NOT A REVIEW
A couple of years ago I bought this nice disk sander with the trademark ‘Woodfast’. This was once a venerable Australian brand of quality machinery with a full range of woodworking equipment. The Chinese bought the name and it is now a much lesser quality, although not of the worst sort. This looked like a great machine to me. It ran smoothly had enough power, was equipped with a brake, etc. The one thing I forgot to check out was how changing sanding disks was done. This turned out to be a bit of a nightmare as I later found out that the whole table had to be removed to accomplish the task. This entailed removing the dust catcher with 5 screws, disassembling the table 3 Phillip screws and one allen screw and the others with phillips like heads that none of my large assortment of bits and screwdrivers fit, together with an odd assortment of washers.
When we buy a machine we usually are able to find some reviews on them and we can of course see the specs. What I have experienced is that it is always the ONE THING THAT YOU FORGOT TO CONSIDER OR ASK ABOUT that winds up becoming a problem.
THE WEAKEST LINK
Many of the moderately price machines are mostly pretty well made, but often they have just a part or two that are poorly made or made from poor quality materials. I call this the weakest link because the rest of the machine won’t function properly without it. A good example is my 18” bandsaw, also a Woodfast made in China. It was relatively inexpensive for such a large machine and I bought it with my eyes open. After using it only a couple of weeks i stripped out the holding screw for the blade back bearing by over tightening it. I am pretty careful with my stuff and I didn’t really force tighten it, but it stripped anyway. The bearing holder with the threads is just a very cheap pot metal. I just rethreaded with a slightly larger thread size and now I am super careful adjusting everything. Another problem is that while the side of the blade is perfect 90deg. to the table, the forward cutting edge is not and though I have use much time trying to align it properly, all my efforts were in vain. I finally gave up and just left it like it is. All that said, I am very happy with the saw as it does everything I want it to very well.
HOW TO AVOID FALLING INTO THE TRAP
The best way I can think about avoiding the worst pitfalls is to make a general checklist of things to consider before making a machine purchase. Even that might not save the day, but at least it is a step in the right direction. I don’t want to make up my checklist before seeing what others think would be relevant. WHAT WOULD YOU INCLUDE IN SUCH A CHECKLIST?
Thanks for reading and for any contributions you might have to the list.
HERE IS THE CHECKLIST COMPILED FROM THE COMMENTS BELOW I will update this as suggestions come in.
1. Are spare parts are readily available, are there are aftermarket add-ons, and is the machine still in production?
2. Is it a brand known to be dependable?
3. What issues have I had with other similar machines that I should watch out for?
4. Does the machine use standard sizes and standard parts, like bearings, belts, etc.?
5. Has the machine been in production long enough to have had the bugs worked out of it?
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.