Process Improvement, Product Review, Sanding
Comments 7

Makita BO5021K Random Orbit Sander – Product Review

My first Makita. The BO5021K; will it be better than my old Porter Cable palm sander?

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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7 Comments

  1. I've been a Makita fan for about 8 years now. I've got several of there tools that I love. However I don't have this little sander. Good call hooking it up to a vacuum, none of us need to breathing that dust. Cheers.

  2. I don't have the BO5021K, but I've owned the BO5021 for 6 or 7 years. I'm not sure what the difference is. I bought it for around $50 at Costco when I needed to sand a lot of flat trim.

    It works pretty well, but I thought that it vibrates the hand just a bit much, I have a hard time using it for more than 15 minutes at a time.

    As for dust collection. I found the bag passable, but I hook it up to my shop vac now. I take off the bag and use a 2-1/2″ to 1-1/4″ reducer. The reducer is still to big so I tape it on with some duct tape. I've also found that if I don't want to listen to the vacuum howl, I need to run it through a speed control to reduce the suction.

  3. Jason – I'll consider Makita more in the future. I don't have the dust collection hooked up yet, but it is a goal.

    Benjamen – thanks for the tip on dust collection hook up. I'll give that a try. I also saw a home made adapter in a woodworking magazine somewhere, hope I can find it.

    I think the only different between my sander and yours is mine has variable speed. At least that is what I can tell from the owner's manual. You got a great deal on yours! As far as vibration goes, mine is very comfortable to use. Much better than my old one.

  4. Actually Jeff, my BO5021 has variable speed (the manual says the BO5020 is single speed). In fact I usually use it on a lower setting when I'm doing a lot of sanding to save my hands and arms.

    I'm wondering if maybe they are actually the same tool. I only know mine's a BO5021 because that what it says in the label, maybe the K part is the designation of how it's packed, like K means that it comes in a hard case — which I do have.

    When I looked up the manual on the site it said the BO5021 has been discontinued, they seem to have gone on to to BO5030(1) and BO5040(1).

  5. Wow, I clearly did not read your post carefully. I thought you'd hooked it up to a vacuum. :). My bad. I've got 2 of their sliding miter saws and I love them. I also love their drills. Belt sander great!! And Im pretty sure that the k is for kit. I used to work retail and their numbering changes were really annoying. Same exact tool, new case 3 pieces of sandpaper, a bottle opener and a whole model number. Cheers.

  6. Jason – after your first comment, I felt what I wrote wasn't clear, so I went back and changed it. No doubt what you just read was the updated text. So, don't think you read poorly. 🙂

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