Once upon a time, we had simple orbital sanders with a single speed. Even today they exist, but they are usually reserved for minor applications and for amateurs. Variable speed units are more common. The essence between two types is the same. Both have an electric motor and a belt which is used to spin the piece of sand paper. However, variable speed models have a switch which controls the speed of the motor, therefore directly provides different speeds of the sand paper.
The best orbital sander for your needs will probably have a variable speed feature. It won’t increase the cost significantly, nor the weight, but the advantages you will get are impressive, so let’s check them out.
Much safer to use
Using an orbital sander isn’t as safe as it sounds. With high-speed models, when you hit an obstacle, they will literally jump off the surface and change direction. You can hurt yourself, or you will damage the surface. Either way is a severe issue.
When you can adjust the speed you can use slower ones to roughly remove the first layer of the surface, including any obstacles. After that, be free to use a higher speed to remove the next layer of material.
Variable speed orbital sanders are versatile units
With a single-speed orbital sander, you may use it for just one application. Variable speed versions are versatile and they can be used for multiple purposes and multiple materials. For example, plastics or soft materials must be sanded with a slow speed. If you use a high speed, you will damage the surface.
Adjusting the speed also allows you to choose between rough usages and gentle finishes. When you must remove a large layer of material or paint, you will have to use a higher speed. On the other side, once you need a gentle finish, you must use slow speed. It is explained by the amount of material an orbital sander will remove. Obviously, when using the fastest setting, it will remove a larger amount of material at once. The situation is completely opposite when you use slow speeds.
More convenient and precise
Maybe it sounds irrelevant, but variable speed orbital sanders are more precise and more convenient. Precision refers to smaller areas of surface you must sand or to the areas which are hard to reach. Using high speed will probably result in making a mistake and damaging the surface at some part.
More convenient stands for the ability to use a sander to reach the aforementioned places. If you can’t, you will have to sand them by hand, which is a time-consuming process.
Dust collection system
Because single speed models are usually more affordable, they may have not dust collection systems. Completely opposite, variable speed units are premium models, so they will probably have this feature. It is more important than you can imagine. It removes the dust as soon as it accumulated below the sand paper. As such, sanding is simpler, safer and allows you to perform more delicate finishes.