If you’re looking to start detailing your car, or plan to continue to do so and just need a new sander or polisher – finding the best orbital sander and polisher is key. While the best practices for buffing your car are up to personal preference, we break down everything you need to know so you can make an informed purchasing decision on your own.
From customer reviews to our review team’s personal experiences with these power tools and the buffing process, we cover it all in this review of the best orbital sanders and polishers on the market.
How We Tested
The orbital sanders in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors like shipping eligibility, customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices.
Orbital Sanders And Polishers Testing Process
The five orbital sanders that best met these standards were ordered by our team for testing. A team member tested each product on a car, taking note of the speed the orbital sander can operate at, its maneuverability, and its versatility. Each orbital sander was given a rating out of 5 stars based on this criteria.
- Speed: Arguably the most important characteristic of a sander or a polisher, we tested this by noting if the device had variable speed settings. Our team then noted the range of RPMs or OPMs that the device could operate at.
- Maneuverability: Often overlooked, our team judged each sander or polisher’s maneuverability by noting whether the device was corded or cordless. We also noted how lightweight the sander or polisher was and any available handles or grips.
- Versatility: This testing category involved judging what tasks the polisher or sander could accomplish. We noted whether the polisher or sander could perform each step of the buffing process effectively, as well as other tasks like removing paint from a car.
Why You Can Trust Us
Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. A team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.
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5 Best Orbital Sanders And Polishers
- Best Overall: DeWalt DWP849X Variable-Speed Polisher
- Best for Car Detailing: Avid Power 6-Inch Dual Action Polisher
- Easiest to Use: Milwaukee M18 Random Orbit Sander
- Best Kit: Chemical Guys BUF_503X TORQX Kit
- Best Value: Black + Decker 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander
#1 Best Overall: DeWalt DWP849X Variable-Speed Polisher
The DeWalt DWP849X Variable-Speed Polisher features a 12.0-amp brushless motor and all ball-bearing construction to maximize its performance. This orbital polisher has a variable speed dial, which lets users pick from six speed settings for a range of 600 to 3,500 revolutions per minute (RPM). The steel gears on this car polisher are heat-treated and precision-cut for smooth operation.
An integrated wool ingestion shield minimizes costs associated with servicing and repair by eliminating the possibility of wool ingestion. DeWalt’s exclusive Controlled Finishing System allows users to control the speed of the polisher via the variable-speed trigger. It should be noted that this random orbital polisher is backed by a 90-day money-back guarantee, a one-year free service contract, and a three-year limited warranty.
- Cost: About $250
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 6.7 pounds
- Dimensions: 4.4 by 9.0 by 21.7 inches
In our experience, the DeWalt DWP849X Variable-Speed Polisher was a joy to work with and buffed out some deep scratches that we didn’t think would buff out on our testing vehicle.
|Overall Rating||5 out of 5|
Speed: With a range of 600 to 3,500 RPM and 1,250.0 max watts out, the speed at which this car polisher could work was never an issue. This is undoubtedly a heavy-duty power tool, but the variable-speed settings denoted in RPM rather than an arbitrary setting number made this polisher feel more manageable.
Maneuverability: This orbital polisher was incredibly maneuverable, easy to hold, and didn’t bother our review team members when using it for extended periods of time. The polisher weighs a mere 6.7 lbs. and has an incredibly ergonomic three-position bale handle, as well as a traditional side handle to give users ultimate control and comfort while using the power tool.
Versatility: How low a speed setting this polisher can go down to ultimately separates it from the competition. The low-speed capabilities paired with a high maximum RPM mean any stage of the buffing process is possible with this orbital polisher.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 5,900 ratings
This tool is described as a professional-level orbital polisher, and there are reviews from some mechanics and detailers claiming to use this on the job and at home. Many appreciate the variable speed control feature and note the DeWalt’s durability. One reviewer claims she’s used Porter Cable, Hitachi, Makita, and Metabo polishers, and none of them can compare to the DeWalt.
There are very few negative reviews for this product, though a few complain that the DeWalt is too heavy.
#2 Best For Car Detailing: Avid Power 6-Inch Dual Action Polisher
Easy enough to use for beginners and powerful enough for professionals, the Avid Power 6-Inch Dual Action Polisher is a great option for anyone who wants to detail their car. This polisher can operate between 1,500 and 6,800 oscillations per minute (OPM). Speed setting numbers and the OPM they correlate with are listed below:
- Setting 1: 1,500 OPM
- Setting 2: 3,000 OPM
- Setting 3: 3,500 OPM
- Setting 4: 4,500 OPM
- Setting 5: 5,500 OPM
- Setting 6: 6,800 OPM
A six-speed control dial allows users to tailor this dual-action (DA) polisher’s speed to different applications. Speed settings number 1 and 2 are best for waxing and buffing, settings 3 and 4 are best for polishing and cleaning, and settings 5 and 6 are best for removing paint defects and oxidation.
- Cost: About $80
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 6.8 lbs.
- Dimensions: 14.9 by 7.6 by 6.1 in.
This DA polisher was deemed the Best for Car Detailing by our review team due to the fact that it was specially designed for use on cars.
|Overall Rating||4.7 out of 5|
Speed: The operating speed of this DA polisher makes it perfect for all stages of the buffing process. Variable speed settings that correlate to specific OPMs mean you can properly set up your power tool for any car detailing task you may have.
Maneuverability: Due to its light weight and ergonomic design, we had no issues using and maneuvering this dual-action polisher. The rubberized body and adjustable handle made wielding the polisher unproblematic, even when spending multiple hours with it in our hands.
Versatility: Due to the control over the polisher’s speed – as well as the wide range of speeds – this is an incredibly versatile tool. We had no issues completing each stage of the buffing process with the orbital polisher.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 6,900 reviews
Many reviewers speak to how easy it is to use this polisher, how effective it is at removing swirl marks, and simply that it gets the job done. While it works well, this polisher is notably less durable than the DeWalt, according to reviewers. It’s not designed for heavy use, but the occasional polish. This is noted as a good orbital polisher for beginners.
#3 Easiest To Use: Milwaukee M18 Random Orbit Sander
The Milwaukee M18 Random Orbit Sander is an incredibly maneuverable orbital sander, as it’s cordless and weighs just 2.0 lbs. This sander features a variable speed control dial that allows users to choose from six different speed settings, ranging between 7,000 and 12,000 OPM. This ultimately means users are in more control over orbit speed and can more accurately match speed to their application.
Although the Milwaukee M18 is considered a random orbit sander by name, it’s actually a palm sander. This is due to the fact that by definition, a palm sander is smaller and more lightweight than a random orbital sander – which tend to be much larger tools. This battery-powered portable power sander may be small, but it’s surprisingly powerful and effective.
- Cost: About $110
- Power source: Cordless
- Weight: 2.0 lbs.
- Dimensions: 6.0 by 11.0 by 7.0 in.
As the only cordless option featured in this review, our team of experts named the Milwaukee M18 the Easiest to Use orbital sander on the market.
|Overall Rating||4.5 out of 5|
Speed: While this palm sander utilizes a basic lithium-ion battery with a runtime of roughly 35 minutes, it’s much more powerful than you’d expect. Able to operate between 7,000 and 12,000 OPM, we appreciated the fact that this sander has variable speed control.
Maneuverability: The Milwaukee M18 is easily the most maneuverable orbital sander we researched or tested. We love how lightweight this sander is, especially for its level of power output. However, ease of use could be improved upon if there were more grip options.
Versatility: The Milwaukee M18 was surprisingly versatile, and our team members were able to complete most of the buffing process with this power tool. However, we do wish this palm sander could orbit at slightly slower speeds for some stages of the buffing process.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 2,500 ratings
This orbital sander is described by reviewers as compact and powerful. Although most seem to use this cordless orbital polisher for sanding, many also use it for auto body work. One of the biggest issues with this sander, according to reviews, is the battery life. The M18 batteries that power this sander drain very quickly.
#4 Best Kit: Chemical Guys BUF_503X TORQX Kit
Designed as an all-inclusive kit, the Chemical Guys BUF_503X TORQX Kit features TORQ’s TORQX Random Orbital Polisher and everything you need to complete the buffing process. The polisher featured in this kit has 700.0 watts of power and a voltage of 120.0. Ultimately, this means that this random orbital polisher can operate at speeds between 1,500 and 4,000 RPM across six different speed settings.
Although the kit comes with our picks for the best buffing pad as well as the best buffing compound on the market, the TORQX is compatible with 3.0-in., 5.0-in., and 6.0-in. backing plates. This means that thanks to Streamlined Integration (SI), you can choose whichever buffing pads you want within the previously mentioned size range.
- Cost: About $190
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 6.5 lbs.
- Dimensions: 20.1 by 8.0 by 8.0 in.
The Chemical Guys kit is the best you’ll find if you’re looking to purchase an orbital sander or an orbital polisher with everything you need to effectively perform the buffing process on your car.
|Overall Rating||4.3 out of 5|
Speed: While this orbital polisher doesn’t have the capabilities to reach extremely high speeds, it produces more than enough power to complete each stage of the buffing process. With variable speed control, we had no issues working with this polisher.
Maneuverability: Relatively lightweight, our team members had no problems moving and maneuvering this random orbital polisher around our testing vehicle. The balanced ergonomic design (BED) of the polisher meant even after several hours of use, our team members weren’t getting fatigued or tired when wielding the power tool.
Versatility: As touched upon earlier, this random orbital polisher gave our team no issues when attempting to effectively perform each step of the buffing process. However, it won’t be able to remove paint from your car or correct oxidation as it’s unable to reach optimal speeds for those processes.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 9,900 ratings
Reviewers recommend this polisher as easy to use and a great entry-level option for DIYers or first-time car detailers. One reviewer notes this polisher has the durability and build quality to survive frequent drops and dings.
For more advanced detailers, this may not be the best kit. The lower orbital radius makes this a slower polisher and some feel the included cutting compound could be stronger.
#5 Best Value: Black + Decker 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander
The Black + Decker 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander has a 2.0-amp motor that can produce a voltage of 120.0 volts. In terms of speed, this orbital sander can operate at 12,000 OPM. However, there are no variable speed settings, meaning you can’t match this sander’s speed to your desired application. This sander utilizes a hook and loop system so you can easily switch between buffing pads from a variety of different brands.
A built-in dust collection bag reduces your clean-up time and allows users to keep their workspace free of dust and debris. A paddle switch function makes turning this sander on and off incredibly easy.
- Cost: About $30
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 3.2 lbs.
- Dimensions: 7.0 by 5.0 by 6.0 in.
Although the Black + Decker 5-Inch Random Orbital Sander isn’t expensive or dubbed as a high-end option, it’s easily one of the best random orbital sanders on the market.
|Overall Rating||4 out of 5|
Speed: As users are unable to vary the speed of the Black + Decker sander, it received a low score compared to the rest of the sanders and polishers in this review. However, we were impressed with the fact that this sander could operate at 12,000 OPM.
Maneuverability: Due to the Black + Decker’s incredibly light weight and slim design, it’s highly maneuverable. Although this is a corded sander, as long as you have an extension cord you’ll have no issues moving this power tool around.
Versatility: Because this sander only operates at one speed, specifically 12,000 OPM, it means the sander isn’t as versatile as we would like. This power tool will be great for removing paint from your car, but won’t be able to effectively perform more delicate stages of the buffing process.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 13,000 ratings
The majority of reviews refer to the Black + Decker as a great little sander, while several reviewers note how impressed they were with the dust collector bag. One reviewer claims she’s abused this sander for three years now and it still works incredibly well.
While this sander is good for beginners, it isn’t especially powerful and some find the handle uncomfortable.
Orbital Sanders And Orbital Polishers Buyers Guide
While this article focuses on orbital sanders, it also highlights some of the best random orbital polishers on the market. Both types of devices will work for buffing out your car or general DIY car detailing, but some are better suited for other applications.
Differences In Tools
- Random orbital sander: This sander is a handheld power sander that rotates in elliptical cycles known as orbits.
- Orbital sander: Similar to a random orbital sander in almost every sense, this type of sander moves in circular rotations rather than simultaneously moving back and forth as a random orbital sander would.
- Palm sander: Otherwise known as a 1/4-inch sheet sander due to its size, this is the smallest and most compact type of sander. Palm sanders are also usually square in shape.
- Random orbital polisher: A sort of combination between orbital and rotary polishers, this polisher moves in an orbital motion in the same manner as that of a random orbital sander.
- Orbital polisher: This type of polisher moves in circular rotations, rather than orbits, and tends to be the most common type of polisher.
- Rotary polisher: Simple in concept but more difficult to master and control than random orbital polishers, this type of polisher spins in a circular motion and creates a lot of heat and friction, which can potentially damage a car’s paint.
- Dual-action polisher: Also referred to as a forced rotation polisher, this polisher combines the movement of rotary and random orbital polisher by forcing rotational movement along with orbital motion.
If you don’t use your sander or polisher at the proper speed for your desired application, then you might not get the results on your car that you were looking for.
- For compounding, we recommend operating your polisher or sander between 1,750 and 2,400 RPM.
- For polishing, we recommend operating your sander or polisher between 1,200 and 1,750 RPM.
- For heavy cutting, we recommend operating your polisher or sander between 2,000 and 2,500 RPM.
RPMs and OPMs should not be confused, as they are two completely different motions and measurements. While there’s no guide to converting RPM to OPM, or vice versa, we can provide a rough guide for recommended OPMs for different stages of the car buffing process.
- For waxing and buffing, we recommend operating your polisher or sander between 1,500 and 3,500 OPM.
- For polishing and cleaning, we recommend operating your sander or polisher between 2,500 and 4,000 OPM.
- For removing paint defects and oxidation, we recommend operating your polisher or sander between 4,000 and 7,000 OPM.
Variable Speed Settings
While many of the top sanders and polishers in the industry feature variable speed settings, they aren’t all made the same. Most sanders or polishers that have variable speed settings typically have six settings to choose from.
There isn’t a standardized OPM or RPM that correlates with a specific speed setting number for sanders or polishers. This means that you should read your user manual and any available literature on the subject, so you don’t accidentally select a speed setting that won’t provide you with the results you are looking for.
Orbital Sanders: Bottom Line
Although they require a skilled hand, orbital sanders are great for adding a smooth finish to a vehicle’s body panels and can be used for other DIY tasks like woodworking. We like the Milwaukee M18 Random Orbit Sander for a few reasons. This cordless sander has a comfortable grip and powerful motor, but customers seeking a variable-speed sander may want to explore other options.
Orbital Sander: FAQ
*Data accurate at time of publication.