This week the ROS20VS made an unscheduled appearance in my shop. The tool I wanted to review in its place arrived in broken condition. While that is unfortunate, it gives me chance to continue my quest to review every orbital sander on the market today. Let's take a look at what the ROS20VS brings to the 5" sander market, and figure out, if it is a good addition to your shop.
The Bosch ROS20VSK Orbital Sander
The ROS20VS is a random orbit sander from Bosch. Designed for general sanding tasks on the job site and in the woodshop this sander was aimed squarely at the sweet spot for 5" orbital sanders. It'll deliver good performance without breaking the bank, and it'll keep on running for years in a demanding environment.
Build quality is excellent in typical Bosch fashion. A dark blue hard-plastic shell covers an all-metal motor housing and gearbox. There are no ill fitting seams to be found. The sander feels like a brick in your hand, but appears to be lighter than the average sander of this size.
The large, rubber covered knob on top of the sander acts as the main grip. Set back from the outer edge of the disk the operator's fingers don't get into the way when sanding up to a cabinet wall. A second patch of rubber on the body of the sander welcomes anyone who wants to hold the sander around its base. The contours of the body, however, do not flow as well as those of the grip. The ROS20VS certainly feels better in your hand when held from above.
The ROS20VS offers solid performance across the full range of sanding tasks, but it fails to impress at any of them.
The large power switch at the front of the unit snaps into position with an authoritative click. A red rubber membrane protects it from dust, which is a necessity on any tool that is in the dust production business. On the other end of the attentiveness scale Bosch failed to prevent the sander from turning on when it is plugged in with the power switch in the ON position.
The 2 1/2 amp motor comes in at the lower end of the performance charts. While certainly powerful enough for most tasks around the shop, heavy-duty users who run their sanders for hours at a time will notice the missing top-end performance.
The average rotation speed combined with the small, yet still average size orbit diameter place this sander squarely in the middle of the pack. As such you can expect the ROS20VS to perform well on everyday tasks, but run into problems when tackling large jobs.
The ROS20VS comes with a variable speed motor controlled with a Bosch style selector wheel located on the back of the knob. The wheel varies the speed of the sander in a continuous fashion from 7,500 to 12,000 rpm. Motor power drops somewhat in low speed, but remains well matched with the tasks a slow speed sander is typically used for.
If you do not care for variable speed controls, you can opt for the Bosch ROS10 sander, which is identical to the ROS20VS in every respect with the exception of it having a single speed motor.
The ROS20VS does away with cloth bag that passes for a filter on most sanders, and replaces it with canister filter. This filter uses a pleated paper element to filter virtually all small particles out of the airstream.
When the filter is clean it performs very well. For a few minutes the ROS20VS leaves very little dust behind. As dust particles clog the pores of the filter, performance drops rapidly until airflow through the filter virtually stops. When that happens, the operator has to empty the canister and shake out the filter element. Having to do so every 5 minutes is not a long term solution, but having the canister certainly keeps dust down on a short project. Contractors looking for a sander to run in finished spaces can take a look, but should be aware that despite all this tech this sander is no match for a sander/shop vac combo.
The preferred configuration is running the ROS20VS in combination with a dust collector. The sander's stubby dust port secures the vacuum hose very close to the sander's body. This not only creates a very tight bond, but also gives the sander a very good feel when dragging a hose behind it.
As expected dust collection with the aid of a dust collector reaches near perfect levels. The sander picks up all dust it produces and the collector sucks it through the sander's large internal air duct right into the dust collection drum. Only unnaturally fast movements create any visible dust.
The kit includes a hose adapter that allows you to connect hoses of several different diameters to the ROS20VS. A lot of manufacturers ask for an extra $10 for the privilege. Bosch deserves recognition for not playing the accessories game with this kit.
The ROS20VS turns in a competent, but somewhat pedestrian performance in our workshop. It completed all sanding tests in a satisfactory manner. With care any surface prepared with the ROS20VS is free of swirls and other imperfections. At 12,000 rpm the sander produces these results fast enough as well, but it does not challenge for the title of fastest 5" sander on the market.
What the ROS20VS did not do is impress. When applying an aggressive amount of down force, the sander's disk binds very quickly. It is as if Bosch tried to design the "best average sander" they could make, if such a term exists. The ROS20VS does everything right, but does not go beyond what is expected of it.
One thing the ROS20VS does do well is deliver results without sounding labored. The durability of this sander seems to be notch above the rest. In my endurance tests the sander got a little warm, but performance never wavered. Production shops and heavy users can take a look at this sander.
The Kit Box
The sander comes in a large, double-walled plastic carrying case. The heavy walls of the case do an excellent job of protecting the sander from impact damage. You can carelessly throw this case into the bed of your truck without having to worry about the sander inside. On the other hand, the missing weather seals around the edges of the case and the limited interior room for accessories move the value of the case in the wrong direction.
If you do not like the plastic kit box, you can go for the ROS20VSC kit, which includes a cloth bag instead. Unfortunately you won't save much money doing so.
The ROS20VS is a competently executed mid range sander that works well without managing to impress. It is not the fastest, nor the most aggressive. What it does deliver is solid sanding performance in of all our tests. The dust collection canister works well, but requires frequent cleaning. Like all orbital sanders, this one works best connected to a vacuum hose.
The ROS20VS will make a fine addition to any shop. Backstopped by a larger sander, the ROS20VS can complete most common tasks in the woodshop as well as any other sander. A little patience is needed on larger tasks, but Bosch pays you back with the superior build quality of this unit.
- wide, comfortable top
- variable speed
- power switch is protected from dust
- long power cord
- very good, short, stubby vac port
- kit includes hose adapter
- well built, yet economically priced
- not particularly powerful or fast
- dust canister clogs after a short time