New Tool Review: Mirka DEROS 550X Random Orbital Sander

Photos by author

sander hero

It costs $595. I wanted to get that out of the way up front, so it’s not a “buzz kill” when you get to the end of this article, because nearly everything else that I will say about this sanding system will make some design engineers at Mirka blush. For many WWGOA readers this sander might not be a contender for budgetary reasons, but for those shops who demand extreme performance from their tools, or those who have the discretionary income to go “top shelf” on tool purchases, you will want to take a look at this sander. It provides outstanding power with minimal heft, along with low vibration that allows for fatigue-free extended use. Add to that dust collection that is so effective that I might be tempted to use it without a mask, and you have a tool that promises to change the rules in the world of random orbital sanders.

dust extractor

Full system. The sander can be purchased separately, but it is designed as part of a system that includes a dust extractor as well as special abrasives that are designed for greater longevity and dust extraction. I brought in a complete setup for the purposes of these tests.

Why is this such a big deal?

The Mirka DEROS (stands for Direct Electric Random Orbital Sander) is the first random orbital sander with a brushless DC motor that has the power supply efficiently incorporated into the sander body. The motor delivers far more power than any typical electric random orbital sander that I have ever used, and I’ve tried most of them. The DEROS actually rivals the power found in pneumatic sanders, which are generally far superior in performance to their electric counterparts.

At only 3-1/2” tall, and 2.2 pounds, its petite profile makes the tool manageable in any sized hand, much like a pneumatic sander. I found its light, compact form to be particularly beneficial when sanding vertically, which can be tiring using typical electric random orbital sanders.

The soft-start feature delivers a gentle ramp-up to peak performance which, coupled with silky smooth ongoing operation (even with aggressive grits), makes sanding a more pleasant experience. Variable speed control built into the trigger mechanism provides smooth, single-handed speed changes which gives the operator exceptional finesse in moving across intricate areas of a project.

Extreme power!

sanding rough panel

I had a lot of fun putting the sander through some extreme tests to see where the power advantage would reveal itself. I took a gnarly rough-sawn walnut plank, 6” wide x 6’ long, and sanded it until all tool marks were gone using an 80 grit disk. I was actually somewhat surprised when this task was complete in only a few minutes. I did this several more times on smaller planks of various species and continued to be impressed with the rate of stock removal. As a point of comparison I tried this same test with a few other electric random orbitals, and it generally took them 20-50% longer to complete the task. Then, in the spirit of aggressive test cases, I jumped directly from 80 grit to 400 on the DEROS, and within another couple minutes of going at it, the board looked and felt like a piece of highly polished glass. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that this is good woodworking practice, but the power of this sander allows it to deliver great performance, even with finer abrasives. The surface quality that this machine produces is simply astonishing.

sanding end grain

Another task in which the power stands out is in sanding end grain. Even with a good quality AC electric sander this task can be slow and arduous. The muscle of this sander makes the process go much more quickly, while the light weight and ergonomic handling make it much easier and less “jerky”.

The DEROS also runs quietly, especially for a sander with so much power. I compared it to a few other random orbital sanders that I have in my shop and found that the DEROS ran 3-5 decibels quieter, even with the dust extraction running. If I take that a step further and assume that I will be running my dust collector with the other sanders (which is normally the case) and I won’t need this with the Mirka, then the Mirka runs about 8-10 decibels quieter, which is a substantial difference.

Dust extraction

One of the key benefits of the overall DEROS system resides in its ability to extract nearly all perceptible dust directly at the source during normal sanding operations. This does not just include sanding a horizontal flat surface; I also found the extraction to be effective on vertical and inverted surfaces, as well as edges and end grain. The dust collection effectiveness is the result of three aspects of the system:

• The DEROS sander itself incorporates good airflow with an enlarged central dust port that delivers strong suction all the way through the pad.

auto-start dust extraction

• The powerful, quiet extraction system delivers great air flow to the tool, with an auto-start feature that turns the extractor on and off as the sander’s switch is engaged. The extractor also features a neat mechanism to clean the filter without opening the housing, which is convenient and really helps to maintain strong air flow. With conventional shop vacuums this process is messy, by frequently opening the vacuum to clean the filter a ton of dust can be launched into the air, much of the benefit of using a vacuum is lost.

quick disconnect

I also like the quick disconnect feature that is located a short distance away from the tool. Many sanders locate this right at the tool itself, and by moving it away from the work surface, Mirka has made the work area less cumbersome.

innovative abrasives

• The Mirka Abranet abrasives also play an important role in delivering optimal dust collection. Constructed of a mesh material similar to abrasives used by drywall tapers, these abrasive sheets allow dust to flow more freely through to the collection system. They also proved to be quite durable, maintaining their abrasive quality for a noticeably longer period than typical sanding disks that I have used (Mirka claims that these disks last from 2-5 times longer than standard abrasive disks depending on the application). I also tested the DEROS with some standard abrasives and found that the system performed well, but left a bit more dust behind than the Abranet disks. This system also comes with a thin foam pad that is installed between the sander’s sanding pad and the Abranet disk, called a “pad protector”. I believe that this device should always be used with the Abranet disks because the mesh quality of the disk allows more wear to occur on the pad’s hook and loop system. I will expect to swap the pad protector on a periodic basis, but this is as quick and simple as replacing a sanding disk, and costs less than $10.

Surely there has to be a downside…

trigger

Plastic trigger.

Call me old fashioned, but for a sander in this price range, I want a metal trigger. It works fine, and I have no reason to doubt Mirka’s claim that they have never heard of one breaking, but it feels like an Achilles’ heel in an otherwise bullet-proof sander.

Requires dust extraction system.

I’m uber impressed with the dust extraction capabilities that this sanding system provides. But, it’s that or nothing. There are occasions when I want to use a sander without the full dust extraction setup, and for those situations I’d like to have a bag or similar built-in dust capture system.

Conclusions

This sander is the bomb! Its combination of power, ergonomics, and world-class dust collection put it into its own league relative to the field of electric random orbital sanders. This sander commands a high price tag, but I believe it is well worth it for woodworkers who demand extreme quality and performance.

Source

  • Mirka Abrasives, Inc.
  • 7950 Bavaria Road
  • Twinsburg, Ohio 44087
  • Tel. 330-963-6421
  • mirka-usa.com
  • mirkaderos.com (specific microsite for DEROS sander)

  • Sander can be purchased separately:
  • Mirka DEROS MID55020CAUS, 5” Mirka DEROS Electric Sander, $595

  • Or available as part of a kit:
  • Mirka MID550-912-5 – 5″ DEROS Dust-Free System Kit with 5.5m (18′) Hose, $1,347

  • Abranet Abrasives
  • Mirka 9A-232-120 5-Inch 120 Grit Mesh Abrasive Dust Free Sanding Discs, Box of 50 Disks, $35 (other grits available as well)
Discussion
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19 Responses to “New Tool Review: Mirka DEROS 550X Random Orbital Sander”
  1. g2-6b25bd0e08e862b2554ea49e76605b00

    Took me years to buy the Festol Domino and then only with a 10% off sale and another 10% off military discount the same would have to true for this ultra expensive sander.

    Reply
    • Carl Maltby

      I get what you guys are saying about the expense. It truly is a big investment, but that’s the key point; a sander of this calibre is meant to create returns which you put out by buying it in the first place. An enthusiast might not see that investment as paying off when looking at the ticket price, but a working woodworker like myself does. I use the CEROS 625CV (external transformer rather than the all-in-one with the DEROS) for virtually everything, especially for Greene & Greene style work where edges need pillowing and softening. The soft Abralon pads make wicked smooth results on endgrain and remove that “routered” look.

      Personally, I would buy this machine again if it were stolen. That’s only because it pays for itself in results and most importantly, time. One doesn’t get those invested hours back!

      Reply
  2. Barneysday

    It sounds like an incredible system, but I would have to ask under what kind of conditions would a $1,300 sander system be justified? Seems way too much for the average woodworker/hobbyists.

    Reply
    • Paul Mayer

      Hi Barney, Thanks for the comment. This sander is an innovative tool with a significant technology breakthrough. With innovations like this the price tag can be a bit hefty for early adopters. The conditions that I feel warrant this type of investment include:

      – Heavy production sanding operations, where sanding performance translates to faster production time which equals cost savings and increased profit margins.
      – Dust sensitivity, where exposure imposes serious health risks to the user.
      – Experienced hobbyist with appreciation of quality tools and ample discretionary funds.

      One of the reasons that I wanted to take a deeper look at this tool, rather than simply posting an announcement about it, was that some pro shops can justify this type of investment right now because of their sanding requirements. Another reason that I wanted to cover this tool for our readers is because I believe that its innovative design is a glimpse at the future of portable sanders as well as other hand held power tools, which is interesting to a broader audience than just those who will consider it as a near-term sander purchase.

      Thanks again.

      Cheers,

      Paul

      Reply
  3. A. Zaragoza

    It’s a beautiful looking piece of necessity, sorry, I meant machinery. Looking to slowly put my humble home workshop back together one day. I’m a retired DOT employee & former Viet Nam Veteran with lot’s of time but unfortunately, not a lot of $. Plus, nothing left after the big “D” word. Love to own it, and one of these days, I will. Until then keep designing quality tools for those of us that can appreciate & justify the quality.

    Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, it will. Paul checked this specifically.

      Reply
  4. Carl Maltby

    Finnish product, Finnish engineering quality! I use the CEROS 625CV on a weekly basis, and that produces the finest results I have ever seen. Astonishing doesn’t even begin to describe these sanders.

    Reply
  5. Dan Suess

    Thanks for the detailed review Paul. I’m interested in this sander for some applications different than most. I am firstly a deck restoration contractor and secondly a “newbie” furniture refinisher. I know this is used mainly by the furniture crowd, but I would be interested if you think it is robust enough to handle heavy deck, handrail and spindle sanding. I’m constantly using my 5 inch ROS for UV damaged wood and to help remove old stains. It’s not uncommon for me to sand all day with 60 grit. I’ve tried all the major brands and burn them out in 6 to twelve months. It needs to be a “one handed” sander. Have you tried the abranet HD? Thanks for any input.

    Reply
    • Paul Mayer

      Hi Dan,

      I have not yet used this sander for that application but I believe that it would be particularly well suited because it is light weight. One of my main interests in this sander was because of its light weight and compact design. I have a different 6″ electric ROS that works great on a large, flat horizontal surface, but it is unwieldy when using on vertical surfaces. The DEROS handles quite well on vertical surfaces and is conducive to sanding for extended periods. Sanding all day with 60 grit is a demanding situation, and while I can’t say with certainty that you’re going to feel great at the end of the day, what I would say is that I can’t think of an electric sander that would be better suited for it. What I really notice about the use of this sander is that the gyroscopic effect is not as pronounced as with many random orbitals. In other words, I don’t feel like I am fighting the tool as much as with others. Additionally, pound for pound I don’t think you’ll match the performance in an electric sander. My hunch is that you would need to go to a pneumatic sander to get similar weight/performance, but then you’d have to have a large compressor with you, and run it all day long, which would get old in a hurry (plus require 220V service on the job site, which can present a problem).

      Reply
      • Dan Suess

        Thanks Paul. Please let me know if you get a chance to use abranet HD on some rough wood. Also, are you privy to any new 5 inch sanders that might be released soon that might be competitive with this? I was intrigued with the Mafell, especially since it has the option of using their dust bag and not just the vac attachment, but it’s only available in a 6 inch size.

        Reply
        • Paul Mayer

          Will definitely let you know if/when I use the sander for a rough wood project such as a deck. I can tell you that I did use it on some rough cut lumber without planing first and it worked extremely well. that was not splintery wood per se, but definitely rough. No, I’m not aware of other similar offerings in the pipeline, but I suspect that others will follow suit eventually as this is a great breakthrough that is sure to capture a lot of market share among professional users.

          Reply
  6. Bill

    Can you mix and match this sander with other dust collector systems such as the Fein Turbo 2 and can you or should you use a dust extractor like the Oneida Dust Deputy with the this system for the purpose of saving the filters, clogging and better air flow?

    Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      I don’t know how universal the fittings are, and I don’t know specifically about the Fein, but I did test this sander with the Festtool dust extraction system and it worked well. In terms of using with the Dust Deputy, I haven’t tried this but based on my experience in hooking up the DD to other tools, I think it would be worth a try. I would contact Mirka about it first to see if they have any concerns about doing this, as I have heard of problems with these types of separators creating static electricity that can damage the electronics on some random orbital sanders. This sander does have some pretty sophisticated electronics on board.

      Reply
  7. Ben

    Excellent and detailed description, with very useful tips, I think it is a very extraordinary sander … this will mean to those who work with him, as well as to those who meet for the first time … thanks a lot for the useful information

    Reply
  8. Davis

    Excellent and detailed description, with very useful tips, I think it is a very extraordinary sander … this will mean to those who work with him… thanks a lot for the useful information

    Reply
  9. Ladislav

    I have one and really want to love it but there is one big problem I have and that is that it leaves EXTREMELY lot of swirl marks( pig tails) I’m usually using abranet sand mesh but tried also regular murks sand paper but seams they both leave pig tails , I build cabinets my whole life , I went to school for wood work and only worked and woodworking field so had used many different palm sander but never had issues with as many pigtails on wood after sanding as I do with this sander , 🙁 wish there was something I’m doing wrong because I would like to not need to look for new palm sander after spending 650$ after tax and shipping.

    Reply