Seeking Advice on Thickness Sanders

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Blog entry by Blake posted 11-06-2007 01:07 AM 14637 reads 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been saving my pennies for a thickness sander. I really need one for surfacing small stock for boxes.

There seems to be only two (and a half) models in my price range: Grizzly G0459 12” and the Performax 628900 Mini 10-Inch (which as far as I can tell is identical to the Jet 10-20 Plus?)

Grizzly G0459 12”: $495.00 on Amazon plus shipping, only one review (5 star).

Performax 628900 Mini 10-Inch: $499.99 on Amazon with free shipping, reviews state tracking problems.

Jet 10-20 Plus: $539.99 at Woodcraft plus shipping, but isn’t this the same as the Performax?

Let me know what I should do. Do you have any experiences with these machines? I am leaning toward the Performax. It seems to be the better deal and looks to be a little smaller to fit better in my shop.


-- Happy woodworking!

19 comments so far

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4059 days

#1 posted 11-06-2007 01:21 AM

Yes, the Performax and Jet sanders are identical. The big difference between these two is open ended vs closed design. The Jet allows for two pass sanding of panels up to 20” wide. The Grizzly has a max capacity of 12 inches. Either one would be a useful addition to the shop for small boxes. I just recently put a Performax 16-32 in the shop and am just getting the hang of using it. As far as thicknessing goes, these things are quite good at taking about 1/64” off in a pass with little hoopla. Any more than that and you run the risk of burning, binding, stalling…etc. I’m just debating on what abrasives to have around the shop. I thought about 120 and 150, but on another forum, I’m told that 80 and 120 are probably better because this unit is best at leveling, rather than finishing. I think ROS are better for the final grits anyway.

I hope that helps a bit.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4423 days

#2 posted 11-06-2007 01:26 AM

I have the Ryobi 16/32 and I’m pleased with it. I got it at a Ryobi outlet store many years ago. I don’t remember what I paid, but it was cheap.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3962 days

#3 posted 11-06-2007 01:33 AM

I’ve got the Performax 16/32 and I really like it. Like Tom said, it’s much better for thicknessing than finish work. I’ve found that while you can “technically” do 32 inches, though it’s really not that good an idea. The overlap area after you flip it around generally requires additional work with a ROS to get a consistent surface. All in all, I like the Performax.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3897 days

#4 posted 11-06-2007 01:51 AM

Thanks for the advice. Does anyone have the grizzly mini?

-- Happy woodworking!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#5 posted 11-06-2007 02:23 AM

I have heard good things about the Grizzly. I am running on a Grizzly dual headed drum sander with a variable speed feedrate. I have had great luck with it. It is very accurate and I can sand veneer work with it. I think the key to this is that the drums are wrapped with velcro which allows it just enough give to not burn through the veneer. It does not make for a “spongey” or inaccurate drum.

I have taken a whole series of photos of this machine to blog.

I would lean toward the closed end machine. One thing I like about it is the feed belt is like the bigger machines and is very durable.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3985 days

#6 posted 11-06-2007 03:33 AM

Blake, You might check in the Lumber Jocks store and see if you can help Martinwhile getting a really good deal. I too am looking to get one of these but can’t seem to afford the one I want; the Oliver double drum that osilates. So, other than that I have no advise for you. Good luck.

Jet and Performax are the same company

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#7 posted 11-06-2007 03:56 AM

Oscillation good!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#8 posted 11-06-2007 04:26 AM

Thos.-I just looked up the sander you referred to, I want one!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3985 days

#9 posted 11-06-2007 04:46 AM

Me too, Todd. Maybe if I move to Billings we can go partners on one. It is something else.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4089 days

#10 posted 11-06-2007 11:49 AM

Blake I have the Performax 16-32 and have nothing but good things to say about it. It will flatten a glued up panel and thickness a board – but that is not it’s strong suit as it, as Tom (Mot) said only takes about 1/64th off at a time. I think if I were only going to have the Performax 10-20 or the Grizzly to choose from, I go with the Performax.

I like Grizzly products, but I have heard that changing the sanding belts on the Grizzly can be a pain – the Performax is quite easy to change.

Mot, I think you make a good point on the best grit to have around. I’ve been using mostly 220 in mine – but I find that the finish is not sufficient – it tends to leave straight scratches that still have to be sanded out with the ROS. I think I may switch to 120, as you say – you still have to finish with the ROS and I think that the 120 grit will remove material a little quicker than the 220.

Thomas I refuse to look at the Oliver double drum – I don’t need more temptation, I’m a toolaholic and can’t stand the pressure :-))

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4087 days

#11 posted 11-06-2007 02:52 PM

Blake, I have the Performax 10-20, which is the same as the Jet. The etiology of the naming is a function of time. Jet, Performax, Wilton and Powermatic were purchased by the WMH tool group. They decided to re-brand the Performax line as Jet (I believe this will be the name on the hood for the entire line eventually). So the one on Amazon is an effort to move the older machines off the shelf.

I experienced something similar on Amazon when I recently purchased a Fein Multimaster VS Detail Sander/Oscillating Saw/Scraper. I priced a local tool vendor and Amazon won the race, especially when tabulating sales tax against the cost of shipping, and in this case I chose expedited shipping with a bullet. The difference I found was that the Amazon machine utilized a wrench based tool changing system, versus a tool-less sprocket changing system. And the case was of an older metal style, unit had slightly less amperage draw (power). Still a worthy tool, but not exactly the apple to apple comparison (of the same model numbers) I thought I was making when I nosed out the pricing.

Everyone else has stated the thicknessing facts about the 10-20 machine. I consider mine indispensable, especially thicknessing figured wood, assemblies, in-lay strips, etc. Another option is the Luthier's Friend thickness “planer”. It is a drill press add-on that uses a Robo-sand drum sander (has a bottom bearing that operates like the bearing on a pattern routing bit) and a pivoting fence. This unit is height challenged, but for small parts and guitar nuts, saddles, inlays etc. a neat little tool. The design is patented, but an inventive sort might be a to gin up a version of their own with adaptations.

And BTW, the Jet 10-20 has a max 3.5˝ height and isn’t that great about leveling a open framed assembly like a box unless you are making an effort at keeping the outfeed piece firmly pressed down on the outfeed table, after the outfeed roller. The box will rise up as it exits and snipe occurs unless you are diligent. Planecraft works okay for the patient and the galoot-ish (or is the word Galootatory?).

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#12 posted 11-06-2007 10:28 PM

I thought Doug had some really great comments on the units you are looking at. He is a tool maven for sure. Too bad you don’t have the budget for a bigger machine. It will change your life in the shop. My sander allow me to work highly figured wood that would nearly be impossible to even think about handling. The bigger closed end units are heavy enough to thickness wood with.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View sarge's profile


58 posts in 3891 days

#13 posted 11-07-2007 05:47 PM

Blake, I have a lot of large table tops in my future so I saved and saved for the Performax 22×44 open end drum sander. Once you have the machine setup it runs like a dream. Great dust collections and very quite. The design on the 10-20 & 22-44 machines are the same.


View speakerscott's profile


47 posts in 3861 days

#14 posted 12-06-2007 02:46 PM


I thought long and hard about a drum sander when I got mine…a Delta 18×36 open ended drum sander. I think that an open ended model is the way to go for a small(ish) shop. The ability to do a piece wider than the drum itself is a little bit over-rated 99% of the time. 99% of the time I don’t do anything wider than the drum…but when I do…holy cow is it handy. So I would stick with the Jet/Performax over the grizzly.

Take a look at your local craigslist. That’s how I got mine…it was brand new…I had to finish putting it together when I got it home…even though it was 5 years old. Got it for 60% off street price. Saves dough…saves the world from having to make another one….

-- Scott, Austin-Texas...

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3897 days

#15 posted 12-06-2007 10:03 PM

Stott, thanks for the advice. My financial situation has gotten a little tighter lately and I can’t afford either of these for now anyway. Which means that I have a perfect reason to keep searching craigslist in the mean time for a used one. I had been searching for a while for a used drum sander, but you hardly ever see them and I was getting impatient.

Thanks for the advice about the opened end models. Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to say much to convince me to Consider Buying Used Tools.

-- Happy woodworking!

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