Shopping for 3″ pneumatic random orbital sanders

I’ve been looking for a 3″ random orbital sander for quite some time. For the most part, I want it for car detailing in the spots that are hard to get at with my larger random orbitals. I will occasionally use it for other purposes.

I want a pneumatic. There are several electric options, but I’ve never been a big fan of electric random orbitals for paint work. They’re big, heavy, and they have no love for water and dust. Sure, they are sometimes more convenient (don’t need an air compressor, cord is thinner than an air hose). But I’ve been using pneumatic random orbitals for more than a decade and I prefer them. They don’t get hot, they’re lightweight, and good ones run for a VERY long time with little to no maintenance.

Normally I would choose a Dynabrade and be done with it. The Dynabrade 21020 looks good, and can accept the Dynabrade 56087 pad. The Dynabrade 21020 is $210 to $300 online, and the Dynabrade 56087 pad is about $20 additional. At the moment it’s my top choice.

Another option is the 3M 20250, which comes with a Hook-It pad. I have no experience with 3M air tools, but I’m going to guess that this is a nice tool. And realistically, it’s not like I’m going to use it every day. It’s less costly than the Dynabrade, at about $150 online. It’s made in Taiwan, and I can’t seem to find reliable reviews of 3M pneumatic random orbitals.

Another option is the Ingersoll-Rand 3128K. It’s significantly cheaper at $108 online, but I have to admit that for detailing purposes, a pistol grip with trigger is crappy compared to the palm switch of the Dynabrade. Not to mention that my recent experiences with Ingersoll-Rand air tools haven’t made me as happy as Dynabrade. They’ve been offshoring many air tools and in some cases the quality has suffered. My 6″ Dynabrade pneumatic random orbital has been unbelievably reliable for 10 years. But then so has my Ingersoll-Rand right-angle die grinder.

I’ll make a decision soon. When I do, I’ll post pictures and impressions.

I’m also going to make a custom holder for the new sander and my 6″ random orbital. It will be similar to the VIM DAHLDR2-RED, but made to handle a 3″ sander and 6″ sander and leave lots of space for a buffing pad without touching anything on the pad. Then I can hang my sander on my detailing cart while I’m detailing without tainting the pad.

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