In-Depth Review: Porter-Cable 382 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

Summary

PORTER-CABLE 382 5-inch Random Orbit Sander
82 %
Review

From my experience, the PORTER-CABLE 382 Random Orbit Sander works quite decently and holds up okay after minimum use. I even bought a spare since it costs relatively cheap (check online for where I bought it from) at the time of this writing. It's able to avoid common problems like the pad adhesive wearing out because of its hook-and-loop system that makes the pad stick like Velcro. Most importantly, you can depend on this sander to do its sanding job in a consistent and dependable manner.

We Like

  • The PORTER-CABLE 382 serves as the workhorse of its line because it's a no-frills basic sander that concentrates on getting the job done rather than putting in as many extras as possible.
  • It's capable of reaching 12,000 OPM at a 1.9-amp motor.
  • Highly affordable deal without compromising too much on quality.
  • You won't be tired with using this because of its counterbalanced fan and its dual plane feature that reduces vibrations.

We Don't Like

  • It's best used for light to medium sanding because of its 1.9-amp motor.
  • Needs improvement on shakiness issues.

Introduction

A random orbit sander, as opposed to a non-random or standard orbit sander, is a sander with a head that doesn't only rotate on its own axis but also moves in an elliptical pattern to ensure that it never passes the same area twice in a given rotation. This in turn keeps problems like skid marks and swipe marks from happening as well. A sander of this caliber typically moves at a rate 12,000 orbits per minute or OPM, but for fine sanding it could go down as low as 2,500 OPM.

You need a faster sander to grind through raw stock so rough it still has bark on it. There are orbit sanders that are single-speed and typically go a top speed of 12,000 OPM or even 6,800 OPM. There are variable orbit sanders as well that can go for ranges like 7,500 to 12,000 OPM or 2,500 to 6,800 OPM depending on the speed of their motor. Of course, motors can be 3 amps, 2.5 amps, or even 2 amps in strength.

The strength of the motor determines what sort of material it's ready to grind. The hardest of hardwoods like oak and maple will typically need something extra-strong in amperage in order to make a dent on them (or rather, erase that dent by grinding it down to smoothness). A weaker motor, meanwhile, is more suited for light or fine grinding, so that's any motor weaker than 3 amps.

Who Is It For?

A random orbital sander is typically used by woodworkers who wish to grind out rough work pieces or clean out old planks and boards. This sander type is also useful for buffing and polishing as long as you put its speed at something lower that won't damage the surface being cleaned. You can even sand down rust with this sander if you so wish without worrying about scuffing or scratching the underlying metal.

This is why many DIY home improvement enthusiasts, sculptors, artists, hobbyists, carpenters, and construction workers who use the sander. It's perfect for making furniture like chairs, tables, ladders, cabinets, and drawers. There are also metalworkers who use the machine when removing tarnish and oxidation on metal or as a means of sharpening knives (although the belt sander is honestly superior in that regard because it's specifically made for sterner applications).

A high-power random orbital sander is called for when with industrial-grade applications involving factories or commercial establishments, so your average $30-$150 hand tool sander might not work in such instances. Professionals instead go straight for floor sanders in light of the amount of material to be sanded and the largeness of the area for sanding in question. Fine detailing with a random orbital sander is perfectly fine and probably faster than sanding something by hand with sandpaper.

Buyer's Guide

What Benefits Should This Orbital Sander Have?

A random orbital sander should have the following benefits.

  • Built to Erase Swirl Marks

Your random orbital sander should be capable of keeping swirl marks to a minimum. Swirl marks happen when a sander sands an area for too long. Thus, people using sanders are often encouraged to keep moving the machine to keep the marks from happening. A random orbital sander naturally randomizes the movement of the disk so that in one rotation it doesn't grind through the same area twice.

  • Comfort Comes First

The whole point of randomizing sander disk movement is so that you won't have to move the sander in an elliptical pattern yourself with your hand and wrist, which can tire your arms out. An excellent sander should naturally progress with that idea of user comfort and offer soft-grip tops, ergonomic handles, and a design that allows you to grip the machine in multiple ways. That way, the unit doesn't defeat its own purpose of making life easier for the user.

  • Dust Prevention

A micro-filter system that traps fine dust is perfect for all types of sanders, not only the random orbital variety. With that said, barring that, you should also have a sander that can spew out the dust in an area you can easily vacuum rather than have it billow all over the place. You should also have a sander that's compatible with vacuum hose attachments for easy sucking of any resulting residue.

Things to Consider When Buying an Orbital Sander

Consider the following before making a final orbital sander purchase.

  • Get a Sander with a Decent Dust Collection System

The last thing you want is a dust collector that easily falls off or clogs all the time. Your chosen sander should have a decent dust collection system included so that you can avoid buying more dust collector attachments and additional accessories to serve as a crutch to the terrible cleanup capabilities of your machine.

  • Check the Specs to See Its Capabilities in Material Removal

Having a sander that has a requisite 12,000 OPM speed shouldn't be enough as a reassurance that it's a worthwhile buy. You should check the specs of your sander to see if it has at least a 3-amp motor to allow for rough sanding or a 1.9-amp motor for fine sanding. It's the amperage or horsepower of the motor that gives every orbit or rotation of the sander its mustard or torque.

  • The Results Should Speak for Themselves

Obviously, you can't gauge how well a sander sands until you see it sand firsthand. This is where 30-day money back guarantees can come in handy. Barring that, have friends and family who are into DIY home improvement recommend you decent sanders to use, whether it's a workhorse no-frills sander that gives you more value for your investment or something that's capable of industrial-grade sanding with its bigger motor and faster speed modes.

Product Details

PORTER-CABLE 382 5-inch Random Orbit Sander

Description

The PORTER-CABLE 382 is a random orbit sander with a 5-inch disk and a 2-amp motor capable of delivering 12,000 OPM of orbital speed. Like many other sanders of its type, it combines elliptical orbiting movements with rotational movement to ensure that its sanding disk never touches the same area in one rotation.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 8 x 9 x 7 inches
  • Item Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Top Speed: 12,000 OPM
  • Amperage: 1.9 to 2 amps
  • Power Source: Corded electric

Features & Benefits

  • Maximum Sanding Speeds

The controlled finishing system of the PORTER-CABLE 382 enables it to deliver a consistent 12,000 OPM as its no-load sanding speed every time. Maintaining this consistency is important because uneven sanding, gouges, dents, and swirl marks are mainly the symptoms of an inconsistent and low-grade sander.

  • User Fatigue Reduction

The PORTER-CABLE 382 is able to reduce user fatigue in multiple ways. Aside from its ergonomic handle design and inherent random orbital movement that quickens the sanding process without making the user move the sander in an elliptical pattern to avoid swirl marks, the 382 also has a dual plane counter and balanced fan that work together to reduce vibration that can cause hand fatigue or even carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Multi-Material Sanding

The PORTER-CABLE 382 is capable of sanding wood as well as composite materials like plaster or hard-wearing materials like wood. It just depends on the sandpaper you're using and the amount of passes you give it with its consistent single-speed 12,000 OPM rate. The unit can also be used for surface preparation before you stain, paint, or vanish it. It even smoothens up seams or removes old varnish coats.

Pros

  • User fatigue is reduced thanks to the fan that's counterbalanced and dual-plane, ensuring the least amount of vibration possible.
  • Its construction also aids with its longevity because it's 100% constructed with ball bearings for excellent sanding action.
  • A maximum sanding speed of 12,000 OPM is provided to get you some the smoothes finishes through fine sanding from a 1.9-amp motor.
  • During startup, gouging is avoided and the controllable pad speed is maintained through its propriety controlled finishing system.
  • You can get smooth finishes with no swirl marks from this unit on a consistent basis.

Cons

  • There are complaints of finicky switches that sometimes don't work.
  • The dust collector keeps getting detached.
  • There are reports of some faulty units vibrating badly.

Alternative Choices

Here are your alternatives to the PORTER-CABLE 382 Random Orbit Sander.

1) Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander

The Black & Decker BDERO100 actually manages to somehow be cheaper than the PORTER-CABLE 382 Random Orbit Sander, but is it necessarily better or brings more bang for your buck? They both deliver 12,000 OPM of orbiting speed, but the amperage capacity of the Black & Decker BDERO100 is listed as five. However, a reviewer on Amazon points out that the B&D has more of a 2-amp motor, so there's less of a discrepancy there with the PORTER-CABLE 382.

Alas, the PORTER-CABLE 382 has more of a 1.9-amp motor itself that barely qualifies as 2 amps, so the B&D BDERO100 actually outdoes it in that regard, meaning it has a slightly more powerful sanding ability but it's a hairline difference. Meanwhile, the 382 outweighs the BDERO100 by 0.4 pounds and it's slightly bigger and wider, allowing for wider area coverage at the cost of maneuverability at tight corners. Their price discrepancy is as minor as their specs discrepancy.

2) Bosch ROS20VSC Random Orbit Sander

The Bosch ROS20VSC has almost double the price of the PORTER-CABLE 382, but does it necessarily mean it brings double the abilities of its Porter-Cable counterpart? The 382 is actually slightly larger than the ROS20VSC by a few inches here and there. They both feature 12,000 OPM as their top speed, but the difference with the more expensive Bosch unit is that it has a variable speed.

This means it can go as low as 7,500 OPM but as high as 12,000 OPM at the turn of the dial. Sometimes, slower OPM is better in case you want to do fine sanding that smoothens out the surface perfectly without grinding an excessive amount of sandpaper and material. In terms of weight, the 382 is heavier by 0.1 pounds. In terms of ratings, the Bosch orbital sander has a higher rating from 496 customers at the time of this writing.

3) PORTER-CABLE 7346SP 6-Inch Random Orbit Sander

The PORTER-CABLE 7346SP is about three times more expensive than its brethren random orbit sander, the PORTER-CABLE 382. The question here is did Porter-Cable necessarily make a more advanced version of the 382 that's three times better to justify the price hike? Let's check out the specs. The7346SP covers a larger amount of area by default by being the biggest and heaviest random orbital sander on this list.

It weighs 6 pounds, which makes it outweigh the 382 by 2.4 pounds. How big of a discrepancy is that? It's a discrepancy the size (or weight) of the 3M Random Orbital Sander 20317. Alas, in terms of speed, the sander giant can only muster 2,500 OPM to 6,800 OPM. Does it necessarily mean the 382 is the faster and better sander in that regard? Not when you take into account its 4.5-amp motor that beats out the 1.9-amp motor of its little brother. Funnily enough, Amazon users rate both sibling orbit sanders as 4.3-star sanders.

4) 3M Random Orbital Sander 20317, 5 in Non-vacuum 3/16 in Orbit

The 3M 20317 Random Orbital Sander is probably the most expensive yet highest rated random orbital sander on this list. At that price, you can buy three PORTER-CABLE 382 Sanders. Does being more expensive automatically mean something is better though? The 3M 20317 Random Orbital Sander has a size comparable to the Bosch ROS20VSC.

It even has the same 12,000 OPM (single-speed only, unlike the variable-speed Bosch unit). However, the main difference between the 3M sander and the Bosch sander or even the PORTER-CABLE 382 as well as all the rest of the sanders on this list is that it only weighs 2.4 pounds. Does its lighter weight spread across a body as large as the ROS20VSC affect its ability to mitigate motor vibrations? According to the 14 customers who gave it its high rating, yes it can handle shakiness just fine.

5) DEWALT DWE6421K Random Orbit Sander Kit

Last but not least is the DWE6421K by DeWalt. The DEWALT DWE6421K has a price that's closer to the Bosch ROS20VSC, but in fairness to the PORTER-CABLE 382, their price discrepancy isn't as great as 382's price gulf against the 3M 20317. In terms of specs, the DEWALT DWE6421K has a size that's closer to the 6-pound PORTER-CABLE 7346SP, but it only has a 5-inch sanding disk and 4 pounds of weight.

This 4-pound weight allows the DWE6421K to outweigh the PORTER-CABLE 382 by 0.4 pounds, which is ultimately a negligible difference. They both feature the single-speed 12,000 OPM specification, but the larger DeWalt DWE6421K makes up for this similar spec with a 3-amp motor that delivers far more strength and torque per orbit or rotation than the PORTER-CABLE 382 and its 1.9-amp motor. That extra amperage makes all the difference in terms of rough sanding strength.

Alternative Choices Comparison Table

Alternative Choices

Our Rating

Price

Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander

Bosch ROS20VSC Random Orbit Sander

PORTER-CABLE 7346SP 6-Inch Random Orbit Sander

3M Random Orbital Sander 20317, 5 in Non-vacuum 3/16 in Orbit

DEWALT DWE6421K Random Orbit Sander Kit

The Final Cut

The PORTER-CABLE 382 can at times be outdone by amperage and by extra features, but as a no-frills workhorse it's still worth your attention and money. You can easily replace its 5-inch sandpaper (with 8 holes on it) thanks to its hook-and-look Velcro-like disk attachment system. 

At the same time, it also offers features that other sanders lack, like having a balanced fan and dual plane counter that work hand-in-hand in mitigating sander vibration and user fatigue after extended use. Whether you think you can get more value from a more expensive sander or if you have everything you need from the so-called Porter-Cable workhorse is up to you.

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