This Ridgid 5″ corded random orbit sander, model R2601, was one of my first “real” power tools, and it was amazing. I haven’t used it in a while, only once or twice since purchasing a 6″ Festool sander, and so I gave it to a relative who could put it to use.
To be honest, this wasn’t my first-choice sander, I had wanted a Bosch. But, I had a Home Depot gift card and they didn’t carry the Bosch there. Home Depot did have a Bosch 1/4 sheet finish sander, and I bought that one to complement this Ridgid.
Unfortunately, you can’t buy this sander anymore. The newer R26011 seems to have good reviews, but according to some of those reviews the new model seems to lack a lot of what its R2601 predecessor offered.
Here’s what I loved about my Ridgid sander:
1. Uniform Sanding Pattern
Some random orbit sanders produce more uniform sanding patterns than others, and this was one such model. Simply put, it performed superbly.
2. A Fantastic Power Cord
There are functional differences between a rubber or rubber-like power cord and a cheap vinyl-jacketed power cord. The cord on this Ridgid sander was highly flexible, which is a noticeable benefit when sanding larger work. It provided to be quite durable too.
3. An Upgraded Cord Wrap
The inclusion of a heavy duty cord wrap might seem like an almost trivial part of the package, but every little bit contributes to an excellent user experience.
4. Lighted Plug
The plug lights up when connected, and has a sander-shaped silhouette for even easier tool identification. I’ve never really benefited from this feature, but I always appreciated the user-friendly thoughtfulness behind it.
5. It Included Two Sanding Pads
The sander came with a hook and loop sanding pad, and another one for use with PSA sanding discs. I never used this sanding pad, but I do like that it came with it. Some brands’ sander accessories and alternate pads (such as with harder or softer foam) are easy to find. For other brands, if a tool doesn’t come with an accessory, good luck finding it. Cut-off wheel guards, for example, are especially difficult to find for certain brands of grinders.
I never used the PSA sanding pad, but I might have someday, and I didn’t mind paying a little extra for the assurance that I’d have it if I needed it.
Dust collection was acceptable, vibrations were low, and the controls were easy to operate. Although I had initially wanted a Bosch sander, it only too my first use to realize that this Ridgid wasn’t a step down. I also remember that it scored well in woodworking magazines.
I don’t remember the exact price – maybe $59 or thereabouts? – but what stood out to me was how all of the little minor aspects combined to “complete the package.” There was no “oh, they cheapened out there” or “uch, a cost-cutting measure” about this tool. Sure, there are more premium sanders, but for a 5″ random orbit sander, it was as perfect as I could ask for.
These days, power tool brands sometimes forego the little things, to save on costs or to allow for aggressive competitive pricing. I guess that’s okay sometimes, but I don’t like having to hunt down accessories or dust collection adapters, dealing with stiff power cords, or foregoing features or components because they’d cost the manufacturer an extra twenty five cents. There are too many compromises these days, all for the sake of fractional cost savings. Sure, lower costs could help users at the onset, but what about over the life of the tool?
Although it’s no longer in my possession, this Ridgid sander will remain one of my favorite power tools of all time. There should be more tools like it.