Sometimes you get tools and you jump right into a project. Other times it takes a couple of weeks until you land something that allows you to really give a product the proper time it deserves. This month I finally got a chance to try out the 1/2-Sheet Bosch OS50VC Orbital Sander. This tool followed up the Bosch 1293D 1/2-sheet finishing sander, which predates the company’s newest move towards integrating more anti-vibration technology into their tools.
All I can say about this sander is, “What a Jewel!” It’s a husky sander, coming in at around nine pounds, but the added weight helps keep it down on the workpiece. Because it’s a half sheet sander, the extra paper and bigger footprint helps it cover more ground and material in a lot less time. When I’ve got to sand a lot of surface area, this is my new go-to tool.
Getting a First Look
There aren’t a lot of 1/2-sheet orbital sanders on the market, and the Bosch OS50VC is the only new one that’s come out in the past few years. All told you’ve got a handful of products from such companies as Milwaukee, Festool, Makita, Porter-Cable, and Hitachi. I’m sure I missed one or two, but that’s about it. These are bigger tools that are designed to do finish work on larger areas. Use it where a smaller orbital would be too inefficient, and sanding with a belt sander and sanding frame might be overkill (not to mention heavy and uneven). This thing is also built like a tank. A chiseled-looking die-cast aluminum gear housing and a forward slanted “attack angle” that makes the tool look a bit more aggressive than the traditional sanders I’m used to seeing.
Bosch OS50VC Orbital Sander Loading Paper
Bosch’s 1/2-sheet orbital sander is unique in a couple of ways. First, it loads and unloads paper like nothing I’ve used before. Typically you have either the paperclip or clipboard-style clamps that hold down the sanding paper. Those are destined to break over time. It’s not long before you’re jamming a slotted screwdriver in the front or side of your sander to change the paper. Plus you have to always worry about making sure the paper is properly tensioned. If not, it can tear up while you’re working.
Bosch OS50VC SheetLoc System
Bosch uses something it calls the SheetLoc system. It’s basically a front and rear lever system that allows you to insert and remove a half sheet of sandpaper with zero hassle. You just press the rear lever with your thumb to lift and release the large back clamp and the front lever is equally easy to operate. The spring-loaded motion of the front clamp also pulls the sandpaper flat and tight when you secure it, giving you the added benefit of getting a perfect fit nearly every time. The area by the levers is even marked “1” and “2” so you know what order to do it in (rear first, then front).
Working the Tool
The shoe is long on this sander—a full 9 inches—and it makes edge work a breeze. Plus it just lets you sand a larger surface in a lot less time and with a lot less effort. It’s perfect for final prep on doors and cabinets, for example. When I want to get a piece of wood ready for finish paint or stain, this is the tool I’ve been reaching for lately.
The punch plate is quick and simple to use. You just insert the paper, push it down onto the plastic plate and you’re ready for dust collection. And whether you connect the sander to a shop vac (it includes an adapter to fit 1-1/4″ and 1-1/2″ vacuum hoses), or you just use the included microfilter dust canister, it seems to stay out of your way while you work. The integrated paper filter also controlled a majority of fine dust particles. The screw cap was simple to remove when it came time to empty the container.
Sanding itself is super easy as the tool has a trigger switch with the all-important lock-on button. You just squeeze the trigger in and you can lock it in position to continue sanding. The variable speed dial is located on the right side of the tool. Bosch put it just within reach of your index finger while sanding. For the most part, I’ll set-and-forget this and lock on the trigger when I’m working. Vibration on this sander is almost nonexistent. Pads decouple the main body which more or less floats atop the cast base.
Bosch OS50VC 1/2 Sheet Sander Specifications
- Amperage: 3.4
- Paper size: 4-1/2″ x 11″ (1/2 sheet)
- Orbit diameter: 3/32 in.
- Overall Length: 9 in.
- Net weight: 9 lbs.
- Cord length: 13.1 ft.
- Includes: Microfilter dust canister, hose adapter, sanding pad, punch plate, sanding sheet
- Price: $379