Family Handyman Approved: Ryobi RS290G Random Orbit Sander

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Here's why we like this affordable random orbit sander from Ryobi.

If you’re a typical DIY’er, you need an arsenal of tools as needs dictate. You don’t necessarily have to have the most expensive, full-featured tool available, just one that does the job at a reasonable price. It’s not like you’re using that particular tool every single day.

I tested out this RS290G random orbit sander from Ryobi because it fits that category of a basic, affordable tool. I wanted to see if it “gets the job done.”

What Is the Ryobi RS290G Random Orbit Sander?

A random orbit sander spins a sanding disc while the base travels in a random “orbit,” hence the name. It smooths workpieces by working through grits of sandpaper, from coarse to smooth. Each grit eliminates the scratches from the previous grit until most perceptible scratches are gone.

If you’re occasionally in need of a reliable sander that doesn’t cost a fortune, the RS290G is a good fit for you. It’s comfortable in the hand, seems well-made and is easy to use.

How We Tested It

Random orbit sanders prep wood for finishing, so I tested this sander on various hardwoods and plywood with hardwood veneer. I worked through different grits to see if the sander effectively removed scratches from the previous grit.

I also looked for ease of handling. What does that mean? Random orbit sanders sometimes seem to have “a mind of their own,” meaning they pull your hand around in use. I want a sander to have a “floating” feel so I can easily direct it, not be pulled by it. When a sander pulls, we start forcing it. And that’s when deeper scratches and even gouges occur.

Performance Review

The RS290G is intended, I think, to be a well-made, basic tool at an affordable price for occasional user. In that regard, you really can’t go wrong with this purchase.

On opening the box, I liked the well-thought-out design. Operation is easy: Stick on the sanding disc and press the power button. In use, it performed well. As with a random orbit sander at any price, I had to work a little bit to find its sweet spot where it “floats” the way I want. Once I did, operation was smooth and effective.

There are only two real limitations of the RS290G. First – and this is only maybe a limitation – it’s not cordless. Cordless is nice, but it’s going to cost more, and most users will have an outlet readily available.

Second, it lacks variable speed. I’ve used random orbit sanders for years, and I can count on one hand the times I’ve needed to change the speed. In those cases, I was glad to have the option. But it’s not a deal-breaker for me.

Bottom line? Random orbit sanders have been around long enough now for manufacturers to figure out all the basic performance needs. At about $60, the RS290G gets a strong recommendation from me.

Why You Should Buy This

If you’re in the market for an affordable random orbit sander, whether as an introductory tool, an occasional-use tool or an “extra,” you can’t go wrong with the RS290G.

Where to Buy 

Ryobi Rs290g Random Orbit Sander Via Homedepotvia homedepot.com

All Ryobi products are found at The Home Depot, in-store or online.

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Brad Holden
As senior editor for Family Handyman, Brad has seen and done pretty much everything around home repair and DIY projects. His experience with tools, plans and projects gives him a voice of authority with anything from plumbing to furniture building.