It’s hard for me to get excited about yet another random orbit sander on the market, and it was with that lack of excitement that I recently greeted the arrival of one more new sander to test. But after a few spins around the bench, this one pleasantly surprised me.
Porter-Cable’s new 390K low profile palm grip sander looks different right from the start. It has a low, squat shape that puts its center of gravity lots closer to the workpiece. Of course, some users with smaller hands may find the wider shape a little awkward, but it worked fine for me.
The real surprise comes when you turn the unit on and start to use it. It is noticeably quieter than similar-sized units I’ve tested. With that low motor noise I was ready for low power, too, but that was not the case.
Powered by a new 3.5-amp Endura Tech motor, this unit has power to spare. If you press down hard on a work service in a fashion that would slow or bog a lot of similar size sanders, this one just pours on more power, relying on an electronic load control system.
Porter-Cable says the motor is good for the long haul, too with 71 percent fewer wear components for an estimated 5-10 times longer motor life.
And there’s another surprise when you turn the unit off. Thanks to an electronic motor brake, the pad stops turning almost instantly. No more waiting around for the pad to stop to put the sander down or instead watching the sander do a dance on your bench top.
Putting it to the test
Using standard 5-inch hook and loop sanding disks, the sander performed excellently in all of our tests. The electronic speed control was easy to use and did not seem to affect power. The low profile made the sander more stable on surfaces and able to more easily get into areas such as between fixed shelves.
Another pleasant surprise was the number of dust collection options available. The unit comes with a plastic dust container, which actually works pretty well. But best dust extraction comes by hooking the sander up to a vacuum. For that it has two dust port connections to accommodate 1-inch and 1-1/2-inch hoses.
Finally, with a street price of about $130, this sander won’t break the bank.
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