Random orbit sanders fill a space between belt sanders and orbital sanders. Fitting somewhere between heavy duty and finish sanding, they’re actually a pretty effective balance of the two. When you’ve got to choose just one sander to go with, the random orbit sander is the way to go to cover a variety of applications from start to finish. When you go searching for cordless models, you’re not going to find many. In fact, there are really only two in the mainstream market. We got our hands on the new Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbit Sander. Having already been impressed with the Ridgid Gen5X 5 Piece General Contractor’s Kit and Ridgid hybrid fan, I’ve gone in with high expectations for this unit.
So, my Mom comes up to me about a week ago and says, “I’d like to strip and sand this cabinet. Do you have any tools that would help?” Strangely enough, I’ve got the Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbit Sander just waiting for a project like this! First, we needed to get the paint off of them. It can be tough to use a sander for paint stripping, but I decided to give the Gen5X a chance. After stripping, I knew I needed to to give the cabinet a nice smooth finish while Mom decided what kind of protective coating she’d like to have on them. This sander should be able to handle both tasks on such a small project.
This model of Ridgid’s 5″ sander, like their corded model, uses a palm grip. It’s just even more compact. Rather than the D-handle and trigger found on a their 6″ corded orbital, you get an on/off switch. My thumb found a natural resting place there which was handy for turning the unit on or off. Just behind the switch, the speed selection thumb wheel is simple to adjust on the fly. An elliptically-shaped center housing promotes a grip that is well-suited for a controlled sweeping motion parallel to the wood grain.
Rubberized and textured Hex Grip on both gripping points covers more than what is necessary to provide a secure handle on the tool. Air Guard technology on the Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbit Sander claims to capture up to 90% of the dust—something that I was hoping would be true since this project would take me away from my dust extractor at the shop.
Making the jump from corded to cordless sanders is a leap of faith. There are power and run-time concerns. Heck, there’s a reason that there aren’t many to choose from! The Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbit Sander runs 1,000 RPM slower at top speed than their R2601 corded model. At the same time, it’s boasting more than 40 minutes of run-time on a single Ridgid 4.0 Ah lithium-ion battery.
Ridgid R8606B Random Orbit Sander Features
- Ridgid Gen5X Permanent Magnet Technology
- AirGuard Technology: Collects up to 90% of dust
- Variable Speed Dial
- Dust-Sealed Switch
- Soft Start
- Hex Grip Overmold
- Integrated Dust Collector Adapter
- Quick Release Dust Bag
Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbit Sander Specifications
- Power Source: 18V HyperLithium Battery Pack
- Speed: 7,000 – 11,000 RPM
- Orbit Diameter: 1/8″
- Pad Size: 5″
- Run Time: 40+ Minutes on 4.0 Ah Battery
- Warranty: Lifetime Service Agreement
- Price: $69.97
Ridgid R8606B Performance
Three coats of paint ranging from 30 – 40 years old awaited me. It was hard, it was cracked, and it was tough. I know, I know—there are better ways to remove paint. Call me an idealist. Or idiotic. That works, too. One thing is for sure—it would give me plenty of time to really get to know the Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbit Sander.
As I got going, I immediately noticed the soft start feature. This was great for ensuring a controlled, even start to the project. Even with the AirGuard dust collection system, it’s still a good idea to wear a dust mask and safety glasses (particularly if you happen to be outdoors). The system did collect a lot of the dust I created, but there was still plenty to threaten my eyes and lungs. Toss a shop vac into the mix and you’ll be in much better shape.
Sweeping parallel to the wood grain, I noticed that there was a decent amount of vibration that is transferred to the user. Part of this is simply because of the random orbiting action. Were it just a simple circular motion, I would have only felt the contours of the wood. With the random orbit action, there were moments in the cycle where the motion fought against my sweep. It wasn’t really enough to lead to hand fatigue, though. In fact, leaning over forced me to think about my back much more than the vibration to my hands.
It took more than an hour with a 60 grit sanding disk to get through the painted top of the cabinet. This really isn’t the fault of the sander though. The time it took was a function of the paint, the sanding disks I used, and my
perseverance stubbornness. Once the paint was gone, the Ridgid Gen5X random orbit sander really smoothed out the wood in a hurry. Just a few passes was all I needed to get the initial finish I was looking for. Moving on to finer grit disks in succession (Don’t skip one if you want a truly perfect finish!) left me with a sanded top that I was really pleased with. There was plenty of power to get the job done quickly once the paint was gone.
The majority of the time I had the speed dial set on High to try and power through that paint. It ran for just under 40 minutes with a 4.0 amp hour battery pack. Having a spare battery on hand allowed me to work continuously for close to two hours before I decided to get out of the Florida summer sun.
I didn’t get a chance to hook up the dust extractor to see what kind of difference it would make in dust collection. When I do, I’ll be sure to come back and update you. Even though the AirGuard system does an admirable job of dust collection, you’ll still want to keep those safety glasses and dust masks handy.
For the relatively uninitiated, it’s a pretty big deal that Ridgid developed a cordless random orbit sander. There’s not a whole lot of competition on the market. The fact that Ridgid brought this to market using their Gen5X motor technology before most of the other big boys tells me a lot about performance of this generation. The Ridgid Gen5X Random Orbit Sander boasts solid performance in this group and is priced a full $30 under its closest competition.
Dedicated woodworkers and carpenters that spend several hours a day sanding may want to try it before they buy it. Trim carpenters, remodelers, and other occasional users will likely find the convenience of cordless a very attractive option considering it’s priced right in the middle of the major corded models.