on January 17, 2012
I decided to buy this sander after researching it extensively. At first I couldn't decide whether it was the same or different from the Craftsman sander with the same dimensions. What to do? I actually purchased them both. I figured I'd look and try both and then return the one that I didn't like/want. I've been tired of shelling out big bucks for inferior, foreign made products. I certainly miss the times when a delta product was made here in the US and would last a generation if cared for. They were solidly made and I was proud to call them American. Unfortunately, with the way the economy has gone we're all looking for a product that can do the job at a reasonable price. I don't think any of us are kidding ourselves any longer into believing any of these products/tools are going to last more than a few years before breaking or dying. Anyway, back to the sander. The craftsman was $60 more than the Powertech. After opening it was pretty clear that these were identical items with just different packaging. It is true that the packaging was a bit "better" in the craftsman but, honestly, who cares. The product seemed identical. I'm really happy with the sander which has worked flawlessly right out of the box. The finish is fine. Sanding is quite good and the belt doesn't seem to slow down even while exerting quite a bit of pressure. I would ditch the bag attachment that comes with the sander. It really doesn't work well. I have a dust collecting system. When I attached it up it definitely cleared a tremendous amount of the dust. It wasn't 100% but I was easily able to use the sander in my basement without choking myself to death. My opinion is don't waste the money on the Craftsman model. Its absolutely not worth it. I think I paid about $179. With tax it came to about $190 with delivery included. The Craftsman would have been about $250 dellivered to my nearest store. You do the math. I've been very pleased with this product. I'm not expecting it to last forever but it certainly gets the job done well. Hope this helps someone else.
on December 1, 2011
Most of the advertising I have seen for this sander calls it a 6" x 8" sander. It is really a 6"x 48" belt and a 9" disk sander. Not an 8" disk.
The sander was all assembled except for the miter table and sticking on the sand paper to the 9" disk. I had it up a running in 15 minutes. The first thing I noticed, an am very happy with, is that it is very quiet compared to my 3" electric belt sander. I can work with the Powertec without ear protection and have a normal conversation while it's running. I was disappointed in the weak internal dust collection system. The dust collector bag doesn't inflate more than 45%, it flops down and folds so that the neck of the bag is blocking any dust that might want to enter the bag. I have a shop cyclone dust collector and have built an external dust hood to collect the dust so I'm not worried about the Powertec internal system being weak. Without some sort of dust collection your shop would be filled with dust as belt sanders put out a lot of dust. I'm pleased with the sanding abilities of both the 6" belt and the 9" disk. They can take as mush pressure as I need to apply for my projects. I couldn't stall it no matter how much pressure I applied. I was using a 3" belt sander before and this powertec 6 x 9" has cut my work time by 2/3s. The belt tracking adjustment is easy to use. The table and disk lined up nice and square. You'll need to clean the shipping "oil" off miter table. Cleaning the 9" disk with alcohol before applying the sticky back sanding disk made adhesion solid. I'd have rated this machine 5 stars if the internal dust collector worked better.
on July 9, 2012
Received this in a very timely manner from the Amazon Dealer. Was actually surprised at how fast it arrived.
Took a couple days to get it unpacked and set up as I was not ready for it.
The instructions are good.
I was missing the clamp for the dust bag, and the bolt that holds on the table was rattling around in the box, thought I had lost it. It came in it's own carton, proudly announcing to my neighbors that I have a new sander as it sat on my porch.
Once I got the unit set up, I first hand-turned the belt and wheel before plugging it in, only to hear a loud scraping noise. The belt was hitting something. I took off the side plate, (plastic, as is most of the base and other covers), to find that the dust deflector had warped, (probably during the injection molding operation), so it was hitting the belt. There is no way to adjust this deflector, so I surmised that the only thing to do would be turn it on and let the belt grind away at it until it cleared.
The unit came with the bag clamp missing, plan on calling Southerntool to get a replacement.
I also noticed that after I turned it on and got the deflector ground down, it was still a bit sluggish in starting up, even though the belt now was clear and free. Having about 35 years experience with this kind of tool, I immediately took penetrating oil and lightly oiled the top roller bearings. It made an immediate difference in the amount of ramp up speed time, and the unit ran much quieter, so I oiled every bearing I could get at. As I did, the unit improved appreciably.
As far as sanding, I have only used the belt with the table attached. The belt tracks well, although there is only one tracking adjustment on the right side as you are looking at the table. All my previous ones had an adjustment on both sides. The belt is somewhat difficult to change, having to take off a dust collection cover, and that cover is a little warped as plastic sometimes is.
Dust collection by the unit is iffy. If you are taking off a little bit of wood, OK to go. If you are trying to flatten a side of a wooden box, for instance, like the 3X5" box bottom I sanded flat on the sander, I got dust everywhere. I plan on using a vacuum cleaner to see if I can improve it. The outlet pipe is 2". Unfortunately, all my dust collectors take a standard 2 1/2" hose, so I have to get an adopter.
Overall, it looks like it will do the job I bought it for, light sanding of items not too big. Having to move the table to the disc everytime will cause me to probably not use the disc, since I have a 12" disc sander on the other side of the shop. The walk is quicker than moving the table, and I would wear out the screws over time anyway. A second table, while probably increasing the price about $50, would have made this a pretty versatile unit.
Considering that the Harbor Freight unit was $199 on sale, and this was $30 more, I might have been better off to wait, but the Harbor Freight unit is almost always out of stock. And apparently this unit is an exact copy of one sold by Sears, but much less money than the Sears, so a mixed bag on competition. A comparative Grizzly unit is over $100 more. A 4X36 Porter Cable unit can be had from Lowes for $179, but you soon find out that the smaller belt is an inconveinence, and the little 6" disc is mostly worthless.
As long as the motor holds out, and it sounds smooth, I will keep it oiled and clean and it should last a few years.
I decided to buy the second table, which I found on Amazon through this dealer. You get the entire table and the bar to mount it for less than $50. It really makes this machine much better, since now you have a table for the belt and the disc. Much, much better.
UPDATE: Since I bought this, it's been pretty much a workhorse save for two things. First, one time I let the belt drift ever so slightly to the left, and it immediately ground its way through the plastic dust cover on the side. Cut a neat piece right out of the cover. I made one from thin wood and screwed it back on. Second, I still hate the dust collection. Do yourself a favor and stick a vacuum hose on the output and listen to it draw all the sawdust out that has gotten stuck due to the crummy blade. Other than those two items, use it almost daily.
on May 14, 2014
I recently purchased this sander for home/hobby use. Out of the box, it seems decently made. The base is bent and welded sheet metal and is sturdy enough. The motor has sufficient power for sanding metal, which is what I am using for. I am using it to knock the burrs off parts, chamfer some edges, and sharpen lathe tools. The sander is pretty quiet and does not vibrate too much. Vibration would probably be further reduced by replacing the drive V belt with a power twist link belt. The sanding belt is easy to change, but does require the removal of the table and a small cover on the side of the drive roller. It is quite easy to adjust the belt tracking and the belt does not walk when pressure is applied to the sanding surface. The belt rollers are aluminum and seem durable. The sanding disk I received was balanced, but the runout was about .050", which was too much to be useful for my purposes, but brings me to the best part of my buying experience.
I called the customer service number printed on the manual and a live (and polite) person answered. I explained about the disk to her. She took down my name and address and said she would have another disk sent out to me and email me the instructions to remove the other disk. As soon as I hung up the phone, the instructions arrived in my inbox and I received the replacement disk 2 days later. I am very pleased with the customer service that I got from this company. The new disk has about .006" runout. Much better, but not perfect. I am sure if I wanted to send it back for another replacement, they would accommodate me, but it is close enough that a quick facing cut on the lathe will true it up the rest of the way. For many, that .006" probably won't matter, especially since it was measured near the outside edge of the disk.
I am happy with the sander, and feel it was well worth the purchase price. It is not as heavy duty as an $800 sander, nor should it be expected to be. It has been a useful addition to the shop and would serve most hobbyists well. It might do for professional use, but that would really depend on how hard it is run.
It is a good buy, and I would recommend it to my friends.
on January 4, 2013
First things first, I didn't order this though Amazon but found a better price for the exact same model at Sears. Thought this was a bargain after reading all the reviews and comparing to other brands. After setting up the tracking per the directions, I turned it on. The first thing I noticed was the disc had about a 1/8" runout which would be unsatisfactory for almost any application I would use it for. I figured I'd call the manufacturer and get something figured out. Then I tried out the belt sander. It worked fine and for a bit then the machine made a loud noise and sounded like something broke inside the case. I was not putting any load at all on the sander. I turned it off immediately and heard a "tink" sound on my workbench below the sander. There was a small piece of plastic that had fallen out of the sander that looked like a tab or something that had broken off. This was not good. So I was thinking maybe I should try to figure out what broke and why when I noticed the screws holding the housing together were mauled. It looked like the machine had been taken apart and someone had used the wrong sized screwdriver. I don't know if this was a "refurbished" machine or if it had been previously returned or if I just happened to get a bad one but that was enough for me. At this point I didn't think calling the manufacturer would do any good so I returned it to Sears. They gladly refunded my money. The manufacturer may have made it right but with all that was wrong with this one I wasn't inclined to give it a shot. Not a good experience, ya'll. I've since gone ahead and spent the extra bucks for a Grizzly sander instead. No more taking chances on a "bargain" like that. Hope this is helpful.
on April 16, 2013
The sander arrived in what looked like, good condition. Before plugging it in, I rotated the belt by hand in the horizontal position. No problem. So I moved it to the vertical position, tried to rotate it, and it jammed. Would not move. Opened up the access panel, that's used to swap out the sanding belt, and found a small, square piece of plastic on top of the belt drive spool. That's what was causing the jam. After looking I could see that it was a piece of the panel I had just removed. There were four alignment tabs broken off the panel. I only found the one. That solved... I fired it up, and did a little sanding. It handled every task I threw at it with ease, though you can bog the motor down when trying to do some shaping on thick stock.
The work table is almost a joke. The table itself seems ok, but the bracket that's used to mount it is so weak, that it flexes badly. It's hard to keep things square, just doing normal sanding. I'm going to have to find some way to brace or strengthen it.
on July 26, 2013
Very bad packaging, both design and quality. These large belt sanders are heavy and will likely break every time if dropped in shipping with poor packaging. This unit (cast base and plastic everywhere else) was in about 5 pieces and falling out of the bottom of the box. (Our delivery guy waited to take it back with him) Buy your large belt sander locally if you can, or order it site to store at Sears (they can get this one, but you will get a better sander waiting on a Craftsman sale). Buying/picking it up locally, will save you a massive headache and lost time.