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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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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