Makita has been on a roll, having recently introduced 18-volt cordless versions of tools that were formerly only available with cords: a sliding compound miter saw, a power planer, and now, the LXOB01 random orbit sander.

The Makita sander just came out and when I first heard about it I thought: how could a cordless sander possibly be any good? This is no reflection on the manufacturer — it’s just that the cordless sanders I had seen before were aimed at the DIY market and it hadn’t occurred to me someone would make one for pros.

I have had this sander for a short period of time, but have used it enough to say that it works surprisingly well. It’s slightly slower and about a half-pound heavier than comparable corded models (it’s based on the BO5031) but the experience of using the sander is more or less the same. I put a 100-grit disk on the tool and sanded face, sides, and edges of some rough redwood fence boards. It removed the surface quickly, and the fact that there wasn’t a cord to deal with partially offset the additional weight.

Like most tools that rely on collection bags, the dust collection is not highly efficient. That said; it does collect most of the dust. After 10-15 minutes of sanding I opened the bag and it was about half-way full. There was nowhere near that amount of dust on the bench and floor.

The sander takes 5-inch 8-hole hook and loop disks. According to Makita, it can sand for 20 minutes at high speed and 40 minutes at low speed on a 3.0 Ah battery. To find out if this was true, I installed a 100-grit disk and timed how long it took to deplete a fully-charged battery while sanding redwood at high speed. The tool ran strong for 25 minutes, at which point the motor slowed and made it clear the battery was just about empty.

When testing cordless tools I’m in the habit of stopping every so often to let motors and batteries cool. I did that with the sander, but it turned out not to have been necessary — the battery remained cool and the tool never became more than slightly warm. Evidently, sanding doesn’t strain motors and batteries the way drilling big holes or driving lags does.

One of the questions I can’t answer about this tool is whether or not it will catch on. Most of the work I do takes place in a shop or in rooms where I need to do a really good job collecting the dust. In those locations it’s easy enough to go with a corded model that connects to a dust collecting vac, so there’s no great advantage in going cordless.

But I could see adding this sander to my kit as a secondary (occasional use) tool for tasks where I need to be mobile and am not that concerned about collecting dust. The list of those tasks will be different for everyone; for me it includes decks and exterior trim, working from ladders and staging, and interior work where I have to cover a lot of ground (punch list, for example).

Makita LXOB01 Sander Specs:
Speed: 7,000, 9,500, and 11,000 OPM (oscillations per minute)
Weight (w. battery, paper, & bag — by TOTT) 3.9 pounds
Disk diameter: 5 inches
Orbit diameter: 1/8 inches
Price: $279 for the kit; $99 for a bare tool
Kit includes: tool, two 3.0 Ah LXT batteries, charger, dust bag, and carry bag