Color film that I developed beyond the usage parameters of the kit, but that's another story

Makita, such pretty colors... but is this random orbit sander any good?

  2017 March 22    Tools  


The Makita BO5041K is a 5-inch random-orbit sander.

This is sort of an informal review to share my experiences with this sander.  Hopefully you'll find it to be helpful.

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In This Article

1. Random Orbit vs. Everything Else

2. Variable Speeds

3. Dust Collection

4. Ergonomics

5. Price & Competitors

6. Brand Loyalty


Random Orbit vs. Everything Else

There are four types of sanders you'll commonly encounter.  Belt, sheet, disc... and random orbit.

Sheet sanders are something I've never liked that much.  The early versions were awful;  just not very pleasant to use.  The newer ones might be better, but I haven't been in a hurry to try them.  One advantage of this type of sander is that you can put sheets of any type sandpaper you want, which is useful. 

Belt sanders:  big, heavy, and powerful.  The belts are kind of expensive, and the sanders are more expensive.  If you want to sand away a lot of material across a big plank or a table top, get a belt sander.  I would get a 4x24 myself.  Just realize that I tend to think in terms of rustic carpentry, not fine woodworking.  It's really easy to mess up fine projects with a belt sander;  the edges catch and dig into the wood.

Disc sanders, like belt sanders, also remove a lot of material.  It's good to know about this option, even if you don't always want your workpieces sanded away to nothing in seconds.  (If you want to remove material even faster than that, get one of these special wheels for your angle grinder.)

Random orbit sanders are the most realistic choice for the DIY'er and the all-around handyman.  The "random" means the abrasive grains are not always following the same track.  That means your workpiece won't get as many deep scratches in it.  Smart!  But of course, that feature does eat up some of the sanding power.  So you get a medium-fast degree of material removal, but it's not like a disc sander.

Variable Speeds

The Makita has variable speeds, "1" through "5".  A good balance of sanding power vs. motor speed seems to be at around 4.  It does sand better when it's turned up to 5, but I don't like to run it at full speed (noise, maybe, though with earplugs it's not much of an issue.) 

Top speed on this unit is supposed to be 12,000 opm.  Again, that's equal with its meaningful competitors (Bosch, Dewalt)  Notice they use orbits per minute (OPM), not rpm.  These count directions that are not concentric or something when they arrive at that figure.  Otherwise we'd be talking about angle-grinder speeds, and these sanders don't do angle grinder speeds by any stretch of the imagination. 

Dust Collection

None of the sanders I've seen lately has really good dust collection.  The Makita, like its competitors, has a dust bag that's too small.  But it works OK, I guess.

If you want real dust collection, figure out a way to hook your sander to a real dust collector or at least a shop vacuum.  There are ways to make your own adapter, but I've never bothered to do that. 

Or, you could just use the standard dust collection bag, and for any sawdust that gets out, wear this type of respirator.  Fine sawdust *will* get airborne when you're sanding, so the respirator is a smart move.  Otherwise you're coughing later and can't figure out why...

The biggest annoyance with this sander-- and every other random orbit-- is that fine sawdust falls out of it when you pick it back up from the bench.  But this won't happen so much if you empty the dust bag after every work session. 


Many random orbit sanders today are designed like palm sanders.  In other words, they don't have handles.  The addition of a trigger handle, plus a second handle for your other hand, will make the sander much more pleasant to operate.  This is true especially if you have to sand for long periods of time, which is often the case. 

The Makita has this type of design.  This simple, common-sense feature seems kind of rare nowadays.  For me, it was a major selling point, because it makes the sander so much more pleasant to use.  (Just my opinion here.)

If for some reason you don't like that extra handle, it's removable. 

Price and Competitors

There are sanders that cost well over $300.  (Good example, this one.)  That makes sense for a full-time pro, but you don't need to spend that kind of money to get a very usable tool. 

Dewalt makes sanders of comparable power and price to the Makita, but thus far I haven't seen any with the same ergonomics.

If you want something with a trigger handle and that side knob, there aren't many choices in the 5-inch, 3-ish amp department.  One of the only ones I can think of right now is the Bosch 3725DEVS, which costs more than the Makita.  The Bosch sanders always seemed to have good power, but from using at least two or three of them over the years, I've never liked the spindle or disc attachment.  My last one spiraled off into the wild blue junkyard in the sky;  no amount of Allen wrenching was going to get that disc to stay on again.

They were great when they worked, though.

The Bosch may remove material somewhat faster than the Makita.  If fast sanding is your goal, though, don't even get a random orbit sander.  Get this type of sander instead.

Brand Loyalty

When you start to become brand-loyal, it's easy to start thinking that everything the company ever made is pure awesome.

Fact is, even the best of them occasionally makes a lemon (such as possibly this sander.)  With Makita it seems to be uncommon, though. 

One reason I like Makita is that they're not owned by an umbrella corporation that makes ten other brands (far as I know).  Many of the Makita tools you find for sale in the USA are actually assembled in the USA.  Of the ones that aren't, they seem to be manufactured to the same high standard of quality.  Generally, Makita tools are made to stand up to years of frequent use, even by pros. 


The teal color sure is pretty, but this wasn't a pure fanboy decision.  The Makita has decent power, it's been very reliable so far, and just as important...

The ergonomics are a huge win. 

I almost like to sand stuff with it.  That's really saying something, because normally I don't really care for sanding at all.  (Who does??)  I think Makita put a lot of thought into this design, and it shows.

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