Makita Random Orbit Sander Review
The Pros and Cons of the Makita Orbital Sander (Model BO5041)
My review is based on the corded Makita orbit sander, not the cordless model. I bought mine from my local Home Depot store. It can be used for various woodworking projects, decks, and furniture tops, but I use the sander mostly to prepare kitchen cabinets for paint.
On cabinets, this sander has performed really well, so far, using the 5-inch Diablo sandpaper discs from Home Depot. I can usually sand three to four cabinet doors before having to change the discs. The dust collection holes on the Diablo discs match the holes on the bottom of the sander almost perfectly to help with dust collection. The discs adhere tightly to the Velcro-like material on the bottom of the sander and stay in-tact while sanding.
The dust collection isn't the greatest, compared to other sanders I have used, but it isn't horrible either. The sander is very powerful, producing lots of dust that doesn't get sucked into the collection bag completely. When sanding vertical surfaces, like cabinets, the surrounding area definitely needs to be protected with plastic to contain airborne dust. Wearing a dust mask, or a respirator, is also a must.
The collection bag is also fairly small and must be emptied quite often to prevent dust from discharging onto the surface. The bag itself unfastens very easily for quick emptying of dust.
On cabinet doors, it sands very well, removing lacquer from the surface in a couple passes, using minimal pressure. I can't comment on its performance on deck boards, but I'll update this review once I've had a chance to sand a deck, or two, with it.
But for sanding interior wood surfaces in preparation for paint, or stain, it sands well and won't leave swirl marks, using the proper sandpaper grit and speed. One of the reasons I chose this model is for the variable speed settings (4,000 to 12,000 OPM) that allows reduced speed for light sanding in between coats of paint.
Ergonomically, the rubberized handle is comfortable to work with, fitting in my hand perfectly without causing soreness after working with it all day. When sanding vertically, it's a little heavy, weighing close to four pounds. I would imagine using this sander vertically all day would probably be tiring after a few hours. The cord is a little annoying when using it vertically. A battery powered model is available, but I chose the corded model because my past experience with battery-powered tools, other than my drill, hasn't been good.
Makita Sander vs. Wagner Paint Eater
The Wagner Paint Eater is often advertised as a sander, but it's really more like a paint remover. I own one and mostly use it for smaller projects like removing peeling paint from exterior door frames, or porch railings, for which it works really well.
For sanding, the Makita palm sander is the best option, allowing various surfaces to be sanded without causing damage, or rounded corners. The Paint Eater discs are extremely coarse and damage wood very easily, and unfortunately, the machine only allows those discs to be used, not sandpaper. The discs are also pricey, selling for around $12 each. I can buy a big pack of sanding discs for my Makita orbit sander for less than that.
There is also a big difference in quality between the two. In general, I'm not a big fan of Wagner products. The first Paint Eater I owned lasted almost five years before the motor failed, and I used it a lot for various paint removal projects. The unit I replaced it with fried out within two weeks of owning it.
Is the Corded Makita Orbit Sander Worth the Money?
The one I bought from my local home improvement store (model bo5041) was $80, as of this writing in 2017. There is also the option to spend a little more and buy one that comes with a carrying case too. My experience with Makita tools has been very positive overall. The drill I purchased several years ago still works great. The quality is definitely there.
Spending hundreds of dollars on a fancy sander is overkill for me. I'm a painter and use this tool mostly for occasional cabinet painting projects. So far, it's worked great for me, but its one flaw is the mediocre dust collection. The dust collection could definitely be improved, but for $80, I definitely recommend this tool for any painter, or carpenter.