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This Craftsman sander is sized nicely for the smaller woodworking shops yet brings a good range of capabilities and value.
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Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander

Compact, effective and reasonably priced

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 10-3-2008

Oscillating spindle sanders are very popular with woodworkers because of their versatility - particularly their ability to smooth curved surfaces. The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander brings these capabilities to the small to mid-sized shop in benchtop form. But don't let the "benchtop" designation fool you. The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander handles surprisingly large jobs very well.

The Basics

The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander has a footprint of just 22-1/2" by 16-1/2" and an overall weight of about 52-lbs making it bench compatible in most shops. The table is 14-1/2" above the bench surface, which in most cases puts the work area at a good height for seeing what you are doing.

Each drum size has it's own insert ring and top washer, all stored on the body of the machine below the table. Installing a new sanding drum is tool free.
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The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander has a 1/4-HP (120V only) motor, rated using the more accurate continuous duty cycle rather than the suspect "peak" or "max developed" numbers. The motor drives the spindle at 1725-RPM. A lockable rocker switch on the front of the Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander base controls the motor. The switch has a removable "key" that disables the machine when removed.

Spindle & Drums

The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander comes with sanding drums in 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1-1/2", 2" and 3" diameters. All drums are 4-1/2"-long. The spindle itself is 1/2"-diameter and accepts all of the drums without adapters or spacers. The drums are retained by a set of drum-specific washers and a finger-tightened, left-hand thread nut.

The spindle turns at 1725-RPM, which seems to be a good balance for the range drum sizes included. The spindle also has a consistent 1"-stroke (up and down) at 30 SPM (strokes per minute).

The stroke of the spindle disperses the heat build up and wear of the abrasive sleeve over a wider area, effectively increasing performance. Because the wear pattern is concentrated around table level, the sanding sleeve can be installed upside down to expose a fresh sanding surface, essentially doubling its useful life.

The work table is large and makes working with big project pieces accurate and stable.
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Table

The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander has an 18"-diameter cast iron table that has been machined flat. The size of this table makes working with surprisingly large workpieces safe and accurate. The table does not tilt but that is not uncommon in a benchtop machine. For most, angled sanding tasks are few and far between if they exist at all so that is not a major drawback.

The table cavity around the sanding drum is sized to each of the included drums by a selection of inserts supplied with the Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander. Each of the inserts has cutout edges designed to promote dust collection.

Dust Collection

The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander has a built in dust collection system. The collection passage/shroud is confined to the under-table area where it is most effective and out of the way.

The dust port fits current Craftsman wet/dry vac hoses but may need a few wraps of tape to size it up to the popular 2-1/4" ID hoses. I expect Sears has an adapter that would eliminate the tape.
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The dust collection outlet has an outside diameter of 2.086" which means that common shop-vac hoses (usually 2-1/4"-ID) essentially fall back off. The outlet does fit (current models, more on this below) Craftsman wet/dry vacuum hoses though.

In the Shop

The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander runs smoothly and seems to have plenty of power for all reasonable sanding jobs. If you are one of the "lean-on-it-till-it-quits" crowds, you might be disappointed. I sanded materials from 2"-thick oak to 1/2"-thick poplar and had no problem controlling the rate of sanding to hit layout lines and produce a very smooth finish with the 100-grit sanding drums provided with the Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander. Material removal in all cases was very good using no more than moderate pressure and letting the Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander do the work.

The range of drum sizes that come with the Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander give the same capabilities as I would expect with virtually any oscillating drum sander. The 3"-diameter drum handles the big jobs easily while the 1/2"-diameter version gets well into even small corners. As with any round sanding media, some handwork will remain in tight corners.

Video Tour

Dust collection is actually pretty good. I tried using the Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander with it connected to my POWERMATIC PM1300 dust collector and my Craftsman wet/dry vac. Both performed well. However, my Craftsman wet/dry vac is several years old and the hose has the standard 2-1/4"-ID hose. A few wraps of duct tape on the dust outlet of the Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander produced a snug enough fit to keep the hose from falling off. I suspect a simple hose clamp would work as well. Apparently the newer Craftsman wet/dry vac hoses fit this port without adapters - or tape.

Conclusion

The Craftsman Oscillating Spindle Sander is a capable machine that brings the full range of oscillating drum sanding capabilities to the shop in a compact, benchtop package. With a street price of $279.99 (9-26-2009) it won't break a small-shop budget either. Plus, you can pick one up at most Sears stores nationwide!

Visit the Sears web site - Click Here

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