undersized when compared to other models that are available, but it is still capable of producing up to 12,000 OPM. You can also use any 5-inch 8-hole hook and loop sandpapers with this particular power sander.
  • It’s incredibly lightweight, coming in at just 3 pounds. This helps to prevent a lot of the user fatigue that can occur with power sanders.

What We Loved About the Porter Cable Random Orbit Sander

This sander is able to produce consistent results, whether you’re performing heavy duty sanding or you just have light sanding needs. It works best when you’re sanding veneer or a soft wood where you’re trying to even out the surface, but can tackle tougher jobs as well. It’s not quite an all-purpose sander, but it comes pretty close.

It is a sander that really doesn’t offer much more than this. It’s a no-frills product that goes about the business of getting some sanding done. All you need to do is choose your preferred grit, take advantage of the hook and loop system, and then get to work. Turn on the switch and start sanding with just light pressure pressing downward in the direction of the working piece.

What Could Be Improved Upon with the Porter Cable Random Orbit Sander

In two words: dust bag. Although the Porter Cable sander does do a reasonably good job of collecting dust, the actual dust bag does not like to stay on at all. We ended up needing to take same duct tape to the connection to ensure that the seal would stay tight.

You’ll also discover that the dust bag tends to fill up extremely fast. It only takes a couple minutes of sanding to fill it up and you then have to stop and empty it out. You can keep operating the sander with a full dust bag, but the mess will distribute all over your working project.

Assuming you can get past the dust bag, this sander tends to over-perform in every task that is asked of it. Give it a closer look and we think you’ll be as pleased as we were with the opportunity to use it.

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