Flatmaster sanders-great or gimmick?

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Forum topic by AandCstyle posted 10-04-2015 12:36 PM 948 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2540 posts in 1680 days

10-04-2015 12:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sander

I really don’t enjoy sanding. Before the neanders suggest an assortment of hand planes, I find those frustrating probably because their names are meaningless to me (4 1/4, 59 1/5, etc), I am not a great sharpener, I don’t have access to a skilled instructor and I don’t have the coin to get a complete set from the Lie-Neilsen catalog. haha

I have a Delta 18-36 drum sander and it works okay for end grain cutting boards, but doesn’t help at all if a panel is slightly bowed or cupped. So I started looking around and found the Flatmaster. I read the reviews and watched a half dozen videos and it seems like it would be a great addition to any shop that burns electrons.

This made me wonder: If they’re so great, why doesn’t everybody have one? Now, to the serious questions for those that actually have one. Do you use it? Would you buy one again? Can you sand panels wider than the width of the machine, e.g. can a 36” panel be effectively sanded with a 18” Flatmaster? What grits do you use and do you still need to use a ROS afterword. Are the fences worth the extra $250-300? Is a 1/2 hp motor adequate or do you wish you had gone with 3/4? What is the size of the dust collection port? Would it replace the drum sander or be another addition to the shop? What else do I need to know?

Thanks for any assistance and my apologies to the hand tool folks. :)

-- Art

6 replies so far

View jacww's profile


2 posts in 431 days

#1 posted 10-04-2015 12:51 PM


I have no knowledge of the Flatmaster sander. I did find this review here and thought it might help:


View waho6o9's profile


7124 posts in 2000 days

#2 posted 10-04-2015 01:08 PM

They offer kits as well and seem to be in Canada.

I don’t see why you can’t make your own fence as it doesn’t seem that difficult to attach it.

View OnhillWW's profile


56 posts in 655 days

#3 posted 10-04-2015 02:20 PM

This is my review of the sander, not much to add that I have not said in the review other than reemphasizing that:
1 – I rely heavily on this tool, I use it every day but it is not w/o limitations.
2 – Saddle time improves performance, i.e. there is a learning curve.

View waho6o9's profile


7124 posts in 2000 days

#4 posted 10-04-2015 02:45 PM

View ScottKaye's profile


467 posts in 1376 days

#5 posted 10-04-2015 02:56 PM

Hey Art,

You said that you cant flatten bowed or cupped boards on your drum sander. Are your pressure rollers on your Delta 18-36 adjustable? A drum sander should be able to flatten twisted and cupped stock far better than a planer since planers require more down force on their pressure rollers than a drum sander. Perhaps your pressure rollers are exhorting too much down force on the boards thus flattening them out before they hit the paper on the drum. That’s the magic of the conveyor belt system. You need just enough down force from the pressure rollers to keep the board from moving as it travels underneath the drum and along the conveyor. On my Supermax 19/38 I can almost always achieve a “reasonably” flat surface and can sand out “SLIGHT” twists and cups (it does take a while though). The only thing I cant really take out is a long bow over several feet. But then neither can my 6” jointer with short beds and I doubt the Flatmaster can take out a bow in stock longer than a couple of feet either. Id say, if you have tons of money, sure go get yourself one. If you already own a Drum Sander (which many people see as a luxury item, I on the other hand feel its as necessary as a table saw/jointer/planer/band saw) I don’t see the need for one. But then, that’s just my two cents.

If you really want to laugh at the hand tool crowd, you should go down to C.P.Johnsons lumber on Oct 24-25. Lie-Nielsen will be there both days demonstrating their wares and Im sure you could talk them into giving you a class or three on sharpening principles! I plan on going, I just haven’t figured out which day yet!

We still need to do lunch!

-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View AandCstyle's profile


2540 posts in 1680 days

#6 posted 10-04-2015 09:01 PM

Tony, thanks. I thought that I had read the reviews here on LJ, but I did miss the very informative one by OnhillWW.

Waho, based on the OnhillWW’s review, I am not certain that I will need the fences. It seems like they mostly are for holding the hold downs and I would probably not use it for stock >4’.

OnhillWW, thanks for a very informative review; I understand the machine much better now. You indicated that it won’t replace a stationary belt sander. Is that a drum sander? Would you share your rationale?

Scott, I don’t see any adjustments on my drum sander. More importantly, the LN event is the 23rd & 24th. I have been wanting to get to Johnson’s but have been too busy to make the trip. This looks like a good excuse. :)

Anybody else ready to weigh in on this?

-- Art

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