Dual-action sanders are the tool of choice for all sorts of tasks that the modern craftsman will have to tackle – stripping paint, polishing or buffing, rounding edges and smoothing out rough surfaces. They are super handy and versatile, working their magic on both wood and metal, which gives them a spot in just about any array of power tools.
These days there are so many great makes and models to choose from, so lucky for you we’ve taken the time to review eight models of the best dual action (DA) sanders to give you an idea of what suits you and the job at hand.
If you are looking to buy the best DA sander for your money this holiday season, scroll through and have a look at these products. But first, here’s some more information about how they work and why you need one in your toolkit.
The Basics of DA sanders
The name dual-action says it all. These sanders can change modes at the touch of a button, combining the power and precision of a rotary sander with the sophistication of an orbital sander to help you with a variety of tasks. This is how it works:
A motor spins the sanding or polishing disc. When you switch into the orbital mode, the disc also rotates, ensuring that the disc won’t stay in any single spot for too long. This spreads out the power and leads to a much smoother finish. It can also cover a much larger area, helping you strip paint all the way down to the surface quickly and easily.
When it’s time to focus your power in one spot to provide that deep luster, flick the switch back and start buffing!
Our Top 8 List of the Best DA Sanders
1.Husky HSTC 4790 6-inch pneumatic Dual Action Sander
This sander revs up to 10,000 RPMs, but thanks to a built-in speed regulator, it is very easy to change the speed for whatever job you are tackling. Also, it comes with an internal silencing mechanism to reduce the noise and vibration by up to 50% compared to other models.
It can work on almost any material, including metal, wood, plastic, composites, fillers and fiberglass, which you will find on many different types of vehicles. It is designed specifically to prepare surfaces for painting and to provide final finishing on the variety of surfaces listed above. The orbital action ensures you will get a seamless finish, free of swirls or other marks.
The Husky HSTC 4790 model is low weight and easy to handle, providing more power without the noise of some other models. This smaller 6-inch model weighs only 2.3 pounds, thanks to its signature composite housing which reduces the bulkiness of this sander.
- Reaches up to 10,000 RPMs
- Easily adjustable speeds thanks to an air-regulator ensures you will find the right speed for the job
- Lightweight composite material adds up to a tiny 2.3 pounds which makes for easy handling
- Comes with a built-in silencer to keep noise to a minimum
What We Like About the Husky HSTC 4790
A top option for the professional craftsman, this dual-action sander is among the most durable and versatile we have seen. It is powerful and well-suited to just about any project you can imagine.
It’s got a comfortable grip and the low noise output are features I particularly appreciated and make it a pleasure to use compared with its louder cousins.
What We Don’t Like About the Husky HSTC 4790
There is not much that we could find in this category, which is why we put this one at the top of our list. It is designed for professionals and requires a lot of air to run so you will need to have a powerful air compressor to make this run, something the amateur craftsman might not have on hand.
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Adjustable speeds of up to 10,000 RPMs
- Not designed for home use without a powerful air compressor
2. Powermate 6-inch Dual Sander
This model comes with a built-in throttle which provides precision speed control up to 10,000 RPMs. The grip is comfortable, which makes for easy handling and the sanding pad is designed to be changed quickly and easily. This model is a must-have for the home workshop.
- Works well on multiple materials
- Precision control for speeds of up to 10,000 RPMs
- The air intake comes with a filter to keep out dust and other unwanted particles
What We Like About the Powermate 6-inch Dual Sander
The handle fits your hand comfortably in your fist and makes this model a pleasure to use. It also works well on a range of materials, including metal, wood, fiberglass and auto body filler. It is up to the task for both grinding away at rough surfaces or for buffing them to that final luster.
It is smooth and simple to use and provides great results every time.
What We Don’t Like About the Powermate 6-inch Dual Sander
This model works very well but the design does not feel as solid as some of the other models we reviewed. It does come with a one-year warranty but it felt as though it might break down with prolonged wear and tear.
It is a good model but it may not be up for long-term, heavy-duty use, making it more suited to the amateur craftsman or hobbyist rather than a professional.
- Versatile and easy to use makes it ideal for home use
- Precision control of speeds to suit each and every job
- Filter that blocks out dust and particles to keep the motor running
- The lighter design may not be as solid and long-lasting as other models
3. Speedway Professional Duty High-Speed DA Sander
This model is one of over 1000 different automotive tools from a brand that is dedicated to providing quality products for both the professional and amateur gearhead. If you are working on the body of a car, this is a tool designed specifically for you.
This model is designed to work mostly on metal, but it can also tackle other materials such as fiberglass or fillers. It can rev all the way up to a blistering 18,000 RPMs. It is perfect for precision sanding on metal for jobs like edging and removing rust.
This model comes with three resin fiber backing pads to get you started.
- High powered motor can reach up to 18,000 RPMs
- Includes three resin-backed sanding pads of different sizes to give you the ability to sand or buff in tight spaces.
- ¼ inch air intake and ⅜ inch air hose provide flexibility and easy handling
What We Like About Speedway Professional Duty High-Speed DA Sander
Despite this model’s high RPMs, it is surprisingly smooth, making it perfect for that light touch you need when it comes to the finish of your car. It’s another one that is lightweight, compact, and easy to handle, allowing easy access into every little nook and cranny of a car.
We loved the fact that your purchase includes three backing pads, saving you time and money.
What We Don’t Like About Speedway Professional Duty High-Speed DA Sander
While it is an excellent sander for cars, the Speedway model is not as versatile as some of the other models we tried. Its light action works really well on certain surfaces, but isn’t meant for surfaces like wood, or to rough up a surface to prepare it for painting. But if you are into auto-body work in any way, this is the model for you.
- High speeds and low pressure make it great for delicate sanding and buffing work in cars
- Excellent rust remover and finisher
- Easy handling and good reach into the tight spots around a car.
- Meant mainly for auto bodywork. Doesn’t have a wide variety of other applications
4. SUNEX 6-Inch Quiet Dual Action Sander
The SUNEX 6-inch DA sander is great for all sorts of auto bodywork. It’s another model that provides up to 10,000 RPMs with variable speed controls using its patented speed regulator, an easy-to-use lever on top of the body.
This model also features a disk mounted on the main body using ball bearings which greatly reduces vibrations. Its insulated motor housing makes the SUNEX model whisper quiet and pleasant to use. This one is mainly designed for surface prep – making it a great buy for professional painters.
Like many of the other models we’ve reviewed, it also runs on compressed air. It features an air inlet of ¼ inch and a minimum width hose of ⅜ inch.
- Speed control lever to give precision speed control up to 10,000 RPMs
- Ball-bearing design provides vibration-free use and greater flexibility
- Thick motor housing makes it run quietly
- ¼ inch air inlet and hose size of ⅜ inch allow it to reach easily into awkward spaces
What We Like About SUNEX 6-Inch Quiet Dual Action Sander
First off, the SUNEX lives up to its name. The motor housing does indeed work to dampen the sound and the ball-bearing design reduces the vibrations you feel, allowing for prolonged use that has an edge in comfort over other models.
Its grip is quite ergonomic as well, as is the speed control lever which is in easy reach of your thumb as you hold it. It’s also a little heavier than most dual action sanders, weighing in at barely over five pounds, yet you barely feel the extra weight given the comfortable grip and good balance.
The whole construction is safe, easy to handle, and user-friendly for both the professional and the hobbyist.
SUNEX tools provide an excellent product – the blend of quality, precision, and durability that every craftsman is after.
What We Don’t Like About SUNEX 6-Inch Quiet Dual Action Sander
This is a very well-designed machine and it is difficult to find anything to criticize. Some users found the lightweight construction was not as durable as some other models, but most users did not experience this problem. This one is a great option.
- Great precision use in terms of both speed, positioning, and reach of the sanding pad
- Ball-bearing design reduces vibrations, making it easier to run for long periods
- Truly quiet construction won’t wake up the wife or neighbors
- Some questions as to its durability, though overall very few concerns
5. Ingersoll Rand 311G Dual Action Sander
Another model designed mainly for paint stripping and auto bodywork, such as feather edging and surface preparation. It boasts a dual-action sanding pad and revs up to 10,000 RPMs. It features a trigger and a power regulator to control the speed.
This model is also air-powered, though unlike many others the exhaust is in the front, so you don’t have to feel the unpleasant hot air blowing on your face in an already overheated workshop.
It also features a built-in muffler to reduce noise.
- Touch trigger for easy control and speed variability
- Ball-bearing design to cut down on vibrations
- Muffler to dampen the motor noise
- Front exhaust to make using this sander a more pleasant experience
- Lightweight comfortable design
- 10,000 RPM maximum speed with variable controls
What We Like About Ingersoll Rand 311G Dual Action Sander
The touch trigger is an incredibly useful feature that makes it easy to control speeds. We found that the muffler does its job well and the noise level is lower than on most dual action sanders. On top of all that, this Ingersoll Rand model weighs in at 4.2 pounds, which is about average, but its comfortable grip means that you’ll barely feel it in your hand.
The front exhaust is another smart feature. As do the balanced ball bearings cut down on vibrations and make it easier to hold and use this sander for long periods. They also allow for great flexibility when reaching around tight spots in a car or wrought ironwork, for example. Its light touch is also perfect for delicate edge work, feathering, and rust removal.
The dual-action head is well balanced and the orbital action is great for providing that swirl-free finish you’re after.
What We Don’t Like About Ingersoll Rand 311G Dual Action Sander
The 311G is another greater choice and you really have to nitpick to find something not to like about this one. Like some of the other models we looked at, it does require lots of air to run so you do need a heavy-duty air compressor. Besides that, it’s a great choice for its versatility, precision and durability.
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Low vibration, quiet design
- Front exhaust
- Easy speed control with convenient touch trigger
- Sucks up a lot of air and requires a heavy-duty air compressor to run
6. DEWALT DWMT70781 Pneumatic Palm Sander
This pneumatic sander features a motor that can rev up to 12000 RPMs. Yet its sensitive touch-trigger allows the user to control the speed conveniently and precisely. It is a powerful professional-quality tool but it is lightweight and precise enough for some delicate automotive edge work.
It also features a pad that is easy to stick on and change quickly and easily – a great time saver for the busy craftsman.
- 12,000 RPMs, ¼ inch air intake, 6-inch sanding pad
- Stick-on sanding pads make for speedy and convenient replacement
- Sensitive touch control trigger allows user to change speeds smoothly
- Rear exhaust
What We Like About DEWALT DWMT70781 Pneumatic Palm Sander
You definitely can’t go wrong with the DeWalt sander. With speeds up to 12,000 RPMs, it works well for heavy-duty sanding and the sensitive touch controls allow users to find that perfect speed for more delicate jobs such as prepping surfaces for painting.
We were also big fans of the stick-on sanding pads which make replacing them less of a chore than with other models.
This model is light and easy to use. It has a smaller orbit than many other sanders making it ideal for finishing work in small areas, such as feathering, or for other precision sanding work. It is perfect for use in auto body shops.
As with other DeWalt tools, it is known for its durability. Though it is a little larger than some of the other models we’ve mentioned, it’s made out of a lightweight composite material that keeps the final product light and easy to hold.
It also runs on less air than similar pneumatic sanders, making it more suitable for home users who may not have a serious air compressor. Yet the quality finish it provides is up to professional standards.
What We Don’t Like About DEWALT DWMT70781 Pneumatic Palm Sander
This is yet another model that runs smoothly for almost all users. If there is one complaint we had, it’s that it is a little bulky and can be difficult to maneuver, despite being lightweight. This made it a little harder to adjust the angles but using it properly nonetheless provided a great swirl-free finish.
- Lightweight design
- 12,000 RPMs with variable, easy-to-use speed controls really digs into surfaces
- Easily changeable stick-on pads
- Less air intake
- Narrow orbit (3/32) makes for a great finish without streaks or swirls
- Bulky shape made it hard to adjust at times
7. Astro Pneumatic Dual Action Orbit Sander
Another solid choice for the professional automotive worker. This model is made from durable composite plastic and is built to last. It features a standard 6-inch sanding pad and works well for feather edging, surface preparation, and finishing work on auto body filler.
This model revs up to 9000 RPMs and does feature a speed control switch.
- Up to 9000 RPMs with an easy to control speed switch
- Quiet performance
- Durable design featuring ball bearings to cut down on vibrations
- Comfortable handle
What We Like About Astro Pneumatic Dual Action Orbit Sander
This sander performed well in all the jobs we put it up to, including surface preparation and also for finishing jobs like buffing filler. It is easy to grip for long periods thanks to its well-designed handle and the balanced ball bearing design which cuts down on vibrations.
It features thick insulated motor housing, which allows the machine to run smoothly and quietly. Like other models, you can control the speed and apply the perfect amount of pressure to the surface for the job at hand.
What We Don’t Like About Astro Pneumatic Dual Action Orbit Sander
This model put on an all-around good performance, but it requires more air to run than any of the models we’ve reviewed thus far. To make this one run you definitely need a commercial air compressor.
- Low levels of noise and vibrations making for comfortable use
- Easy to control speeds
- Requires huge air intake, nothing less than a commercial compressor will do
8. Airbase 6 inch Industrial Duty Dual Action Orbital Sander
A heavy-duty model that is suitable for all sorts of industrial applications. This one can reach up to 10,000 RPMs, but the speed can also be controlled for precision to work smoothly and conveniently by a trigger throttle.
The body is made from die-cast aluminum allowing for good durability without weighing you down. And the internal components are made from steel. Yet despite the solid construction, the designers at airbase ensure that this powerful tool is comfortable to use with an ergonomically designed non-slip handle.
- 10,000 RPMs, ¼ inch air intake
- Circular exhaust port ensures users won’t breathe in exhaust
- Durable aluminum outer body with steel internal components including the motor
- Anti-dust system to keep you and your machine breathing easy
What We Like About Airbase 6 inch Industrial Duty Dual Action Orbital Sander
This one is made with durability in mind. It’s another model with a high top speed that is precision-controlled. Its motor is incredibly powerful and can work through any surface you need to smooth, yet the speeds vary, and it can work well for surface preparation as well.
The 360-degree variable exhaust port is a brilliant feature to keep the exhaust away from the user no matter the angle you are working at. They also include a dust protection system which keeps dust away from the motor and other key parts and prolongs its life.
It weighs just over four pounds, like many of the other models, so it is lightweight and easy to maneuver.
It’s sanding pads are suitable for metal or woodworking. It works for more delicate finishing jobs, but it comes with some bite when you need it.
Besides all this, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty, longer than any sander in its class.
What We Don’t Like About Airbase 6 inch Industrial Duty Dual Action Orbital Sander
Of all the sanders we reviewed, this one vibrated the most. Though it was effective in the end, you felt tired out after having held it for long periods. It does include rubber rings which are meant to absorb vibrations, but we didn’t find that these were effective, and our arms and hands were sore after we handled it.
The other drawback is that this power sander requires a heavy-duty air compressor to run. There is no way you could use this with your average home compressor so it really is meant for industrial use.
- Durable construction
- Good speed control with conveniently placed trigger
- Exhaust system and dust control make it safer, more pleasant and longer-lasting
- Heavy vibrations make it more difficult to hold
- Not designed for home use
So, what is the best dual action sander on the market?
There are plenty of choices out there for people seeking dual action sanders and pretty well all of them will do the trick. They are safe, effective tools that will help you get through your work quickly, easily, and smoothly.
Choosing the best one means finding one that is right for you, always keeping in mind that these are mainly pneumatic tools that require an air compressor to run properly. Also, it’s important to note that more air does not always equal more power, and some of the models we listed can get a lot of torque with relatively little air.
If you want your sander for commercial applications, say an auto-body shop, then chances are you will have a heavy-duty air compressor on hand and you are free to choose a model that requires more air.
If you are an amateur woodworker or someone who wants it for personal use, on their car for example, then you need to buy the correct compressor to go along with your sander. You don’t want any nasty shocks when you get home and see your sander won’t spin because it’s not being powered enough.
In the end, you can get a good performance from any of the sanders we listed above. They have similar features which give you both power and control, and most work well on a variety of surfaces. You have tons of options, now all you have to do is venture down to your local hardware store and see what they have in stock.