Bosch ROS65VCL-6 Review
In spite of the fact that I use a ROS quite a bit, and have had a love/hate relationship with this tool category. I enjoy the benefits of fast, swirl free sanding, but the gyroscope effect from most of the units that I have used leaves me feeling beat up after a while, and dust collection has been notoriously poor in this tool category. So when Bosch announced their new ROS as delivering low vibration and a new microfilter dust capture design, I knew I had to take a look.I brought a ROS65VC into my shop, and put it through a battery of tests. Below, I share some of my observations:
Low vibration. Bosch incorporated a sophisticated shock absorber system into this unit which is one of its defining characteristics. So, in addition to riding on ball bearings that smooth out the ride quite a bit, this unit also incorporates a series of pads that reduces the vibration to a level where it is barely noticeable. When I first fired up the unit and put it in contact with wood, I could hardly believe how smooth it was, both in initial startup as well as ongoing operation. Truly remarkable engineering feat. I sanded for a half hour or so using various grits with both the 5″ and 6″ pad and was not fatigued in the least.
Let the tool do the work! My dad always gives me this advice and I rarely listen because I never feel like my tools work hard enough or fast enough. But this one does! I gave it a “1 finger test”, and sanded this entire board by making two passes, all the while operating the sander with a single finger. It was actually quite easy, and seemed to perform the work as effectively and as when I had the two handed “death grip” on the tool.
Large cushy front handle. If you want to have better control over your sander than a single finger provides, there is a comfortable front handle with rubber grip which further reduces the vibration transferred to your body. The additional control is nice to have, particularly when sanding with coarse grits which tend to bite into the wood a bit more and require more control over the sander, or when using the sanding on a vertical surface.
5″ and 6″ pads. If you can’t decide between buying a 5″ or a 6″ ROS, this tool if perfect, as it ships with interchangeable pads. This is cool, as it is nice to have both. Don’t think of the difference as being one inch, but rather as 44% more surface area, or roughly 8-1/2 square inches of additional sand paper working for you. In practice, the difference is significant. I like using the 6″ pad as the default for large surfaces, and switch to the 5″ pad for getting into tighter places.
Easy pad swap. The pads can be swapped by removing a single 5mm hex screw.
power! Power! POWER!Â Like most woodworkers I don’t particularly enjoy sanding, so my perfect sander lets me get the job done quickly and effectively so I can get the sanding behind me and get back to the parts of woodworking that enjoy more. I also tend to use a ROS in situations where most woodworkers might choose a belt sander.As an example, if I have done a good job on a panel glue-up, and the seams are barely noticeable, I will go straight to the ROS to flatten and finish sand the panel. To do this, you need a ROS with some “gitty-up”, and this one has it. With 3.3 -amps of power, this tool powers through wood at an impressive clip, even with the 6″ pad using a coarse grit paper. Given the power and weight of the tool, I don’t expect to use it on vertical surfaces, but for horizontal sanding this bad boy gets the task done in short order.
Respectable onboard dust collection. The onboard dust collection engages solidly to the unit, and is easy to remove and reinstall. It also performs well, removing a good portion of the dust as it sands.
Cartridge filter. One of the reasons behind the effectiveness of the dust collection is that there is a high quality pleated paper filter enclosed in the dust canister. This helps to capture a lot more of the fine dust that is generated during operation. It is also simple to remove, clean and replace.
Shop vacuum hookup. If you prefer to hook the sander up to a shop vacuum, it includes a nice adapter for connecting to either a 1-1/4″ or 1-1/2″ hose. It holds it solidly in place while sanding so that I don’t need to use duct tape as I have had to do with other units.
Variable speed. I normally operate a ROS in full speed mode, but occasionally want to dial back the speed a bit. One situation where this feature comes in handy is when you are flush sanding edge banding on a shelf to a veneer-covered plywood. If you go too fast here, you can easily sand through the veneer which makes for an ugly shelf. This feature lets you slow down and sneak up on the veneer more easily.
Solid where it counts. By removing the pad you can see the drive gear and other components are made of machined metal, and everything “under the hood” is high quality. While it’s nearly impossible to test longevity, I don’t think you’re likely to wear this tool out.
Finish quality:Where the rubber hits the road. The swirl free finish that this thing delivers is superb. It is impossible to capture finish quality in a small photograph, but after sanding to only 150-grit, I applied a dark stain which is a great litmus test of sanding quality, and still could not see evidence of machine marks with a naked eye.
Conclusions. This is a phenomenal ROS in every respect. I love the flexibility of having 5″ or 6″ pads, the power is impressive, effective dust collection, and my favorite feature is how well it minimizes vibration. The only two downsides that I see are;
– Price point. At a retail price point of $299 it may prove difficult to justify for the average hobbyist, but honestly I don’t expect to find this level of quality and performance at a cheaper price point. For those who have significant sanding requirements, I believe that this tool is a reasonable value for the level of quality and innovation that it delivers. If you want to save some dough, you can buy the sander with either a 5″ or 6″ pad (not both) for about $229.
– Pad change requires a tool. Granted it is just a nit because the process about as simple as it gets with only a single hex screw required, but I would think Bosch could come up with a way to lock the pad in without requiring an external tool.
The bottom line is that this is one awesome sander. The ROS65VC brings a new level of innovation to the ROS market, and promises to delight anyone who decides to own one.
Photos by Author and courtesy of Bosch
Bosch ROS65VCL-6, 6-Inch and 5-Inch Pad Rear-Handle Random Orbit Sander with Vibration Control, $299
The tool is also available in models that include either a 5″ or a 6″ pad (not both) for a list price of $229.
For these options, look for models ROS65VC-5 for the unit with a 5″ pad, or ROS65VC-6 for the 6″ pad.
Robert Bosch Tool Corp.