Sanding off a piece of furniture is a great way to improve the finish and to prevent splinters and imperfections. It ensure that your surfaces are level and gives everything a professional sheen that makes it look like it came from IKEA.

A belt sander is a highly powerful sanding tool that will allow you to create curved edges and perform a range of other applications. But for hobbyists and casual DIY fans, that’s going to be overkill. Instead, an orbital sander might prove to be more appropriate and in that case, you can do a lot worse than the PORTER-CABLE 382.

We decided to put the PORTER-CABLE 382 through its paces for a few days to see how it would measure up to other products and whether or not we could recommend it. We’ve found that it’s a great tool for a lot of reasons and can recommend with only a few reservations.

Product Description: A Good Design All Round

The PORTER-CABLE 382 isn’t terribly attractive to look at in all grey and does have a couple of design faux-pas in our opinion. Other than the color choices, the off putting thing for us is that the wire comes from the top of the device. This means that it’s going to get in the way more than it would in another location and that can be slightly problematic when you’re using a tool that requires manual dexterity. There’s also no handle as such, just an area to grab around the top of the device.

That’s not a deal breaker though and actually, during our review process, we found it to be satisfying to hold and relatively easy to operate for the most part.

The sanding speed meanwhile is very good and there is dust collection here too, which will allow you to collect dust as you go and then throw it out.

Pros and Cons: Very Good but Not the Best

The best thing about the machine is the decent performance and high RPMs. This really does sand things down quickly for the size and cost and is very enjoyable to use on the whole. If you have been using belt sanders until now, then you might find that this makes certain jobs a whole lot easier. Of course it’s still not as powerful as a belt sander and you can’t use it to create rounded edges etc. It will just about remove paint but this can take a while.

It does what it sets out to, is light and easy to use and comes in at a very fair price.

But as mentioned, there are a few design mistakes here too though and it’s certainly not perfect. We don’t love the wire positioning for example and we also find the color a little off-putting. Something else we noticed is that during extended use it can get a little hot and unfortunately the majority of that heat seems to be just where you hold it…

Another issue is the dust collection attachment which is a bit loose, drops a lot of dust and fills up very quickly indeed. So, there are a few cons here as well…

Conclusion: Consider the Rest

This isn’t a bad orbital sander and it will certainly make sanding quick, easy and a little more fun. But as mentioned, it’s also not the best. If you’re in the market for an orbital sander, then you might want to shop around.

And that’s really the most damning thing we can say about the PORTER-CABLE 38: it’s just not as good as some of the competition. Take the BDERO100 from Black and Decker for example. That comes in a little bit cheaper, it doesn’t get hot, the wire comes out the bottom and it has a much nicer looking design that is actually appealing to use.

When there are clearly better options on the market, it’s hard to recommend this and especially as the Black and Decker model is a little more powerful. Some people also say that the last PORTER model was also superior.

So, shop around and look for something better. But if you do end up getting the PORTER-CABLE 382, it will still do a good job. Make sure to read this review to find the best random orbit sander.