Battery platform: 12V and 18V
Oscillations per minute: 6,000 to 10,000
Orbit diameter: 3/32″
Orbit radius: 3/64″
Disc size: 5″ (8-hole pattern)
Weight: 2 lb 5 oz (12V); 3 lb 12 oz (18V) with battery installed
Includes: tool, medium backing pad, dust bag, sanding disc
Like many woodworkers I spend a fair chunk of time sanding. While it’s not the most enjoyable task it’s an essential part of the finishing process, so it’s important to do as good a job as can be done. For close to a decade I’ve been using a Bosch ROS65VC – in my view one of the best random orbit sanders on the market. With a 5/32″ orbit diameter and 12,000 maximum orbits per minute it’s ideal for more aggressive sanding of large panels and wide stock. But, at almost 5-1/2 pounds, it can become unwieldy when you have a lot of sanding to do.
Recently I had the opportunity of trying the new Bosch GEX 5″ random orbit sanders, and for light duty sanding these are my new shop buddies.
GEX sanders are available in either a 12V or 18V configuration that offer the same basic features. The 18V model, equipped with a 4Ah battery will deliver 72Wh of runtime while the 12V model with a 3Ah battery delivers half the runtime. The 18V model also weighs almost 1-1/2 pounds more than the 12V model (due to a heavier battery and aluminum skirt).
What I find particularly pleasing about these cordless GEX sanders is the palm-grip design that gives a lower center of gravity for a markedly improved sanding experience. The sanders are comfortable to hold (even for long periods of time) and very easy to control whether you’re sanding horizontally, vertically or overhead.
Due in part to the brushless motor I found that the sanders ran much quieter than I expected with barely no noticeable vibration. The soft start feature reduces torque when you start the sanders while a backing pad damper ring reduces no-load speed, and coupled with a smaller 3/32″ orbit diameter, helps prevent swirl marks.
The little dust bag does a decent job of catching most of the dust. Hook either sander up to your shop vac for virtually dust-free sanding. I did find that connecting a dust hose tended offset the balance of the sander slightly – by exerting extra downward pressure to the right side of the sander. I found that I could offset this somewhat by suspending the hose above my work bench.
At a maximum of 10,000 opm (plus the smaller 3/32″ orbit) I found that these sanders weren’t as aggressive as my corded sander, making them better suited for finish sanding. I still do any heavy sanding with the corded sander, but revert to the cordless GEX for final sanding. I also use it exclusively when sanding small stock. While either the 12V or 18V models deliver excellent results I have a mild preference for the lighter weight 12V. It also helps that I have several spare 12V batteries on hand.
Great ergonomics, excellent balance, light weight, ample power and good dust extraction make these the best finish sanders on the market.