The Makita BO5041K had my attention the instant I saw it. It looks like a compact random orbit sander with a couple of handles glued on. Majority of the work I do in my woodshop involves hours of sanding,
This is a compact sander with a handle attached to the top. It can be held from above or by the long handle and the foregrip for a polisher-like feel.
The hard plastic turquoise body with black rubber grip surfaces hides a powerful 3-amp motor. Controlled by a trigger and variable speed dial the motor powers the sander to 4,000-12,000 rpm. Selecting speed is technically continuous; dialing in a specific speed is very hard to do. Particularly in the lower range, turning the dial seems to have little effect. Motor power falls off with speed remaining high enough to fit the matching task. This is an important consideration when your work involves a lot of starting and stopping. The trigger makes doing that simple.
The foregrip is an addition to the kit. It consists of a clamping bracket and a knob with threads. Compressing the clamps with the knob secures it in any position around the full circumference of the tool, except right below the trigger. Finding a comfortable position for sanding takes little time.
The performance of the internal dust collection is mixed. The fan producing the pressure differential necessary for collecting dust is directly linked to the motor. When rotating slowly, the fan does not produce enough pressure to pick up an adequate amount of dust. At high speeds, it changes dramatically. The cloth bag included in the kit is a very poor substitute for an active dust collector. When the bag is clean it performs reasonably well for a few minutes until it is about a quarter full the bag begins to clog. The resulting back pressure lowers the efficiency of the dust collection system until the sander stops collecting dust altogether.
For true dust-free operation, a dust collector and hose are required. As you would expect the efficiency of the dust collection system jumps to near perfect levels. Especially when sanding at slow speeds a dust collector makes a bit different. The kit does not include a hose adapter. The relatively small 3/4″ dust port is made of hard plastic, which can make a good friction fit between the port and the adapter very tricky.
The sander comes in a double walled, vacuum formed carry case. Held in the traditional Makita colors, the case is nearly indestructible on the job site. The worst damage it will take is a scratch here and there. There is plenty of room for sandpaper disks, but they’ll have to share a compartment with the tool and the extension cord. The case compares poorly against the new power tool case systems. A contractor using one of these systems can move his entire tool collection from the truck to the project site in one trip. The best you can do with the design is move two tools at a time; one in each hand. The BO5041K Review is still a very good compact sander.
The different ways of holding the sander merely increase the odds that one way might be the best way to complete your project. Finish quality is beyond critique. The sander produced a surface void of any visible scratches with 220 sandpaper. The large orbit increases the stock removal rate with rough sandpaper at the expense of finish quality. At its heart, it is a better finish sander than it is a shaping tool.
Sanding speed and power drop considerably at slow speeds. It is best used for sanding a small area at slow speed, rather than a large one. Unfortunately excessive vibrations at slow speed compound this issue. Operations involving both hands is necessary and probably the reason why the sander comes with a foregrip in the first place. Seeing your hand movement is a sure sign that working with the sander in this mode for a long time is out of the question.
At speeds higher than halfway on the dial vibrations cease to be an issue. The sander seems to float over the work surface with all of the violent motions constrained to the pad area. Multi-hours sanding session is not a problem. We took it up to operating temperature and used it for a few hours. The cooling mechanism is well engineered and should allow for a long service life. Continuous operation in a commercial shop is possible.
Overall it is a fine sander. The value of the handle and foregrip is ultimately a question of personal taste. We are to assure you, however, that the bits that make the machine function are properly engineered and built well. This is a good tool with a few quirks to be aware of.