30" Flatmaster Sander In Reverse and Using a 3400 RPM Motor

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Review by Kelly posted 04-02-2018 02:47 AM 1780 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
30" Flatmaster Sander In Reverse and Using a 3400 RPM Motor No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I was experimenting with a cold when my Flatmaster arrived, so I was slow getting to the game.

The unit arrived well packaged and in excellent condition. When I removed the top, I noted a place which had been miss-drilled, but it doesn’t hurt anything or affect the cosmetics. If anything, it serves as a reminder I helped another little guy.

I did get the motor mounted and wired with a temporary switch (a household switch) and was able to get the unit going and test drive it a little.

Since motors are expensive options for these, I used my own. However, my motor was a 3,400 RPM, 1 horse unit, so I had to slow it down to use it, because the unit calls for a 1750 RPM motor. That meant swapping out the two 3” pulleys that came with the unit for a 2” pulley (on the motor) and a 4” pulley (on the drum). I’m 50 RPM short of the target speed, but I doubt that will result in a notable performance result.

Because I went to a four inch pulley, I had to enlarge the opening for the belt. Since you cannot run work over the end of the paper, this shouldn’t be an issue. Any fence I add can be modified to slide over the protruding belt too.

My motor had arbors on both ends, so I could have flipped it around, but I went with having the motor mounted on the back of the unit, rather than out front, which just seemed strange to me. Because “I set my unit up backwards,” the dust port exhausted out the front, which, to me, was as bad as having the motor hanging out the front. As such, I grabbed one of my hole saws and drilled a new port on the opposite side, then covered the factory one with a piece of scrap Plexi I had laying around.

I was unimpressed with the drum height adjustments. Perhaps the spring needs to be stronger, but when the four bolts are loosened, backing the knob off (turning it counter clockwise) doesn’t always result in movement of the drum upwards, though turning it clockwise works fine, since it forces the drum down.

In a pinch, the company could add another bolt opposite of the adjustment knob, which, when turned, would push down on the lower bracket. This would require backing it off to move the drum down, but would insure it moved up when that was intended.

Once I had the unit set up using the supplied 220 grit paper, I swapped it out for 80 grit, then experimented with a board covered in latex paint. As many know, latex is a quick way to gum up a sanding belt. That wasn’t a problem with the FlatMaster.

While I had the provided paper off, I made a Plexi template of it for future layout of the ends (gotta love that scrap Plexi).

It’s obvious others were right – there is going to be a learning curve using this, but I didn’t find moving the material at a steady rate any more difficult than pushing wood through a table saw, past a router, or over a jointer.

I suspect learning techniques for wrapping the paper will move the ease of using this unit far ahead. As it stands, I note a little less material removal at the center area than at the two ends. A few more tests will show whether that issue is due to a less than straight top or a tighter wind of the paper at the center area.

I did note the end had two flat spots where it looked like the unit top might have been dropped. Those two [flattened] areas had to be lightly sanded to remove sharp edges. Since the shipping package was in excellent condition, if it was dropped, it happened prior to packaging.

My next test run was on a block of glued 2x’s. The Flat master did fine, but won’t be replacing my planer or jointer any time soon. Getting the block down took many passes, but it did get there. That said, it didn’t care which way the grain was pointing.

While cleaning up the two experiment pieces, I was using my large collector pulling off the tiny dust port and it is up there with a Festool for dust free sanding, but the collector would probably appreciate it if I opened another port to give it some breathing room.

I built a simple mobile cabinet for FlatMaster. Mounted on the cabinet, the FlatMaster top is at about the same height as my jointer. I didn’t get around to pictures yet, but will post some in the next few days.

[To be continued]

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2125 posts in 3141 days

3 comments so far

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2125 posts in 3141 days

#1 posted 04-05-2018 05:36 PM

I ran a piece of wood over the left end of the sandpaper and now know why the suggestion of using a magnet to mark the area, for avoidance, is sound.

In short, running a piece of wood into the end of the sander is a quick way to end up with a lot of mangled sandpaper.

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1477 posts in 801 days

#2 posted 04-05-2018 07:24 PM

Cool. Interested in learning what your overall impression is. I have had my eye on them. Seems like a good concept so let us know.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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2125 posts in 3141 days

#3 posted 04-10-2018 06:31 AM

Just ran a piece of 1/8” 6” x 24” long mahogany through. The 100 grit was taking forever, so went to the 80. The 80 took bandsaw blade marks out quickly and I was happy with the results. It went fairly quick and left a good finish.

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