Ask anyone who works with wood what their least favorite part of the job is and you're bound to hear "sanding" more often than not. Whether because of the dust, the time-consuming monotony, or the physical pain in your hand from using a random orbital sander for hours on end, it is by no means a fun job. As such, I am always looking for ways to expedite the process while minimizing the dust that I have to deal with. Enter the Makita dual-mode sander. With its 6-inch pad, 6.6-amp motor, and dust-extraction port, this sander is built to cleanly remove material fast.

Not Your Average ROS
The first time I used this sander, one thing that stood out almost immediately was its power. Most of my previous experience has been in using 5-inch RO sanders that have motors less than half its size; it was immediately clear that this was a whole different animal. Its tight orbit diameter (7/32) leaves a swirl-free finish, in my experience, and the variable speed (1,600-6,800 OPM and 3,200-13,600 sanding strokes per minute) allows you to tone it down for more delicate work or go full blast when you need material removed fast. Along with its power, the machine's weight and side handle allow for some extra leverage when needed, but for the most part, it does all the work. While stripping existing finish or smoothing out an uneven surface, you can switch over to RO with forced rotation mode and see it really shine.

Strong Dust Collection
When I use Mirka Abranet sanding discs, the dust extraction performs almost flawlessly, leaving very little, if any, dust behind. I've used the sander hooked to my Fein turbo for everything from sanding face frames to stripping furniture and have been thoroughly impressed with its ability to mitigate dust. On a recent bunk-bed project involving sanding a good amount of Bondo, this feature was indispensable. We spent a good six hours sanding and there was no lingering smell nor airborne particles to contend with. The design of the extraction port is also convenient in that the hose connection is on the rear of the handle, which means it is out of your way and less likely to get accidentally knocked off.

Bottom Line
The only issues I have with this sander aren't related to performance, but rather the price of consumables from the manufacturer. Makita has made a proprietary hole pattern on this sander and charges about $2 per sanding disc for it. The simple solution is to buy an Abranet-type paper that doesn’t use a hole pattern but rather a mesh. Overall, I would definitely recommend this sander to anyone who, like myself, feels time is money.

Makita B06050J Price: $319 Includes: Abrasive disc, pad, pad protector, removable side handle, removable dust nozzle, and interlocking case

Pad Size (round) : 6"
Abrasive Disc Size : 6"
Orbits Per Minute (variable speed) : 1,600 - 6,800 OPM
Orbit Diameter : 7/32"
Amps : 6.6
Vibration (m/s²) : 5
Dimensions (LxWxH) : 13" x 6-1/8" x 5-3/4"
Net Weight : 5.7 lb.
Variable speed control dial : Yes
Maximum orbits per minute : 6,800 OPM
Power Type : Corded
Shipping Weight : 12.4 lb.