A couple of readers sent in tips about Makita X-Lock angle grinder displays they spotted at their Home Depot stores.
I eventually came across one such display at my local store, and I’ve been checking it every time I head in there. They don’t seem to be selling many (any?) of these X-Lock grinders or wheels, or at least none of the products seem to be moving.
Bosch announced the X-Lock interface system 2 years ago, and it looks like Makita is licensing the interface tech for select tools and accessories.
The interface does looked promising, but it’s also proprietary. I have not tried it out yet. Our Bosch sample was lost in the mail a long time ago, and I haven’t chased one down since then. We asked Makita for test sample, but it seems they’ve blacklisted us.
I have also been checking online retailers’ pages to see if there are any user reviews, and after more than 2 months, all I have seen are “Seed Program” (free consumer review sample program) user reviews. What does that suggest?
Personally, I prefer Dewalt and Milwaukee cordless angle grinders, and for corded I prefer Metabo. I should point out that I have used more cordless grinders and cut-off tools than corded. If I ever buy another corded grinder, the Dewalt’s are hugely popular, and some of Bosch’s models have been on my watchlist.
So, are people avoiding these Makita X-Lock grinders because they prefer other brands? Is it because X-Lock is a proprietary interface that has not yet gained widespread appeal? Is it because these products and accessories are said to be exclusive at Home Depot and users have sourcing concerns?
Is there some other reason?
Or have some of you purchased these grinders and everyone has been too busy to submit online tool reviews?
I’ve heard some complaints about accessory pricing – is that it? Let’s take a look – I picked a random accessory type from Home Depot’s list of Makita X-Lock accessories for comparison purposes – a 60 grit flap disc.
Here are 3 brands of 4-1/2″ 60-grit Zirconia abrasive Type 27 flap discs.
Dewalt DW8308: $4.99 via Tool Nut – 7/8″ arbor
Bosch X-Lock FDX2745060: $7.99 via Amazon*, $4.74 via Ohio Power Tool
Makita T-03931: $13.97 via Home Depot
* At the time of this posting, save 20% on 2 select Bosch items.
Ouch – maybe pricing is the big detractor.
I can understand X-Lock accessories being more expensive than standard angle grinder accessories, such as $8 for the Bosch vs. $5 for the Dewalt. If you shop around, the Bosch X-Lock is as affordable as more premium traditional-arbor flap discs.
The Makita at $14 is nearly 3X the price of the Dewalt, and you’re locked to a very small list of brands. Even if the Makita accessories aren’t attractively priced, there are other X-Lock accessory makers, such as Bosch.
I wondered if this was a 2-pack, but it’s not, package quantity: 1.
Buy: Makita X-Lock via Home Depot
But if you’re going X-Lock, Bosch seems like a better idea, especially if you’re going cordless.
See Instead: Bosch X-Lock via Amazon
Or stick with traditional-style angle grinders, available from a much wider range of brands and compatible with more 3rd party brands.
If shopping for a new cordless angle grinder that didn’t have a proprietary accessory interface, I’d go with the Dewalt 20V Max Power Detect 4-1/2″ to 5″ model over anything Makita offers. I’ve been using this one a bit and haven’t found it lacking in any way.
See Instead: Dewalt Power Detect via Amazon
Some Makita accessories are decently priced – their 1/4″ impact socket accessories are a good buy.
Bad idea. SDS+ bit fits into any SDS+ drill, t-shank jigsaw blade fits into any jigsaw. Recip saw blade fits into any recip saw.
Why add confusion? Remember Bosch and their ‘new’ OMT design?
The thing about Bosch and Fein Starlock is that the accessories are affordably priced and they fit many different tools.
Home Depot has Makita’s flap wheel for $14, which is so much more than the $5 to $8 for the other brands. That’s not fitting the same pattern as Starlock.
There are 2 different shanks for jig saws. Most everyone seems to have settled on the t-shank now, but the u-shank is still out there in some cheaper saws and there’s still a lot of good older saws floating around that use them.
SDS went to SDS+ which is at least backwards compatible. But SDS max came after spline drive which are not compatible. And there are still a lot of spline drive tools and bits being made. A lot of people out there still have perfectly good spline drive drills. Or when looking for a new drill they look at the hundreds or thousands of dollars they have already invested in spline drive bits and want to keep using them.
Standards change every now and then. Usually because the technology has gotten better and the new version is better. And sometimes (which is what I feel this is) it’s just a money grab. Seems like common business model these days is sell the tools cheap and then make the real money on batteries and other accessories. And all the better if they can lock you into using their accessories.
I really fail to see the appeal with x-lock. 99% of the time I don’t need or use the wrench anyway. And something like the fixtec nut from Milwuakee would probably make that 99.99%. I guess maybe you save a few seconds of time switching discs. But is that really an issue? If I need to switch back and forth a lot and time is an issue then I’m just going to get a 2nd, 3rd, etc grinder. Set them all up with whatever different discs I need and then just swap grinders as needed with almost no downtime at all. The higher accessory cost just makes it even worse. I could save enough money by buying standard accessories to pay for those extra grinders pretty quickly.
That is exactly how I do it. When I attended welding school we were issued one DeWalt 4-1/2” grinder. I brought two from home and had a hard stone, tiger disk and a wire brush mounted all the time. I got ribbed a bit by the other students but being older ( I was 62 vs most of them being 18-23) and as I told them lazy, I continued. By the end of the first semester most of the students had 2-3 grinders in their booths.
Starlock is flipping great. Works on my older Fein and my newest Fein. And that’s Fein by me.
I have an xlock and I don’t like it. Very limited. Only works with wheels made with the special “x” lock pattern. Don’t recommend
You hit on the reason I would shy away from it. I like being able to pick up whatever is cheapest – springing for premium accessories only if my project merits it.
It’s too bad though – it is a better design. Just not better enough in a way that would tempt me to buy into it.
It’s a great choice to have and from what I hear users that use it absolutely love it.
Bosch makes both interface types so it’s your choice upfront. If you’re changing out your disk all the time this can really save time and is super convenient. It’s a better design so I would think other brands would adopt but I’m SURE they aren’t interested in giving Bosch a dime.
When you say users absolutely love it, are they buyers/users, or influencers that haven’t been blacklisted?
I have some Bosch Instagram’s that I follow (everyday workers) from overseas and they like the interface. WorkshopAddict has a good review on youtube, his only complaint was the cost.
I bought one, but only because I went to buy a 5ah battery and the grinder combo with a 5ah only tacked on like 30 bucks.
I thought it was gimmicky but I absolutely love it. Not even using the traditional right now. My other is corded, so that adds to the appeal of my x lock, but I love swapping out disks so quick. Would definitely be my go to if they had more options. I need a chainsaw wheeeel!
The problem is that the highest volume users of angle grinders and abrasives are involved in welding, metal fabrication, and industrial production. These users mostly used corded grinders for runtime. Tools are typically supplied by the company, and they don’t order through The Home Depot. Those prices are outlandish for contractor/homeowner grade wheels. You can get 3M Cubitron II and other ceramic wheels for less than that Makita flap disc. There are other more respected brands of abrasives that don’t employ this technology yet, which is slowing the adoption. To get X-Lock to take off, major brands like Norton, 3M, etc. will need to start offering this interface to their user bases.
The idea is neat, but to me it seems that I would be locked into this new system which is only available from a relatively small number of brands, but with an old-fashioned grinder with the threaded spindle I can use just about any of a huge variety of attachments. I use angle grinders a lot and I use a variety of tools: flap discs, cutoffs, stripping/refinishing pads, carving blades, wire brushes, stones, diamond wheels, etc. It seems that very few of these are available for the new Xlock system. I prefer to buy most of my consumables from the local welding supply places as I have found the brands they carry to be much more durable and cost-effective than those offered at HD or Lowe’s. I have yet to see a single Xlock disc carried by any Welding or MRO supply that I’ve visited in person.
I’m also not really sure what advantage Xlock is supposed to offer? Easier disc changes? I can’t say that I’ve ever found the old system to be problematic in that regard. No need to fix what ain’t broke.
Exactly unless it’s United abrasives sait, tiger paws, 3m or Norton welders won’t be using these.
Also all grinders are tool less wheel change if you use hubbed wheels lol.
Yup. Some companies already innovated in this space decades ago. There’s a Canadian brand called Walter Surface Technologies that has plastic threaded hubs instead of metal. Keeps the price down while still offering quick change and secure attachment with premium-quality industrial wheels. This is more flashy, but it doesn’t save significantly more time. If the prices for the Makita and Bosch wheels are what we can expect, then it’s not saving much money over the larger metal-hubbed wheels every brand already has anyway.
Alfredo M Claussen
Same as here in Mexico: there is a good quality abrasives company called AUSTROMEX, which has several product lines like Tenazit and it has many wheels, cutters, sandpapers, diamond products and many others, and their flapwheels are inexpensive and very reliable, kind of industrial quality. With the current US Dollar-Mexican Peso parity, their price shpuld be the lowest for US and Canadian buyers. Highly recommended.
Nobody was hoping for this product. Of all tools to have a proprietary fitting, 4.5-6” grinders is the worst of ideas. I’m a Makita guy., and use their BL LXT grinder already – this is a huge no thanks, HD will be clearing all those useless discs out within 6 months.
This thing looks like a solution in search of a problem. If you only have one grinder and need to change the disk a lot you need a second grinder. The little blue Hercules grinders at Harbor Freight are shocking good for $40. If I totaled up the time I’ve spent running a grinder it would probably equal months and you would have to give me one of these with a handful of disk for free to get me to take it. And then I’d probably ditch it when the disk were worn out.
I’m super impressed with the 13 amp 4.5 Hercules grinder. Every bit as good as my higher priced grinders. Except, maybe the variable speed 5″ Makita. That thing lives with a filet weld grinder wheel on it because they don’t last at full speed.
I think it’s a great idea but it’s a hard to get going product. It is superior but angle grinders are a fairly reliable tool so not many people burn them out. New people might not buy them because they but what their cohorts tell them to buy. My boss has to be dragged kicking and screaming into modern tech. I bought a cordless brad nailer and refuses to use it, drags his cord and compressor or for tiny kittens jobs and then wants me to roll everything up.
If we had started or had x lick a decade ago it wouldn’t be an issue. Another issue that others brought up is cost, they really need to have a cheaper option for cutters.
I use grinders extensively and really like Makita cordless models (except the X2); among the 4 cordless brands I own, the Makitas are preferred. Not to mention, Makita offers a much wider assortment of models than any other company (I’d think, not positive). I have an X-lock and it is handy; if I only had one grinder and needed to switch regularly, I’d certainly consider it as my sole grinder. However, I much prefer having dedicated grinders for my frequent tasks so that I’m limiting changes.
The display at my local HD is ravaged. There are lots of certain accessories and the corded grinders still available, but all the cordless models have been gone for weeks. I suspect that a local contractor may have snapped up many all in one go though.
Curious what you don’t like about the x2 grinder, and which size you have? I got the 9” 18Vx2 for some concrete grinding and other than the expectedly shortish battery life, really like the grinder itself. I did not like Milwaukee’s 9” grinder as much, and wound up returning it. Haven’t tried a DeWalt 9”, but their 5” flexvolt I like more than my Makita 18V (single) grinder or my M18 5” grinder (which is Fuel but a generation or two old now). It is nice having different grinders for different wheels.
What particularly sold me on Makita’s x2 (and Makita’s grinders in general), aside from sharing batteries with my OPE, is that they actually have accessories available for them, shrouds and the like, and are very clear about what works with what, at least comparatively.
DeWalt is probably the worst here, particularly for the flexvolt 5” grinder, there’s more discussion about does the “existing” surface grinding shroud DWE46152 fit on that cordless grinder or not, and even SBD’s official answers on Amazon go both ways. Or the DwE46125 and/versus 46100. There’s folks that swear up and down they have the flexvolt grinder and it fits and works, and folks that swear up and down that they have the grinder and read everything saying it fits, and tried everything including calling the company about it and couldn’t get it to fit. Same with their cutting shrouds, and last I looked I didn’t see a 9” cutting shroud. Plus they all have proprietary vacuum connections that I also can’t easily figure out exactly what I need to connect to a “USA standard” hose size because there’s 10 authoritative “answers” that are all different and say the others don’t actually work… I just didn’t want to deal with getting that all figured out or trying and then returning stuff, so that sent me for a 5” Makita and the 9” for anything I need to use a shroud for.
I have a 7″ and have use a 9″ occasionally. I can’t complain about the performance of either, but something about the ergonomics just rubs me the wrong way. I’m often working in fairly tight spots and it just always seems like the batteries are in the way or throwing off the balance. I know several other folks that love them. The ergonomics of the Milwaukee are better, but I don’t like that it doesn’t have a break and it isn’t built quite as well (in my opinion). My go to is the 36v Metabo, which is an absolute beast and just feels great. It is costly though. I haven’t used the big DeWalt either.
Big fan of Makita corded grinders but not in the least interested in X-lock. If they made it backwards compatible with a standard arbor, kind of an either/or rather than a proprietary system, more people might be interested. But I’m the guy would would rather have 3 grinders set up with different wheels/discs than swap out every 10 minutes.
I’ve seen the Makita rep in the store at least once a week. She is always working with an employee trying to get them to restock the endcap. Grinders are going fast and the rear and top handle x2 circ saws with the extra batteries are flying off shelves.
As for the disc prices. I think you need to be a little more fair. Comparing brands is always going to have a price difference, X-lock or not. Plus online vs in store prices can skew things too. for instance, Acme has the exact same Makita flap disc for $7.99. And they have the Dewalt for $7.42.
You should compare, best you can, same retailer, same brand, same disc, the only difference being the interface. The Makita twisted wire wheel is $17.99 in x-lock from Acme, and the standard is $15.99 from amazon. Bosch has a standard wire wheel from amazon for $18 and the x-lock for $19. You can see a lot of the basic cutoff wheels are under $3, regardless of the interface. Those are the ones people trash and go through dozens of. When it comes to things like flap discs and wire wheels, they last a little longer. So the convenience of being able to quickly swap those on and off might be worth a small premium.
As it is, I would expect this to become similar to starlock. Bosch and makita already seem to be phasing out non x-lock discs. Most x-lock blades will work with 7/8 arbors or adapters. Makita seems to be the first tool maker to jump on the system. But aside from Bosch/Diablo and Makita making discs, Norton, PFERD, VSM, and SIA are all making x-lock discs. Plus dozens more https://www.bosch-professional.com/gb/en/x-lock/products/manufacturer/
This seems like a niche product now, but it looks like the industry is adopting it.
Your hd had Makita rep? I’ve never seen mine and the way they treat Makita I don’t think they have one. I see the ryobi and Milwaukee all the time. The ryobi is super cool, milwaukee is a total dick.
I have only ever seen the Makita and Milwaukee reps. Both are women which seems very rare.
This reminds me of the post yesterday about the flex drill and the little things.
As a diy’er / hobbyist this is really attractive to me. I don’t buy enough consumables to make the price difference that preventative and I rarely “need” my consumables right now. But not having to find the wrench when I have multiple tasks lined up on the bench is that one little annoyance that I could dispose of with this.
Also don’t get me started on the 1 in 100 times you slip off that nut and bust a knuckle or other annoyance injury. The extra $10-20 per year would be with that alone.
So I’m the type of user who allows the new / better, but more expensive content to gain a foot hold. I’m sure there are some other types.
What about working on a ladder or lift, toolless change would be safer. Yes you could still drop a disc or wheel, but it’s a small improvement (I have no idea the regulation around this so maybe you would be required to lower down regardless).
Mobile repair is another area where there is probably some benefit. One less thing to keep track of on the truck. I don’t mean contractors with a tool van, I’m thinking vehicle or equipment repair services who may be space constrained by welders/generators/lifts.
In my mind it’s probably more to do with the amount of grinders sold into the areas where there is enouy benefit to outweigh the coat/exclusively. As a hobbyist I don’t burn out grinders, and if I did I’m on team yellow currently. I don’t think I would go to a second platform for x-lock. So take your total pool of potential users based on the usage type, then start slicing that pool down and the adoption rate is going to be small based on the small improvement at this time.
Most regular grinder users don’t use the wrench anyway.
That’s certainly my take on it. The vast majority of the tools I use on them don’t require the wrench at all: conical stones, hubbed grinding discs, flat wire wheels, cup wire wheels, tungsten carbide carving/sanding discs, saw-type carving discs, flap discs, the synthetic stripping type discs, etc. None of them require a wrench. The single thing I use a wrench for is for the thin cutoff-type abrasive discs. I have a dedicated grinder I use for those, and the wrench is gorilla-taped to the power cord so it’s always handy. Not to mention that whenever I’m using a grinder the welder is right at hand too, and I keep grinder supplies including extra wrenches and nuts in the tool basket on my welder cart.
It would be nice to save money if the Xlock discs were more economical than the hubbed discs….but they are not. In fact, it seems they are nearly twice the price of the premium brands from the Welding/MRO supply places and I have my doubts they are even equal to those, let alone twice-as-long-lasting.
Ironically my preferred brand of the thin cutoff discs (I like 5″ x .032) is Makita. Yet from what I could see doing a quick search it seems that Makita doesn’t offer these in X-lock.
Just buy hubbed wheels and there you go.
Bosch’s xlock is cheaper than hubbed wheels.
I purchased the Makita XAG25 this past weekend as a replacement for the XAG11.
Sure people have made changing their grinder ‘tool less’ by spinning the blades; but I can tell you that actual tool less blade changing is phenomenal.
Perhaps because of how I store my grinder, it fits into a specific space, I take the discs off more than others. But not having to find a wrench every time I pull the grinder out and then when I put it away is amazing.
The tool itself works as you’d expect. It’s a grinder. Lol.
Just silly. Industry standard that did not need to be and will not ever be changed. Like, “hey world that circle system that has been used for ever….you don’t need that”. Makita just pissed because other people make a good grinder now? Silly.
I am one of those guys who purchased the X-lock paddle Makita early on. I have been very happy with the performance and convenience. The current Diablo multi disks in the store are competitively priced.
I have the Bosch cordless x lock and I absolutely love it. I use a grinder a few times a month in the shop or job site and not having to mess around with a wrench makes it worth it. I bought it maybe six months ago and the cost of the wheels have already come down a bunch. I’m sure it will eventually get better as more companies adopt it.
I ponied up for an endless cutoff wheel from bad dog tools, so despite the insane sounding initial investment cost any cost towards a cutoff wheel is basically a no-go for me lol The thing has been amazing and really seems to be indestructible, along with the lifetime warranty and finding that it cuts way faster than three Lennox and Diablo shatter-proof ones, I’m 100% confident I’m not gonna be looking at buying discs anytime soon.
What is the reasoning behind the x lock? Metabo makes grinders that use standard wheels and have tool free disc changes. Granted they are on premium grinders at premium prices but why not trickle down that technology rather than re invent the wheel. Even my cheapo Ryobi grinder has on board storage for the spanner wrench, which I think is a good low cost alternative. I have you din the past it is usually most economical to be able to use universal accessories over proprietary ones.
They claim it’s for faster speed changes, but it’s also a way to lock users into an accessory system.
It’s kind of like printer ink.
A lot of welders have multiple grinder setups to avoid having to spend any time with accessory changes. Pro photographs at the Olympics and other events might have multiple cameras for similar reasons.
Let’s say there was a faster-filling gas tank connection, and when you buy the car you know you’re limited to just one or two gas stations. If that’s convenient to you, why not enjoy the benefits? But, it seems most people prefer a standard connection where they can fill up their gas tank anywhere even if a fillup takes a little longer. It seems the issue with adoption is that people are eager for faster fillups, but pricing also comes into play.
I admit I have 2 Cordless grinders one with a grinding wheel and one with a cutoff disk. The only time I change wheels on either is when a disk wears out, and by then I’m away from my project to the cabinet to get a new disk.
Oh, and my cutoff disks of choice now are diamond instead of normal abrasive, so it’d be a no-go for sure unless you can get diamond disks for the x-lock. The diamonds don’t just last longer, they stay full diameter for their entire life.
Koko The Talking Ape
Is the only advantage of the X-lock interface the fact that you don’t need the wrench?
there is not really a good reason for it unless you absolutely can only have 1 grinder. even good grinders are cheap enough that after the savings of just a few accessories you can just buy a second grinder. I got a 2 pack of 11amp dewalt grinders (DWE402) for $100 on a homedepot deal of the day a couple of years ago. grinders are like potato chips, you can’t have just one. I also have not needed a wrench to change a blade on an angle grinder in a long time, so while a little time savings would happen, it is really not much. it’s like those infomercials where people who obviously don’t know what they are doing are fumbling with super simple tasks to try and show how much better the new innovation is.
We use grinders daily, mainly for wood carving but enough metal removal and shaping that we keep those discs handy as well in the shop as well as in the trucks. We all have looked at the X lock and thought the same thing – “it just doesn’t feel/seem safe” and while I”m sure that there are cadres of lawyers with reams of paper to file at a moments notice of any injury, and since no one has mentioned any anywhere logic states that our opinion is misguided. But that’s just it, if it is safe but doesn’t feel like it to us the users for whatever reason are we going to buy into yet another one off design?
As was stated above this is a solution looking for a problem that no one has except for the guy who has to have every last tool ever made just to show off to his neighbors and social media.
Personally I have absolutely no brand loyalty, my personal and professional collection is an eclectic mix of the rainbow. I work hard for my money and in this day and age where everything is planned obsolescence and designed to be disposable I’ll buy the best brand/tool that will fit my needs and last me the longest.
The design of the X lock just doesn’t make me even think about running down to HD screaming here take my money; Like was stated above about being in the local welding supply houses — if the welders aren’t looking at it when they use and abuse their tools daily much more then any of us will do in a life time, then why are we even talking about it?
I don’t know of any welders/fabricators that actually use the wrench to take on/off the blade. UNLESS the cutting blade gets bound up and it tightens itself- which is rare- which more than likely means they were cutting in a way that wasn’t safe in the first palce.
I won’t buy one until i have no other choice.
X-Lock doesn’t actually work so easily. It’s quite similar to one of the quick release devices for dremel which also is meh. I can change a standard disc faster than X-lock. Most importantly, I don’t know of any Walter X-lock products. I can only get PFERD in bulk and I can’t justify that.
How would you use a wire wheel? Chain saw carving attachment, or sanding disc attachment?
I’m just a little confused about how many years in prison they give for using bosch X-Lock discs (which you can buy commensurate with other branded conventional discs: “…Dewalt DW8308 $4.99; bosch X-Lock $4.74 through Ohio Power Tool…”) with makita tools?
The Starlock system is great since multitools don’t “spin” meaning you need to be able to change the angle a lot within the same blade depending on your angle position and so but with an angle grinder I don’t have the quick disc change situation so not for me. Maybe grinding professionals….? Haha
I have always been a Bosch fan. We use them at work everyday doing serious metal fab and heavy grinding. I recently accidentally purchased a Bosch X-Lock grinder and looking to see if you can convert it over. The concept seems to be good but having other Bosch grinders with the 7/8″ arbors in the shop just doesn’t make since to purchase separate accessories for this one. We have used Bosch for several years after trying DeWalt, Milwaukee, Metabo, and other brands. We seems to get 5-7 years out of Bosch when other brands only last about a year at best. I have personally used a Bosch grinder to the point of smoke rolling out of it and let it cool down and go right back to work.
When are the sandwiched diamond blade coming out?
The only advantage (and it’s a BIG ONE!) of x-lock I can see is that whatever wheel you have attached, it’s completely flush. Taking away that 10mm lock nut that gets in the way in tight spaces, that’s super interesting for me.
Full disclosure: I havent used one yet!