good dust collection
sturdy dust collection canister that is easy to remove
A little more than average vibration
Porter-Cable has a good reputation for building reliable and long lasting power tools. The Porter-Cable 343K random orbital sanders is not as well known as the as other brands like Dewalt or Bosch. But this 5-inch 8 hole model is more value priced those brands. The sander itself is a solidly built machine with a 3 Amps motor that rotates up to 1200 rpm. It has a soft top knob and a handle to allow for one handed operations. You can also use it two handed if you do not have overly large hands. The whole thing weighs less than 4 pounds which should make it easy to handle. The sander also has nice touches like a hard plastic dust collection case and comes with a 1 year manufacturer's warranty. The sander also comes with in a case that can hold the sander for storage and transport. Although it is not sturdiest case, its inclusion in the package is a nice touch.
Starting up the Porter-Cable random orbital sander is easy and quick. The motor is a loud and noise level is loud enough to recommend wearing ear protection if you are using it for extended periods. Like using all sanders, you should always wear eye protection and mask for your own safety. The first thing you notice as you start sanding is that the sander tends to vibrate more than the average sander. Though vibration was not excessive, it does become noticeable over time. Course grain sand paper was able to quickly and easily remove a top layer of paint from an old table. Swapping to medium and fine grain sand paper was easy using the hook and loop paper although lining up the vacuum holes takes a little patience. The random orbit did a very good job evenly smoothing the sanded surface and it is almost impossible to create a divot or scratch in the wood. Using the sander for detail work, you will notice that the sander can be a little top heavy, probably because it is so tall. With a little practice, this was easy to compensate for.
Throughout the sanding process, the sander did not kick up significant dust but the dust collection canister filled up quickly. It seems best to empty it if it is more than half full. Luckily, the canister is easy to remove and empty but you can also connect the sander to a 1.0 or 1.5 inch vacuum hose for more capacity. With practice, the sander is very easy to handle one handed or two handed. It gives good results especially if you do not press down on the sander and let it use its own sanding motion. The sander is taller than most sanders so it is a problem to use it in tight spaces.
The 343k sander does a very good job at sanding. It is not too heavy that it is difficult to maneuver. The excessive vibration can become a little tiring after extended use. The sander tends to be bigger than its competitors which gives a more sturdy feel. But this extra height can make it a little unwieldy for some uses. There is a variable speed model available that adds nice for some additional control. Overall, the Porter-Cable 343k random orbital sander does the job very well is a few shortcomings that are easily overlooked when you consider its bargain price.