Author Topic: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review [updated with tests on reclaimed oak]  (Read 4209 times)

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Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3294
EDIT: After working with this sander for a couple of weeks on a reclaimed oak project, I'm confident in the results detailed in the series of posts below...

Just a caveat up front -- I only just got this sander, and my experience with it is basically limited to the tests seen below, but I thought that since: 1) there is relatively little practical information online about this sander and how it performs; and 2) there are certainly people on the FOG interested in taking on work with reclaimed wood who might benefit from seeing how this sander performs (and who don't have access to the NAINA Rustofix) -- it would be good to write up my initial impressions.

I recently got a commission to do some surfaces and shelving using reclaimed materials.  So to be able to process the materials myself, I decided to invest in the Makita Wheel sander.

It's not cheap (about $470 for the unit, and the different wheels are between $140 and $170), and it only has a couple of highly specialized tasks it can do, but those things can't really be done efficiently by any other power tool.

You're basically good to go with the machine right out of the box.  The only adjustment you have to make is to the height of the front roller, which they recommend setting at 2mm off the work surface, so that it stops you from pressing too hard on the wheel while sanding:

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The machine requires surprisingly little pressure during operation however to be effective, and I didn't find myself needing to press anywhere close to the limit set by the roller.
 
It comes standard with a 100 grit nylon brush, which is easily removed with the two hex wrenches supplied with the kit if you want to change out for the more aggressive 80 grit nylon brush, or the even more abrasive wire wheel (all extra brushes you have to purchase):

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I purchased the additional 80 grit brush, because I also wanted to test out its capabilities texturing wood, which is the only other task it does besides cleaning timber.

The dust collection on the machine is amazing -- I'd put it up there with Festool sanders.  The dust attachment doesn't fit either of the Festool hoses, however:

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Luckily, you can dispense with the dust port and attach the 27mm hose right to the machine, with which it makes a solid friction fit.  My only gripe here is that the dust port is on the right, which is a bit awkward for right handed use (works great if you're a lefty though).  The sander operates so easily, though, that I felt comfortable changing my grip to left handed while running it to minimize hose interference.

I've systainerized mine for storage purposes.  As you can see, it fits comfortably in an empty Sys-3, with plenty of room for spare brushes:

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Now for some tests...When I did my shop renovation two years ago, I took out a bunch of fir planks from the back loft I deconstructed, most of which I saved for some unspecified future purpose.  They go back to the original house construction, which means from the late 30s/early 40s.  These things are DIRTY, the kind of wood where you are compelled to go wash your hands after handling them.

Here's side one of the first board straight from the woodstack, prepped for treatment with the stock 100 nylon brush:

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And a close-up:

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Here's the board after the treatment with the 100 grit brush:

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Pretty dramatic change, right?  You can mark the contrast even better with this shot I took halfway finished:

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It didn't take long at all.  I didn't time it, but I was only passing the brush over the same area 3 or 4 times, and we're talking quick passes, not a slow creep.  And the dust collection, as already mentioned, is incredible.  I didn't notice any ambient dust, and didn't feel any need to wear a dust mask.

I switched over to the 80 grit nylon brush to do the other side of the board, but after reviewing the pictures, I noticed that that side started out much lighter, so I thought it wouldn't be a fair comparison.  So I took down a fresh board and selected out a particularly gross part of it, with what looks like mold or water stains:

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No problem for the 80 grit brush, which cleaned this up in about 30 seconds:

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I bet some of you are probably thinking to yourselves right now -- why would I spend that kind of money on yet another sander when I could just attack that thing with my Rotex and be done with it?  Well, I was thinking the same thing after those initial tests, so I decided to run a side by side comparison on the same face of yet another board. Here are the results:

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Big difference.  The Rotex cleans the board alright, but it effaces much of the character of the wood, lightening the rings dramatically, which you cans see especially in the close-up:

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You can also see some subtle differences between the 80 and 100 grit brushes .  The 80 leaves a somewhat "dirtier" darker finish, whereas the 100 has a slightly brighter hue, though still with plenty of character.  Neither one is necessarily better than the other, it just depends on the specific look you're going for I suppose.  Both surfaces were left smooth (with a slight edge, of course, to the 100), and more importantly, CLEAN.

Next up, some tests with raising the grain...
 




     
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 12:24 PM by Edward A Reno III »
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

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Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3294
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2017, 12:34 AM »
Even before I got this commission, I had been looking at getting a wheel/brush sander to do some artificial wood ageing. I had looked into getting a Rustofix from abroad, but ultimately decided against it because of power (240V) and warranty issues.  That's when I found out about the Makita however.

So after I did the wood cleaning, I did a little experiment treating a clean piece of timber.  Took a small scrap of white oak, which you can see still has the plane marks from the mill vaguely visible:

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And in half profile to see the grain:

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For raising the grain you have to use the 80 grit brush.  There's also a wire wheel available (which I haven't purchased yet) that apparently is even more aggressive, but it also leaves visible wire marks on the board, whereas what I wanted was something more natural looking where the softer wood would be brushed out of the grain as occurs when a board is naturally aged.

This operation requires more pressure and a little more time than cleaning, but not that much more, as I discovered.  You can't really catch the effect when looking at the board straight on:

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But when viewed in profile you can see what has happened to the grain:

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And that's after not that much time -- if I had kept the brush on longer I imagine the effect would be more dramatic.  Still, it's the sort of look that probably needs additional processing/treatment to exploit fully, like through the application (and further brushing) of a stain or an oxidation process like an iron/vinegar solution.  I was able to drive a bit more contrast by slapping on some Surfix oil:

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But this is definitely a function of the tool I will have to do more experimentation with to master.  And I imagine different woods/grain structures are more or less suitable for this sort of process.  But that's for the future.

As for now I'm waiting for my reclaimed wood order to come in late next week.  It's nice that I don't have to worry and toil about prepping the timber, and can simply attack it with my new toy.

If you aren't planning on working with reclaimed wood, and have no interest in falsifying the age of your lumber, then there's no reason to get this machine.  It's really a niche product.  But as you saw from the side by side test with the Rotex, it really does do something that no other hand-held sander can do.


Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Offline Svar

  • Posts: 1058
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 12:17 PM »
Great review and demonstration. Thank you.

Offline deepcreek

  • Posts: 637
    • TimberFire Studio
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2017, 01:17 PM »
Great review and very timely.  I've been on the fence about buying the Makita wheel sander for some time now.  Just waiting for the right project.

I am confident it's the right tool for the job when it comes to cleaning reclaimed lumber.  I did a project last year with reclaimed oak boards that had been used as barn flooring.  At the lumberyard's recommendation, I power washed them but it drove so much moisture into the wood that I had to wait months for the boards to dry out enough to use.   I should have known better.  Next time I'll use the Makita wheel sander.

At this time, I am more interested in the tool's ability to produce grain texturing in new wood - specifically Red Oak.  I've been asked to produce a series of round tables for a local interior decorator that have the look and texture of reclaimed wood (without the high price tag).

My previous research shows the 120 grit brush that comes with the wheel sander is fine for cleaning but either the wire wheel or the 80 grit is required for texturing.  I don't want the scratches or the shrapnel produced by the wire wheel so I'm hoping the 80 grit is worth the extra $175.

Your review is encouraging and I'll be ordering both in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks!

Joe
Joe Adams
TimberFire Studio
Houston, Texas

http://www.facebook.com/timberfire

Offline Picktool

  • Posts: 113
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2017, 09:01 AM »
Good review Ed

I've been eye balling the Makita for a while.
I think im going to team up w/ the HL850 w/ the undulating head
for neat rustic look on some timbers.

Well Dogey

Offline kcufstoidi

  • Posts: 733
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2017, 11:07 AM »
I've been using one for about 4 years, very versatile sander that is adaptable to many uses. I don't know of a better tool for cleaning up live edge after bark removal to keep the nuances of the edge.

John

Offline huntdupl

  • Posts: 22
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2017, 09:35 AM »
That is pretty pricey, but no doubt a quality finish. Great Review!! And thanks for the rotex side by side.

For the penny-pinchers... I just bought a Grizzly Roller Sander (model # T25942) on sale for like $50. I bought it primarily for the sanding of live-edges. They currently don't have a full 2 1/2" wire brush for it (only like 1/2" width) but the value was hard to pass up. The other tool I'd like to throw in as a comparable and see if anyone has any first hand experience is the Porter Cable PXRA2676 Multi Surface Tool. Cost just over $100 and while it's half the amps of the Makita, the only visible drawback is it doesn't have a guide/depth wheel. Similar, the Eastwood Contour SCT ($200) is gear-driven. This and the PC really seem to target those looking to strip paint. Toolguyd notes the PC has other accessories on the way, as this is a relatively new tool I believe.
CT Midi, RO150, DF500

Offline mrB

  • Posts: 402
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2017, 12:06 PM »
Thanks for the great review and pictures Ed !!  [thanks] Very useful. I can see myself buying this one day.

there's nothing like the right tool for the job

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3294
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2017, 09:04 AM »
I've been working with the sander for a few days now cleaning up 20 reclaimed 8/4 oak beams, and I'd like to add a few observations about usage.

1) My earlier statement about dust collection feels a bit foolish now.  I realized that the boards I performed the initial tests on -- flat planks of fir with color change produced by decades of dust and grime, but no loose dirt or debris -- provided unrealistically optimal conditions.  The beams I'm working with now -- where the open grain pattern of the oak, many nail holes and cracks create a reservoir for whatever nastiness the beam has come in contact with over the past however many decades -- are dust factories.  You still capture the majority of the dust when brushing the flat face of the board, but there's a fair amount of larger particles that get left on the work surface, as you can see from the picture:

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When brushing the beam edge, however, the situation is more dire, as there's no surface to create airflow for the part of the brush out in space.  I actually started to do the first beam without a dust mask, but after a couple of minutes my lungs started to feel funky, and then I started to imagine the kind of stuff these beams had accumulated in their crevices over the years -- like maybe they were pulled from a demo of a building that had never gone through asbestos abatement, etc., etc. -- and so I quickly grabbed my most serious dust mask, which was the one I got for when I ground out the grout from my shower tiling with a dremel a number of years ago.  Smart move.

2) These sorts of beams, which are rough sawn, are where the wheel sander really shines:

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I ended up using the 80 grit nylon brush on all of them, which cleaned and smoothed the surface while preserving the saw marks.  It took between 10 to 15 minutes to clean each beam, though this could sometimes be longer if I had to break off splinters or bark/rotted wood with a 5 in 1 tool (this board is the cleaned up version of the one above):

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This is one of the sample pictures I sent to the client, wherein I showed the difference between hitting it with the Rotex (end of board) and the brush sander (side by side with an unbrushed board):

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The sanding actually creates some more color variation by exposing rawer wood, but it kills the rough sawn effect pretty quickly.

3) The client agreed that preserving the rough sawn effect was more desirable, but was intrigued by the color variation produced by sanding, so I suggested that working the face with the more aggressive wire brush might be a solution: https://www.amazon.com/Makita-794382-7-Wire-Brush-Wheel/dp/B00080BZBU
So I ordered up that wheel and through the magic of Amazon next day delivery got it less than 24 hrs. later.

Here are the wire brush tests on that same board, with the sequence going (from the end of the board) Rotex, wire wheel, 80 grit nylon brush:

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The effect is somewhat subtle.  The main difference is in the coloration, where the wire brush brings out more of the undertones of the wood.  There is some degradation in the rough sawn marks, but they are still basically preserved.  The tactile differences between the nylon and wire brushed surfaces aren't really picked up by the camera, but when you run your hand over the board the wire brushed sections are definitely not as smooth.

It took longer to finish the surface with the wire brush than I was initially expecting.  You have to apply more pressure than with the nylon wheel, and work each section for a longer period of time.  I would estimate that it takes at least double the amount of time to start reaping the benefits from the wire brush over what it takes to do a simple cleaning with the nylon wheel.

The grain pattern you tackle with the wire wheel definitely makes a difference as well.  Face grain, with lots of space between spring and summer wood, is the most resistant.  But when you work rift sawn grain (diagonal to the face), the effects are much more dramatic.  You can see this from the tests I did with the wire brush on the board edge (side by side with a board edge cleaned only with the nylon wheel):

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I did take the opportunity to tackle a fresh piece of white oak with wire brush as well.  Here's the board before:

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and after, shot in half-profile to capture the grain degradation:

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The grain raising effect is clearly more dramatic than just working the surface with the 80 grit nylon wheel, and the amount of time it took was significantly reduced.  You can also see how the shift in grain pattern from plain to rift changes the effect.  So the wire wheel does, I think, open up some possibilities for wood distressing projects in the future.



 
« Last Edit: July 01, 2017, 09:10 AM by Edward A Reno III »
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3294
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2017, 09:48 AM »
@kcufstoidi When you say the machine is adaptable to many uses, what other things did you have in mind besides cleaning reclaimed timber or the other mentioned use of stripping bark from live edge slabs?

On another note, I will say that using the machine in the flesh provided me yet another instance of the unreliability of Amazon reviews.  There are a fair number of reviews on the site that paint the machine as a disappointing piece of garbage, and that the wire wheel in particular was ineffective and quickly degraded (which is why I initially held off getting that wheel when I first purchased the machine).  After using the machine and the wire wheel myself, I realize those reviewers were probably misusing the tool in some fashion, or were expecting it to function as some kind of portable sand blaster.

I've been using one for about 4 years, very versatile sander that is adaptable to many uses. I don't know of a better tool for cleaning up live edge after bark removal to keep the nuances of the edge.

John
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Offline Vondawg

  • Posts: 164
Re: Makita 9741 Wheel Sander Review [updated with more tests]
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2017, 10:52 AM »
Yes thanks Ed for your review/pics, just what I needed, very timely.
There are no mistakes....just new designs.

Offline ear3

  • Posts: 3294
I wanted to insert another addendum to the review that demonstrates the utility of the wire wheel when edge joining multiple pieces of reclaimed lumber.

The countertop I had made for the commission I'm working on (for the sake of which I purchased this sander in the first place) turned out to be too narrow (don't ask), and so I had to bring it back to the shop and widen it with another board.  The board I ended up using was more severely cupped compared to the other reclaimed oak beams I had been using, and since I could only send one side through my thickness planer (in order to preserve at least one rough face), the resulting panel had some ridges at the joint and a pretty significant concavity:

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I first worked with a rabbet block plane to get rid of the ridges between the boards:

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As you can see the rawer wood exposed by the plane left the joint somewhat unsightly:

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On top of this, I had to attack the panel more extensively with a jack and a #3 to work out the hollow (the #3 was useful because of all the contouring in the surface which the longer body of the jack was skipping over):

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The panel did not have to be perfectly flat, and so I stopped when the edges were roughly in plane (I even went a little too far, as you can see from the sliver of light peaking out on the left side):

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The end result, however, was a lot of smooth wood on the panel -- areas that were lighter colored and where the grain was not raised.

This is where the brush sander and wire wheel really made its money.  It took 20-25 minutes to brush the entire face with the wire wheel, working mostly long and occasionally cross grain, and applying significant pressure (not so much that my arms tired, though).  The wire brush does not necessarily change the color of the rawer wood, but by raising the grain it in effect darkens those spots so that the transition between the original rough face and the newly planed raw wood is blended:

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On closer inspection you can see that the raised grain pattern can be made consistent across the entire board, disguising to the untrained eye all the work one has done removing portions of the original rough face:

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Here I would note again something I mentioned in one of the posts above, viz., that preplanning the cuts is worth it, such that you aim to have the glue joint run along the rift grain on both the boards being joined.  The evenly spaced striation of spring and summer wood of the rift grain makes the grain raising predictable, as opposed to face grain, where there are much larger patches of the dense summer wood that don't degrade like the spring wood, and therefore result in a more jarring transition between the boards.  Because I was hemmed in by the cupping of the additional board and the split in the existing panel, I wasn't able to match the grain as much as I would have liked.
 
In addition to raising the grain, the other virtue of the wire brush on wood is that it can be used to burnish the surface a moderate amount, which is achieved by simply running the sander over the board without applying any pressure (other than that generated by the weight of the machine):

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The smoothness you get is comparable to that produced by the 100 grit nylon brush (maybe slightly less smooth, but not by much), but the 100 grit nylon brush produces a dull, matte finish, not allowing the board to catch the light.  At some point in the future I may get the 240 grit nylon brush (over $200!), which they recommend for removing rust from metal, and see if this leaves a surface comparable to the burnish produced by the wire brush, but for now, I'll probably continue usuing the wire brush for both grain raising and finishing purposes.


« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 12:22 PM by Edward A Reno III »
Kapex KS 120 w/UG Cart and Extensions • CXS Set • T18+3 w/Centrotec Installer's Set • PDC 18/4 • TS 75 • TSC 55 • HKC 55 w/250, 420 and 670 FSK rails • Carvex 420 w/Accessory Kit • Domino 500 Set • Domino 700 XL • OF 2200 w/Base Accessory Kit • OF 1400 • OF 1010 • MFK 700 EQ Set • LR 32 • MFS 400 w/2000, 1000, and 700 extensions • Rotex 90 • Rotex 150 • LS 130 • ETS-EC 150/5 • ETS 150/3 • Pro 5 LTD • RTS 400 • RAS 115.04 • DX 93 • RS 2 • HL 850 • Vecturo OS 400 • CT 26 w/Long-Life Bag • CT Sys w/Long-Life Bag • MFT/3

Offline mwildt

  • Posts: 357
FYI
Doesn't look exactly like the same product as Makita but I noticed that Porter-Cable has something similar. Amazon has it part of their prime deals in case some one is interested. PXRA2676KIT.

Offline leakyroof

  • Posts: 1958
Great review, thanks so much for posting about a true 'niche' tool that you may or may not ever need, but would like accurate info on if you're interested in one.
 I checked the reviews about the PC version and this Makita unit on Amazon, and you're so right about the level of quality info lacking in many of the reviews.
 The PC seems like it was built for its price point while the Makita was built for the task.  [thumbs up] [not worthy]
Not as many Sanders as PA Floor guy.....