Milwaukee 18V Random Orbital Sander

Milwaukee 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander 2648-21 Review

The Milwaukee 18V Random Orbital Sander 2648-21 is a 5-inch, hook and loop sander. It is capable of reaching 12,000 OPM max, [no load] and truly feels like a corded sander.

According to Tyson Apfelbeck, Senior Product Manager,

We’ve developed a solution that not only delivers true corded power without the hassle of cords, but does so without sacrificing the features users have come to appreciate from their corded sanders – such as the ability to adjust the sanding speed for maximum control and a smooth finish.”

Why is Milwaukee Making Cordless Sanders?

Well the first and most obvious reason, is that they are now focusing on the carpentry and remodeling trades. As part of that focus they want to build out that category with 18-volt tool options. Milwaukee is trying to focus on tools to address all stages of construction form demo to finish.

The second reason, and one I would not have thought of, was that that have had numerous request from end users for such a tool.

Why Isn’t This FUEL?

Milwaukee uses their FUEL formula when they need to achieve desired runtime or power results. In this sanders case they were looking to meet or beat a corded sander performance. They were able to deliver this by using a brushed motor. The tool handles and performs similar to a corded sander and by using brushed technology, they were able to keep the price tag down.

Productivity Enhancements

Festool, Makita and Now Milwaukee joined the cordless sander race.  The Milwaukee 18V Random Orbit Sander has a variable speed, allowing sanding control from 7000 to 12000 OPM.

Milwaukee feels they can differentiate themselves from the competition with four productivity enhancing features:

  1. Robust switch design
  2. Dust collection
  3. Ergonomics
  4. Lockout feature

Robust Switches

User feedback research told the folks at Milwaukee that switches tend to get gummed up with dust causing failure.

They a more robust internal design to keep out internal dust contamination.

Additionally, they designed and oriented the variable speed switch in a vertical fashion. This vertical orientation is easier to access while using the tool, with different hand positions. It is also easier for both left and right dominant hand users to operate.

Dust Collection

When designing this sander, Milwaukee listened to end user’s complaints of dust bags wearing or ripping. They designed a durable, plastic, dust canister with an integrated paper filter. The filter protects the tool while the canister collects the dust.

A universal vacuum hose adapter is also included with this sander. The adapter allows you to connect to different hose diameter sizes:

  • 9/16″ ID
  • 25/32″ OD
  • 2-7/16″ ID

This sander fit my RIDGID shop vac, Festool and Makita dust extractor hoses.


We found the Milwaukee sander to be well balanced, and lightweight. Typically cordless tools are heavier that their corded counterparts. While this may be the case Milwaukee kept the weight down on this sander. At 2.7 lbs as a bare tool and 4.3 lbs with a 3.0 Ah battery this sander is not heavy.

In fact, when using it overhead to sand some ceiling bead board the lighter weight on this tool helps reduce fatigue.

Lockout Feature

Milwaukee designed a lockout feature into these sanders to prevent accidental start up when the battery is installed. This will help prevent damaging a product finish. If the battery is removed from the tool when the tool is switched on, the switch will need to be cycled off and back on the start the tool.

Sander Run-Time

Everyone wants to know run. We find that with an average hand pressure of 8 lbs you can expect the following runtimes:

  • 3.0 Ah battery:          20 minutes on high. / 35 minutes on low.

Larger Batteries

An external adapter is available if you choose to operate this sander with a 9.0 or 22.0 Ah battery. Personally I enjoyed the lighter weight of this tool and would rather change batteries.

M18 Random Orbit Sander 2648-21 Specifications

  • Pad Size: 5”
  • OPM (No-Load): 7,000 – 12,000 OPM
  • Orbit Diameter: 3/32”
  • Variable Speed Settings: Yes
  • Pad Type: Hook and Loop
  • Weight (w/battery): 4.3lbs
  • Height: 6”


The Milwaukee 18V Random Orbit Sander 2648-21 sells for $99.00 as a bare tool and $199 as a kit.

The kit comes with:

  • M18 Random Orbit Sander
  • (2) Sheets 80 Grit Sandpaper
  • Universal Hose Adapter
  • 0ah M18 Battery
  • M18™/M12™ Multi Voltage Charger
  • Contractor Bag

Overall Impression

There are three take-always to this sander that impressed me. First is that this sander can perform as well as a corded sander. Second, it can remove a ton of material and lastly it is helping build out the carpentry platform. That’s something I’m a fan of!

The ability to now use a sander on a 32’ ladder without having to drag a trip hazard, dust canister impressed us by providing a more durable dust containment solution

Bottom line – Milwaukee hit a home run with this tool and did not break the bank doing it.

About the author

Rob Robillard

Robert Robillard is a remodeler, general contractor, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts, and serves as the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and founding editor of A Concord Carpenter . Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review - Tool and Product Review - Video Channel, , where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob Robillard

All posts by Robert »

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Product reviews on this site contain our opinion of a product or service. We will always strive for objectivity and transparency in our reviews. Our goal is to provide readers with honest, objective information based on our own experiences. We never have and never will accept payment in exchange for a positive review. Many of the products that we review are provided to us for free by a manufacturer or retailer. In some cases, we also have advertising or affiliate relationships with manufacturers and retailers of products and services we review. For additional information please visit our additional disclosure policies.