Review By Dean Bielanowski  Triton Website - http://www.triton.com.au


Triton (TROS) Random Orbit Sander

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

The Triton "TROS" Random Orbit Sander is one of a number of new products to be released by Triton under the new ownership of Global Machinery Company (GMC). Given that Triton were previously well-known for innovative power tool products, and GMC were known for lower-cost tools designed for the DIY or enthusiast user (although they do also have a trade quality line), it will be interesting to see the direction Triton as an entity itself will go under the new leadership of GMC.

As mentioned, the TROS is a new product to be released under the Triton label, along with several other new products which we hope to review soon. So let's see what this new random orbit sander (ROS) has to offer.

Out of the Box
If you decide to purchase the Triton TROS sander from a hardware store, you should be able to find it easily as the box is bright and eye catching. But usually, this is the first thing to go in the bin after you get it home! Inside the box you will find another box... well, a hardened plastic molded case at least, which holds the TROS sander, attachments and manual.

The full-color manual provides all the instructions you will need. Given that these sanders are fairly basic feature-wise, the manual isn't a brick, rather, a brief concise outline on operation, features and maintenance required to keep your sanding working in optimum condition.

Now, with regard to the plastic case, regular readers will know that I do like to retain these cases and find them useful. They keep everything together and make transporting the sander easy, and they provide that additional bit of protection against bumps and scratches during transportation, but if you don't like keeping cases, you can find another use for it, or just throw it away. Your call.

Within the case you will find:

  • Triton TROS Random Orbit Sander

  • Dust Bag with attachment

  • Three hook and loop sanding discs

  • User manual (as described above)

Unlike some plastic cases, once you take the tool out, you can never get it to fit back in! Not a real problem with this case. There seems to be enough relief to fit everything back in, stuff the power cord in and lower and lock the lid without causing a world war between you and your tool case.

The Triton TROS Sander
The TROS sander is a 5" (125mm) random orbit sander. The base takes standard 5" hook and loop sandpaper discs. These are the velcro-attached type discs as opposed to the stick-on ones which are difficult to remove (and rarely seen except on heavier stationary sanding machines). Most ROSs use the hook and loop type for quick and easy addition and removal of sanding discs. The sander base and sanding discs have eight 10mm holes around their circumference to aid in dust extraction. These are of a standard size and configuration and designed to allow you to use most 5" replacement sanding discs on the market, so sourcing replacement sandpaper discs should pose no problem at all.

The TROS features a 275w motor to spin the sanding discs. This is not the most powerful random orbit sander available. You can readily find models with twice as much power, however, these are not generally of the "palm" holding type, having front and rear handles to better hold the tool to handle the larger power on offer. At 275 watts however, the TROS is comparable in motor size to many other palm grasp random orbit sanders on the market. Actually, this sander will look very familiar to those who have some of the DeWalt 5" ROSs. It's not the same design, but they do look similar in shape and features. These sanders are designed primarily as finish sanders rather than sanders designed to remove a lot of material fast. If this is what you are after, one of the 500w+ ROSs would be better suited to the task. In saying that, however, you can remove material relatively fast using the TROS sander with an aggressive sanding pad fitted (60 grit or so). In fact, the motor is powerful enough, you just have to be careful not to apply too much pressure to the item you are sanding as the motor can struggle under heavy load. However, proper use should dictate that very little pressure should be applied anyway. You should apply light pressure, really the weight of the sander itself provides sufficient pressure, and allow the sandpaper to do the work. For fast material removal use a coarser grit paper with light pressure, not a finer grit with more pressure. You can bog down the motor on the TROS with excessive pressure, but as mentioned, this is not how to use a sander properly. If you need to apply that much pressure to remove material you are using the wrong type of sander... try a belt sander instead.

The TROS is best suited to finish sanding or lighter-duty initial sanding of joints. It can be used equally well for sanding flaking paint on a variety of surfaces, including metal, but undertake precautions relevant to the material you are sanding, i.e. you should not be sanding materials with asbestos fibers or similar, and for sanding metal surfaces, ensure there is no wood dust or other combustible material in the collection bag before you begin. The motor provides a no load speed of between 1200-1900 RPM. I find the tool's power is suitable for all types of finish sanding of wood joints and wood surfaces. I found I used it often for sanding down pocket holes plugs or counter-bored plugs level with the surrounding surface as this tool is light, easy to grasp and works great for this task. It's also very handy for pocket hole joint sanding. Although the pocket holes generally create a flush joint on one face, often you need just that slight bit of finish sanding to remove any visible dried glue or to ensure the joint is perfectly flush. There are many other uses for such a sander of course. The random orbit action generally produces a nice smooth finish free of swirl marks or cross-grain scratches that can occur with other sander types, however, different wood species will display different results in this regard, some worse than others. It worked fine for panel sanding, general board sanding and edge sanding. In general I managed to achieve a good finish on most wood types. The key is using the appropriate grit sandpaper for the task, and then going through the grit grades until all marks are no longer readily visible. At a 600 grit finish, I noticed few problems.

The top of the TROS features a soft rubber grip pad with three raised ridges. This grip surface fits the palm of your hand and provides a slip-resistant surface in use. Your fingers grasp around the edges of the sander's top rim. Some fingers may cover the air hole slots that help cool the motor, but if most slots remain unobstructed you will be fine. Just find a grip that is comfortable. Unlike the more powerful ROSs mentioned above, this sander is designed for one-handed operation. At the front of the unit you will find the ON/OFF power switch. The switches are actually separate, so one side will turn the unit on, the other will turn it off. You push each switch in to operate it and the switches themselves are protected by a rubber "sleeve" which also protects the switch from dust.

On the left side rim (if looking from behind) you will find the variable speed control. Yes, you can alter the speed using this dial control to change rotational speed from anywhere between 1200 - 1900 RPM. A faster speed will provide faster material removal while a slower speed provides slower material removal (if using the same grit paper of course). The ability to alter rotational speed is handy as you can control, to some degree, the rate of material removal your task requires. The speed dial is labeled 1 through 6, 1 being the slowest speed setting, 6 being the fastest.

Moving down to the base of the sander, an interesting feature of note is the rotate-able base and dust collection port. You can actually rotate the dust port/base through 360 degrees in relation to the top section of the tool. There are 12 click-detent settings around the circumference (every 30 degrees) which will lock the base into the detent to hold it secure during use. The ability to rotate the dust port is a welcome addition as it allows you to move it out of the way if it is causing an obstruction for the task at hand. While generally no problem with flat surface sanding, think about sanding wooden stair balustrades... you may have to employ some uncomfortable grip angles if the sander port gets in the way on sanders where the base cannot rotate. With the TROS, you simply rotate the base so the dust port does not obstruct the operation of the unit while holding it in the most comfortable position for the user. Neat feature!

The dust port itself has an outside diameter of about 1" (25.4mm) so if you have a vacuum hose to fit this size port you are in luck. Additionally, the dust bag adaptor which attaches to this offers an extra outside diameter flange of 1 3/8" (35mm) to connect a vacuum hose. I have a Festool CT Mini extractor and the Festool hose nozzle fits securely to the inside of this slightly larger connection ring. If you do not have a vacuum extractor you can attach the provided dust bag to the dust connector and use that to collect dust from the sander, however, connecting a vacuum will provide a much more efficient extraction system as the vacuum itself provides a better airflow through the tool and dust port than just using the static dust port/bag itself. The sander does provide a natural airflow that encourages the dust produced to flow through to the collection bag, but it is not as powerful as one provided by a connected vacuum extractor. In use I found this to be true. With only the dust bag connected, there was a fair amount of dust visible that was not caught by the collection bag. With an extractor attached there was considerably less dust left on the sanding surface, or floating into the air (the worst kind of dust), but this was to be expected. Sanders are generally very hard to capture dust from, so if you do not have a vacuum extractor you can hook up to the Triton TROS sander, be sure to wear a dust mask or respirator, and work outdoors if possible. In fact, even if you do have a vacuum connected, a dust mask is a good idea as you will never capture all the dust sanders create, no matter how good your vacuum or dust port is designed. It's just the nature of these tools that they are difficult to capture all dust from (like circular saws). Using a downdraft sanding table - another form of extraction - would be ideal, but not many woodworkers have these in their shops it seems.

That's about all there is to the Triton TROS sander. Feature-wise it's on par with many other similar sized sanders on the market. It does have the distinct advantage over many with its rotating base/dust port which is a useful addition to the tool. Comfort-wise its as comfortable as any similar sander I have used, and vibration seems reasonable given the size and power of the motor. It is easy to control in use, not like a belt sander that can sometimes seem to control you! The TROS is manufactured in China, but Triton have a long-standing reputation for producing quality tools with innovative features, and I'm guessing the manufacturing of the tool is done to quite high, monitored standards. While the TROS is not as rich in innovation as some other Triton tools, it is hard to add any more features to the TROS given the type of tool it is and the types of tasks it performs. What else could you add?

Since this is a newly released tool I cannot provide any durability information as yet. I will endeavor to update the review in 12 months time to see whether the tool does indeed stand up to more prolonged use. However, given the competitive purchase price of this tool in relation to the competition (recommended retail price of AUD$99.95) I feel it offers good value for money and delivers pretty good end results too. Certainly beats hand sanding that's for sure!

For more information, or to find dealers worldwide of Triton products, visit www.triton.com.au

Triton TROS Photos
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The Triton random orbit sander box


Inside the box is the plastic molded carry case containing all the goodies...


Ready to plug in and go!


The power controls at the front of the unit are in easy reach of your fingers.


Speed control dial located on the side of the unit.


The dust collection bag attached.


Velcro backed sanding discs are used on the TROS.


Attaching and removing sanding discs is easy.


Note here how the dust bag has been rotated away from the operator during use.


Sanding a face frame joint flush.

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