RCN Tool Reviews: Makita 3/8 x 21-Inch Belt Sander

Posted December 15, 2020

By Dean Larson

When it comes to stocking your toolbox and shop shelves, there are generally two schools of thought, each with their own merits. Some guys turn up their noses at the idea of anything less than Snap-on, Matco, Cornwell and the like, and there’s definitely something to be said about buying quality pieces made here in the U.S.A. Others might shop on price or perceived value alone, frequenting Amazon or Harbor Freight for the cheapest thing they can find that gets the job done. Risking my shred of automotive credibility, I’ll admit that I’m somewhere in the middle. Nearly all of my power tools are from Milwaukee Tools, and all my screwdrivers, sockets, ratchets and so on are from Craftsman or better, but I’ll admit that I occasionally go the cheap route to get a job done, or when I feel like I can’t afford to go big.

Having recently stocked a new shop space with tools, I have plenty of new pieces to choose from and about a year worth of testing them out. For a judging metric, I decided to go with something we can all understand — the check, check-plus, check-minus system. Basically, check-minus means that you should look elsewhere, check-plus means we’d recommend it and check is somewhere in the middle. Take our experiences for what they're worth, but rest assured, this column doesn't have any tool sponsors!

Makita 3/8 x 21-Inch Belt Sander

It can be tough to justify spending money on specialty equipment, but there’s also something rewarding about having the right tool for the job. Take this little Makita belt sander for example; it’s not especially cheap at right around $250, but you’ll thank yourself five times over again then next time you need to do some touchup work between a rock and a hard place.

Makita’s 9032 model corded belt sander uses a 4.4-Amp motor with variable speed control, providing between 980 and 5,600 ft./min. of sanding capability. The tool can be configured for 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch belts, but is generally set up with 3/8 x 21-inch belts. The sanding arm adjusts a total of 100 degrees for maximum versatility, and is easily fixed in position with a simple lock down arm. Belt tracking and replacement are also accomplished with foolproof controls.

We’ve been using the Makita 9032 for around six months now, and while it’s not an every day item, it can be a real lifesaver when you’re in a pinch. It’s lightweight, compact and pretty versatile for getting into tight spots. Most importantly, we like how simple the controls are, which I think can make or break a tool like this. Changing belts, adjusting tracking and locking in a new angle with this tool couldn’t be easier.

Like you’d expect, this tool really comes in handy when you need to remove or smooth material in tight places. Just the other day we clearanced part of a firewall away from the body sheeting to make space for an O2 sending unit, and best of all, we didn’t have to remove the side pipe to do it. We’ve also used this sander to remove tack welds on chassis, or remove entire welds to redo damaged chassis components. After tackling some of these jobs, we were left wondering what other tools would really have completed the job. And when it’s your whole Saturday morning at stake, what’s an hour of your time worth? If you’re still up in the air, just tell your significant other that this tool is great for carpentry and home improvement as well, that ought to seal the deal.

We have only great things to say about the Makita 9032 sander, so it’s a clear check-plus from us.

Find the Makita 9032 belt sander here at Home Depot.

Score: ✓+

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