|Review by Purrmaster||posted 01-10-2013 08:53 AM||3443 views||0 times favorited||23 comments|
- Harbor Freight 4" x 36" stationary belt/disc sander
- Brand: Harbor Freight | Category: Sanders
I’ve had this for about a year and think I’ve spent enough time with it to give a review. This is Harbor Freight item number 97181.
Let me say first that, overall, I’ve been pretty pleased with the stuff I get from Harbor Freight. Both hand and power tools.
But not this time. I would not purchase this tool again.
First off, it’s underpowered. The belt and/or disc routinely bog down when I press wood into them. It happens less often with the disc than the belt. I often end up stopping the belt completely. The lack of power is probably the biggest problem with this tool.
Dust collection is pretty paltry. There’s a port for dust collection on the bottom of the belt but I can’t access it when the belt is tilted downwards. I’ve never even been able to get the “dust hood” onto the disc.
The table that comes with the sander doesn’t actually go on straight. If you tighten the bolt that holds in the table it tilts the table to the right. There is no way I have found to prevent this. Therefore the table is never flat to 90 degrees. This sucks like an Electrolux.
Even when you do tighten the bolt all the way, the table wobbles. The up and down tilt does stay in the position you put it at. But when the machine is on the table wobbles. This isn’t always a huge problem but it is always an annoyance.
The miter gauge it’s supplied with does fit into the slot but there is no way to hold the gauge down to the table. Therefore the miter gauge is relatively useless.
Do please note: I have largely used the table on the disc portion of the machine. It’s possible it works better on the belt portion.
Changing the belt is an unpleasant experience. You have to take half of the thing apart to get to the belt. For comparison, getting the belt on and off my handheld Harbor Freight belt sander takes about two seconds.
It’s not heavy enough to stay fully stationary when running so I had to bolt it to the table. To do this I needed to drill holes into the base. Bolting it down helped.
With all that criticism there are some good points. For one thing, it’s been reliable. For something that seems fairly flimsy it’s still running. Also, for relatively light belt and disc sanding it does get the job done. There have been several times where this thing has come in handy. Also, the belt portion can be angled up or down and it does stay firmly in place when the bolts are tightened.
And the price was good. I think I ended up getting it for less than $60 at the time.
The bottom line: I’d stay away from this thing. It needs a redesign and some reinforcement.