Many years ago, I bought a Porter Cable random orbit sander (ROS) which served me well for a number of years, but I knew I was in trouble when it suddenly became a variable speed sander and shouldn’t have. The motor was about to kick the bucket and I had come to rely heavily on that little sander, so a new one was a necessity.
But, with all of the sanders on the market, which one should I buy? There are heavy duty six inch sanders with heavy duty prices. I wasn’t sure I needed that – my little Porter Cable did the trick for many years, so I decided pretty quickly to stay with a five inch model.
I am an on-line member at Fine Woodworking.com. This membership gives me access to a ton of information. Many of the past articles from Fine Woodworking magazine are there including product reviews. I found one which gave Makita’s six inch ROS high marks. I had already decided I did not need a six inch model, and logic would dictate that the smaller five inch version should be almost as good as the six inch version, right? I had seen the Makita BO5021K five inch ROS at a local store on sale. Many can be found on the internet for about $100.00. Mine was originally marked at $109.95 and I bought it for $90 – a nice savings.
A dream to use
The first thing I noticed was how light the BO5021K is; much lighter than my old Porter Cable (it officially weighs 3.1 lbs). What impressed me next was how little vibration the sander generated. I am used to some pretty serious vibration as a sander does its job. The BO5021K was a joy to use simply for these two reasons. But, it is also very balanced. I can easily sand with just one hand.
At first, I was disappointed it did not have a standard dust collector hook-up. Dust collection should be a given right? I looked on-line for an adapter without any luck. But, what I discovered is the sander creates a very effective suction action on it’s own. During heavy sanding you can actually see dust being pulled into the sander which then ends up in the on-board bag. So far, the lack of vac hook-up hasn’t been a problem.
As far as sanding effectiveness, I give the Makita excellent marks. The rear D handle and front grip make control during aggressive stock removal a snap. I have been able to quickly remove planer marks from the face of boards as well as saw marks on board edges. Best of all, I have not detected any swirl marks that can be a gigantic problem during finishing.
The BO5021K also has variable speed adjustment. I am one to basically run a sander wide open hoping to speed up what I view as an unpleasant task, so I have not used this feature yet.
A good purchase
Even after reading some positive on-line reviews, I was a little uneasy buying this sander. This is my first ever Makita power tool – I didn’t have a track record with this company. And, with this recession any funds spent on power tools needs to be spent wisely. So far, I am very pleased.
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